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About an hour from Los Angeles International Airport and 90 minutes from downtown San Diego, is the well-known artist community of Laguna Beach. Apart from the wildly popular MTV reality series, Laguna Beach (2004-2006), the village is a setting of very natural beauty—both coastal and inland. You’ll find art everywhere, in hotels, dining rooms and sides of buildings, not to mention the galleries on Coast Highway (north and south) and along Laguna Canyon Road. When you’re not out enjoying Laguna Beach’s seven miles of coastline, stop by the Laguna Art Museum and enjoy the largest permanent collection by California artists such as John Baldessari. In the evening, take in a show at the Laguna Playhouse, the West Coast’s oldest continually-running playhouse.
The best option is to stay within walking distance of the beach so that you can leave the car at your hotel for all but day trips. In the northern area, holiday at the Best Western Laguna Brisas Spa Hotel, “99 Steps to the beach”. Try one of the rooms with the oversize whirlpool spas for two. Immerse yourself in the warmth of the sun while gazing towards Catalina Island and the ocean's expanse from the scenic rooftop terrace followed by a soothing swim in the sparkling outdoor pool. If chic, boutique hotels are your lodging style, stay at Seven4one, who offer Sand Valets to cater your day at the beach. In the south, for an all-inclusive vacation experience, there’s Montage Resort, boasting three swimming pools, three restaurants and craftsman architecture all situated on a rocky bluff with a short hike down to white sandy beaches. Looking to spend less? Across the street from the Montage is the Laguna Reef Inn. A local artist has owned this property for 30 years.
For Mexican food with California flair, dine at Las Brisas on PCH just north of Laguna Canyon Road. The rooftop lounge at K’Ya Restaurant is the perfect place for watching the sunset. When you’re looking for dining and dancing, try The White House, bringing it on since 1918.
If you're looking to get out of the hotel and do something active, Laguna Beach has a lot to offer both above and below the water. Did we mention art? Laguna Beach’s first art gallery was opened in 1918. For shopping, downtown’s Pacific Coast Highway is lined with galleries featuring drawings, paintings, sculptures, clothing and antiques. Each summer Laguna Beach attracts millions of visitors for three events, all in Laguna Canyon. The Pageant of the Masters is "where art comes to life". Picture this: a staged re-creation of well-known fine art—with humans! There’s music in the background, but if you think you’ll get bored, take a set of binoculars to see if you can catch a twitch. This is a hot event, so be sure to get your tickets in advance. Artists from all over the world compete for the opportunity to exhibit and sell at Art-A-Fair. Open daily during the summer, in addition to the art there are demonstrations, food, entertainment and workshops. Although the Sawdust Festival features activities throughout the year, the big push comes in the summer months. Permanently located in a grove of Eucalyptus trees, the festival was named for the sawdust spread on the ground to alleviate dust and mud. Laguna Beach is surrounded by mountains and parks. Take a hike in El Morro Canyon, Crystal Cove State Park, Laguna Wilderness Park or Aliso Woods Canyon’s 4,000 acres. Where there are rocky cliffs, there are tide pools. Sea creatures from small crabs and mussels to starfish. One of the best places is Treasure Island Cove just south of the Laguna Beach downtown near the Montage Hotel.
You can take a kayak tour, and, if you’re lucky, see a local sea lion or two. Jump in on a volleyball game at one of the public courts in Main Beach Park. Check with Laguna Beach lifeguards prior to your ocean adventure. Locations for allowable activities (including surfing and skimboarding) can change due to current water conditions and signs aren’t always obvious. When the ocean is calm, try scuba diving or snorkeling. Take the pedestrian walk south of downtown and discover the coves by taking stairways down from residential areas. North of Laguna Canyon Road is Divers Cove and Shaw’s Cove. One of the most popular surfing destinations is at the end of Thalia Street. For a map of locations and up-to-date conditions for Laguna Beach, visit Surf Forecast before your trip. Main Beach Park has great waves for boogie boards.
The city of Laguna Beach operates four routes on its Mainline Service and connects with the Orange County Transit Authority (OCTA) for countywide service. The Mainline Service is closed on Sundays. Beginning in late June through early August, Laguna Beach provides FREE shuttle service to visitors during the summer season. The shuttle runs seven days a week. The Laguna Beach bus depot has service which will connect you with the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner train in nearby Laguna Nigel.
Laguna Beach Music Festival
- June through August
Laguna Beach Music Festival
- July through August
Pageant of the Masters