“My new happy place in SoCal” by HMD

I found a new happy place on the West Best Coast of the United States.

The perfect place to breathe, relax and retire early, or just escape from the noise of La La Land.

Dana Point, California: Where have you been all my life?

As I sipped my prosecco on the balcony overlooking the ocean, I wondered how I ever left sunny, beautiful California in the first place.  That’s what Dana Point, and Southern California in general, does to you- it sucks you in.  This place is the culmination of all my California dreams, and probably yours too.

They say there’s no place like home and, in this case, “they” would be correct.  California has my heart first, and always- and Dana Point, Orange County, feels like the epitome of California living.

While I grew up in small town on the other end of the state, I always dreamed I’d end up on the beach someday.  I traveled far and wide, visiting beaches all around the world, but there’s a certain kind of comfort that comes with a beach in my home state- a comfort I’ve been missing for nearly THREE YEARS.  (Side note:  Where does all the time go?)

Thank you, Orange County, you took my happiness about coming home to California to the next level.  I’ve found my new Happy Place.  And HUGE thanks to my girl Bridget for showing me this gem in Southern California.  I’m officially obsessed with Orange County all over again.

If you’re from California, looking for a fun weekend trip and can’t exactly board an international flight at the moment, add Orange County (specifically Dana Point) to your list!

During my visit I found a few notable spots worth sharing.  Check them out and tell them I sent you. 😉

There are plenty of accommodation options throughout Orange County, but I found one that’s my favorite in Dana Point:  Monarch Beach Resort.  

How cool are these hanging lights at Monarch Resort?

This is exactly what one would expect from a luxury resort in Southern California- expansive grounds, a variety of activities and views for miles.  My first thought looking at this view:  I hope they take very good care of their grounds keepers because that looks like a lot of work, and it’s immaculate!  img_2414

The resort has your typical resort amenities (pool, etc.) but I was particularly impressed with their workout options.   They have it all.  There’s even an aerial yoga studio, and I gave it a try.  Sure, I was horrible…but it was so much fun!  If you want a quick laugh, watch the 2 second video clip below.


Book your stay at Monarch Resort —> here.

Getting pampered in Orange County just makes sense…right?

OC Facial Care Center | Lake Forest

When I was deciding which spas to try out, OC Facial Center kept coming up.  Even though they’re technically right outside Dana Point (10 minute drive) I have to share this place with you because it was INCREDIBLE.

Before any services started, we were served tea in Hermes teacups and relaxed on the couch for a few minutes.  That’s one great way to start your pamper session, right?  We had the Super Facial 2.0 and….wait for it….”Yoni Steam” treatments, which is exactly what it sounds like…

Me:  “This is so weird, but also awesome.  Only in Southern California.”

Kate, the owner of the center, was such a warm and friendly face.  I was lucky enough to get booked with Kate herself.  She took me through an hour long series of treatments including microdermabrasion, masking, microcurrent, infared light, and much more I’m probably forgetting- she did roughly 100 different things on my skin, to be fair.  When the hour was up I was relaxed, my skin felt great and I had a hard time getting up off the spa bed.

It’s been about a week and a half and my skin still looks good from that facial.  Thank you Kate!

White Lotus Day Spa | Dana Pointimg_6703

Massages and body scrubs anyone?  YES please!

I found White Lotus Day Spa online when looking for a place to get a massage near where were staying.  My girlfriend Bridget and I planned a nice little “Happy Hour” for ourselves and our bodies.  I hadn’t had a massage in what felt like forever, and neither had she, so we needed this!

When we walked in, I immediately felt calm and quiet.  I felt welcome and at home right away.

I loved this artwork hanging behind the front desk.

I got to meet the owner, JoAnn, and she was an absolute joy to be around.  She’s not in everyday so we were lucky to meet her.img_6758

The day spa itself is small and intimate, which can be really nice compared to the larger, stricter spas (you know, the one’s where you can’t breathe too loud or you’ll get a lecture).  This spa felt warm and cozy.  If I lived here I’d join their membership program and come back as much as I could!

Relaxing in the waiting room, blissed out.
My massage angel!
Fresh tea anyone?

If you want to relax and have an amazing spa experience, without booking something at a resort, THIS is the place to go in Dana Point.  I will definitely be back.  Thanks JoAnn!

What’s a girl to do after all that spa time?  Beach it, of course.

Strands Beach

Bridget and I
Bridget and I, at Strands Beach, feeling just a little HAPPY.

I swear I am my happiest self on the beach, and this one is no exception.  Lined with mansions overlooking the Pacific, Strands Beach is California Dreaming encompassed.  I laid out, got my tan back, read my book, and went for a run.  Strands Beach is by far my new favorite “office space” in California, and I’ll be setting up shop as much as possible.

Salt Creek Beach  

A girl’s gotta eat.

All the time in the sun can work up your appetite, so it’s a good thing there are so many decent food options in the area!

We didn’t go out to eat as much as usual because we were able to cook from our place and sit out on the patio, but when we did go out we found some cool spots worth checking out.

Trevor’s at the Tracks | San Juan Capistrano

It’s about 10-15 minutes away from Dana Point, but worth the short drive!  They had live music on the patio and great cocktails.  Love this spot and will return whenever I’m in the area.

Harbor Grill | Dana Point Harbor

A low-key grill right on the water, that has their own herb garden out front.  Love, love, LOVE.  (Be sure to try the fried oysters.)

Rib Joint | Dana Point (Pacific Coast Highway)


Beach Harbour Pizza | Dana Point Harbor

This place has THREE amazing words in one name:  Beach. Harbour.  Pizza.  (I AM SO IN!)

Exploring Dana Point, being a tourist, is my new favorite thing to do when I’m home in California.

A few more spots worth checking out in Dana Point:

Dana Point Harbor


I could hang out in eclectic shops like this alllll day.


They have these cute little shuttle cars that take you around Orange County to the different beaches in the Summertime.  You can catch them along the PCH, and they’re free!  img_2836

Book your trip to Dana Point with this link (it helps me keep the adventures going 😉) and let me know what spots you find during your visit!  I’ll definitely be coming back to Dana Point sooner, rather than later, so I’ll be able to follow in your footsteps too!

Hope you’re all having a fabulous week wherever you are.

With love from sunny Southern California,


3 thoughts on ““My new happy place in SoCal” by HMD

  1. Great pics, thanks for posting. I’ve also switched to a healthier lifestyle and training with SportMe running app and travelling a lot. Finding new running routes where I travel is fascinating.


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