Laguna Beach is a resort-residential community (population about 20,000) along the Pacific coast in South Orange County in Southern California. It is known for its extensive artist community, seaside village atmosphere, beautiful beaches, and luxury resort hotels. Fans of the Beach Boys will recall the mention of the city in the song "Surfin' Safari". In warm sunny weather, Laguna Beach can have an overwhelming Mediterranean-island ambiance. Laguna Beach attracts a few million visitors a year.
Orange County's John Wayne Airport, also known as SNA,  is only about 15 miles from Laguna Beach. From SNA, you can get to Laguna Beach by one of several ways: rent a car and drive (most popular), take a taxi (about $50), take a door-to-door shuttle (about $30) or limo, or take the OCTA [see Orange County Transportation Authority below] bus #76 ($2.50, runs hourly) to the Newport Transportation Center and transfer there to the OCTA bus #1 that runs to Laguna Beach via the Pacific Coast Highway. All of these modes may be found at the SNA's Ground Transportation Center across the street from Terminal A and B, with the exception of the OCTA bus #76, which is boarded at the OCTA Bus Stop at the far end of Terminal B curbside.
Laguna Beach is located along the Pacific Coast Highway (CA 1) at the "T" intersection of Laguna Canyon Road (CA 133), which becomes Broadway in town. When arriving on summer nights during Pageant of the Masters performances expect a lot of traffic along CA 133 and plan extra time to get into town.
From John Wayne Airport, you can take either Interstate 405 (to the north) or CA-73 (to the south and partway a toll road) to get to CA-133 and south to Laguna Beach. Alternatively, you can drive south from John Wayne Airport to Newport Beach and pick up CA-1 to Laguna Beach.
Amtrak and Metrolink stations are located in Irvine, Laguna Niguel, San Juan Capistrano, and San Clemente.
Laguna Beach is a linear town stretched along the Pacific Coast Highway (CA 1) punctuated by several canyons. In town, Broadway (CA 133, which becomes Laguna Canyon Drive out of town) divides the Pacific Coast Highway into the North Coast Highway and the South Coast Highway; address numbers increase outward from Broadway, with odd-number Coast Highway addresses on the ocean side.
By public transit
Orange County Transit Authority (OCTA). The OCTA Bus #1 runs up and down the Coast Hwy twice an hour. It also stops at the Transit Center on Broadway in downtown Laguna Beach. $1.50
Laguna Beach Transit operates three mainline fixed bus routes, hourly schedule, year round six days a week (6:30AM to 6:15PM weekdays; 9:20AM to 6:15PM Saturdays; no service Sundays). The Gray route services North Laguna, Laguna Canyon, and Top of the World. The Blue route services Bluebird Canyon and Arch Beach Heights. The Red route services the South Coast Hwy corridor from Downtown to Ritz Carlton (Dana Point) and back. All buses loop back to the Transit Center on Broadway in downtown. Adults 75 cents.
The FREE Summer Shuttle Service is a four-line service to accommodate locals and visitors going to the Pageant of the Masters, local art festivals, etc. Beginning in late June through the end of August, the four Summer shuttle routes operate seven days a week from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Frequency 30 minutes.
Although a car may be convenient, parking is at a premium in the summer; beware of having your car towed. You'll probably have to pay to park downtown in beach weather. The cheapest option is parking in the residential areas on the other side of Pacific Coast Highway. If you are trying to get downtown a good place to park is the district parking lot just across from Laguna Beach High School. From here you can take a short walk into town. Lot prices in the summer range from $7 - $15.
Before seeing anything, visit the Laguna Beach Visitors Bureau, 252 Broadway (tel. 800/877-1115 or 949/497-9229). It is located in the heart of town and distributes lodging, dining, and art gallery guides. It's open Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm, and Saturday from 10am to 4pm (plus Sundays in the summer).
Art-A-Fair, 777 Laguna Canyon Road, ☎ 949-494-4514, . Sun-Thurs 10-9; Fri & Sat 10-10. The Art-A-Fair Festival is one of three premier outdoor art shows held annually in Laguna Beach. Located in Laguna Canyon between the Sawdust Festival and Festival of Arts in a beautiful garden setting, it features over 125 artists, plus live entertainment, fine food, demonstrations and workshops. Artists from California as well as many other states and countries apply annually and are accepted through a jury system, which contributes to the high quality of art and master crafts among participants.$3.50-7.00.
Festival of Arts, 650 Laguna Canyon Rd, . 10AM-11:30PM during the summer. This fine art festival showcases Orange County’s most accomplished artists during the summer months. Held on the same grounds as the Pageant of the Masters, there are demos, music, and food available in addition to the artwork.
Pageant of the Masters, 650 Laguna Canyon Rd, . Held nightly during the summer, the Pageant of the Masters advertises itself as the place "where art comes to life", which is about the best description that could be given of an event that is unlike any other. For over seventy years this annual pageant has presented recreations of famous paintings, statues and other works of art on a stage with orchestral accompaniment. The catch is that real people act as models for the subjects depicted. The artwork is textured in such a way that it is often impossible to distinguish the 3-D reproduction from a 2-D image, so bring binoculars to get a closer look. Tickets sell out early every year, so plan ahead to attend this event.
Every summer there is the Sawdust Festival 935 Laguna Canyon Rd. It is going on at the same time as the Pageant of the Masters. Lots of brilliant local (Laguna Beach) art to look at.
There is very good scuba and skin diving in Laguna. Diver's Cove is in north Laguna.
There are some good surfing breaks in Laguna however it is always best to check with lifeguards for the designated areas since it is not allowed at many beaches. But be weary and considerate since several breaks are pretty localized. Surfing tends to be more laid back at Thalia st since there are already a ton of people out in the water anyways. Grab a sponge board and hit the glassy shore break at Main Beach, or the neck breakers at Crescent Bay.
CAUTION: Laguna is notorious for its shore breaking waves which cause countless neck and back injuries year round. Checking with lifeguards about the conditions is alway a must if you are thinking about going out in the water for your first time.
There are some steep streets going to Top of the World and Arch Beach heights that are great for downhill skateboarding. Especially the fire road between T.O.W and Arch Beach heights. While you're up there check out the amazing view and a beautiful sunset.
Awesome tide pools at Moss Street--bring the kids and check out some sea anemones.
Experts only skimboarding at Victoria Beach and Aliso however there are strict rules about skimming during the summer.
Good mountain biking in Laguna Canyon and Laguna Wilderness Park. Laguna's mountain biking tends to be very vertical and will test your limits. Going off roading from the fire road between Arch Beach Heights and T.O.W. can be quite a rush.
Take a hike out in El Morro canyon.
Have a picnic in one of the many beautiful parks in the Laguna area.
Laguna Beach Art Tours (artists home tours), 1200 S Coast, ☎ 714-270-0388, . by appt. Get an insider's peek into the hidden world of artists with Laguna Beach Art Tours' home tours. Enter artists' private home studios, see live art demos, amazing locations + purchase original art. Tours ideal for corporate groups, clubs or any special day; by appointment. $55 & up.
The sales tax here is 8.25%, .5% higher than all other Orange County cities.
Check out the art galleries on Coast Highway, e.g., the stretch north of Bluebird Canyon. Its a nice stroll.
SoCal Sports Massage, 1000 No Coast Highway, ☎ 949-903-4639, . Daily by appointment. A professional therapeutic and sports massage practice as well as spa party planners. Modalities practiced include Neuromuscular, Trigger Point, Deep Tissue, Therapeutic & Sports Massage.
Costa Azul Itn'l, 689 S. Coast Hwy Laguna Beach, CA 92651, ☎ 949-497-1423, . 9am-8pm 7days. Stand up paddle & surf lessons $95 for private. $75/person for semi-private. Lessons include wetsuit and board.
Food here can be very expensive. There are some great Mexican restaurants and some cheaper lunchtime places.
Adolfo's Mexican Food, 998 South Coast Hwy at Anita Street. ($reasonable)
Café Zinc, 350 Ocean Ave in downtown, 949/494-6302. Vegetarian café serving breakfast and lunch.
Gina's Pizza and Pastaria, 610 N. Coast Hwy, 949.497.4421; 1100 S. Coast Hwy. 949.494.4342. Two locations for some great Italian food, lunch and dinner.
Healthy Chinese Cuisine, 215 Broadway in downtown, (949) 281-6794. Probably the best eatery in this open-air Food Court near the corner of Broadway and S. Coast Hwy.
La Sirena Grill, 347 Mermaid Street, (949) 497-TACO (8226) in downtown Laguna Beach, . Monday to Saturday ~8:00 am to 9:00 pm. Looks like a hole in the wall, seating is limited to a few barstools and handful of tables and benches, but the best Mexican food. Fortunately there is a second location, which looks like a restaurant and has the same menu, but no breakfast, at 30862 S. Coast Highway in the Aliso Creek Shopping Center with Albertsons and CVS, across the street from the Montage.
Orange Inn, 703 South Coast Hwy, (949) 494-6085. Good for breakfast & brunch, sandwiches, smoothies, coffee and tea.
Taco Loco, 640 South Coast Hwy, 949/497-1635. Fast-food ambiance, but quality of the food equals many higher-price restaurants. Favorites include Cajun-spiced seafood tacos, blackened lobster tacos, and the mushroom-and-tofu burgers. Opens late on Friday and Saturday, til 2am.
The Stand, 238 Thalia St., near South Coast Hwy, 949/494-8101. If any eatery can be called typically Laguna, this might be it. Only organic vegan ingredients are used in preparations. Smoothies, salads, and pita sandwiches are favorites. Open 7-7 daily.
Wahoos Fish Taco, 1133 South Coast Hwy, ☎ (949) 497-0033, .
C'est La Vie Restaurant and Bakery, 373 South Coast Hwy in downtown (949) 497-5100. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Dinner main course $15-18.
Five Feet, 328 Glenneyre St, in downtown, 949/497-4955. California Pacific Rim cuisine. Main courses $18 up.
French 75 Bistro, 1464 South Coast Hwy, near Mountain Rd, 949.494.8444. Contemporary renderings of classic bistro dishes. Dinner only. Entrées about $18-$38; Prix Fixe Menu $30. Early Entrées at half price 5-6:30pm.
Hotel Laguna, 425 South Coast Hwy. The deck has great views of the beach and (relatively) cheap food like burgers and salads.
La Paz. An awesome view looking south from Heisler Park.
Las Brisas, 361 Cliff Dr., off North Coast Hwy. Mexican restaurant that has a patio with some great views of the ocean. Mediocre and expensive food, but excellent views. It gets pretty packed on a nice summer day.
Mosun, 680 South Coast Hwy., 949/497-5646. Restaurant-nightclub serving Pacific Rim cuisine, with fresh sushi and large selection of sake. Entrées include teriyaki steak and pan-seared, five-spice duck breast.
Olamendi's, 1100 South Coast Hwy, #202. Mexican restaurant with a view and an extensive menu, including a Lite Menu (300 calories). Dinners about $15.
Ti Amo, 31727 S. Coast Hwy., 949/499-5350. Creative Mediterranean cuisine. Try the seared ahi with a sesame-seed crust.
Marine Room downtown.
The Sandpiper is about six blocks south of Main Beach, it offers good local music.
Brussels Bistro, 222 Forest Ave, ☎ (949) 376-7955, . Brussels Bistro offers live jazz Tuesday through Thursday. On Friday and Saturday the brasserie-style restaurant transforms into one of the hotter nightclubs in town. Happy hour is offered daily from 4-7 p.m.
The Whitehouse, 340 South Coast Hwy, ☎ (949) 494-8088. The White House Restaurant & Nightclub in Laguna Beach is almost certainly the oldest, restaurant in Orange County. Since it's opening in 1918 The Whitehouse has been totally renovated and remodeled, and includes dining room with adjacent lounge bar and dance floor. Live music is featured 7 nights a week.
Aliso Creek Inn, 31106 South Coast Highway, , Fax: , . Aliso Creek Inn & Golf Course offers full service suite lodging featuring full kitchens, dining, banquets, meeting services, golf and recreation amongst the historic and inspiring Aliso and Woods Canyons. The Canyon Lodge Special Event Venue accommodates up to 300 guests perfect for a memorable corporate event or celebration.
Art Hotel Laguna Beach, 1404 North Coast Highway, +1 949 494-6464, Fax: +1 949 494-9776, . Formerly America's Best Inns. Across the street from the ocean and Crescent Bay Park.
Best Western Laguna Brisas Spa Hotel, 1600 South Coast Highway, +1 949 497-7272, Toll-free: +1 888 296-6834, Fax: +1 949 497-8306, .
Casa Laguna Inn & Spa, 2510 South Coast Hwy, ☎ (800) 233-0449, . checkin: 3 PM; checkout: 11 AM. Bed and Breakfast across from the ocean in Laguna Beach. Full service spa, charming unique rooms and suites with modern amenities, gourmet breakfast prepared with local ingredients, afternoon wine and cheese, high speed internet, and ocean view garden hot tub. $159-$649.
Holiday Inn Laguna Beach, 696 South Coast Highway, (at Cleo Road, northeast corner) +1 949 494-1001, . Convenient location, across the street from ocean access and a Ralph's supermarket open 24 hrs.
Laguna Reef Inn, 30806 South Coast Highway, +1 949 499-2227, Toll-free: +1 800 922-9905, Fax: +1 949 499-5575, . Formerly Best Western. To close in 2010; bought by Montage across the street.
Laguna Riviera Resort on the Beach, 825 South Coast Highway, +1 949 494-1196, Fax: +1 949 494-8421, .
Montage Resort & Spa Laguna Beach, 30801 South Coast Highway, Phone: 1-866-271-6953,  Sumptuous oceanfront hotel on a bluff with superb service, gorgeous grounds, and delightful views. Facilities for meetings, weddings, spa retreats, as well as a variety of fine dining restaurants.
Sunset Cove Villas, 683 Sleepy Hollow Lane (Located off of Pacific Coast Highway at the intersection of Cleo St.), . Has one, two and three bedroom accommodations at a central downtown location with panoramic ocean views. Each villa has fully equipped kitchens, entertainment centers, satellite television and internet access and key-card security doors.
La Casa Del Camino, 1289 S. Coast Highway, . Built in 1929 as a seaside retreat for Hollywood movie stars, this elegant Mediterranean style landmark offers lodging accommodations with their own unique characteristics and antique furnishings.
Inn at Laguna Beach, 211 North Coast Highway, ☎ (949) 497-9722, . A luxury hotel in Orange County featuring oceanfront suites, for business and leisure travel. This Laguna Beach hotel also offers romantic vacation packages, wedding venues, catering and meeting rooms.
The Retreat In Laguna, 729 Gaviota Drive Laguna Beach, CA, ☎ 949-376-7170, . Completely renovated in 2010, the villas of The Retreat in Laguna offer luxury Laguna Beach vacation rentals and extended-stay accommodations that sleep 4 comfortably.
"Oh, please do...", locals will say. John Wayne (actor and Newport Beach republican) Airport is only twenty minutes away on a good day.
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