Laguna Beach, Southern California's bohemian coastal hamlet, is a prime year-round destination. From its famous beaches and untouched wilderness, this coastal boho paradise is beautiful in many ways. It's more than just the beaches, though. Laguna is home to over 20,000 acres of protected habitats in rugged mountains, lush green woods, and the cool, blue Pacific waters. There's also the thriving downtown area alive with art galleries, eateries, and visitors enjoying the ambiance. The jewel of Orange County — Laguna Beach, is a destination you must experience once in your life.
One thing that makes Laguna Beach extraordinary is the spectacular tide pools at many of its beaches. These isolated pockets of seawater form where the ocean meets the land, on rocky formations and pockmarked sections of the shoreline. You'll find a diversity of abundant marine life that's also a vital habitat for native birds that rely on these critters for food. Some of the best beaches for tide pooling are Crescent Bay, Diver's Cove, Main Beach, and Victoria Beach, home to the Instafamous Pirate Tower. Visit these natural wonders during low tide, usually in the early morning and evening.
If you're in the mood for adventure sports, head to Aliso Beach, where the key draw is year-round skimboarding. It's like surfing — only the skimmer enters the waves from the shore on their skimboard like a skateboard. This stretch of coastline is the favorite spot of the world's best skimmers, and you can enjoy the show for the cost of $1 per hour of parking in the adjacent lot. Aliso Beach is also a fantastic spot to settle for an after-dark outing. As the only beach in town with fire pits, you'll want to snag one before the sun sets — they're on a first-come, first-serve basis.
If you want to be where the action is, make sure you head for the iconic golden sands of Main Beach. You might recognize the often filmed lifeguard tower, a historic site that makes for a perfect photo backdrop. The ocean view isn't too shabby either, with plenty of spots along the waterfront boardwalk to enjoy the scenery. Take in the public art installations as you make the mile-long trek. While Main Beach isn't for sunbathing to the calming sounds of the ocean, it is a fascinating location for mingling, beach sports, and people-watching.
You don't have to love the sand and sea to adventure in Laguna Beach. The city connects
hundreds of miles of trails for outdoor enthusiasts to explore. The Laguna Coast Wilderness Park features 7,000 acres of stunning landscapes, with trails navigating lush coastal canyons and wooded mountains. Head for the Pacific Ridge Trailhead to discover mountain biking routes, or take the Water Tank Trail for unbeatable views and springtime wildflowers. Inland, the Aliso Canyon and Woods Wilderness is perfect for nature lovers. The wildlife sanctuary is home to many rare and endangered plants and animals.
Laguna Beach continues its art-centric legacy with one of the most unique art productions in the world. Pageant of the Masters is an exhibition of living pictures, a presentation that recreates classical and contemporary works of art with real people posing as painted subjects or sculptures. The 90-minute show features a professional orchestra, live narration, and an ocean breeze — courtesy of the outdoor amphitheater. It's all part of Laguna Beach's Festival of Arts, a summer-long outdoor exhibition that features fine art by award-winning Orange County artists.
Crystal Cove's 4,000-acre park has over three miles of pristine, undeveloped California coastline — a rarity in The Golden State's southern regions. Find a spot along the coastal bluffs or head to Pelican Point to escape the crowds. Or, transport yourself back in time by visiting the historic district, where 1930s-era beach cottages dot the shoreline. Explore the untouched backcountry through 18 miles of trails, then head offshore to explore Crystal Cove's underwater park. The 1,000-acre kelp forest has one of the most biodiverse marine ecosystems in the world and is just one SCUBA dive away.
Laguna's beautiful sceneries and charming establishments aren't just for us lucky humans. Some of the city's best outdoor retreats and eateries are happy to accommodate your dogs as long as they're on a leash. Start your day at Main Beach, where you'll find several dog-friendly restaurants and shops along the boardwalk. If you prefer a picnic on the grass, check out Heisler Park and snap some photos of Lucky with the public art. Leashed dogs are welcome on the beaches all day during the off seasons, but they'll have free reign at the Laguna Beach Dog Park.
Paying homage to its artistic roots, the Sawdust Art Festival celebrates the immense talent of artists that live and work in Laguna Beach. Roam through the aisles and browse the fine arts and crafts booths, each one designed and built by the artist. Groove along to live music every day in three locations, including the main stage nestled in a grove of eucalyptus trees. If you're in town during the holidays, Sawdust's Winter Fantasy is the perfect place to find handcrafted gifts, artwork, and activities for the kids.
The first Thursday of every month is a good day to explore Laguna Beach. The First Thursday Art Walk is a celebrated recurring affair when galleries all over the city open their doors to the public. Check the gallery lineup online to find exhibitions of interest, or wander the streets and discover new works. Don't be afraid to engage the artists and ask about their work. That's why they're there. As if you needed another reason to check out the art walk, First Thursdays is an opportune time to sample delicious wines and cheeses, free of charge.
You can experience the best of Laguna Beach on a budget, from free self-guided tours of the city's public art to the Pacific Marine Mammal Center, open daily and free to the public. Treasure Island Beach Park has picnic tables overlooking the ocean — perfect for a romantic picnic. Take the family to 1,000 Steps Beach at low tide to explore the incredible sea caves, then hike to the Top of the World, a panoramic viewpoint in Alta Laguna Park. Take advantage of the free open-air trolley every weekend, which runs until 11:30 p.m. during the summer.