2017 Jet Set Alert: Why The OC Is Your Next Luxury Travel Stop

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Orange County offers discerning travelers a taste of the California dream, with ideal weather, pristine beaches, and hip-yet-upscale hotels, dining and shopping

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The OC tops the list of must-see travel destinations in 2017.

Offering the ultimate California dream escape for global travel connoisseurs, Orange County, known worldwide as “The OC,” is a hub of luxury beachfront resorts, incredible cuisine, exclusive shopping, and authentic experiences.

Located along 42 miles of oceanfront just one hour south of Los Angeles, The OC has long been a weekend escape for L.A. celebrities and sophisticates seeking respite from the city’s traffic and crowds. Now, smart travelers are taking a cue from the locals and choosing The OC as their home base for exploring all that Southern California has to offer.

Home to seven of the Top 20 Best Resorts and Spas in Southern California (2015 Conde Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards), The OC offers laid-back luxury in an ideal locale. Within one-hour’s drive of Hollywood, mountain ski resorts, world-class vineyards and wineries, and desert oases, The OC is perfectly poised for day trips or a day on the beach.

Arts and Culture
Though sunny days and white sand beaches will tempt travelers to lounge the day away, there’s so much to see and do in The OC. Culture buffs may be surprised to discover a world-class performing and visual arts scene thriving amidst the palm trees.

Costa Mesa, known as the City of the Arts, takes center stage with its walkable arts and theater district, anchored by Tony Award-winning South Coast Repertory theater, known as one of America’s foremost producers of new plays, and Segerstrom Center for the Arts, which is the artistic home to three resident companies: Pacific Symphony, the Philharmonic Society of Orange County and Pacific Chorale.

The OC is also peppered with museums for history and arts lovers alike, including the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, Orange County Museum of Art, Laguna Art Museum and many others… including the quirky International Surfing Museum.

Hotels
Stunning beachfront resorts and boutique hotels dot The OC coast, giving visitors easy access to this destination’s best feature: its 42 miles of uninterrupted, white sand beaches and clean ocean waters.

Coastal
Award-winning Montage Laguna Beach exudes comfort and elegance with expansive views of Laguna Beach, lavish guestrooms and suites, three signature restaurants and a 20,000-square-foot spa. The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel has a playful ocean retreat vibe with the inclusion of their ocean-inspired spa, unique beach setting, and seasonal packages geared to help travelers rejuvenate or explore the beautiful landscape of Southern California. At Surf & Sand Resort, travelers can fall asleep to the sound of ocean waves right outside the window or dine in Splashes, the resort’s gourmet lounge situated right on the sand. The newly-renovated Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point offers complimentary beach services, four new restaurants, a championship golf course, signature culinary experiences and breath-taking views from its clifftop location.

Inland
For accommodations closer to the action, inland options include the independently-owned Hotel Irvine, which offers newly renovated accommodations and an exclusive Club 12 lounge. Plus, their organic, fresh, locally-sourced marketplace is available to lounge visitors and room service guests alike. Hyatt Regency Orange County, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, and the recently-opened Great Wolf Lodge, Southern California are upscale options close to Disneyland.

Restaurants
Orange combines luxury and cuisine to provide signature dishes and unique experiences to a variety of travelers. As a landmark in Newport Beach, Five Crowns serves an array of American fare featuring award winning dishes in a replica of an English inn just steps away from the Pacific Ocean. Neighboring Five Crowns is 21 Oceanfront Restaurant. Like its name, its corner location on Balboa Island provides guests with a spectacular ocean front view that is paired with exquisite seafood and gourmet steak.

Agora Churrascaria prides itself on outstanding service. Its gracious staff compliments the bold flavors of their Brazilian fare and gourmet steaks in Irvine. Along the coastline, Water Table in Huntington Beach saddles the scenic Pacific Coast Highway. With its coastline views and modern beach decor, their hand-picked menu only showcases the freshest ingredients that gives each visitor a special dining experience.

Raya at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel has a laid-back ambience with ocean-front views that creates a desirable atmosphere that encourages visitors to unwind and enjoy the crafted Pan-Latin coastal cuisine prepared by acclaimed Chef Richard Sandoval. In Laguna Beach, Watermarc blends cozy and luxury with it’s cutting edge cuisine and drinks. The contemporary menu and innovative drink compliment one another to highlight Chef Marc Cohen's concept for this Orange County restaurant located on the historic Pacific Coast Highway.

Shopping
Luxury is found in more than just the accommodations in Orange County. The extravagant activities and lush experiences will give visitors a true taste of luxury. In Costa Mesa, travelers can indulge in a grand shopping trip at one of America’s premier shopping centers, South Coast Plaza. Shoppers can discover their inner fashionista by exploring more than 200 boutique stores featuring brand like Chanel, Gucci, Burberry and more. Along with designer brands and award-winning restaurants, visitors can gain access to the exclusive Access VIP Lounge. With access, they are treated to complimentary snacks, refreshments, mouth watering dining options and a relaxing retreat from their full day of shopping. Plus, visitors can have assistance with their personal style by opting to invest in the services of South Coast Plaza’s personal shoppers.

Related to style, visitors may also visit Fashion Island in Newport Beach. This open-air shopping complex provides a laid-back atmosphere where shoppers can enjoy a leisure shopping experience with the assistance of a personal shopper as well. Plus, Fashion Island has a variety of scrumptions dining options allowing visitors to end a full day of shopping with a unique al fresco dining experience at one of Orange County’s finest restaurants.

Spas
In Orange County, the epitome of luxury and relaxation is the spa. Most of Orange County’s most well known spas are located on our oceanfront hotel properties. The Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel spa and Spa Montage are rejuvenating spas that feature signature treatments to promote wellness and relax the body using beach-inspired ingredients. Miraval Life in Balance Spa uses award-winning treatments to awaken the senses. Aquaterra Spa in Laguna Beach invites couples to relax together while enjoying light refreshments.

Flights and Ground Transportation
Orange County, California is an easily accessible destination for global travelers. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is just 35 miles north of The OC, and offers more than 900 non-stop daily flights from 59 cities in 30 countries. Upon arrival at LAX, it’s just a 45-minute drive to The OC down the beautiful Pacific Coast Highway.

Conveniently located at the intersection of three cities, Orange County Airport (SNA) also welcomes global travelers with non-stop service from Mexico (Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas) and Canada (Vancouver), as well as connecting flights from major international airports in San Francisco, Atlanta, Houston and other hubs.

A car is the most convenient and flexible way to explore Southern California, where train and bus service can be limited. Orange County Airport offers eight on-site rental car companies and 14 more off-site with pick-ups and drop-offs at the terminal; rental cars are also widely available throughout The OC and at LAX. Those who don’t wish to drive can utilize Smart Phone Apps, such as Uber and Lyft, to conveniently summon a driver to any place, any time of day.

City trolleys are a great transportation choice for sightseeing, especially during the peak summer season. The Laguna Beach Weekend Trolley is free, operating Fridays 4pm-11pm, Saturdays 11am-11pm and Sundays 11am-8pm. The trolley comes every 20 minutes, perfect for families exploring the beach.

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Editor’s Note: The Orange County Visitors Association (OCVA) represents more than 700 members of Orange County, California’s tourism community and is the leading resource for visitor information about the county’s 34 cities. OCVA serves as steward of The OC brand, recognized worldwide as the home of world-famous theme parks, unparalleled shopping, 42 miles of pristine coastline, renowned beachfront resorts, and innumerable activities ranging from watersports to world-class performing arts. OCVA promotes the destination both domestically and internationally, with tourism offices in four international cities. Orange County is located in the heart of Southern California and provides easy access to all the attractions the region offers. For more information, go to http://www.VisitTheOC.com or call the California Welcome Center. Follow OCVA on Facebook (VisitTheOC) and Twitter (@VisitTheOC).

Note: Images should be credited to Visit The OC and are available for download here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B-m0j8OIiscFbEo1UnkxQ0FxdHM?usp=sharing

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Sienna Spencer-Markles
@VisittheOC
since: 04/2013
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