From live sports to sun-soaked beaches, Orange County seems tailor-made to host and entertain multiple generations. When exploring Orange County, an ideal home base for families can be found at Montage Laguna Beach, which boasts a stunning seaside setting, plentiful amenities and close proximity to the area’s standout attractions.
Surfing lessons, stand-up paddleboard outings, kayaking and snorkeling opportunities are all available in the sparkling blue waters right off Laguna’s coast. And, tucked into some of the coves, tide pools filled with colorful sea stars, urchins and anemones enchant visitors both young and old. The beach town is also deeply rooted in the arts with dozens of galleries to peruse, plus First Thursdays Art Walk, which often includes music performances, artist demonstrations and receptions, most within walking distance of downtown or reachable via an easy ride on the city’s charming trolley.
Orange County’s unique setting—in close proximity to the mountains and sea—makes it an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. That’s certainly the case for Teemu Selanne, the retired Anaheim Ducks hockey legend who lives in OC with his wife and children and loves Laguna, where he co-owns a restaurant, Selanne Steak Tavern. “You can surf in the morning with the kids, golf mid-day and then head to the mountains for skiing or sledding—all in one day,” he says.
From Laguna, Newport and Huntington beaches to Dana Point and San Clemente, families can find spots to lay down some towels and a picnic basket while watching the waves. For those who are not content with just watching, the Pacific Ocean welcomes watersports of all kinds; guests of Montage can contact the concierge desk for resort rentals, tours and lessons.
Beyond sports like surfing and SUP, Laguna Beach takes California cool to the next level, with crystal-clear, protected waters where families often spot fascinating marine life, from dolphins and whales to tide pool creatures. Right next to Montage Laguna Beach, Treasure Island Park is one of the city’s best-kept secrets with beautiful views and calm waters.
Up Coast Highway, about 40 minutes away, Huntington Beach lives up to its nickname of Surf City USA with some of the area’s best breaks and an International Surfing Museum downtown. Meanwhile, The Wedge in Newport Beach is famous for bodyboarding conditions, and is conveniently adjacent to Balboa Island. There, children can enjoy the Balboa Fun Zone, which plays host to a Ferris wheel and other rides along with famous frozen bananas or Balboa bars from Dad’s, a local favorite.
Adventures on land are also plentiful—Orange County’s hikes offer fun workouts and amazing vantage points. In Laguna, Alta Laguna Park features a playground and multiple trails to explore.
Crystal Cove State Park is another popular spot, with 18 miles of trails varying in difficulty and elevation. The Beachcomber at Crystal Cove or Ruby’s Shake Shack—home of the popular date shake—serve tasty treats for hungry families looking to recharge.
It may be surprising to some, but not every day in the life of an Orange County family is spent soaked in seawater or exploring a coastal nature trail. The county’s best theaters, museums, theme parks and shopping—Fashion Island and South Coast Plaza both feature boutiques of sought-after designers—are all within a short drive from Laguna.
The Honda Center, where the Ducks play, and Disneyland are both in Anaheim—a city exploding with activities for the whole family. And the downtown Anaheim Packing House is at the forefront of the food hall trend with more than 20 retail, food and drink options, so every family member finds something to suit their taste. Sports fans can also head to Angel Stadium for a baseball game; the venue hosts behind-the-scenes tours and a number of nonsporting events as well.
Creative children and parents also find inspiration in Orange County’s arts hot spots. Costa Mesa, dubbed the “City of the Arts,” hosts Segerstrom Center for the Arts, a world-class performing arts venue that presents Broadway productions, festivals, educational talks and more year-round. Newport Beach’s Orange County Museum of Art celebrates modern and contemporary art, welcoming families for fun filled days throughout the year, in addition to workshops, film screenings and special events.
The moniker of Orange County’s artists colony, however, belongs to Laguna Beach. With the Laguna Art Museum—which regularly hosts hands-on art sessions for families and live music—and an astonishing number of artist residents and arts-focused organizations, the town has no shortage of creative opportunities. Montage Laguna Beach embraces its surroundings by incorporating arts throughout the property, including crafts for young Frida Kahlos or budding Picassos at Paintbox, the resort’s children’s program.
With so much to offer, this area is a truly special destination, drawing thousands of visitors from around the country and the world each year.
By Linda Domingo