This post about travel planning with the Expedia travel app was sponsored by Expedia, and the thoughts expressed here are our own as always.
It was Triton’s birthday recently, and we wanted to celebrate in a special way. In the past we’ve taken trips to places far and near for his birthday. We’ve sung Happy Birthday in Greece, Hawaii, New York, Costa Rica and more. Because of the pandemic, this year we needed to plan our celebration for a little closer to home. We depended on the Expedia travel app to help us plan a safe getaway to Dana Point – within road trip distance.
Like so many people these last months, we’ve been staying pretty close to home. For a family accustomed to traveling regularly this has felt particularly odd. Normally we would be planning a trip somewhere, deciding if we wanted to leave from the domestic or international airport terminal. These days the thought of getting on an airplane with our kids seems premature. But a road trip? That could be another story if we can find a safe option. We just wanted to go sit on the beach and relax in the sun and fresh air.
Expedia Travel App Helps Us Plan
We had a little family meeting and brainstormed places we might like to go. Our parameters were two-fold: find a place within reasonable driving distance; and feel confident in the safety precautions taken by the hotel and activities we choose. Pretty quickly, we all agreed we wanted to enjoy some time in the sun and fresh air. From there we began to narrow down our options.
Heading over to the Expedia app was a big help. Under search parameters, I entered a large geographic area to begin. We chose Orange County in Southern California as a starting point, since that would mean a drive of about 1.5 hours from our house in San Diego. We could drive our own car and feel confident inside our safe family bubble.
Narrowing the Choice of Location and Hotel
Within the many choices offered by the Expedia travel app for hotels within Orange County, I was able to sort and filter further. This was a huge timesaver and made the search so easy! Within the search criteria I could sort by price, deals, ratings and more. From there I chose to filter by star rating, budget, property type, neighborhood and a bunch of other options. I clicked a few boxes to narrow my search, and the Expedia travel app supplied me choices that fit my criteria exactly.
We ultimately decided on a safe getaway to Dana Point, California and the Monarch Beach Resort. The destination and the hotel were an ideal fit based on the parameters I had filtered in the Expedia travel app.
- Located at the beach? Check.
- Safety precautions to ensure our health at the hotel. Check.
- Plenty of outdoor activities so we could enjoy the California sun and fresh air? Check.
- Fits within our planned budget for this getaway? Check.
Time to book our getaway to Dana Point on the Expedia app.
Hotel Cleanliness of Paramount Importance
Our primary concern for this trip was finding a hotel within our chosen destination where we would feel safe from the pandemic. One of the main reasons we chose the Monarch Beach Resort was exactly for that reason. The Expedia app indicated this hotel took special care and they truly did. The hotel communicated their precautions very well, clearly stating all the things they were doing to ensure guests’ safety. After reading all their protocols and researching their reviews, the Monarch Beach Resort won our confidence.
We were not mistaken. This hotel is going above and beyond what is required, making sure every guest is protected. Masks and hand sanitizer stations are everywhere throughout the property. Our room was sealed to illustrate it had been sanitized for our family, and we broke the seal as the first to enter the room. Restaurant tables were safely positioned outdoors, and the workout facilities had been moved outside. Even the pool lounge chairs were socially spaced and carefully sanitized with a scientific contraption that sprayed each surface with a germ-killing agent. Oh, and the elevator buttons were self-sanitizing. That was a new one, but we were glad to see it!
And still, the Monarch Beach Resort made sure our experience was enjoyable. We did not feel like we were staying in an antiseptic hospital or something. It still felt comfortable, breezy, beachy and fun.
Booking Activities Via the Expedia Travel App
One of the things our family loves about the Expedia app is the variety of arrangements we can make using it. From my smartphone, I can book airline tickets (not this time), rental car if I don’t want to drive my own, hotel nights and a whole bunch of cool activities. Once we had decided on a getaway to Dana Point settled and had chosen the Monarch Beach Resort for our hotel stay, we started looking at things to do.
From the Expedia app, we viewed a giant list of options and ultimately decided on several things we thought would be fun. The girls really wanted to take a Stand Up Paddleboard lesson, which they were able to enjoy directly from the beach club at the Monarch Beach Resort. We also wanted to go whale watching and to see the famous swallows at the Mission San Juan Capistrano nearby.
We were able to do all these fun activities and more during our fun getaway to Dana Point weekend.
Whale Watching in Dana Point
Dana Point is the Whale Watching Capital of the World! Who knew? It quite literally has the best conditions for seeing whales and other sea life every single day of the year. We knew we wanted to take a whale watching tour, and our getaway to Dana Point seemed like the perfect opportunity.
Using the Expedia travel app, we located the whale watching tour we wanted to select and booked the tickets right through the app. As it turns out, the tour company we selected for our whale watching adventure has been operating from the Dana Point Wharf for more than 49 years. With that amount of history, we felt confident that the Dana Wharf Whale Watching and Sports Fishing knew their stuff!
And indeed they did. Our time on the boat was informational and fun with a dedicated crew and even two naturalists on board to tell us more about the animals we were spotting. As far as COVID safety, the crew had us covered. They communicated very strict protocols about social distancing, mandatory mask wearing and hand sanitizing at stations all over the boat.
The weather was perfect, the harbor was teeming with people enjoying the water, and we were as happy as clams.
Mission San Juan Capistrano
In the State of California, every fourth-grade kid learns about the missions that start in Loreto, Mexico and dot the coast every 50 miles all the way to Santa Rosa. However, Mission San Juan Capistrano is the jewel of the collection. In fact, it’s known as the Queen of the Missions for its beauty and preserved history. It’s famous for the swallows that migrate every year back to the eaves of the mission to build their nests. But it is really much more than that, and the grounds are so gorgeous.
As we walked the Mission grounds and took in all the history through their awesome recorded tour, we felt transported back hundreds of years. The impressions of Spanish missionaries and settlers were strong, and yet the history and presence of the indigenous people of the area was highly respected and included in the Mission’s stories. We’ve visited our share of California Missions in our days. But never before has this important information about the original people of this area been handled so inclusively in our tours until visiting the Mission San Juan Capistrano.
The surrounding old town of San Juan Capistrano is really quaint and walkable from the Mission. Lots of great restaurants are located nearby, along with galleries and shops that conjure days of old. Plus, San Juan Capistrano has one of the most beautiful little train stations we have ever seen!
Already Planning Our Next Trip
Our getaway to Dana Point was just what we needed. Now that we know we can travel safely and easily by using the Expedia travel app, we’re already thinking of where to go next! We may not get on an airplane for a little while yet, but there are so many places to explore on road trips. We’ll count on Expedia to guide us to locations where we know people are following COVID-safe precautions. And of course, where we can enjoy the beautiful surroundings and get outside of our house’s four walls!
I think I hear Big Bear Lake calling…
Thanks to Expedia for sponsoring this post!