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By Alina Motin

If you are like me, you’ve grown tired of listening to the networks' constant updates on the severity of the economy. And even though you are conscious about your spending, you still want to go out and enjoy your time with friends and maybe with your significant other. I live in Newport Beach, California, and I think this is a great location for a California vacation. I wanted to share some deals on local restaurants and recommend several affordable hotels that would make for a perfect budget getaway.

Here in Southern California, temperatures range in the 70s all year 'round. This couldn’t be a better place to escape the wrath of the winter (and since I am originally from Chicago, I am very familiar with the sorrows of having to go through those months.)

Deals are to be had in abundance these days. For example, the Hyatt Regency Newport Beach is offering a 3rd night free promotion right now. This beautiful hotel is within walking distance to the famous outdoor mall, Fashion Island. In this mall, you will see a very Newport-like scene — well-heeled people, many enjoying the outdoors with their children, and some bringing their dogs for adventures at the mall. Even if you are not in the mood to shop, walking through Fashion Island is a treat. The Pacific Ocean glimmers in the background, Koi pond — home to beautifully colored fish — is here, and kids can enjoy the carousel ride. There are lots of restaurants offering good deals. For example, the Yard House offers half-price drinks and appetizers for happy hour until 6 p.m. Monday though Friday.

If you want a romantic California vacation, you should probably to stay in Laguna Beach. The Pacific Edge Hotel sits right on the ocean. The hotel has a promotion for 10% off one night or 15% off two nights for stays through May 1.

To enjoy your time here during the day, drop in to see the art at the local galleries and make sure you take a long walk on the beach. At night, goover to Surf and Sand hotel to watch the most stunning sunset.  The hotel has a nice, but expensive, restaurant called “Splashes,” but you'll see the same sunset if you just have drinks at the bar.

After the sunset, head out to Zoolu Café (but you must make reservations there in advance). This is a perfect date place for your California vacation — with a lot of charm and a little bit of romance. The restaurant is known for its swordfish. I recommend getting the blackened swordfish and splitting it (the portions are huge). After your fabulous meal, head out to French 75 just down the street. They have music and a reverse happy hour where most drinks and appetizers are half-off. If you in the mood for a chocolate soufflé, it is to-die-for here.

The rest of your California vacation should be left to chance: to explore, to find things youlove, to meet new people. But at the end of it all, you will be wishing you lived in Laguna Beach.

Related Orbitz resources:

Alina Motin is an Orbitz market manager in Orange County.

Tagged: California

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