Clean, soft sand and cliffside views make Salt Creek good enough for the most privileged of beachgoers: hotel guests at the Ritz Carlton, which overlooks the large beach. While the way in and out (or rather, up and down) can be tricky with a stroller, the park area and long, sandy beach make it worth the effort.

Atmosphere: Not just for Ritz Carlton patrons, Salt Creek attracts surfers, hikers and families looking for lots of room to roam. With miles of trails, paved pathways and spectacular views, most visitors bring some supplies and stay awhile.

Parking and Entrance: Park in the pay lot near Bluff Park and make your way through the tunnel and down the long ramp to the beach. Remember whatever you bring down is coming back up with you, so pack wisely if you’re not taking the stroller.

Nice Walks and Views: Walk through the Ritz Carlton grounds along the blufftop for a view of Catalina Island. For those with a baby carrier, try hiking through the golf course or inland in one of the regional parks, Aliso and Wood Canyons and Laguna Niguel.

Activities for Toddlers: The sand here is so soft your toddler could practically eat it. For a break from the giant sandbox, bring a ball and run with him up the giant hill.

Bathrooms: Bathrooms are at the top and bottom of the hill.

Perks for Parents: Surfers cherish this beach for its varied wave styles. Or, if you’re more of a land mammal, pick up some burgers and grill in one of the BBQs around the park.

Where to Stay with Kids: Let’s assume you’re not staying at the Ritz with a little creature apt to destroying others’ property. Check out Dana Point for hotels.

Baby-friendly Restaurants: There is a seasonal snack bar on the beach; however, if you want something a bit more exciting (and expensive), try Salt Creek Grille in Dana Point.
They’re known for steaks, so chew well before giving to baby.

What Else to Do: Most of Laguna Niguel is open space dedicated to hiking, biking and horseback riding. For more of a city excursion, drive south to Dana Point.

Photo by SD Dirk