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Visit Laguna Beach


Article by Mindy Hargesheimer

Photography by Visit Laguna Beach

There’s a reason people visit the southern California coastal city of Laguna Beach an average of five times in their lifetime. From its stunning ocean side bluffs overlooking 30 Pacific Ocean beaches and coves to its fusion of beautiful canyon wilderness with tranquil ocean life, fresh-ingredients cuisine and eclectic arts culture, Laguna Beach is a time-honored destination full of vibrant and invigorating seaside experiences.

Our City Lifestyle community of luxury travel enthusiasts are thrilled to collaborate with Visit Laguna Beach to present a breathtaking view into this idyllic West Coast artist community.

When it comes to prestigious travel hospitality, The Ranch at Laguna Beach is highly regarded by luxury and discerning travel authorities such as Conde Nast, Forbes, and Travel & Leisure for its congenial service, elevated ambiance and reputable guest experience. The upscale, outdoor wellness offerings range from the uniquely designed 9-hole golf course within the canyon setting to the full-time farmer facilitating outstanding local dishes offered on the original homestead of Laguna Beach. 

At the helm of this privately owned ranch is lifelong Laguna Beach resident Mark Christy, who works alongside his wife Laurie, who hails from surfing pioneer Hobie Alter. Together they took the original architecture of this hotel property and fully renovated it from top to bottom.

With a strong focus on sustainability, the property centers itself on earth-friendly practices such as line-caught seafood from neighboring coves, genuine farm to table ingredients from the Harvest Garden (which guests can tour), recycled glass and composting that return to the sand and dirt on site, and other sustainability measures. 

When it comes to feasting on the local fare, resident restaurant and bar, Harvest, focuses on organic farming for seasonal breakfast, lunch and dinner options. It boasts beautiful 180-degree views of Aliso Canyon as well as craft cocktails to sip and savor while overlooking the first tee of the golf course.

If sand beneath your feet is more your dining style, make the short walk to Aliso beach where you will find Lost Pier, an elevated eatery serving the likes of warm beignets and coffee in the morning, and ceviche, shrimp rolls and fisherman’s catch fish tacos for lunch. Gather your fellow travelers around an oceanfront fire pit complete with beach chairs and umbrellas. Enjoy live music every night where locals mix in with the guests at this popular venue.

The Ranch’s 9-hole golf course and country club has views unlike any other. Take in the tranquil canyon aesthetic where deer frolic, and you’ll soon forget anything other than the moment you are in.

Laguna Beach has also had a massive impact on the surfing world, which began with native Californian Hobie Alter who invented the fiberglass surfboard that you’ll find most common with both pros and surf hobbyists. Surfing remains an important element of Laguna Beach’s culture, and nearby Dana Point is the most famous beach for “skimboarding” on the accessible shore waves, in which surfers run into the approachable waves, throw their boards down, and surf their way into the ocean.    

And what would the Laguna Beach culture be without all of the seaside activities? Kayaking, snorkeling and diving, whale and dolphin watching, SUP—you name it, you can experience it. In fact, Laguna Beach is not only the top place in the world to shore dive, but their dolphin community is larger than Florida, Hawaii and the Caribbean combined, thanks to their marine protection program enlisted years ago that attracts marine life to the calm waters and rich kelp to feed on. Take a two-hour guided kayak tour and visit Seal Rock for more sea-life observation.

Kayaking, snorkeling and diving, whale and dolphin watching, SUP—you name it, you can experience it.

Throughout your stay, you of course will want to make your way into town for endless entertainment options of “Laguna flavor.” Visit the community theater, The Laguna Playhouse, where Harrison Ford got his start. 

Hop on a free trolley and pop from brewpub Laguna Beach Beer Company pouring locally made craft beer, to one of two wine-tasting rooms where McClain Cellars serves award-winning wines from Santa Ynez Valley.

If craft beer is your jam, LBBC names each creation after different places around the community, even dubbing one “The Greeter” after an infamous tourist who never left the area, greeting all who entered this inviting and charming town.

If wine is more your style, McClain Cellars only offers their wine locally in Laguna Beach, outside of their Santa Barbara area vineyard. The “you can only find it here” sentiment is a special aspect of Laguna Beach and supports why people return repeatedly and begin to call this place their home away from home.

Complement your thirst with a variety of cuisines among more than 100 restaurants to choose from. Local favorites include The Royal Hawaiian Fire Grill for a twist on Hawaiian flavors in a tiki-style venue, Las Brisas for its incredible brunch menu and scenic views of Laguna’s Heisler Park overlooking cliffs that resemble the French Riviera, Broadway by Amar Santana for some of the most elevated cuisine you will find from a multi-Top Chef finalist, along with cocktails crafted seasonally by the restaurant’s mixologist. Lastly, The Cliff Restaurant offers one of the best views in the area with all outdoor eating and delicious tacos.

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Depending on the time of year you visit, you’ll find a wide selection of live music and festivals. Two notable summer festivals include the Pageant of the Masters where famous paintings come to life…literally on human bodies that pose to look like counterparts in the originals, as well as the Sawdust Art & Craft Festival with a focus on locally made crafts.

You’ll also find live music at many of the restaurants around town, including Mozambique and The Cliff Restaurant, perfect places to relax and enjoy after exploring the area’s abundant art galleries. Take advantage of First Thursday’s Art Walk year round, often including live paintings and musicians, dance performances and gorgeous art you won’t find anywhere else. 

Take the free trolleys from gallery to gallery, and be sure to include the Laguna Art Museum, the second oldest museum in the state of California, specializing in California-themed art and artists. A special component to the Laguna Beach art scene is its foundation on ‘en plein air’ paintings, the outdoor painting style that Monet made famous. Every year the Laguna Beach Plein Air Painting Invitational attracts painters from around the country to participate in a week’s worth of events, including a two-hour challenge of live painting. Visitors can enjoy this unique experience only in Laguna as they observe the variations between the artists, even being able to purchase the creations while the paint is still wet. It’s a fantastic opportunity for art collectors looking to add to their personal assortment.

In short, Laguna Beach is seven miles of coves and beaches uniquely its own with breathtaking cliffs and recreational canyons and a hippy-loving-self-expression-embracing artist colony that you won’t want to miss in this lifetime. What you see today strongly resembles what you would have seen 50 years ago. Laguna Beach is a special destination, and we hope we have inspired you to add it to your travel bucket list!