Who has heard of Dana Point, California? I sure hadn’t until I found out my company was sending me to this beautiful little beach city at the end of April. And I could not have been more excited for this trip.
It was my FIRST time out to California. The work conference was being held at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel where I scheduled to meet with many amazing bloggers. Then, we last minute decided to stay an extra day to play. How could we not? We were in sunny SoCal – where the weather was MUCH better than cold and rainy Chicago. This ‘work then play’ trip was one of my favorites. I loved every minute I spent in Dana Point!
We flew out on a Wednesday into the tiny Santa Monica airport. When we arrived, our driver asked if we wanted to take the scenic route or a way that’s 10 minutes faster. DEFINITELY the scenic route! We drove along the ocean cliffs for a good portion of the drive, passing through Laguna Beach’s cute boutiques and restaurants, eventually landing at our home for the next five days – St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort.
This resort was breathtaking. We walked into the lobby to check in and I just stopped what I was doing and marveled at this view for a solid ten minutes (possibly longer).
I honestly don’t think I’ve seen anything like it! The ocean greeting us to our hotel stay definitely set the tone for all the other amazing things to come.
As I mentioned, the work part of this trip was taking place at the Ritz Carlton, just a mile down the road from Monarch. I’m not sure I can even call this part work. Yes, we had to set up our booth, I had about forty fifteen minute one-on-one sessions scheduled with bloggers throughout the next two days and I also had to lead a roundtable discussion. All of which I enjoy greatly, although it can get a little stressful. But, with decor and views like this, I felt relaxed and ready to tackle the workload!
I had a blast at the conference and had really solid conversations with the attendees. I’m so glad I was given the opportunity to attend; not just because it was in the most beautiful location EVER, but because I was able to walk away having learned new things from bloggers and with great connections established. After two and a half days of work, it was time to PLAY!
I honestly thought it was going to be slightly warmer than it actually was in California. I basically packed for Summer. When I found out we were going to an Anaheim Ducks playoff game (something I thought I’d never say in my life), I knew I needed to buy a sweatshirt (for the game and for when the sun goes down). I always wanted Mighty Ducks apparel, and was a kind of sad to hear they didn’t go by that any more. However, the Anaheim Ducks Pro Shop had ONE sweatshirt left with the old logo, so my friend and I snagged those real quick! We were so close to the action. I’m talking real close – if it wasn’t for the glass, we could reach out and touch the players kind of close. They did lose, but it was such a fun experience. Plus, who doesn’t love live playoff hockey?!
Another item on the agenda while we had time for play was golf. Yes, golf. After the conference was over, our boyfriends flew out to Dana Point for the weekend! It was so much fun to have them there and since they love to golf, we figured why not give it a whirl. We played at Pelican Hill. Now, I haven’t played on many golf courses in my life (as a matter of fact, I’ve only ever played twice before this round), but I imagine this course has some of the best views in California – maybe even the US! I was much more focused on taking pictures than I was on improving my golf game, as you can see with how many I took below. My boyfriend, being the golfing machine he is, absolutely loved every minute of playing at Pelican Hill. He was on cloud nine and I have to admit – I was right there with him. No matter how awful I was on the course, I was able to continue on with a smile. For the record, I think I only got worse as the day went on. Some say a little bit of alcohol makes you better. I disagree. I think I’ll stick to sand volleyball – that’s more my sport.
On the last day, we had brunch at Dana Point Harbor then walked around, checking out the different boats. We got a kick out of the names on some of the boats and had a long discussion on what we would name our boats if one day we can afford it. I don’t quite remember what name we settled on, but it was not blog appropriate. We were also lucky enough to see a seal! That’s one thing I really wanted to see out in California. I’m not sure why, but it was a magical moment. The Dana Point harbor is surrounded by cliffs and has an abundance of restaurants and sight seeing opportunities. I would have loved to go on one of their whale watching tours!
I did not want to leave Dana Point, and I still constantly talk about going back. Even though I’ve never been to LA or San Diego, I think I would much prefer the slower pace life in Laguna Beach or Dana Point. Everyone we met on our walks were the friendliest and truly loved the area they lived in. I would visit Dana Point in a heartbeat, maybe a time where it can be no work, ALL PLAY. There’s so much more to see there! Maybe a little sailing action too for next time 🙂
I’m going back to California in a couple weeks for my San Fran/Napa trip. It will be way different trip, but I’m excited to see what else California has to offer! Any tips or recommendations on what to do for my second California trip?!
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