Top 10 Orange County Beaches | The Boutique Real Estate Group

Written by Melissa Sims

I spend probably half of my year at the beach.  No joke.  We are a family of surfers, scuba divers, spear gun hunters and stand-up paddlers.  Squeezing the amazing beaches of Orange County into a ‘top 10’ is no easy task.  With over 40 named beaches (and I’m sure numerous unnamed), trying to pick the best is like trying to compare wine to beer.  You just can’t…each beach here in the OC has something unique and breathtaking about it. So let’s start south and head our way up.

1.  San Onofre State Beach (my personal favorite)

Located in the southernmost coastal part of Orange County, San Onofre state beach is an old-school surfer mecca.  You will not find any food stands or bike rentals here – this is strictly for the dedicated beach goer, as you have to be in line for parking no later than 6:00am on the weekend in order to find a spot.  They let a limited number of cars in, so if you show up late, you can count on waiting for someone to leave before you get your spot.  Why such a draw?  Well, for starters, you park DIRECTLY in front of the sand.  No sidewalks, no hauling your cart-o-crap.  Just open up the trunk and set up shop. Everyone that comes here respects the beach, and usually respects you (as long as you aren’t THAT guy).  The surfing at San Onofre, affectionately called ‘Old Man’s,’ is smooth, somewhat consistent and perfect for longboarders and beginners (on a small day).  You won’t find a lot of young groms here ripping arials.  It’s an awesome vibe and a clean beach – the San Onofre Surfing Club takes impeccable care of this beach, with hand-built showers and garden walks. Cost to park = $15 (or buy a state park annual pass for $195, good at any state beach).

2.  Doheny State Beach

Located in Dana Point, just south of the harbor, Doheny is notorious for it’s unhealthy water report.  It has gotten cleaner in past years, but still ranks among the ‘bad’ in Orange County.  So why is this beach on our list?  Doheny is the ultimate beach trip – with an awesome snack shack, volleyball courts, barbeques, camping, grassy lawn and promenade with rentals.  Doheny used to have one of the best breaks in Southern California, but once the jetty was built, the shape of the wave changed and it is now known as one of the best beginner spots in Orange County.  In addition, the city of Dana Point puts on some spectacular events at Doheny, including Doheny Days, the Blues Festival and the annual Outrigger Canoe Races.  Even if you don’t get in the water, Doheny is definitely worth a visit.

3.  Salt Creek

Buzzing up the coast, just north of Doheny in Laguna Niguel, is a gem called Salt Creek.  Not the easiest to get to from your car…you have to hike down a very steep hill to get to the beach, so pack lightly.  The trek is worth it – trust me.  With beautiful cliffs, crystal-clear waters, and a view of the Ritz-Carlton high above, you’ll feel like you’ve found a private paradise – except for the crowds.  It can get quite busy here, so head out early.  There is a snack shack and restrooms here, so you really just need the essentials.  Salt Creek is a popular spot for surfers and skim-boarders, and not always the best for swimming.  There is also a grassy park above the beach, for those that just want the view. Metered parking.

4.  Treasure Island, Laguna Beach

Arguably one of the MOST beautiful beaches in Southern California, Treasure Island Beach is located below the famous Montage Resort in Laguna Beach.  Meander along spectacular paths, peppered with California native plants and views of the posh resort.  Take the stairs down to the beach and you will understand why this beach is so special.  Not only is this beach spectacular in its own right, it is also known for it’s protected tidepools.  The Montage Resort offers docents to educate the public on busy weekends and holidays, during low tide.  Metered parking, very limited.

Treasure Island

5.  Crescent Bay, Laguna Beach

I like to pretend this is my little secret, I’ve just let everyone in on it!  Crescent Bay is a beach found in a residential area of Laguna Beach.  It is not easy to park, nor easy to walk to…but locals love this spot for it’s sheer beauty.  Surrounded by cliffs, with mega-mansions to gawk at, this crescent-shaped beach is absolutely stunning.  No sound of trains or traffic…just crashing waves and seagulls and pelicans.  You will spot the occasional dolphin or sea lion, but mostly just sparkling waters and easy-going people.  Beware – the waves can get quite powerful.  Limited metered street parking.

Crescent Beach Laguna

6.  Crystal Cove State Park, Newport Beach

Personally, I’m a state park kind of gal.  I love feeling like I am getting away from the crowds and enjoying the beauty of nature.  If you like that too, you’ll love Crystal Cove.  Surprisingly, this is right off of Coast Highway – but has a huge preserve between the water and the highway, so you’ll never hear any traffic noise.  The park is quite expansive, with 3.2 miles of coastline, offering mountain biking, scuba/skin diving, horseback riding, swimming and surfing.  There is also a campground across the street and primitive camping at Moro Ridge.  In addition, Crystal Cove is home to the famous Beachcomber Café and the Crystal Cove Beach Cottages, available for rent through ReserveAmerica.com. The history of Crystal Cove dates back to the early 1900s, as a favorite spot of the Irvine family and shooting spot for many classic movies.  This is definitely one of Orange County’s best treasures!

Crystal Cove State Beach

7.  Corona Del Mar

‘Big Corona’

A favorite spot for families, Corona del Mar is located just south of the Newport Bay jetty, off of Ocean Blvd. and Breakers Drive.  A huge parking lot and spectacular views bring lots of crowds, but this spot never feels touristy.  This is a great beach for kids because the waves are much calmer than other local spots because of the jetty.  But you’ve been warned – LOTS of kids.  If you aren’t in the mood for that, go to elsewhere.  Parking is $15, and even though this is a state beach, it is run by the City of Newport Beach – so you can’t use the annual parking pass here.

‘Little Corona’

Little Corona is just south of Big Corona, off of Poppy Street.  This is one of the only beaches where you don’t have to walk down stairs to get to the sand.  It is a path entry, making wheeling your equipment down very easy.  It has a public restroom and showers, and is a local favorite for diving and children.  It is flanked on both sides with rocky reefs, so waves are not an issue here.  Snorkeling is another favorite activity here.  Street parking only.

8.  The Wedge, Newport Beach

If you want to see some of the biggest, most mind-boggling waves, go to the Wedge.  On a big day, the surf can reach 30 feet…yes, that’s right.  30 feet!  Not known for swimming, this is mainly for bodyboarding and body surfing, and if the sets are optimal, surfing.  In the winter, this is a major spot for watching some serious talent.  During summer months, from May-October, boards of any type are not allowed so that others can enjoy the water.  Not only good for water-watching, the beach itself is great, and offers amazing sunset views.

9.  Newport Beach

Newport Beach is so spread out that it is hard to feel crowded in once you are on the sand.  With great restaurants and bars close by, you’ll never get bored here.  Rent a beach cruiser in town and experience Newport like the locals do.  All thirteen of Newport’s beaches have been ranked superbly high in cleanliness.  Just beware of major holidays, it can turn into a crowded party scene.  If you want to be closer to the ‘scene’, head over towards 24th street.  If you want to stay away from the crowds, head north, closer to 38th street or Superior.  Parking is a nightmare, and you’ll likely circle for some time trying to find a street spot.  But this is definitely not a beach you want to miss experiencing.  Quintessential Orange County.

Newport Beach

10.  Huntington City Beach

Infamous, or just famous?  With recent press, Huntington Beach is getting a bad rap.  90% of the time, this beach is just like every other beach.  But during major holidays and events, it has been known recently to have a rough crowd.  Located just off Main Street and PCH, Huntington is one of the most recognized beaches in America.  Regardless of some of the recent events here, people still visit in droves to experience Surf City at its finest.  You have the best of everything here – surf, sand, good food and great people watching.  Not only can you walk the pier, you can hop across the highway to some of the hottest party spots in town.  Visit in early August and watch the US Open of Surfing.  This year, promoters are banning alcohol sales and will not have live music – in an effort to bring the focus back to the sport of surfing, and away from partying.  I say, ignore the bad press and give Huntington Beach a chance.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Honorable mention:

Main Beach, Laguna

50% surfing, 50% people watching.  Main beach is located in the busiest part of Laguna, right in the heart of downtown.  There are volleyball and basketball courts right off the highway, and a boardwalk that snakes down the beach.  There are tons of easily accessible restaurants right across the street, so don’t be surprised to see people walking barefoot through downtown in nothing but a bathing suit.  This is probably the most crowded beach in Orange County…sometimes it is hard to see any sand because the beach is so full.  This beach is great for families, as there is a large play area for kids.  Regardless of the crowds, still one of the best beaches in OC.  Park on a side street and you’ll be fine.

So, where will you be heading?

Connect with Melissa Sims at http://TheBoutiqueRE.com/Melissa-Sims or Melissa.Sims@TheBoutiqueRE.com

Live From Real Estate Connect | Raj Qsar & Mark Fitzpatrick

This week’s “Mobile Agent TV” is a special episode was LIVE from INMAN CONNECT SAN FRANCISCO.

Our guest is Mark Fitzpatrick who is the CEO at RUHM, which is a full-service “Destination Marketing Agency” of marketers, real estate consultants, and artists that promote the world’s finest destinations.

We will also be joined by, friend of the show, RAJ QSAR who is a finalist for Inman’s “MOST INNOVATIVE REAL ESTATE AGENT” award and is owner of THE BOUTIQUE REAL ESTATE GROUP IN ORANGE COUNTY.

Watch the Google + Hangout Here.

Mobile Agent TV

Best Places to Watch Fireworks In Orange County

Written By:  Melissa Sims

The 4th of July is the ‘unofficial start of summer’ – the smell of barbecue, the sounds of waves at the beach and fireworks somehow signal that summer has begun. Orange County has so much to offer on this patriotic holiday – there’s just about something for everyone.   It was hard to narrow down, but here are my best picks for watching fireworks in the OC.  And if you think I’ve missed a great spot, let me know!  I’d love to add to this list for reference in the future!  Wherever you enjoy your holiday, remember to be safe, and have fun!

The Boutique Real Estate Group

Dana Point Harbor

Watch the skies over Dana Point Harbor for a spectacular show beginning at 9:00 pm.  Presented by the City of Dana Point, this is an annual show that draws large crowds – and it’s well worth it!  Doheny State Beach is a great vantage point, but you’ll need to make a day of it – forget trying to get a parking spot after 10:00am.  Not interested in a full-day affair?  You can watch from along the cliffs of Blue Lantern Park or Heritage Park, or even book a dinner at the Laguna Cliffs Marriott for terrific views of the fireworks as they light up the night’s sky.  Or, if you’re feeling really adventurous, book a dinner cruise and watch from the water.  Visit http://bit.ly/DanaPointFireworks for more info.

Ladera Ranch – Founders Park

The Fireworks Spectacular in Ladera Ranch is just that – absolutely spectacular.  It has long been a favorite in South Orange County, and this year, the city is hosting a 5k/10k run, with proceeds to benefit Laura’s House & the Ladera Ranch Education Foundation.  Registration for the run begins at 6:00am and the 10k race starts at 7:00am.  This day is chock-full of activities, ranging from parades, to teen zone entertainment, to live music.  Get there early to snag a spot, it will definitely be a full house.  Fireworks begin at ‘dark’ – usually 9:15 – at Founders Park.  Visit http://bit.ly/LaderaFireworks for more info.

Newport Beach 4th of July Celebration

Disco AND Fireworks?  How can you go wrong???  This year, KC and the Sunshine Band will be headlining the Newport Beach Independence Day on the Back Bay extravaganza.  In addition to great music, the event will offer great dining options and lots of great activities for the kids.  The event is a bit on the pricey side, so if you’d like to take advantage of the fireworks show without having to open your wallet, just snag a spot in Newport Beach with a great view of Back Bay and you’ll be just fine.  Visit http://bit.ly/NewportDunesFireworks for more info.

Lake Mission Viejo

A long-standing tradition in Mission Viejo, the 4th of July Street Faire and Fireworks Spectacular is a safe, fun-filled, patriotic celebration that includes food, game booths and live music.  Festival begins at noon and the fireworks begin at 9:00pm.  Admission is free, as well as a free shuttle service operating from 1-8:00 pm surrounding Lake Mission Viejo.  Visit http://bit.ly/MVFireworks for more information.

Honorable Mentions: Disneyland and Anaheim Stadium

If you are lucky enough to have tickets to either attraction this Friday, you are in for a special treat.  Disneyland puts on a special version of their nightly fireworks display at 9:25pm.  Best places to see the fireworks are from main street, right in front of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle.  The Angels will be playing against the Houston Astros this Friday night at 5:15pm, with a special fireworks display immediately following the game.

Agent Reboot | Orange County | Anaheim Convention Center

The Boutique Real Estate Group will be headed to The Anaheim Convention Center today to get their tech, mobile, social & networking on.  Hosted by Inman News, Agent Reboot is a full day of all things Real Estate and includes some of the most notable names in the industry.

Click here for todays schedule.

The Orange County Ambassadors include:  Christopher Pak, Ryan KlusmeyerMelissa Sims from The Boutique Real Estate Group and Carol Farar, Stacey Smith and Hilda Ramirez.

Catch some amazing speakers as well, including Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles Star, Josh Flagg.

Agent Reboot OC

Are you prepared for the big one?

Are you prepared for the big one?

By:  Melissa Sims | The Boutique Real Estate Group | @MelissaSimsOC

I am not a California native. I came to California in 1986 for my father’s career. We moved to Arcadia in the middle of one of the hottest summers on record. Coming from Wisconsin, we were not prepared for the heat. Nor, would I learn, were we prepared for earthquakes. I still remember very vividly where I was when the 1987 5.9 Whittier Narrows earthquake hit. I was getting ready for school… out of nowhere, dishes were flying out of cabinets and the floor was seemingly gone beneath my feet. My mother grabbed my sister and I and we all ran outside. I wish I could find words to appropriately explain what I saw…the earth was flipping, side-to-side. Earthquake, you say, mom? What’s that? I was only 7 at the time, and coming from the other side of the country, we never spoke of such things. Tornados? All the time. Needless to say, we were ill prepared – no extra water or canned food on hand, no extra clothing, batteries, blankets…nada. It was a very serious quake, with several deaths and many homes destroyed.

Fast forward 7 years, we are living near Northridge, CA. We must have had a knack to follow where the next big earthquake would be. My mother and I were living alone in a condo, on top of a subterranean parking garage. I was awoken at 4:31 am by being physically thrown out of my bed onto the floor. I looked up and saw a huge free-standing mirror about to crash over me…instinct told me to roll under my bed while the mirror shattered where I had just lain. The intense noise, not just the shaking, is what was so terrifying about this quake – I screamed the entire time, as did my mother, neither of us hearing anything from the other. As we got our bearings and cautiously went downstairs, we had no idea what had happened. How big was that? Is there power anywhere (not here, obviously)? As we scrambled in the dark, I am still thankful that my mom had just recently decided it was time for an ‘earthquake kit.’ We had water, food, blankets, a flashlight, radio and extra batteries. We sat in our doorway for probably close to 3 hours, listening to the battery-powered radio in the dark, trying to find out how bad the quake was, getting tossed over and over with aftershocks. We stayed in the house for over a week with no power or clean water, until the fire department finally made its way to us. To let us know that we couldn’t stay. While the Northridge quake was a 6.7, the ground acceleration of that quake was one of the highest ever recorded in an urban area, making it feel more like a quake in the 7.5 range.

Looking back on both quakes, I am so thankful that we were more prepared for the second quake. Nothing can prepare you, really, for the disorienting feeling of having the earth beneath you come to life, and rock your senses silly. After this most recent La Habra quake, we are reminded yet again that we live in ‘earthquake country’ and most of us are embarrassingly unprepared for the aftermath of a good shake.

seismograph

Here are some tips for an effective earthquake kit. Some things to remember: you may not have access to water, electricity or emergency services for a few days, if not more.

1. Water. The single most important item you’ll need. Another option: steri pen. Will sterilize water from any source. You’ll need at least one gallon per day per person in your house.

2. Food – canned food (don’t forget an opener), boxed food that has a long shelf life. Pastas, canned tuna, canned vegetables, etcetera. Camping food is another good option.

3. Camp stove and fuel, along with utensils.

4. Whistle, in case of need for rescuers.

5. Extra set of clothing & shoes.

6. Emergency cash, in small denominations

7. Tool kit (to turn off gas/water)

8. Copies of your vital documents.

9. Tarp, plastic bags – in case of rain. Or, if preferred, a tent.

10. Toiletries.

11. Toys – if you have kids

12. Lanterns, flashlights & batteries.

13. Portable radio – don’t think your cell phone will work. You need the good ol’ fashioned antenna radio.

14. Solar panel for charging any items that might still work.

15. Portable power generator. There are solar versions out there as well. Most generators run on gas, and if there is a main break at your local station, no-can-do. There are other personal preference items you can bring, of course, but try to make your kit as accessible as possible. It should be in a waterproof container, easily accessed OUTSIDE. Do not keep it in your garage – you’ll probably not be able to access it if the damage is severe.

Nothing, like I said, will prepare you for the moment a large earthquake hits. The fear and adrenaline are intense and the disorientation is dumbfounding. But, your preparedness for the moments right after a quake can make the comforts of home enough to get you through mother nature’s moody behavior.

To connect with Melissa Sims please email her at Melissa.Sims@TheBoutiqueRE.com

Are buyerʼs agents becoming obsolete?

By: Melissa Sims, The Boutique Real Estate Group

The Boutique Real Estate Group

In todayʼs digital age, buyers have incredible amounts of information at their finger tips,

literally. I have had buyers walk into an open house, smartphone in hand, not needing

information from me because they already know exactly how many square feet there

are in the home, what school district it is in, and what the asking price is. Most of these

buyers were not represented by an agent, so it begs the question: are buyerʼs agents

becoming obsolete? Am I worried, as a Realtor, that this will affect my career?

The answer to both questions is an astounding NO. While buyers have information at

their finger tips, many of the avenues in which they get that information are notorious for

inaccuracy. Information can be incomplete and outdated, and sometimes, just plain

incorrect.

However, I absolutely applaud buyers that have done their homework. It makes my job

smoother and easier. But, the property search function is a very small part of the entire

process. Regardless of how educated buyers are, most do not know the ʻins and outsʼ

of a real estate transaction. The amount of paperwork alone is enough reason to hire

an agent. And, if you happen to enter into a transaction where the selling agent isnʼt

aware of the disclosures needed, you could find yourself unprotected. In addition, when

you walk into a transaction without an agent, you are automatically hiring the sellerʼs

agent. Whose best interest does that agent protect? By law, it is supposed to be both

of yours. But in reality, that may not always be the case. Protect yourself.

With all of the new master-planned communities being built in the next few years,

bringing a licensed real estate agent with you when touring the properties for the first

time is the way to ensure that you are the most prepared you can be for the one of

biggest financial decisions of your life. We are here to be your advocate, your

negotiator and your friend through the process. We are here to guide you through the

contract process, inform you of your rights, and be the go-between for uncomfortable

scenarios that often arise.

You can search on You Tube for “how to perform an appendectomy” and it will give you

step-by-step instructions on removing an appendix. So are you going to go out and buy

some surgical tools and do it yourself? We certainly hope not! When making such a

huge financial decision, wouldn’t it make sense to use every tool available to you?

Especially when the tool is free to you?

Seems like a no-brainer to me.

To reach Melissa Sims directly please email her at Melissa.Sims@TheBoutiqueRE.com or 714-616-6442 or visit her at www.TheBoutiqueRE.com/Melissa-Sims

Top Resorts in Southern California | Melissa Sims | The Boutique Real Estate Group

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Recently, Conde Nast magazine released their annual ‘Top Resorts In Southern California’ list.  Four of the resorts in the top ten are right here in Orange County, believe it or not.

Just making it in to the top ten, the St. Regis Monarch Beach received the #9 spot on Conde Nast Traveler’s list.  With numerous awards, from Forbes five-star, AAA Diamond, Travel & Leisure Top Spas, it is no wonder that this resort has withstood the test of time.  Probably best known for it’s challenging, award-winning Robert Trent Jones golf course, the resort has been a staple in Orange County for decades.  Rumor has it that the sand in the bunkers has crushed abalone to help give it that ‘sparkle’ that no other resort around has.  Designed with impeccable detail, the St. Regis has a Mediterranean flair, complete with grand fountains and courtyards.  The entire resort and golf course have spectacular views of the gorgeous Orange County coastline.  Visit http://bit.ly/Hd6Lda to reserve.

The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel in Dana Point is #7 on the list.  Located atop a 150-foot bluff, the Ritz-Carlton encompasses luxury.  It evokes a kind of romanticism that feels novel-worthy.  The resort’s impeccable design, coupled with its gold standard of service, have given it an impressive track record of success.  World-class surf just below, amazing restaurants and some of the best weather anywhere, and views up and down the coastline of Orange County make you realize just how special the resort is. http://bit.ly/Hd6IxZ

Almost topping the prestigious Conde Nast list is The Montage in Laguna Beach, making it to the #2 spot. Perched on a cliff in the arts and crafts city of Laguna Beach, the Montage lends a sense of serenity and artistry that is, in my opinion, unmatched.  Laguna Beach began as an artist’s colony in the 1800s and continues its tradition of creativity through art festivals and galleries, a world-renowned outdoor theater and spectacular restaurants.  No hotel could fit the mold of this town more perfectly than The Montage.  From the bungalows, to the chic pool, to the 5-star dining, the Montage lends an air of sophistication that leaves its guests feeling elite and its onlookers feeling mystified.  To make reservations, visit http://monta.ge/H8rizc

I have saved the best for last…The Resort At Pelican Hill embodies everything that is Orange County: extraordinary, awe-inspiring beauty, exclusivity, and elegance without being ‘stuffy.’  The list of awards received is too numerous to detail here; Pelican Hill has not only received the #1 resort in Southern California but also the #1 resort in the entire US.  Having been built in a Palladian style, the resort appears as if it is nestled in the rolling hills of Northern Italy.  Pelican Hill is located in the prestigious and exclusive Newport Coast, home to some of the world’s most spectacular views and exquisite homes.  With a 36-hole Fazio designed championship golf course, award winning dining, enviable views and a location unmatched by any other resort in Orange County, it is no wonder that Pelican Hill has received the honor of the number one spot.  To learn more about this exclusive resort, visit http://bit.ly/18GZFax

I am not surprised that Orange County is home to some of the most beautiful resorts in the world; after all, it has earned the nickname “The Golden Riviera.”  Today, I may just take a moment to enjoy this paradise I am so fortunate to call home.  Drive down the coast, stop by one of these amazing resorts for a spa treatment, a round of golf with a friend, or a bite to eat.  Or maybe I’ll just drive past and be immersed in a sense of tranquility and beauty that is incomparable – a tranquility and beauty that is Orange County.

For more information, please contact Melissa Sims at 714-616-6442 or www.TheBoutiqueRE.com/Melissa-Sims

Wanderlust

By:  Melissa Sims | The Boutique Real Estate Group

October 15th, 2013

Some may call me a wanderer, a nomad, a gypsy.  I can’t say that I ever stayed in one place too long…enduring the desert weather of New Mexico, the humidity of Texas, the sub-zero temperatures of New York & Wisconsin, and basking in the sunny days of Southern California.  In fact, my current home is the longest I have stayed in one place. Before I moved here, my longest stint in one city was – wait for it – three whole years!  That’s a lot of moving for someone as young (at heart) as me.

But those days are over.

Foothill Ranch does that to people.  It lures you in with its rolling hills, beautiful natural landscapes, sense of community and that certainSOMETHING you can’t quite put your finger on.

Perhaps it’s the proximity to just about everything?  ‘Foothill’ as residents call it, feels far enough removed from the hustle and bustle, but close enough to everything to not feel burdened by the quiet.  Just a five-minute drive away, the Irvine Spectrum has amazing dining and shopping.  Or, if you aren’t in the shopping mood, Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park has some of the best hiking, mountain biking and wildlife-watching in all of Orange County.  Maybe you feel more like skateboarding or BMX riding?  Well, you’re in luck – Foothill Ranch is home to the world-famous Etnies Skate Park, a free-amenity to all Foothill residents.  Looking for a California Distinguished School that is in the top 5 in the district?  Yeah, we have that too.

Or, maybe, just maybe, you feel like sitting in your own backyard, relaxing and listening to the peaceful sounds of nature.  You won’t hear traffic, or freeways, or sirens around here.  It’s a little slice of paradise.

My wanderlust is staying at bay for now.  Nine years in, and I may just spend the next twenty happily trying to figure out just what it is that makes this place so special.

To meet Melissa Sims please visit www.TheBoutiqueRE.com/Melissa-Sims

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