Momcation(n.) 1. A break from one’s motherly duties
Orange County California is near and dear to my heart. I grew up coming out here yearly with my family to visit extended family as my mother and father both grew up here. I have also brought my own family out here several times for different trips. But this time was different. This time I was able to take in all things Orange County in style. Girl Trip style. Something I would love each of you to experience too. So today I’m sharing all my favorite California vacation ideas for you to try when you go on your own momcation.
One of the most amazing parts of the Internet is being able to make friends. Friends that you share similarities with and grow those friendships. This trip was a second trip I have taken with my friend Portia after meeting online. Not sure if you remember but she came out to Nashville and explored the city with a few others. You can check out a little bit about our Nashville trip HERE. Jamie from Charleston joined us in Orange County and a wonderful trip was born.
I love flying West from Nashville because I can get out on the first flight of the day and arrive in California for breakfast. So no day of traveling wasted. Three to four nights is the perfect length for a girls trip and it allowed us to really be able to explore three cities in Orange County. Costa Mesa, Irvine, and Huntington Beach. And let me tell you these three cities gave us an epic girls weekend full of arts, shopping, food, beverages, outdoors, the beach, culture and relaxation. Our days were packed full of adventure and I can’t wait to take you along for the recap.
California Vacation Ideas for a Momcation in Orange County
How to Get There
Obviously, I am Southwest Airlines loyal so I easily flew from BNA to John Wayne, Orange County Airport with a slight layover in Phoenix. Flying without kids makes me so much less picky in terms of layover times and times leaving or coming back. I did choose to fly into John Wayne because it was about 8 mins to the Westin South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa where we stayed. I know California gets a bad rap for traffic but literally, everywhere we went took 15 minutes and never hit a ton of traffic. So either we got lucky or just really great planning. I’d go with the latter.
Where to Stay
When traveling its always a great idea to find a hotel centrally located to places you want to go. No one wants to go on vacation and spend too much time driving around. So Westin South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa was a perfect location. Not only was it centrally located but it had so many other amazing qualities.
- Like a walking bridge to South Coast Plaza, home to some of the best shopping and dining in the World
- Tons of green space right in the arts district near Segerstrom Center for the Arts.
- Directly across from Water Grille, Mastro’s Steakhouse, Vaca Spanish tapas, by Bravo TV’s Top Chef Alum, Amar Santana.
- An airport shuttle (and a Disneyland shuttle).
- The friendliest staff.
- Rooftop heated pool
- Tennis courts plus a WestinWORKOUT® fitness center and Westin® Heavenly Beds.
- Plus the room set up was so great for girls on a trip. We had two bedrooms with three beds that opened up to a central hang place and three bathrooms with a beautiful view of the mountains and even Disneyland fireworks on a clear night.
Where to Go
Costa Mesa is centrally located in Orange County and makes for the perfect home base for a weekend or weeklong vacation. Costa Mesa is home to award winning restaurants and chefs; some of the best and most unique shopping in the world; and is the only place in Orange County to see Broadway shows on stage. Basically the perfect city for a girls getaway.
Named the City of the Arts™ for this reason, and for the extensive public art on display throughout the city. You can find various public arts pieces on display for the Art Walk. The Segerstrom family has a long history in Southern California, as the family owns the land for this arts complex, as well as Westin South Coast Plaza, and South Coast Plaza shopping center.
Finally, staying in Costa Mesa is ideal for those interested in seeing the beautiful Southern California coastline, just minutes from the city of Newport Beach; and attractions like Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm are just 20 minutes away; or venture to LA or San Diego, just a day’s trip or about an hour drive away.
Eat and Drink
- Habana at The LAB Anti-Mall, 2930 Bristol St. This whole complex was amazing. And we loved Habana so much we went back again on the way to the airport.
- Mesa Restaurant & Lounge, 725 Baker St. at The CAMP What started out as dinner, turned into more of a bar scene at the end of our meal. So the perfect place to go for a late dinner and be ready to stay late!
- Coffee Dose in Costa Mesa, 116 E. 18th Street I mean look at those cups and tell me they aren’t instagram worthy.
- The Country Club Costa Mesa, 330 E. 17th Street, Costa Mesa I could have come back here if we had more time as well. Love the vibe of this place. All you can drink mimosas on the weekend, live music, as well as open air seating in a richly decorated arena. Oh and did I mention, homemade donuts.
- South Coast Plaza: a trip to Orange County can’t happen without coming here. And the best part, our hotel had a walking bridge to get there. I prayed the whole way, my luggage would be lost, but then it wasn’t so I just pretended like it was. 250 stores + 30 restaurants will have you shopped till you dropped. You can find everything here from Zara to Bloomingdales
- The LAB Anti-Mall: from the mall to the anti mall, this will give you a unique shopping experience. Plus there were cacti there taller than my house. Tons of photo opps here too or just places to stop and chill and people watch.
Entertainment and Culture
- The Autumn Harvest Festival at South Coast Plaza
- We Olive and Wine Bar SOCO and The OC Mix Ive done wine and cheese. Ive done wine and chocolate and know I can say I’ve done wine and olive oil. I have a newfound love of flavored olive oils and loved everything we learned at our tasting.
- Segerstrom Center for the Arts unfortunately we didn’t get to see a show here, but we did get to take a tour and I can only imagine how amazing it would be to see Miss Saigon (currently there). As Orange County’s largest non-profit arts organization, they are committed to supporting artistic excellence while engaging the entire community in new and exciting ways through the unique power of live performance and a diverse array of inspiring arts-based education and community engagement programs.
- Costa Mesa Art Walk: This is a must see while in the City of the Arts.
Eat and Drink
- Puesto I can’t even recommend a single taco because I tried everyones and loved them all equally!
- Snow Monster: This is the second time I have been here and every time I leave I know I will miss those boba milk teas for days. Served in the most adorable cups with cotton candy, this is the perfect mid-afternoon pick me up!
- Irvine Spectrum Center : A popular shopping and family entertainment destinations. Featured stores include Anthropologie, Nordstrom, Free People and so much more. Tons of green space. Take a ride up the Farris wheel to see views of the city!
Entertainment and Culture
- San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary: In the heart of Orange County is a protected marsh and sanctuary that is 2/3 the size of NY Central Park.
- Pedego Electric Bike: Every city I go to from here on out I plan on finding a Pedego nearby to take a tour via bike. These were so fun and give you a great way to view the city. Irvine has bike trails everywhere!
- Great Park Balloon: We rode our bikes for about 30 minutes until we got to the park and took a ride up 400 feet in the air in a balloon. Oh the views.
- Quail Hill
- Full Moon Hike: Bommer Canyon: Ever wonder what happens in the open space when the sun goes down? Full moon hike will allow you to see the lights of the city while experiencing the tranquility of the open space. A 3 mile hike that includes 700 feet of total climbing elevation with several very steep inclines. We had young children on this hike with us to people older than us. We were able to move at our own pace. But not for the faint of heart. The fact that we were able to see this and it won’t happen again for years to come was super amazing.
It is no wonder Huntington Beach is known as Surf City. This bustling beach town with 10 miles of uninterrupted coastline has such a laid back vibe. From shopping Main Street, to the trendy Pacific City, and outdoor activities on the sand and at the beach, there is no shortage of things do here. Not to mention, they are known to have most consistent waves on the West Coast so naturally, surfing is a way of life and hence their nickname.
Being the closest beach to Disneyland, you can be near the activities but escape the chaos easily. Check out some of the spots we hit up. And keep in mind the only two celebrity sightings were here!
Eat and Drink
- Breakfast at Pacific Hideaway: With a patio view of the streets of downtown as well as the ocean this was a perfect brunch spot. The breakfast burrito was amazing, and I’m kind of a connoisseur. Plus inside was beautiful. Two things that are a must when recommending a restaurant. Oh yeah and the drink, Cougar Juice, made the morning that much better.
- Lunch at Pete’s Sunset Grille
- Dinner at Ola Mexican Kitchen in Pacific City. Amazing spicy margaritas and a salmon taco with brie. Yep! Amazing.
- The Bungalow Celebrity sighting and a great place to hit up after dinner if you are into a nightlife scene.
- The Food Hall at Pacific City has so many choices where everyone can leave happy.
- Shop and Explore Pacific City: In the heart of Huntington Beach you will find ultimate in outdoor shopping, dining, and entertainment! Plus, receive parking validation while shopping and dining here at Pacific City
- Downtown Huntington Beach: from surf shops to souvenirs and everything in between.
Entertainment and Culture
- Explore Downtown Huntington Beach
- Attended Surf City Days & He’e Nalu Aloha Pier Festival: when I am traveling to a new city one thing I love to do is find festivals going on. Such a great way to immerse myself in the city and the people. This was so high energy. Perhaps gave me a false sense of self confidence that since I hung out with surfers I could now surf.
- Surf Lesson with Toes on the Nose Adventures at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach. Let me start out by saying our guides were amazing and super accommodating. That said, my skill level was a negative so they had their jobs cut out for them. But how do you come to Surf City and not surf? So I challenge everyone to try it! It was a blast even if I just kept getting plummeted.
- Spa Treatments at Pacific Waters Spa inside Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach. The perfect way to follow up a surf lesson. The pacific massage couldn’t have come at a better time.
It was a jam packed long weekend full of food, fun, and relaxation. Just the perfect thing to get us mommas back on track and ready to kill it mommying. These moments spent with our girlfriends doing things that fill our soul just help us fill those around us with the things they need most. Now ladies, when are we going back?
Have you been to California before? If so, what are some of your favorite California vacation ideas? Share in a comment below!