I spent some time living in Laguna Beach earlier this year and want to share my Laguna Beach Travel Guide – all of my favorite places to relax, eat and catch the sunset!
About an hour or so from Los Angeles, this beachside town has quickly become one of my favorite places in the world — such a special, beautiful place right on the coast in Orange County. While it is a well-known destination, it still has the feeling of being very removed from busy LA and secluded from the world. With crystal blue water and rocky beach coves, Laguna is the ultimate California town with tons to see and do.
WHAT TO DO:
Be prepared for lots of fun in the sun
- The Beaches – of course, you already know this one! Laguna is known for its GORGEOUS beaches and they do not disappoint. Skip Main Beach (often crowded!) and instead opt for Thalia Street, Victoria or Thousand Steps (also known as 9th St).
- Paddle Boarding – while it’s very well-known for it’s surf spots, Laguna is also a great place to paddle board. Rent a paddle board at Laguna Surf + Sport for an hour or two and you’ll likely spot some dolphins.
- Explore the Arts – Laguna is well-known as an artists community and hosts a number of art events. Art Walk is the first Thursday evening of each month where you can walk around various art galleries while sipping on some vino (complimentary at the galleries). The Sawdust Festival is a favorite with local artists showcasing their work. Check out the booths with cool prints, jewelry, and more… and enjoy the food, drinks and live music!
- Farmer’s Market – while there are a ton of large and impressive farmer’s markets in California, this market (Saturday mornings) is smaller scale and laid back but don’t let that fool you as they offer an amazing selection of local farmed produce as well as locally prepared goods. I highly recommend visiting the Mangi Con Amori and Blessed Booch booths!
- Hiking – head to Top of the World or Molten Meadows and check out the hiking trails for a workout with an amazing view.
- Shopping – some of my favorite boutiques for beach chic clothing are: Merrilee’s, Muse, Blue Eyed Girl and The Shop Laguna. And for men, Thalia Street Surf Shop is always a good bet.
- Heisler Park – start your day off with a morning yoga session (9:15am, daily) here or take a stroll around sunset for the perfect ending to your day.
- Ride the Trolley – Laguna Beach offers free trolley service throughout most of the summer and each weekend of the year.
WHERE TO STAY:
Dreaming of falling asleep to the sound of waves on the shore?
- Pacific Edge Hotel – located in the heart of Laguna with waterfront views. What more could you want?
- Laguna Beach House – right on the ocean with an easy walk to downtown Laguna!
- Surf and Sand Hotel – a local staple featuring beach-front rooms and an incredible bar/restaurant (Splashes, located right on the sand of Bluebird Street beach).
- The Montage – whether you’re staying here or not, pop in for a drink with a view unlike most in Laguna or simply walk the grounds down to Treasure Island beach.
WHAT TO EAT:
Dining at local favorites
- Driftwood Kitchen – one of my favorite spots with oceanfront views, awesome ambiance (complete with a nautical theme) and delicious food.
- The Deck – right on the sand below Driftwood Kitchen (with the same owners!). Love coming here for a drink and some tuna poké.
- Watermarc – classic California menu with an amazing ambience. Sitting upstairs on the balcony almost feels like you’re in a treehouse!
- Sapphire – Brunch, lunch or dinner, this place serves delicious food. Oh, and they have a wonderful patio to enjoy the weather and do some people watching. Also check out their pantry next door for coffee and other yummy items to go, as well as one of the best burgers in town.
- Tortilla Republic – upscale Mexican with a California twist. They are located right in the heart of downtown and have patio seating! Try the chicken molé with a margarita (or a pitcher of margaritas with friends!)
- Selanne Steak Tavern – upscale steakhouse in a beautiful beach-adjacent cottage; you can’t go wrong with this fine dining menu and lively upscale bar scene.
- San Shi Go – delicious sushi (try the salmon lemon roll!) with a fun atmosphere for groups. Also check out Hapi Sushi for very laid back atmosphere and traditional sushi with a friend or significant other.
- Banzai Bowls – heading to the beach in the morning? Grab an acai or pitaya bowl on the way!
- Zinc Cafe – stop by for a coffee and avocado toast here before heading to the farmer’s market on a Saturday morning.
- The Rooftop – catch sunset on their rooftop for stunning views and happy hour drinks!
OUT ON THE TOWN:
The best spots for an unforgettable night out
- Sandpiper Lounge – this old, infamous Laguna haunt may not look like much but with strong drinks, family ownership, and the best live music in town, it’s no surprise that people from all over the world make sure to step on the dance floor and cut loose at the “Dirty Bird.”
- The Saloon – in the heart of downtown , this old stand-up bar will take you right back to the 30’s. Locals opt for a house drink called The Pine-O.
- Marine Room Tavern – This nearly hundred-year-old former biker bar has had a recent makeover and now features nightly live acts from bands all over the spectrum.
- Mozambique – This multi-level restaurant and bar has quickly become a local staple, especially since the recent addition of an incredible rooftop bar. Sunday nights often feature world class reggae acts.
Most of all, enjoy your time in lovely Laguna Beach!