The days are long, the weather is warm, and there are plenty of amazing things to entertain and indulge you without ever leaving town.
When you find yourself wondering what to do next, consult our list for 25 fabulous ways to enjoy all facets of summer in Laguna Beach.
1. Sure, you’ve been before, but the town is out in full effect during the warm summer months at First Thursdays Art Walk. Plus, art walk celebrates its 15th anniversary in September! Grab a cocktail at one of Laguna’s top happy hours and then stroll from one gallery to the next from 6 to 9 p.m. Check the website in advance for special events, openings and live entertainment. (firstthursdaysartwalk.com)
2. Marvel at what lurks between the rocks: Laguna’s beaches offer a marine education experience right at your feet. A fun activity for the entire family, discover or rediscover the various tidepools at several beaches—including Shaw’s Cove, Crescent Bay, Moss Point, Heisler Park and Treasure Island—to admire creatures like starfish, sea anemone, sea urchins and mussels. Just watch your step and remember not to remove anything!
3. Get cultured: Explore some of California’s finest art at Laguna Art Museum. This summer, the museum will feature “Faux Real,” a collection of works that mimic everyday items; “Sea Change,” a specially-commissioned piece by LA-based Tanya Aguiñiga; and “ex-pose: Beatriz da Costa,” the fourth in the museum’s “ex-pose” series showcasing contemporary art. Kids will enjoy Elements of Art Summer Camp. The museum is free on First Thursdays Art Walk. (lagunaartmuseum.org)
4. Visit the Pacific Marine Mammal Center for free from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Learn about seals and sea lions through interactive displays, talk to the staff and watch the young pinnipeds eat, swim, nap and play. The animals are guaranteed to make you go “aw,” but no baby-talking allowed since they are being rehabilitated to return to the wild. (pacificmmc.org)
5. You live where the rest of the country vacations—why not plan a staycation? Laguna Beach is home to nearly 30 hotels, including in-town and nearby five-star resorts. Get a spa treatment, enroll the kids in the camp program, swim in the pool and order room service—take advantage of all the indulgences. No airfare required.
6. Get moving outdoors. Burn off some calories and brave the steep staircase at Thousand Steps Beach (9th Street). Though the actual count is estimated to be somewhere around 200 steps, it’s still a good way to stretch your muscles before hitting the beach. Prefer to bat? Hit some balls in the canyon at The Laguna Batting Cages (thelagunabattingcages.com). Tennis anyone? Grab some friends for a free game of tennis at one of the many free courts located around town: Moulton Meadows Park, Alta Laguna Park, Laguna High School, Lang Park and Irvine Bowl Park.
7. Give back to the community (and get some free grub and goodies in the process) by volunteering with a local organization that serves. Check out Zero Trash Laguna’s 1st Saturdays (zerotrash.org); ECO-Warrior Foundation’s beach cleanups (eco-warrior.org); Mauli Ola Foundation’s mission to help kids with cystic fibrosis (mauliola.org); and many more.
8. On select Sundays, Main Beach plays host to a festive craft market. On the cobblestone circle, browse an array of seascape paintings and photographs, jewelry and artisan apparel while listening to live musical performances and taking in the ocean view. (lagunacraftguild.org)
9. Paint the town––whatever color you’d like. The Sawdust Art Festival offers a series of exhibitor-taught art classes during the festival and then during the weekends year-round, from ceramics to painting and mixed-media art. Visit the website for details. (sawdustartfestival.org)
10. Watch the Laguna Dance Festival, which brings top dancers and companies to perform and teach master classes. This year, enjoy the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet and Parsons Dance Sept. 4 through 8. (lagunadancefestival.org)
11. Take a free yoga class with Yoga in the Park Monday through Thursday at Treasure Island Park (yogainthepark.blogspot.com). Or, join the Laguna Laughter Club at the northernmost end of Main Beach for your daily belly laugh (8 a.m. Sunday – Friday; 10 a.m. Monday). Although it sounds a little silly, laughter boosts your mood and releases stress. All you need to bring is yourself and a few good jokes—“So, a blonde walks into a bar …” (lyinstitute.org)
12. Spice things up at one of the many restaurants offering a Taco Tuesday special. Choose from restaurants based on view, salsa bars, chips and specialty drinks—some local favorites include Asada, Avila’s El Ranchito, Coyote Grill, Olamendi’s, La Sirena (south), Taco Loco and Laguna Feast.
13. Hear it live: Bring your dancing shoes to one of the live music venues in town: Mozambique, Sandpiper, the White House and the Marine Room all offer live performances from rock to reggae and everything in between. Call ahead or check their websites for performance schedules.
14. Sway to the sounds of Music in the Park. Every summer, Bluebird Park hosts a concert series where tribute bands—paying homage to everyone from the Grateful Dead to U2—play live in the park. Bring a blanket, a bottle of wine and the kids for an evening of fun and relaxation. But be sure to get there early to snag a good spot—the green gets crowded fast! (laguna-beach-info.com)
15. Treat yourself to a spa day and some pampering. There are more than a dozen spas in town, plus more than 30 hair and nail salons. Carve out some “me” time. It’s good for you!
16. Grab a snorkel and fins, and take a peek at what’s below the waves. Divers Cove is an area that’s accessible to all scuba diving levels, not to mention its rocks and reefs lend themselves to some great exploration. Experienced swimmers can even venture out to Foss 125, the most popular of Orange County’s shipwrecks.
17. Feel the rhythm of the drums around a fire at the “Moon Burn.” During the next full moon, head down to Aliso Beach for the free community drum circle from 7 to 10 p.m. There are always extra drums, and fire dancers wow the group with a unique performance. (lavidalaguna.com)
18. Sticky, sweet s’mores are the perfect way to end a summer day. Bring blankets and firewood to the only beach in Laguna that has fire pits, Aliso Beach Park. Make sure to get there early to save a spot.
19. Aspiring young actors and musical performers can take steps toward center stage by enrolling in a class or workshop at Laguna Playhouse. Kids explore self-expression, learn to work in a group and put their skills to the set in a class-end production. (lagunaplayhouse.com)
20. Buy it fresh: Grab your reusable bag and head to the Laguna Beach Farmers Market on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon at the Lumberyard parking lot near City Hall. Peruse stands of produce, bread, flowers and other items at the market, which is certified by the state of California, meaning the vendors are inspected by an agricultural commissioner to ensure they actually grow what’s being sold. You’ll even find specialty items like coffee, bread, honey, eggs, nuts as well as ready-to-eat food items like empanadas.
21. Pitch a tent: Head to Crystal Cove’s El Moro campground with family and friends for a lush camping experience with beautiful views of wooded canyon trails and the beaches and tidepools of Crystal Cove. Bring your mountain bike or hiking shoes and goodies for a picnic lunch, plus some one-on-one time with nature. (crystalcovebeachcottages.org)
22. Sure, you routinely drive by Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, but how much do you know about its flora and fauna? For just a $2 donation, you can participate in one of dozens of guided hikes offered each month through Laguna Canyon Foundation, touching on topics such as edible and native plants, and more. (lagunacanyon.org)
23. Oenophiles can learn about the art of their favorite beverage right here in Laguna Beach. At Montage Laguna Beach’s Artistry of Wine series (2 to 4 p.m. select Sundays), patrons can enjoy wine education seminars and tastings of various varietals and vintages from regions around the globe (montagelagunabeach.com). The Laguna Culinary Arts’ Neptune School of Wine also features a wine event (1 to 4 p.m. Saturdays) that offers the opportunity to try eight domestic and international wines that have been hand-chosen for their quality and food-friendly character (lagunaculinaryarts.com). Or, visit one of Laguna Canyon Winery’s two tasting rooms—downtown and in the canyon (lagunacanyonwinery.com).
24. Through August, take the kids to the Festival of Arts for weekday Youth Arts Education Classes, where kids ages 7 to 12 learn from professional artists about mixed-media art, jewelry making, collage and more from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. ($10 materials fee). In addition, residents can take advantage of free residents’ entries at all three festivals—Festival of Arts, Art-A-Fair and Sawdust Art Festival—on select days and times. (foapom.org, sawdustartfestival.org and art-a-fair.com)
25. Try something new: Laguna Beach is home to approximately 100 eateries with flavors from around the world. Break out of your routine and visit one you’ve never tried before. (Visit our restaurant listings, starting on page 122.)
Of course, this list is far from complete. There are thousands of ways to indulge all your senses in Laguna Beach this summer. Let your imagination and your feet wander for a summer of living large without ever leaving home. LBM