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There are oodles of beachy stopovers between L.A. and San Diego: Long Beach…Laguna Beach…Newport Beach. We've recently fallen for Dana Point, a pretty coastal town that’s got a decidedly chill and eco bent. (And it’s nice enough that celebs like Sofía Vergara, George Clooney and Warren Buffett have owned homes there.)

Here's a weekend itinerary we just have to do:

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Stay

The area is unpretentious, but the hotels are grand. If you seek surf and paddleboarding, a beautiful beach awaits below the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel’s 150-foot bluff. If you're a foodie, stay at the St. Regis Monarch Beach--and eat at Stonehill Tavern, chef Michael Mina’s award-winning restaurant (order the Morrow Bay black cod).

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See

You can spot a whale off the shore any day of the year here. Want to get up close and personal? Tour with Captain Dave’s and check out the deep from an underwater viewing pod.

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Explore

Drop by the recently renovated Ocean Institute and learn how to spot local shorebirds, cacti and coastal sage scrub on a two- to three-mile walk through the headlands. Don’t forget your binoculars. (Look for a red-beaked Heermann's Gull.) 

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Eat

Grab a light panini from local gem Coffee Importers. For dinner, have a seafood feast of bacon-wrapped prawns and cioppino followed by rich Lappert's Hawaiian ice cream at Cannons, which overlooks the marina.

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Drink

Ask for a table on the modern dock at Waterman’s. That Pacific view never gets old, does it?

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