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Move Over LC and Speidi! How to Plan a Drama Free Getaway to Orange County

In case you or your teen kids were fans of  MTV’s Laguna Beach; the show was actually wildly popular during it’s run from ’04-’06, making OC high-schoolers like Lauren Conrad and Kristen Cavallari household names at the time. We recently spent the Christmas holiday in Orange County visiting my husband’s family and the nearby beaches were a daily escape from a rare arctic blast hitting Texas.

Sure, my So-Cal getaways used to be filled with nights out in Newport Beach and Southcoast Plaza shopping sprees, but with a husband and 2 babies, now it’s family time in the OC. Planning is more complicated than crashing on my sister’s college dorm couch. If you’re craving a visit to Mickey & Minnie headquarters or the So-Cal beaches of Laguna Beach, here are a few of my tips to plan a carefree, low stress visit to the OC – especially with kids. Traffic is a given, but otherwise I can almost guarantee a drama-free vacay Unless you run into Vicki Gunvalson on a Venti iced-coffee run. Okay, time to whoop it up in the OC! Let’s go to Laguna Beach…

The Scene – Laguna Beach, California during the holidays

A few Travel Tips to Start: We flew Southwest (so far our #1 airline choice in terms of family friendly – aka bags fly free + no change fees) direct into John Wayne Airport (save yourself the LAX headache) and rented an SUV from Enterprise which consistently has best customer service for us.

My #1 OC Travel Tip! – Do not overbook your days, especially if you have kids, or you will spend the entire day sitting in So-Cal traffic. Don’t try to add in a ‘day trip‘ to LA, Hollywood or San Diego on a short trip. We also looked for less-crowded beaches nearby our Airbnb like Salt Creek Beach because Laguna can often be crowded. Plus, toddlers aren’t picky. Sand + 2-Year-Old = Happy Afternoon


Airbnb is the Way to Go* – We stayed in this chic, modern and super comfy Airbnb in Laguna Hills. It was really convenient – next to the 73 Tollway and a 15-20 minute drive to Laguna Beach. *It was the cleanest and most comfortable Airbnb we have ever stayed in! pic via Airbnb

Why Airbnb is an Extra Bonus with Kids – It’s so much easier to relax compared to a hotel which can be dirty, expensive, and tiny. You can also save $$ by grocery shopping, eating breakfast in, and packing lunches for the beach. I highly recommend this Airbnb where we stayed, but if it’s already booked, the same owner has 2 more nearby including this condo and this ‘Modern Ritz Pointe Beach Escape‘ in Dana Point.

What to Wear in the OC – The mornings were chilly in the 50’s and 60’s so I threw on this fitted crew long-sleeve shirt from Target (super soft and perfect for layering this winter) and a textured vest from Old Navy. Winter temps are still mild, but always have a cardigan or light jacket just in case.

Don’t Forget your Sunglasses! I scooped up these ombre shades at Janie & Jack for Mina at the mall in Mission Viejo. According to bestplaces.net, there are 278 sunny days a year in Orange County so be sure to pack your Ray Bans so you don’t have to splurge on an overpriced pair in Laguna Beach.

See you next time OC! Cue Hilary Duff’s ‘Come Clean‘ – the Laguna Beach theme song in case you forgot. Time flies!

<DETAILS by Dale> jeans – Replay (some of my favorites seen here) / super soft blush long-sleeved top – Target (shop the post below) / mom accessories – creaseless hair-tie & Fit Bit Alta / sneakers (last seen here at Dallas Arboretum) / quilted vest in Heather grey – Old Navy

Happy New Year and cheers to 2018!



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  1. Happy New Year Dale! You look beautiful. I love your outfit. That blush & gray looks so pretty on you. Orange County sounds like a fabulous getaway! And what a beautiful Airbnb! They are so popular now. The one you stayed in was gorgeous. Wishing you & your family a prosperous, fun and fabulous 2018.

  2. Heading anywhere with 2 kids is a little crazy right? I’m trip planning now and dreading hotels – hopefully there are good AirBNBs in the area too!

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