Cadillac Ride & Drive Experience
In sunny Southern California, with miles to explore from the ocean to the mountains and beyond, the open road beckons. Although Monarch Beach Resort provides plenty of amenities to fill your time with fun and relaxing experiences, venture off property for a few hours to discover all that the region has to offer. Through the resort’s Ride & Drive program, borrow a luxurious Cadillac CT6 sedan for a complimentary three hour spin; ask a concierge for more details. With so many iconic locales in every direction, we’ve compiled a guide to some of the standout destinations in Orange County, from historic San Juan Capistrano to art-filled Laguna Beach, scenic Crystal Cove State Park and impressive South Coast Plaza with its high-end boutiques. Of course, as every road tripper knows, it’s as much about the journey as the destination. Even if your GPS is set to a certain route, don’t forget to pull over if something catches your eye on the way. Sometimes these impromptu side trips make the best memories. So, take the following guide as simply a suggested starting point and blaze your own path.
DISTANCE: 7 MILES TO DOWNTOWN LAGUNA
ADDRESS: 107 S. COAST HWY., LAGUNA BEACH
Enjoy scenic vistas as you drive up Coast Highway to the iconic city of Laguna Beach. While stunning beaches can be found throughout town, the heart of Laguna is its downtown area, filled with boutiques, restaurants and galleries. Known for its history as an artists’ colony, this community is imbued with creativity, from sculptures in parks to the Laguna Art Museum. Once a month, the town hosts painting demonstrations, live music and more for the First Thursdays Art Walk. In the summer, three art festivals (Sawdust Art & Craft Festival, Laguna Art-A-Fair and Festival of Arts) are offered in Laguna Canyon as well as Pageant of the Masters, a show of living pictures and sculptures that is a must-see at least once in your life.
TIP: The best show of all in Laguna is its natural beauty, as no visit is complete without a walk along the clifftop path at Heisler Park for stellar views of the sun setting over the water.
SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO
DISTANCE: ABOUT 5 MILES
ADDRESS: 26801 ORTEGA HWY., SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO
Known as the birthplace of Orange County, San Juan Capistrano is a charming town with plenty of history. The city’s crown jewel, Mission San Juan Capistrano, dates back to 1776 and is the seventh of 21 missions built by the Spanish throughout California. The landmark is also known for swallows that return every spring to nest after a 6,000-mile migration from Argentina. Just a short walk from the mission, explore Los Rios Historic District, which was established in 1794, making it the state’s oldest remaining residential street.
TIP: A great place for breakfast or lunch is Ramos House Café in the Los Rios Historic District. Enjoy the likes of huevos rancheros, gingerbread-crusted duck mac and cheese or cinnamon apple beignets. Legend has it that this board-and-batten home, built in 1881, included a hideout under the main bedroom for vaqueros seeking to escape their captors.
CRYSTAL COVE STATE PARK
DISTANCE: 10 MILES
ADDRESS: 8471 N COAST HWY., NEWPORT COAST
Just a few miles beyond Laguna Beach is Crystal Cove State Park, which offers stunning coastal views, exciting outdoor activities and more. On the park’s inland side, more than 15 miles of hiking trails are waiting to be explored among the wooded Moro Canyon and rolling hills leading up to Moro Ridge, which offers an elevated vantage point for looking out to the Pacific. Stroll along the clifftop walkways to take in the panorama, then walk down to the historic district of cottages along the oceanfront. Enjoy lunch at The Beachcomber Cafe, which offers stellar seafood dishes and tropical cocktails (reservations recommended). Pick a spot along the park’s 3.2 miles of beach where you can splash in the waves, check out the tide pools or simply bask in the sun.
TIP: Rent a fire pit on wheels from The Beachcomber Cafe to barbecue and make s’mores on the beach at Crystal Cove. Different packages are available that come with the fire pit, food to grill, s’mores ingredients, drinks and beach chairs for up to 12 people.
SOUTH COAST PLAZA
DISTANCE: ABOUT 25 MILES
ADDRESS: 3333 BRISTOL ST., COSTA MESA
For those who like to shop, a visit to South Coast Plaza (the West Coast’s largest shopping center) is a must. With more than 250 boutiques and 30 restaurants, other U.S. shopping centers pale in comparison. This luxury center boasts a VIP lounge, valet parking and the flagship locations of several high-end brands. Whether looking for clothing, jewelry, shoes or other items, shoppers are sure to find impressive options at these stores. After shopping to your heart’s content, enjoy a meal at one of many acclaimed restaurants. Families will also want to ride the beautiful carousels. Notably, the larger carousel’s horses are replaced with reindeer in winter and bunnies in spring. The mall is also across the street from Segerstrom Center for the Performing Arts, for those who want to enjoy exceptional live entertainment.
TIP: Visit the concierge desk to receive complimentary valet parking at South Coast Plaza, a VIP passport and entry to the Access Lounge.
Content Courtesy of Firebrand Media.