Gather ‘Round the Fire

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Fire pits are perfect gathering spots for fall. | Photo by SVSimagery/shutterstock.com

Cozy up to these fire pits at restaurants, resorts and a local beach with friends and a few drinks this fall.

By Molly O’Brien

 

Fall is here—but luckily, in Southern California, that doesn’t mean spending any less time outdoors—it just means the opportunity to snuggle up by an outdoor fire while sipping a soul-warming drink.

When the air gets crisp and the autumn ocean breeze picks up, here are seven places in the Laguna Beach area to soak up the warmth of a glowing fire pit and snuggle underneath a cozy blanket with friends and family.

 

Cozy Staycations to Ignite Family Fun

Montage Laguna Beach

Roasting marshmallows isn’t a pastime reserved only for kids—and it’s not just for summertime, either, at Montage Laguna Beach. Guests of this luxurious property can enjoy one of two fabulous fire pits on-site, both of which boast impeccable views of the coastline below. One is situated on the cliff-top Ocean Lawn while the other is in front of Studio restaurant.

Although these pits are only open to guests who spend the night at the property, a visit to this upscale hotel can make a fantastic fall staycation close to home, especially when paired with some s’mores. Note: Marshmallows may only be roasted at the Ocean Lawn fire pit.

Montage Laguna Beach s'mores kit_courtesy of Montage Laguna Beach
A s’mores kit at Montage Laguna Beach | Photo by Montage Laguna Beach

Adorable kits in old-fashioned metal lunchboxes are available from the resort (through in-room dining) with enough ingredients to serve two. The kits come complete with marshmallows and wooden skewers for roasting them over the flames, as well as graham crackers and chocolate bars for the perfect fireside snack and an experience to be remembered for years to come, whether you’re snuggling up with your kids or your sweetheart.

For those who would rather enjoy a different dish or beverage while being mesmerized by the flames, guests may order food and drinks from nearby Mosaic Bar & Grille and bring them over to the fire pits.

Of course fire pits are far from the only amenity at this 258-room, beachfront property. Spanning 30 acres, it makes for a perfect retreat with two outdoor pool decks, a 20,000-square-foot spa and three signature restaurants with breathtaking coastal views.

 

Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach Resort & Club

At the Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach Resort & Club in nearby Dana Point, there are a plethora of fire pits to discover. Guests will find fire pits perched on the patio of Aveo Table & Bar, adding to the ambience in the center of the dining area, and at Monarch Bay Beach Club—only open to members and overnight guests. At the Beach Club, guests can sit at the fire pits while taking in the ocean views and noshing on Baja Beach Tacos, poke of the day or steamed mussels while sipping on a signature Blackberry & Basil Soda, Catalina Sunset or a Surf’s Up Sangria.

Fire Pit on Beach_courtesy of Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach Resort & Club
At the Beach Club, guests can sit at the fire pits while taking in the ocean views and noshing on Baja Beach Tacos or poke of the day. | Photo by Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach Resort & Club

Even the resort’s first-floor guest room and suite patios have their own personal, private fire pits for individual marshmallow roasting sessions. S’mores kits are also available.

Plus, spending time at this 400-room, AAA five-diamond hotel is an experience in itself—with its 30,000-square-foot spa, award-winning oceanfront 18-hole golf course and incredible variety of dining venues—there’s something here for everyone of every age and background to enjoy in autumn.

 

Eateries With Extra Flare

The Ranch at Laguna Beach

A collection of six fireside tables are available at The Ranch at Laguna Beach for locals and visitors to reserve online exploretock.com/theranchlb. Cozying up by the fire on the deck of this resort’s open canyon space offers a heightened sense of appreciation for being in the present moment.

DSC02170_courtesy of The Ranch at LB
At The Ranch’s fire pits, choose from a menu featuring oysters on the half shell, sweet and spicy duck wings, cheese and charcuterie boards, and more. | Photo by The Ranch at Laguna Beach

The 10-foot-long fire pits sit along the edge of The Porch, with views of the canyon and Ben Brown’s Golf Course. There’s enough space between each fire pit to allow for social distancing, while still offering the best canyon views from all angles. Tip: Keep an eye out for deer that occasionally wander across the greens at dusk, adding to the spot’s charm.

“It’s sublime … the fire pits just create this glow on the faces of your friends and family [and] just changes the atmosphere,” says General Manager Kurt Bjorkman.

There’s even a customized Fireside Menu, which serves a collection of craft cocktails—think Hot Butterbeer, Spiked Cocoa and the cinnamon whiskey-based Fire & Ice—local brews, California coastal wines and shareable plates appealing to every taste. Choose from sweet and spicy duck wings, cheese and charcuterie boards, oysters on the half shell, margherita pizza, chicken nachos piled high with toppings and Nueske’s smoked-bacon mac and cheese. From healthy bites to dishes of decadence, there’s something for everyone.

Ranch at Laguna Beach Fire Pit_courtesy of The Ranch at LB
The 10-foot-long fire pits sit along the edge of The Porch, with views of the canyon and Ben Brown’s Golf Course. | Photo by The Ranch at Laguna Beach

“You feel like you’re on your own little island,” Bjorkman says. “Once you get in that fire pit area, you won’t want to leave. And you can almost forget everything else around you, … just sit there and melt into your evening without having to worry about anything else.”

 

Las Brisas

Nestled next to Heisler Park, Las Brisas is a timeless classic for Laguna Beach dining destinations. This upscale restaurant is well-known for boasting some of the best panoramic ocean views in Orange County, paired with some of the finest cocktails and cuisine.

As the temperature cools down, the patio heats up, when guests gather around the restaurant’s large fire pit table outside and indulge in tasty bites and drinks with friends and family to toast a chilly autumn evening. The flames are encircled by an elevated blue-and-white tile counter with bar stools.

LasBrisasinterior -138_courtesy of Las Brisas
The flames at the Las Brisas fire pit are encircled by an elevated blue-and-white tile counter with bar stools. | Photo by Las Brisas

The Las Brisas menu is inspired by traditional dishes from Mexico, especially featuring fresh seafood. For fall, opt in for a glass of rich red wine or a handcrafted cocktail like a spicy margarita to celebrate the change in season. Share some tuna poke with avocado and mango or chips with salsa and guacamole before ordering entrees like butter-poached lobster or shrimp and crab rellenos.

Diners can still expect the same immaculate weather and ocean sights as every other time of year in Laguna Beach—but guests might want to don a cozy new cashmere sweater as opposed to a stylish sundress.

 

Sapphire, Cellar-Craft-Cook

Visitors can’t miss the fire pit at Sapphire, Cellar-Craft-Cook, which has been sitting front and center on the restaurant’s patio since its opening. This long fire table setup is perfectly placed for every table on the deck to be able to enjoy its warmth and ambiance—but those who arrive early enough can request to relax right next to it.

“This is typically the first set of tables to be sat when we open and the last to leave at the end of the night,” says Russ Bendel, owner of Sapphire, Cellar-Craft-Cook.

The team at Sapphire updates the menu each season with some completely new dishes and adjusts others to incorporate ingredients available that time of year. For fall—this menu will be launched in late September or early October—the signature schnitzel dish will be served with a twist: pumpkin spaetzle and a gravy incorporating apple cider, whole grain mustard and a bit of honey. There will also be hearty dinner specials like beef cheek as well as prime short rib stroganoff.

Sapphire Fire Pit_credit Sarah King
The long fire table setup at Sapphire, Cellar-Craft-Cook is perfectly placed for every table on the deck to be able to enjoy its warmth and ambiance. | Photo by Sarah King Photography

“These are just a few examples of specials that will be offered on our fall menu, as it will change on a weekly basis,” says Jared Cook, executive chef and partner, adding that some may be kept longer if they’re a hit.

The curated lineup of fall-themed cocktails will also help warm up diners when the coastal weather gets chilly. Gabe Whorley, regional beverage director and partner, gives a preview of some of the featured autumnal libations.

“We will be making a smoked pomegranate Old-Fashioned using our pomegranates from [the garden at our other restaurant,] Vine, and smoking the cocktails with our ‘smoke top’ smoker with cherry wood,” Whorley says.

 

Mozambique

Fire pits can also be found at Mozambique, which re-creates the feeling of South Africa’s colorful seaside restaurants. A standout spot in Laguna Beach, the eatery features rooftop dining with panoramic ocean views, live music and tasty, South African-inspired dishes and wines. For appetizers around the fire, choose from peri-peri chicken skewers or prawns, samoosas, hummus and pita, fresh oyster plates and more. Guests can explore all three levels of the restaurant, which offer a variety of different dining spaces.

fire pit out front_credit John Steingard
Fire pits can also be found at Mozambique, which re-creates the feeling of South Africa’s colorful seaside restaurants. | Photo by John Steingard

Get cozy at the fire pit on the intimate Durban Room patio on the weekends, or at one of the two fire pits in front of the downstairs entrance. There, diners can find open bench seating and a few stools to lounge with a drink and chat with a friend—or bird—while waiting to be seated. These pits are set up adjacent to the restaurant’s three resident birds, Nancy the toucan, and Beira and Pemba, the macaws—who frequently enjoy joining in diners’ conversations just to say “hello.”

 

An Outdoor Hot Spot

Grill ‘N Glow at Aliso Beach

The Grill ‘N Glow program hosted by Lost Pier Café gives visitors and locals the chance to easily rent and use portable fire pits on Aliso Beach, which is the only stretch of sand in Laguna to allow fire pits. The portable fire pit-grill combos are $85 for a three-hour rental, and will accommodate up to six people.

The grills are better for the environment than traditional fire pits as they use steel logs instead of wood, which reduces emissions. The fire pits are even mounted on “balloon” wheels, so users can easily roll them onto the sand. As a bonus, there are specialty provisions packages to buy, which include everything needed to roast s’mores seaside. Beach chair rentals may also be added to reservations, which can be made at lostpiercafe.com/firepit.

_7R35394_courtesy of The Ranch at Laguna Beach
The grills at Lost Pier Café are better for the environment than traditional fire pits as they use steel logs instead of wood, which reduces emissions. | Photo by The Ranch at Laguna Beach

Lost Pier Café also offers a full menu for those who would prefer to gather around the fire but let someone else do the cooking. Open daily until 6 p.m., the eatery serves breakfast and lunch with the likes of avocado toast, breakfast burritos and bagel sandwiches, ceviche, poke bowls, fish tacos, cheeseburgers, veggie rice bowls and more. Lost Pier also offers beer and wine, but that must be consumed on the cafe patio and is not allowed on the sand.

No matter how you decide to spend your time around the fire, it’s an experience made for a quintessential cozy fall memory.

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