There was the movie, Orange County, and then the show, Laguna Beach, plus the OG, Real Housewives – they all started in Orange County, California. Often overlooked and seen only as a pit stop between San Diego and Los Angeles, Orange County California has some of the most idyllic beaches. Whether you are looking for a family-friendly spot or a romantic couples getaway, we have rounded up the best California beach hotels. Just pack your swimsuit, sunblock, and a few beach books and you’ll be set for the best beach hotels in Orange County, California.
Best California Beach Hotels for Romantic Getaways
Fall asleep listening to the crashing waves and wake up to coffee oceanside on your private balcony, watching the morning waves directly below. If you are lucky, you might catch a pod of dolphins swimming across the Pacific Ocean. Perched directly above the beach, Surf & Sand Resort instantly makes you forget about any stresses you left at home. From a romantic getaway or celebration just for the two of you, this is one of the best California beach hotels. You will not be disappointed with the ocean views at the pool, Splashes Restaurant, or Splashes Bar while watching the sunset.
Located on the beachside of the Pacific Coast Highway, this hotel is within walking distance of all of the best attractions that Laguna Beach has to offer. Whether you want to peruse the art galleries, shop the local boutiques or maybe take in breakfast at the famous Greeter’s Corner at Main Beach, you can do it all on foot via the beach or the sidewalk. Top your romantic vacation off by taking in the sunset while walking on the beach. Surf & Sand Resort offers a small beach town with Mediterranean vibes that will have you wanting to come back before you even leave.
2. Lido House
California is known for a lot of things, including surfing, but little do non-locals know, some of the best surfing is found on Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach, at the famous “wedge” at the end of the Peninsula. On Balboa Peninsula, bikes are the common weekend transportation mode and flip flops and board shorts can and are worn year-round. There are only a handful of hotels on this three-mile strip of land and the newcomer to the area, Lido House, perfected it by combining beach house cool with the iconic local beach architecture.
From the Mayor’s Table restaurant, which is located on old city hall property, to Topside, the only rooftop bar in Newport Beach, Lido House is your coastal getaway perfect for a long romantic weekend with your love. Your room costs cover the essentials of living at the beach with bikes, beach shuttle, bodyboard/surfboard rental, flip flops/sandals, and more, so you can pack even less.
Make like a local and hop on a beach cruiser down the boardwalk to take in the fresh ocean air, Catalina Island views, and Newport Beach scenery. While you are taking in the breathtaking sunsets with a glass of their signature Lido House Piper Heidsieck Cuvee, you will wonder how you will be able to ever leave one of the best California beach hotels.
If you love the water and the beach but could do without the sand, Balboa Bay Resort is the perfect spot for you! Formerly a members-only country club on the bay, it is now a resort for all to enjoy, and away from the busy activity of Newport Beach. That makes this the perfect spot for Skipper and Gillian. Their backyard is the bay, so if you enjoy people watching, you will really enjoying watching the yachts as they go by. With a contemporary pool that is equipped with lounge chairs, daybeds, and private cabanas, you can soak up the California sun in style with your love.
Experience the perfect California day with their on-property recreation rentals, including Duffy boats, kayaks, paddleboards, and bikes to enjoy the area as it was intended to. Walk to the best mai tais around at Billy’s or cruise down Balboa Peninsula to surf with the locals. Whatever you chose to do, as one of the best California beach hotels, Balboa Bay Resort is the perfect romantic (mostly sand-less) spot to enjoy a quiet getaway.
Insider Tip: Rent a Duffy boat, grab a bottle of wine and charcuterie platter, and cruise the harbor during sunset for a romantic evening on the water that neither of you will forget.
Best California Beach Hotels for Families
For families who love the convenience of being able to rent a house, but also love daily housekeeping and room service occasionally (because traveling with kids is a task in itself), The Marriott’s Newport Coast Villas is the spot for you and your family. If you have a golfer, they have a course, plus a playground and arcade for the kids, a spa for a well-deserved massage, and a pool bar for the afternoon libation in the sun.
The two-bedroom villas are complete with a kitchen and space for the kids to play. Enjoy your morning coffee and an ocean breeze on the patio, while the kids enjoy cereal and cartoons. Here, there’s no need to trek everyone to a restaurant just for breakfast, but if you prefer that you can always hit up the marketplace for your morning Starbucks. With three ocean-view pools to choose from, you can enjoy the ocean breeze without the sand or enjoy the day at the beach. This is the best California beach hotel for you and your family to enjoy everything the California coastline has to offer, all while enjoying the comforts of home.
Don’t forget to check out the resort fitness center that has daily clubTHRIVE fitness classes available, along with all of the best machines and free weights to keep up with your daily activity level. Or, browse the grounds with your early-morning coffee for a peaceful ocean-view way to get your daily steps in. With resort amenities that will rival the best of them, this is one of the best California beach hotels.
Water slides for the kids and poolside service for mom and dad make Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort And Spa one of the best California beach hotels. With ocean views, Spanish-inspired architecture, and award-winning restaurants, you will want to soak up every minute under the sun. It’s just a few steps away from a ten-mile beach, Huntington Beach Pier, and Pacific City if you want to get out and explore the local town.
Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort And Spa is one of the best California beach hotels for the whole family. From family vacations to a destination wedding, this resort can accommodate it all. Enjoy the lagoon-style swimming pools, 24-hour fitness centers with yoga classes on the sand, or peruse the grounds and enjoy listening to the breeze through the palm trees scattered throughout the grounds. No matter how you spend your day here, you and your family will go home with that perfect sun-kissed tan and dream of the pool with the ocean view.
The latest hotel in Surf City (aka Huntington Beach) really went all out making Paséa Hotel & Spa one of the best California beach hotels. Located on Pacific Coast Highway, just steps away from where the famous annual US Surfing Open takes place, the hotel has been thoughtfully curated to connect guests with the Huntington Beach surf culture, providing unique high-level touches for the escape you have dreamed of. Enjoy ocean-front dining, live music on the weekends, and a Balinese-inspired spa. This place truly has it all!
With the beach just steps away, your stay includes everything you need for the perfect beach vacation, such as towels, chairs, and umbrellas for daily use, plus beach bikes, electric cruisers, and scooters to explore the town. Paséa Hotel & Spa is located in the heart of Huntington Beach within walking distance to all the local favorites. With Pacific CIty just steps away, you will really be able to immerse yourself in California life at this spectacular ocean-view outdoor mall.
All-Around Best California Beach Hotels
This is where Italian-style villas meet the ocean, without having to travel across the pond. Unlike a traditional hotel, all rooms are villas that will instantly transform you into a new place – one that is more than just a hotel room. The Resort at Pelican Hill is literally like no other place and one of our favorite places to escape from the ordinary to the extraordinary. Grab the perfect cappuccino in the morning or gelato in the afternoon (that rivals any you can find in Italy) at the Caffe & Market, and sit and enjoy the expansive views with the golf course in the foreground.
Home to one of the largest circular pools in the world, the coliseum pool is a perfect circle, spanning 136 feet in diameter and three feet deep throughout the entire pool. It sits high above the Pacific Ocean, so no matter where you are in the pool, you have the perfect ocean view. If you are a golfer, this Tom Fazio course will go above and beyond your expectations from the service to ocean breezes. The best of the best California beach hotels, The Resort at Pelican Hill is the escape you and your loved ones are looking for and you will all dream about going back.
Insider tip: This is where local famous and infamous go to escape – so keep your eyes peeled, because you never know who you might spot!
If you are looking for a beach vacation, but prefer to be away from the hustle and bustle of a busy downtown beach area, The Ranch at Laguna Beach is what you are looking for. Nestled in the canyon with ocean views, you have it all – from being able to catch a deer grazing the grounds during the early morning mist to walking to the quaint Aliso Creek Beach.
The hotel is complete with a nine-hole Ben Brown golf course, on-site spa, live music during happy hour and nightly smores under the stars, too. You may be able to see the ocean, but the cooler temps, the hidden resort, and lack of cell service will have you feeling otherwise. This makes The Ranch at Laguna Beach one of our favorites and a top choice for the best California beach hotels.
Walk a short distance to the quaint Aliso Creek Beach and grab a bite to eat at The Lost Pier Cafe. Don’t let the sand on your feet and casual shack lower your expectations – their lobster roll will compete with any lobster roll across the country! Cozy up to a fire pit to enjoy the sunset and a little bonfire at the end of the perfect beach day, or head back to enjoy dinner at the Harvest. This amazing place brings the farm-to-table concept to a whole new level, with a 1/2 acre Harvest Garden right on property, which you can tour on Saturday mornings.
The family-friendly saltwater pool is heated year-round with a hot tub and pool bar, so you can enjoy a poolside beverage of your choice and complimentary sunscreen. Stick around for the surprise amenities, including complimentary passed snacks and towel service. No matter how you spend your day, you will get to enjoy the best quiet Laguna Beach with the magic the canyon has to offer.
If you book a room at a Ritz-Carlton property, you know you will be getting the best of the best, which is why The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel is one of the best California beach hotels in the area. Located on a bluff above the Pacific Ocean, the 180-degree views are not only expansive, but breathtaking, and will immediately make all your stresses go away. Taking in this view will not get old during your stay and you will probably dream about it when you go back home. Take one of the paths that lead directly to Salt Creek Beach, so you can stroll down with your morning latte to watch the local surfers as the sunrises.
This luxury hotel has all the amenities you are looking for, with ocean-view yoga, a shuttle to Salt Creek Beach, full use of tennis courses, and discounted rates at Monarch Beach Golf Links. Plus, with phenomenal ocean-view restaurants, service is always a step above. With poolside service, you will feel well taken care of, albeit spoiled.
Not only family-friendly but pet-friendly as well, this resort really has it all – even its own children’s playground on the property and expert-led eco-adventures. Located just south of Laguna Beach, the resort has a revolving collection of artwork from local artists plus a display of artistic surfboards, which makes this California coast resort unique.
Perched on the rocky cliffs at the north end of Main Beach, The Inn at Laguna Beach is a prime spot for a beach day or perusing the town. This boutique hotel combines the style of a timeless beach bungalow with the modern comforts of today. Take a stroll down to Hielser Park, which is definitely not like any park you have been to, perched above the sandy beach with views of all of Laguna Beach. From here, you can watch the surfers, seals or if you are lucky, a pod of dolphins. You can even pack a lunch or snack and take in the sandless ocean views.
Enjoy a day at the pool while overlooking the ocean, with restaurants, shopping, and nightlife all within walking distance. This makes The Inn at Laguna Beach a favorite on our list of best California beach hotels. Don’t miss the daily wine reception at the rooftop bar, so you can catch the perfect California sunset with a cocktail in hand. Enjoy breakfast at The Pacific Terrace Bar, which is only accessible to hotel guests and private events, which will make you feel that much more special. Let the sound of the waves put you to sleep at night while dreaming of another day in quaint Laguna Beach.
No matter how you choose to spend your California beach vacation, this guide will help you figure out the best spot. Enjoy the slower days, magical sunsets, and blending with the locals with this guide to the best California beach hotels. Take in Orange County beaches for all that they are, and more than just a pit stop between San Diego and Hollywood. Don’t forget to pack your sunscreen, but please leave your worries at home.
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Photo Credits: resortpass.com, The Inn at Laguna Beach, The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel, The Ranch at Laguna Beach, The Resort at Pelican Hill, Paséa Hotel & Spa, Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort And Spa, Marriott’s Newport Coast Villas, Balboa Bay Resort, Lido House and Surf & Sand Resort