And we are still in sunny California! We are driving from Los Angeles to San Diego and we are finally in Orange County, the Laguna Beach, a seaside resort of about 24.000 inhabitants blessed by luck for its position on the Pacific Ocean which gives it a mild climate and a spectacular hilly profile dotted with rock formations, beautiful beaches and parks.
The city attracts visitors from all over the world, like us, and it is precisely from its coastal strip of almost 15 kilometers that we want to start discovering it. Sea, coast and beaches are the flagships of Laguna Beach that make it one of the favorite Californian destinations, to put it in local terms: a top destination (it “sounds” very good). But when you arrive in the city, much more has a pleasant involving effect, starting with the warm hospitality.
- The beaches of Laguna Beach
- Crystal Cove State Park
- Crescent Bay Beach
- Shaws Cove
- Main Beach Park
- Victoria Beach
- Aliso Beach Park
- Table Rock Beach
- 1000 Steps Beach (Thousand Steps Beach)
- Three Arch Bay Beach
- The natural parks of Laguna Beach
- The other attractions
- Laguna Beach events
- The best places for shopping
- Where to eat
- Where to sleep in Laguna Beach
- Where it is, how to reach it and how to get around
The beaches of Laguna Beach
Crystal Cove State Park
We start from the north where the beach of Crystal Cove State Park (8471 N. Coast Hwy.) Is a long, narrow strip of about five kilometers sheltered by a rocky profile where peace reigns, just what we are looking for right now. We too agree with the statement that this is one of the most beautiful California beaches of the south with the added value of its coral reef, natural pools and splendid corners, not to mention the immense forest behind it.
In this area, near Trancos Creek, there is also a Historic District which has 46 cottages dating back to the '30s and' 40s which are given a new life according to a refurbishment plan for public use. The beach is open from 6 in the morning until sunset while the historic district is open until 10 in the evening. It is advisable to visit this coast at low tide to appreciate it to the fullest.
Crescent Bay Beach
A North Laguna Beach, Crescent Bay Beach (Cliff Dr. & Barranca St.) is a large and popular sandy beach, with a few rocky spots. You can practice snorkeling, body-boarding, body-surfing and whale watching in April and May, an indelible spectacle and emotion! The shoreline has benches, toilets, showers and a lifeguard service. West of the beach, Crescent Bay Point Park (271 Crescent Bay Dr.) is a small grassy park on a bluff overlooking the ocean, coastline, and bay. The whole thing is really a "nice little place".
Shaws Cove it can be reached directly from the stairway in Fairview Street and measures more or less 200 meters in length. It is a somewhat secluded beach (that's why we like it), surrounded by rocks on which some houses stand. The main activities here are swimming, boogie-boarding and scuba diving especially on the western side (so they say). Beautiful photographs are taken of the waves breaking on the shore. It is forbidden to collect rocks, shells or any type of marine life.
Main Beach Park
The city center hosts a "green jewel", Main Beach Park (Broadway St. & Pacific Coast Hwy.), A very busy but not chaotic park. There is a relaxing walkway along which you can walk and look at Main Beach, the popular beach of the same name which is a direct continuation of it and where many sports activities are practiced. This is the largest beach in Laguna Beach at the stretch where Broadway and Ocean Avenue intersect the Pacific Coast Highway.
One of its standout features is the white lifeguard tower placed in the middle of the sandstrip which becomes a bit rocky at the north end. Main Beach is always crowded due to its proximity to shopping areas and restaurants, there are public toilets and showers, benches, picnic tables, games for children, a volleyball and basketball court. It is a beautiful coast for everyone, especially for families and young people but also for those who practice swimming, bodyboarding, snorkeling, kayaking and body-surfing. Surfing is not allowed in the summer months due to strong currents and waves. It is certainly not the ideal place for those looking for a secluded corner in direct contact with nature but it is still worth seeing.
The shoreline from Main Beach to Pearl Street Beach is a continuous strip of sand. Since there are stairways leading down from the side streets of the main artery, the municipality has given 12 different names to the beach segments. This beautiful walk is also worth it because you can return to the pavements of the Pacific Coast Highway whenever you want. Victoria Beach (2713 Victoria Dr.) is anything but a classic beach and it is precisely this feature that distinguishes it and makes it a fascinating place. It can be reached via the steps next to Victoria Drive.
On the beach there is the Victoria Tower, an enigmatic tower that looks like something out of a story and is known as the "Pirate tower". In reality it was just the staircase belonging to a family who owned the house at the top of the cliff. Built in 1926, the 20-meter tower rose up to the house with an internal access to the building that allowed the owners to access the beach. Just for the record, there appears to be a design flaw that made the ladder inaccessible at high tide. However, the tower remains something enchanting that lends itself to the free will of the imagination. Near it there is a pool with sand and salt water that fills with the ocean waves. On this beach, without services, you can practice volleyball, bodysurfing and scuba-diving. In our opinion it should definitely be visited.
Aliso Beach Park
A wide and popular family-friendly sandy beach is Aliso Beach Park (31131 Coast Hwy) in South Laguna Beach. There is also a convenient parking lot along Highway 1. Here people walk their dogs on leashes, children find lots of games, there are restaurants, showers and toilets. You need to be very careful of surfers in the water when deciding to swim.
Table Rock Beach
A Table Rock Beach (31681 Sea Bluff Ln.) The rocks are the protagonists both because they delimit the beach, which always creates a certain charm, and because in the bay there are almost everywhere, even in the water. A long row of wooden steps leads to the sandy beach but the staircase does not start from Highway 1 so it is not very easy to find, however we asked for information on the spot along the Table Rock Drive and from there they indicated the access to Bluff Drive.
It is pleasant to snorkel and when you look up you can see the seagulls circling against the background of the blue sky and the houses above the rocks that embrace the cove. The beach has no services. In the center of the coast there are boulders of various shapes and sizes. In this small cove there is a rock arch and at low tide it is possible to cross it to Totuava Beach, a beach that can be reached more easily from Thousand Steps Beach. On the south side of Table Rock Beach, many people climb rocks to access another hidden sandy shoreline. In a nutshell, this segment deserves to be scrutinized in all its corners as much as possible, according to one's abilities and paying close attention.
1000 Steps Beach (Thousand Steps Beach)
1000 Steps Beach (Thousand Steps Beach, 9th Ave.) is one of the largest beaches in South Laguna Beach with amenities as well as a volleyball area. The name might scare you, in reality the steps are "only" just over 220 for which it is worth walking, because then you get to its pools and caves where you want to venture, for example the one in the south end where you it can enter at low tide, cross the tunnel and emerge in a small rocky cove on the other side.
Also in the north end of Thousand Steps Beach there is a cave that you can always go into at low tide to get to a great beach to see, Totuava. All of this means that the 1000 Steps area is a remarkable natural environment. And here too, of course, maximum caution.
Three Arch Bay Beach
On the Mussel Coast we mention Three Arch Bay Beach although it is located in the private community of Three Arch Bay in South Laguna Beach. Unfortunately there is no official access to the beach from the adjacent coasts but, if you can ask for permission on site to go through one of the three stairways that go down to the beach, you can see three small natural arches at the north end of the bay that give the name of this delightful corner. Near the rock where the arches are carved there is another small sandy bay. There are strong currents at Mussel Cove and there are no lifeguards, so swimming is best avoided.
The natural parks of Laguna Beach
Although Laguna Beach owes much of its fame to its coasts, we would like to point out a couple of historic houses parks where the gaze turns to “greener horizons”.
Heisler Park (375 Cliff Dr.) is a large oceanfront park with walking trails, gardens, picnic tables, barbeques, a gazebo, sculptures, and a veterans memorial. This park provides access to the shoreline and is equipped with outdoor toilets and showers.
It is an oasis in the green Laguna Coast Wilderness Park (18751 Laguna Canyon Dr.), one of the last canyons on the south coast of California with 64 kilometers of trails amidst willows, oaks, sycamores, grasslands, coastal scrub and hills from which to enjoy scenic views. Here you don't just go for walks, the area is ideal for mountain biking and horseback riding as well as for running. The park is open from 7 am until sunset, with parking for $ 3.
The other attractions
Predictably, the beaches and the coast took up most of the time available to us (and that's okay), but we still have a few hours to visit three places starting with Saint Francis by the Sea (430 Park Ave.), the second smallest Catholic cathedral in the world built in the 30s with just 42 seats measuring just under 94 square meters.
Il Laguna Art Museum (307 Cliff Dr.) is a museum that exhibits works created exclusively by Californian artists who have represented the life and history of the state following all styles from the 19th century to modern times. Even those not particularly interested in art will be pleasantly surprised. Admission costs $ 7 for adults, $ 5 for over 65s and students. It is free every first Thursday of the month from 17 to 21 pm and is closed on Wednesdays.
Of a completely different kind is the Pacific Marine Mammal Center (20612 Laguna Canyon Rd.), A property that everyone likes. Here marine beings are rehabilitated and released into freedom but above all studied for the future well-being of the species. There is also a butterfly garden on the site. Daily admission, from 10am to 16pm, is free but donations are appreciated.
Laguna Beach events
- Events taking place in the city help to attract even more visitors. Summer is time for performances of the Pageant of the Masters (650 Laguna Canyon Dr.), a living reproduction of works of art through figures made up and dressed in such a way as to replicate the characters of masterpieces. One ticket is valid for all shows. To the Sawdust Art Festival (935 Laguna Canyon Rd.) Laguna Beach artists and craftsmen display their works along covered walkways that cross a handcrafted village: works in ceramics, glass, wood, jewelry and even clothing.
From June to September you can participate in this event from 10 to 22 while between November and December the operation is for 5 weekends and the nice thing is that the setting is transformed into a wonderland given the imminence of the holidays. .
There is no shortage of artisan craft demonstrations, live music and an outdoor café. Admission is $ 8 for adults, $ 6 for over 65s and $ 4 for ages 6 to 12. In the location of the Sawdust Art Festival at different times of the year the Bluewater Music Festival. On those occasions, in addition to music, he ranges from cooking to visual arts: sculpture, painting, printing, ceramics and photography. Similarly, from June to September theArt-A-Fair (777 Laguna Canyon Rd.) When artists from all over the world show off their mastery in the art of photography, jewelry, ceramics, glass, leather, wood and sculpture. There are also courses with laboratory moments.
Here too there are restaurant corners and you can listen to live music. Admission costs $ 8 for adults, $ 6 for over 65s and students, and free for under 12s with a paying adult. We have now noticed how much interest in art is present in Southern California and here in Laguna we have had further confirmation. The artistic events are many and frequent so it is very likely to be able to attend one of the many.
The best places for shopping
In Laguna Beach we discovered how generous nature can be, but now we want to savor a little liveliness and so let's move on to the energy, colors and commercial realities of the city; we want to live its beating heart.
For a while Shopping we reach theHip District along the Pacific Coast Highway, bordered by Thalia Street in Bluebird Canyon. Here the shops and activities range from clothing to jewelry, from massages to beauty treatments, from books to flowers and from home decor to art galleries which currently number 27! There is also no shortage of tempting restaurants and cafes. And then in the city we seem to smell the scent of the breeze and the sea, so close, you can see it, and we know that a few steps (... sometimes a few more) are enough to reach it.
Where to eat
We report some restaurant in which to try the specialties of Laguna Beach. An informal place is the Ruby's Diner (1555 S. Coast Hwy.), A restaurant opened in 1982 but inspired by the 40s. You can also eat on the patio which is located on the roof and offers a view of the ocean. In front of the restaurant we stop to observe the exhibition of classic and vintage cars. The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and serves salads, soups, omelettes, appetizers, desserts, smoothies but above all good sandwiches. From Sapphire Laguna (1200 S. Coast Hwy.) Dishes are inspired by international cuisine with recipes from around the world, such as Malaysian black pepper shrimp, fish tacos, pork quesadilla and black chocolate creme brulee.
For a meal with an ocean view we recommend Splash Restaurant (1555 S. Coast Hwy.) Inside the Surf & Sand hotel where you can also eat on the patio. The place has medium-high prices and is renowned for its fish dishes but also serves meat, sandwiches, vegetables and at the weekend you can enjoy an excellent brunch. At the Montage Laguna Beach Hotel is located The Loft Restaurant (30801 Coast Hwy.) With American cuisine, but an added bonus is the beautiful beach view. Inside the restaurant, the “Cheese Gallery” is worth a visit with 50 different types of cheeses from both California and the rest of the world; here skilled masters of cheese transform this food into works of art.
Where to sleep in Laguna Beach
At Laguna Beach there is a wide choice of accommodation. The Surf & Sand (1555 S. Coast Hwy.) Has the appearance of a Mediterranean village. The rooms and suites have balconies with ocean views and fast internet access. The hotel has a spa, restaurant, meeting room and ocean view pool. L'Hotel Laguna (425 S. Coast Hwy.) Presents itself as a blend of Californian flair and European flair. Rooms and suites are different in their styles and have ocean or garden views. The hotel has a private beach, meeting room, spa, free wi-fi and a beach restaurant.
Il Montage Laguna Beach (30801 S. Coast Hwy.) Is a luxury hotel with a spa, ocean view pool and restaurants. The rooms and suites have a sea view and are furnished with a predominance of refined white color. In a casual-chic atmosphere surrounded by nature and not too far from the beach we recommend The Ranch at Laguna Beach (3116 Coast Hwy.) Where the spacious rooms and suites have a 360 ° view and fast wi-fi connection. There is also a spa, restaurant and 9-hole golf course. The hotel offers fitness, cooking and activity classes for all ages.
Search all Laguna Beach hotels
Where it is, how to reach it and how to get around
Laguna Beach can be reached via theinternational Airport di Los Angeles (1 World Way) in about 50 minutes or with the domestic airport John Wayne di Santa Ana (18601 Airport Way) approximately 30 minutes.
A rental car is perfect for giving a lot of freedom but sometimes someone prefers i mezzi public and then there are no problems because the Trolley Tower, a kind of bus active every day from 9.30 to 23.30 from June to September (every year it is necessary to check on which days of the month the operations begin and end) while in the remaining periods the service is active during the weekend (www.visitlagunabeach. com / trolley).