Deep in southern Orange County, roughly an hour’s drive south of Los Angeles, Laguna Beach is famous for its artistic community and its beautiful beaches and vistas. In the ’20s and ’30s, Hollywood stars would head to Laguna Beach to relax and seek artistic respite. In the ’60s and ’70s, it was a hub of alternative culture. And now, it’s a brimming beach community with a thriving arts community. Endless ocean, great beaches, fresh seafood, luxe hotels and creative inspiration help make Laguna Beach a classic Southern California weekend getaway.
Check out the Pacific Marine Mammal Center, where researchers and veterinarians rescue seals and sea lions, give them a temporary home as they recover, and let them back into nature when they’re ready. This isn’t a zoo, nor is it simply an aquatic gallery – it’s where animal’s lives are saved and rehabilitated before they’re sent back into the Pacific. It’s a place for fans of marine animals who are curious about marine biology. And it’s free, so take the kids and enjoy.
Unplug and escape: have a picnic or a barbecue, drag your feet through a sandy beach, chat with some local artists, and take in the brilliant sunset at Heisler Park, one of Laguna Beach’s best beaches. Nature is the ultimate inspiration for art in this park, as there’s beautiful natural plant gardens and public art, and organized music concerts that play in the background as the sun goes down over the immersive ocean view.
Photo by Greg via Flickr.
For a romantic getaway or a solitary luxury stay on the coast, Montage Laguna Beach is the perfect place to unwind. Set on 30 acres on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the resort and its amenities – which include an outdoor pool with an ocean view – will make sure that every guest has both a relaxing and entertaining stay. Altogether the resort has 250 guest rooms, with a mix of offerings that include rooms with ocean-view balconies, private bungalows and luxurious suites.
On the strip of art galleries, dessert shops and clothing shops along the Pacific Coast Highway is Nick’s Laguna Beach, a sunny all-American restaurant. For a boozy brunch, a classic halibut sandwich lunch or a late-night drink, Nick’s will whet anyone’s whistle. With a wide whiskey selection and fresh fish, what more could anyone want? Their classic ahi tartare and clam chowder Fridays puts the "beach" in "beach town".
Photo by Casa Laguna Inn & Spa via their official site
Founded in 1920, the Laguna Playhouse is one of the oldest theaters in California. In its history, the Playhouse has survived the Great Depression, entertained returning troops during World War II, lent the stage to a 23-year-old Harrison Ford, and more. Now it continues its mandate of offering musical and dramatic entertainment to theater-fanatics, and furthering theater education to actors young and old. Visit the playhouse to enjoy some good old fashioned American theater and immerse yourself in history.
Photo by Ross Fletcher via Flickr.
Hotel Laguna has been welcoming guests to Laguna Beach for over 100 years. The key to its continued success has been a combination of its beachfront location and its extraordinary service. Though the hotel has a long and storied history, its 65 guest rooms are modern, with many having ocean views. But even if your budget only allows for a garden view room, all guests of the Hotel Laguna receive access to the hotel’s private beach club.