STRANDS BEACH IN DANA POINT

I had forgotten that Strands Beach in Dana Point (also known as The Strand, Salt Creek Beach Park and Strand Vista Park) is one of my favorite places in the world, until Mila and I visited last weekend. It's a bit of work to get down to the beach, but wow, is it worth it. This is the beach my dreams are made of.

The waves are big but there's lots of shallow water for the kids to sit and play in before that point.

Beautiful path along the beach.

Looking out at the ocean from Strand Vista Park, the funicular on the left and stairs on the right, both lead down to the beach.

After leaving this glorious place, we ended the day with dinner at Gulfstream and dessert at Sprinkles Ice Cream. Perfect summer day!

PADARO BEACH IN CARPINTERIA

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Our love for the coast took us to Padaro Beach in Carpinteria. This rustic beach is located just north of the famous Rincon Beach (one of the best surfing spots in the world). It's a local favorite with street parking and a short walk over the train tracks.  

Just down the road, Santa Claus Lane has a small row of restaurants and shopping. The Garden Market has lovely outdoor seating -- perfect for sipping wine over a game of cards.

Padaro Beach Grill has a beautiful view of the ocean, a sandbox for the kids to play in and a big lawn to lounge on.

BEST MEXICO BEACH RESORTS

Mexico, take me away! Summer has unofficially begun and I don't know about you, but I'm dreaming of a relaxing beach vacation. Here's our roundup of the top luxury resorts on beautiful Mexican beaches.

Maybe I've been stalking Tori Hendrix a bit too much on Instagram, but I've become obsessed with Sayulita. If you're more JAP than boho when it comes to your vacay accommodations, there's always the nearby Four Seasons Punta Mita.

If you're feeling like being surrounded by emerald jungle AND white sand beach, then there's the stunning Rosewood Mayakoba on the Riviera Maya.

Los Cabos is just a 2+ hour flight from Los Angeles, and Las Ventanas al Paraรญso is a serenely beautiful property.

Jashita Hotel in Tulum. Photo courtesy of Lemon Stripes.

Getting romantic at La Casa Que Canta in Zihuatanejo.

Being seduced by this scene at the St. Regis Punta Mita.

One & Only Palmilla holds a special place in our hearts. Twink honeymooned there and then I got married there. What an incredible place. Can't wait to get back. 

CRYSTAL COVE BEACH

I'm not gonna lie, when I first got to Crystal Cove State Park, I was a bitter, bitter woman. I thought, why go through all this hassle (parking in a lot across the street, taking a shuttle and then walking down a hill) to get to a beach? Obviously, I'm a spoiled Californian, but still, it did beg the question. But once I got down to the beach, laid my eyes on the ocean and felt the sand surround my feet, I exhaled.

Head to the tide pools, over to your left.

Gorgeous view.

You can even stay at one of the beach cottages.

The Beachcomber Cafe serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Spend $15 or more with them and they'll validate your parking.

We went for lemonade and Pellegrino at the bar.

Other places to eat within 15 minutes: R+D Kitchen, Gulfstream, Bandera. You're kind of in Hillstone heaven in Newport.