Laguna Beach is a beautiful village located along Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), midway between Los Angeles and San Diego. The seven miles of white sandy beaches and gorgeous green ocean are legendary and the weather is fabulous! Quite possibly the most beautiful spot on earth is located at Crescent Bay in Laguna Beach! There are hundreds of galleries, shops and restaurants in a comfortable and charming setting. Seasonal pageants, festivals and cultural events round out the perfect vacation destination. Come for the day or stay for a week (or more) - you will LOVE Laguna Beach and never forget your stay!
You can easily reach Laguna Beach by driving through Laguna Canyon. There are several parks along the way where you can hike up into the rocky canyon.
There are rattlesnakes and mountain lions so make sure you read the warnings before you start and take sun screen and plenty of water.
The drive is a nice change from high density living to rural wide open spaces leading down to the Pacific Ocean and Laguna Beach.
We recently took a walk (3/28/08) in the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park to get some exercise and check out the wild flowers. Here are some of the million pictures we took that day!
Take a few minutes to stop at the Koi Ponds in the canyon. The koi are very friendly and simply georgeous. Look for the ponds on the left not too far from the Wilderness Park.
Just before you get to the beach you will notice the Sawdust Festival grounds and the Pageant of the Masters and Laguna Theater sites. I cannot recommend the Pageant of the Masters enough…it is simply amazing. The pageant features the recreation of works of art using real people posed to look exactly like the original. The theater is outdoors, has live music and is really exceptional….it is VERY difficult to get tickets! Go online after 1/15 for the summer performance at www.foapom.com/site/overview_pom.asp or check Ebay for tickets at a slightly higher price.
We live about ten minutes from the beach and go as often as possible. Depending on the season and day of the week parking can be an issue. I always check the lot on the right just before Laguna Canyon meets PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) where you can park for approximately $2.00 for 1 ½ hours - maximum 3 hours. There is street parking and all days lots also available but I have really good luck finding a spot. Main Beach is right across the street and most shopping is within walking distance.
Main Beach is perfect for lying in the sun, people watching, body surfing or boogie boarding and you almost always see dolphins!
Many people swim just offshore for miles and many more just splash around in the warm, clear water. Take a walk north to the tide pools - depending on the tide you can see some really interesting creatures but don't be tempted to take anything with you…it is a protected area.
Hottest day in 100 years! Here are some shots from last Sunday at Laguna Main Beach - seems everyone had the same idea! (May 18,2008)
Look up from the tide pools and see Las Brisas Restaurant and their cabana overlooking the Pacific - perfect for a wedding or just a spectacular view. Las Brisas can be expensive for dinner or lunch but they have an amazing mid week brunch for $12.95 per person. Call them for reservations and details - you will not be disappointed!
Along the boardwalk there are a half court basketball and requisite beach volleyball and folks always looking for a game. There are also mosaic board tables in the park along the beach so bring your checkers or chessmen if you play. Benches are also provided all along the boardwalk so you can watch the waves without 'dealing' with the sand.
Walk south along the beach past the historic Laguna Lifeguard Station to the kid/s playground - perfect for the little ones. Next to the playground is a wonderful toyshop called Main Beach Toys where you can buy or rent the beach stuff you forgot. You can eat at Greeter's Corner Restaurant - outside is best - and see the statue honoring the Laguna Greeter, Eiler Larsen. He was an old gentleman who stood at the corner of Forest and PCH for years waving to everyone who drove by. Mr. Larsen is long gone but not forgotten!
The world famous Hotel Laguna is next as you walk south and it is home of the Terrace Café (one of my favorites) where you can sit outside, right on the ocean and enjoy excellent food at mid range prices.
Allow plenty of time to walk around the village and explore the amazing galleries and fun shops filled with treasures from the OC and around the world. My son loves the Candy Baron where you fill up buckets and pay by the pound! ARRRG! We all love to stop by the Fingerhut Gallery and see the Dr. Seuss paintings. There are always new treats when you walk up and down the streets and in and out of the shops. But leave room for Pizza and Pizookie at BJs Restaurant and Brewery. OMG a Pizookie is a hot, oven baked cookie (many choices but do choose chocolate chip) topped with ice cream served in a skillet….Note: order and eat the Pizookie first so you don't run out of room!
The Wyland Foundation, dedicated to promoting, protecting, and preserving the world's oceans, waterways, and marine life began here and is very evident as you travel around Laguna Beach and spot huge murals of whales and other sea creatures.
OK…time to get in your car and see some other sights….travel north on PCH to Crescent Bay Drive and park on the street when you get to the end. Walk through Crescent Park Point Park out to the edge of the cliff and quite possibly the best view in the entire world. South is Dana Point….straight out is Catalina Island and yes, that big rock is covered with seals and pelicans. Watch for pelican precisions flying inches over the water fishing in a row, whales and dolphins.
You can also spot small boats with fishermen checking their lobster pots. This is a great place to take a sack lunch and sit down and spend some time. You can sit in the tiny amphitheater style area or take a blanket and stretch out on the grass. Be sure to take you trash with you….because my family and I will probably be joining you shortly. We really do visit this special place about once a week, year round.
Down to your left is Crescent Bay Beach and you can get down there by simply going back out by your car and walking down the road (south) to the end and there are stairs to the beach. That is where the closest restroom is located and where many people love to scuba and snorkel. As is often the case - the walk back up is way worse than the walk down!!
Backtrack along the coast along PCH and turn right down Cliff Drive and find Diver's Cove and then the Laguna Beach Lawn Bowling Club. Park at each place (have quarters!!) and explore. The area at the Lawn Bowling Club is being updated and renovated but DO stop anyway. This is a really fabulous place to get up close to the rocky shore and crashing waves with very little effort!
Travel south on PCH past Main Beach through South Laguna and see motels, hotels (the Montage is our newest 5 Star beauty) and more galleries and restaurants. If you look up to the left….there are 'the hills' and you will probably spot a home or two you recognize from the TV show. Take a left on Laguna Avenue to Park Avenue to find Laguna Hills High School. Blue Bird Canyon is where homes slid down the hill several years ago. Turn left off off PCH on Cress to and just before you get there is Blue Bird Park - JJ's favorite when he was small. The homes that slid off the cliff are on the left past the park.
Immediately after you pass the Montage Resort and Spa there is a driveway leading down the hill on the beach side to a parking lot. This is a fabulous place to stop and park, take a walk along the cliff and then go down to the beach. Parking rates are similar to all public lots in the area - about $2.00 per 1 ½ hours with a 3 hour maximum.
A bit farther is Aliso Creek Beach where the waves lend themselves to skim boarding as they break very close to shore. The kids throw a board along the wet sand and jump on the board for a death defying ride. I understand it takes some practice! You can build a fire here in the containers (first come/first served) and there is a playground for the little kids. The ocean is a bit wild here so be careful…we had a rogue wave incident with a group of friends and the water often erodes the shore in winter and is prone to collapse stranding folks between a collapsing wall of sand and the crashing ocean waves.
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