Chief Concierge Gundula Reile offers insider advice for the best things to see and do in Orange County this spring.- By Kelly Shannon
Whether you wish to dine, shop or play, the concierge team at The St. Regis Monarch Beach can provide recommendations tailored to your wishes. For springtime, Chief Concierge Gundula Reiles shares some of her top picks.
Internationally Inspired Eatery
Nestled in quaint and charming Laguna Beach, Sapphire Laguna is a perfect fit for the town’s artistry and affinity for unique cuisine. “Sapphire Laguna is one of my favorites. The beach cottage restaurant accentuates the Laguna Beach flair, while also incorporating local artists, which include many plein air artists and painters,” reile says. The casual yet polished eatery sits across the street from one of the best surf spots in town and is located in an old Laguna landmark, The pottery Shack. Snag a seat under an umbrella on the brick patio and warm up by the fire pit if it’s chilly outside. Sapphire’s internationally inspired menu changes seasonally, utilizing the freshest local ingredients possible. “The flavors are inspired from around the world, giving you a huge variety of tastes,” reile adds. The abundant wine list isn’t filled with big-name vineyards, but is thoughtfully hand- selected by chef and owner azmin ghahreman. (1100 S. Coast hwy.; 949-715-3300; sapphirellc.com)
Spring is the season for the ultimate hiking experience. the buds are blossoming, birds are chirping, and the weather is generally temperate. “we have wonderful beach trails around the St. Regis and also have a beautiful bluff walk towards Dana Point, which features stunning views of the California coast,” Reile says. Just a few miles north, Laguna Beach features miles of hiking trails for the more avid hikers (lagunabeachinfo.com). Just north of Laguna, Crystal Cove State Park offers 3.2 miles of beach and 2,400 acres of undeveloped woodland, making it among the most scenic spots to walk or bike. along the beach, visitors can explore tide pools and sandy coves. (Pacific Coast highway and Reef Point Drive; crystalcovestatepark.com)
There is nothing quite like taking that moment to stop and smell the flowers. “I love to send guests to nurseries or gardens in the spring,” says Reile, recommending guests to visit the renowned Roger’s Gardens, located across the way from Fashion Island in Corona del Mar. Filled with beautiful f
oliage, flowering plants, fountains and designer pottery, the landmark also offers upscale home furnishings, décor, collectibles, holiday items and fine art from select vendors all over the world (2301 San Joaquin hills Rd., Corona del Mar; 949- 640-5800; rogersgardens.com). Reile also recommends visiting the one-of-a-kind Laguna Nursery, which offers a unique combination of plants, art, fountains, furniture, gifts and architectural artifacts, in a gathering designed to inspire and invigorate outdoor environments. (1370 S. Coast hwy., Laguna Beach, 949-494-5200; lagunanursery.net)
“In the unusual event it rains in Southern California, there are still many things to experience indoors,” says Reile, who recommends heading to north Laguna Beach to Laguna Art Museum. The museum’s collection includes more than 3,500 works of American art, dating from the early 19th century through today (307 Cliff Dr.; 949- 494-8971; lagunartmuseum.org). Reile also suggests the Bowers Museum of Cultural Art, one of Southern California’s finest museums and orange County’s largest, located in Santa ana. the museum offers exhibitions, lectures, art classes, children’s art and music education programs and more. the museum’s guiding philosophy is to help people learn about other cultures through the arts and to offer visitors a greater understanding of themselves and appreciation of the world in which we live. (2002 n. Main St., Santa ana; 714-567-3600; bowers.org)