You could easily pass the Surf & Sand Resort as you drive down the Pacific Coast Highway in Laguna Beach and think it was just another nicely renovated hotel. And when you step inside you might think it’s a hip hotel, perfect for that girls’ night out or romantic weekend. And it is.
So what about the kids?
When you step inside with kids you receive the same great service as everyone else and knowledgeable concierges who know exactly what families need. The Surf & Sand Resort exudes what Laguna Beach is all about — understated and classy, yet a place where flip flops are always welcome. It’s a casual hotel that takes vacation seriously.
Location, Location, Location
Surf & Sand Resort is literally on the beach, any closer and you could dive off your balcony into the ocean. It’s a 15-minute walk (a little longer if you take the beach) past restaurants and shops into downtown Laguna Beach, where you’ll find more shops, restaurants, and galleries. There’s also Main Beach, the downtown hub and a great family hangout with a playground and tidepools.
When you need a break from the beach, one of the best playgrounds in the area, Bluebird Canyon Park, is a five minute stroll from the hotel. The rocket tower will have the kids scrambling to get in. During summer, the free city trolley stops in front of the hotel and can take you to South Laguna, downtown or to the Festival of the Arts.
The location couldn’t be any better if you want to explore Laguna Beach.
Rooms Impossibly Close to the Ocean
All but three rooms have ocean views. The oceanfront rooms are so close to the water’s edge that the sea air permeates the room and you almost feel like you’re on a boat but minus the rocking waves. The view from the balcony is of the jagged Laguna Beach coastline and you’ll commonly see shore birds and dolphins. If you’re lucky and visiting at the right time you may see a whale.
The staff goes out of their way to make your stay memorable and they anticipate what you need before you ask for it. We experienced this level of service throughout the hotel from the turn down service to the restaurant to the valets.
We ate in Splashes restaurant, an upscale venue where locals go for special occasions. It has one of the best views in Laguna. We ate indoors and it felt a bit quiet with kids; however, if the weather had been warmer, we would have eaten outside with the gorgeous view of the ocean. During summer you’ll find more families here.
While this may be an upscale restaurant, no one blinked an eye when three teenage girls scampered through the dining room on their way back from the pool. This casual vibe is found in all areas of the hotel.
Highlights for Kids
My 8-year old screamed “there’s a heater under the bed!” when we walked into the room. Much to his chagrin I told him it was just lighting under the bed and that he would not be sleeping in a heated bed.
He was especially amused by the earplugs provided for guests who find the crashing waves too loud for sleeping, as well as the little note in the room letting guests know that if the feathered friends leave a special present on your balcony, you can call the front desk to let them know. We were on seagull watch all day.
However, the biggest hit by far, was the tent that was set up between the beds. It had Cars and Barbie sleeping bags inside it and a little bag of s’mores for each child. This provided endless amusement and for parents, there’s a hole in the back so you can see what’s going on inside even when the front is closed.
My 6-year old thought it was “kind of cool that they setted up that tent” and she slept in it that night. The sleeping bags were perfect to curl up on the balcony lounge chairs. My daughter liked the tent so much she had another guest at the pool convinced that he should ask for it next time he brought his family.
The most obvious highlight for kids is the beach. It’s just so easy to go down for awhile yet have your room and the restaurant right there if you need anything. I’d also recommend a beach walk to downtown Laguna Beach. You’ll have an adventure scampering over rocks and climbing up the beach access stairs when the tide is too high and then back down again — it’s a fun way to get to dinner!
Close to Wildlife
While there is no kids club here, during summer months there are kids’ activities at the pool and the concierge can arrange anything and everything. We tried a 2-hour kayaking expedition with La Vida Laguna through the Laguna Beach kelp beds and around seal rock. Our guide, John, gave us kayaking instructions before going out that we mostly forgot once in the water but it did make the kids more comfortable.
We saw a lot of wild life including sea lions frolicking and barking near us, ocean birds and garibaldi, the state fish. On other days you may see dolphins and different varieties of fish. John was knowledgeable about the area and taught us how to “shoot” the kelp bulbs at each other — which takes some practice.
My 8-year old thought this was fun and told his friends all about it at school. This is a great way to see the local wildlife and get some exercise in the process.
If You Go: We loved the hotel picnic lunches packed in sand buckets. The food is outstanding and it is a fun way to eat lunch. The chocolate chip cookies are to-die-for (you can find them in the café too).
A big thank you to the OCeanfront for setting up this experience. Be sure and head to their website for information on Orange County’s 42 miles of beautiful coastline.
Photo Credit: Kristi Marcelle
Kristi and her family received a one-night complimentary stay at Surf & Sand Resort. She was not asked to express any particular opinion about her stay.