Everything You Need to Know About Visiting Laguna Beach
So, you're going to Laguna Beach. Or... you want to go to Laguna Beach. There really isn't any other option, unless, of course, you're already *in* Laguna Beach, and in that case, why are you reading this? Go enjoy the perfect beaches, chill artsy vibes, and perfect weather. Laguna Beach, a former artist enclave, still radiates a creative spirit. Marry that with a strong surf culture (and a few luxurious beach mansions), and you've got a recipe for a place unlike any other. It's our very own American version of the South of France and Positano all in one. And everybody speaks English! Here's your comprehensive guide to Laguna Beach.
If your wallet can manage it, the move is the Montage. This oceanfront property does everything right, from the light plush beachy rooms, to the can't-be-beaten service, to that beautiful damn pool surrounded by the cushiest of chaises. Everything here is perfect, so perfect that you could come here and not even feel the need to explore the rest of Laguna, as it's situated on one of the town's best beaches, Treasure Island Beach... but you're here to explore! So be sure to make some time to go into town and check out the rest of what Laguna has to offer. (the Montage offers a chaufer service, Uber and Lyft are also available, but the most fun way to get around is the free local Laguna Trolley, which operates all summer). If the Montage is a little too 💰, and let's be real, for most of us, it is... try the historic Laguna Beach Hotel, a beachy Airbnb apartment on the beach, or just a few miles south, rent a cottage at historic Crystal Cove (not technically in Laguna Beach, but a quick bus ride away, and a State Park!).
There's no shortage of great food in Laguna. But that shouldn't come as a surprise. Locals and visitors alike love to dine al fresco on Mexican plates at Las Brisas while watching the sun set over scenic Heisler Park. Lunch at the Montage's Mosaic Grille is the move for anyone either staying on property or just hanging at a nearby beach and in need of the best fish tacos in town. (the ceviche and guac are also to die for!). If you're hoping for something a little more casual, grab a smoothie bowl at Active Culture for brekkie, a burger and fries at the OC's famed Ruby's, or authentic Mexican at hole in the wall (literally) Taco Loco on the PCH. 22 Forrest, Sapphire, and The Loft at the Montage all serve seasonal New American classics and are perfect for a night on the town. Looking for something extra special? Studio at the Montage is the ticket, offering a variety of tasting menus sourced from the onsite herb and vegetable garden.
Whatever you want! Rule of thumb in Laguna Beach? If you're doing it, you're outside, and there's a smile on your face... you're doing it right. There's no wrong way to experience Laguna Beach, but spending as much time in the great outdoors, whether it's walking the art-filled Heisler Park along the Pacific (boasting amazing views), going into town for a bit of shopping, learning how to skimboard, or just catching some rays on one of the many, many beaches is the move. A few things you absolutely shouldn't miss, whether it's your first time in town or you're a repeat customer: have a stroll down the boardwalk at Main Beach (ice cream from Chantilly in hand) to take in the scene, and snap a pic of the historic Laguna Beach Lifeguard Stand, basically Laguna's Statue of Liberty, go on a historical house walk, learn the ways of the locals with a skim boarding or surfing lesson, scope out the colorful tide pools at Shaw's Cove, check out Laguna's ongoing commitment to creativity at the Laguna Art Museum and surrounding galleries in town, and obviously, go to the beach! Not sure which of the (many) Laguna Beaches is the one for you? Guide HERE. Also, don't miss an incredible Laguna sunset. Here's where to get the best view.
Downtown Laguna might be small, but the charming area is full of boutiques filled with souvenirs, fashion, and any beach supplies you might have forgotten. Get your surf gear at legendary Hobie Surf Shop or local Toes on the Nose, a stone's throw from the boardwalk. Multi-brand boutiques Anastasia and Laguna Supply are local's favs for cutting edge and contemporary women's fashion. Kiddies (and let's face it, everyone else) will want to dip into (dunk into) the Candy Baron, filled with buckets of nostalgic candy, with everything from jawbreakers the size of your head, to candy cigarettes, to Razzles, to NERDS ROPES. If it's given you a cavity, you'll be able to find it here. Tuvalu is a beachy home goods shop serving Laguna vibes to bring back home, and The Spice Merchants bottle up delicious fresh blends of spices to take back a taste of Laguna.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention The Pageant of the Masters and the Festival of the Arts, which go on throughout the summer. These are the two biggest draws for Laguna Beach, bringing in thousands of visitors every year to marvel at the incredible art on display and see a show or two. Art lovers won't want to miss these.