Laguna Beach California Vacation Guide

Where to Stay And Things To See In Laguna Beach

Plan your Laguna Beach California vacation with this guide to the beaches, art festivals, hotels and more. Out of all the Southern California beaches, Laguna is one of my favorites because of its beautiful coves and clear blue waters. Palm trees and colorful Bougainvillea abound. The sound of tinkling wind chimes can be heard amongst subtropical gardens adorning little cottages in the neighborhoods near the beach.

This picturesque little seaside village began as an art colony in the early 1900’s. Now, a century later, art festivals, galleries and the art museum still draw visitors from all over the world.

With nearly 7 miles of spectacular coastline and more than 30 unique coves and beaches, there is much for everyone to enjoy in Laguna Beach California, including snorkeling, diving, skim boarding, surfing, tide pooling, playing beach volleyball, sunbathing, picnicking and swimming.

The Beaches And Coves

Where Laguna Canyon Road meets Pacific Coast Highway (or Highway 1), is a very busy T shaped intersection. This faces Main Beach, complete with waves, volleyball and basketball courts, a historical lifeguard tower, a playground and restrooms.

Crescent Bay and Bougainvilleas in Laguna

Unfortunately, there’s not much parking to speak of. Most people find parking on the streets at a meter, or walk further from the neighborhoods where you can park for free if you find a place. But while Main Beach is convenient to the town (you can shop or see a movie, then sit on the beach with your ice cream cone), there are many other less crowded and lovelier beaches with no traffic noise.

Towards the northern end of Laguna Beach California is a true jewel: Crescent Bay. This is a good body surfing beach, but the waves break close to shore. Skim boarders love the sloping beach at the southern end of the cove and it’s great fun to watch them. If you turn on Crescent Bay Drive off of Highway 1 you can access the beach from a staircase at Circle Way. There is a small restroom. This beach is best enjoyed on a weekday when not too crowded.

Crescent Bay and other nearby coves popular for snorkeling and scuba diving are part of an ecological reserve, so please don’t remove anything natural from the water or beaches.

South of Crescent Bay is Shaws Cove, which has diving and kayaking, Fisherman’s Cove, a very small cove, and Divers Cove. These are all accessible via marked paths in the neighborhood.

Just south is Heisler Park along Cliff Drive. There is a gorgeous walk along the top of the bluff on a path overlooking the coves. Above the beach, there are restrooms, lawn bowling, picnic tables and spectacular views.

Further south from Main Beach are many other little coves and beaches. Treasure Island Beach, at the base of the Montage Resort is a lovely little cove  with a lifeguard.  Up on the bluff, a walking path with beautiful views winds around the hotel property.

South Laguna Beaches Map

Next is Aliso Creek County Beach. This is a large beach with a fishing pier, restrooms, lifeguards and a snack bar. Also fire rings. They do have a metered parking lot.

In South Laguna there is 1000 Steps Beach in Three Arch Bay. Beware, as the next day after climbing those steps back from the beach, your calves may be sore. The steps are off of Highway 1 across from 9th Street. A nice surfing beach.

Besides those beaches mentioned above, there are many other small, secluded and beautiful coves in Laguna Beach California. They can be reached via staircases from the street or waterfront hotels, but there are no public facilities at most.

Art Festivals In Laguna Beach California

There are three major art festivals in Laguna Beach, and all three take place all summer long, making it a great time to enjoy both the beach and some art.

These three big ones are the Festival of the Arts, Art Affair and the Sawdust Festival.

Where To Stay

From summer vacation rentals in adorable cottages and beach houses, to modest hotels, bed and breakfasts and world-renowned resorts, there is a wide variety of lodging options to choose from in this charming Southern California beach town.

This beach scene is in front of the Surf & Sand Hotel in Laguna

If you are a fan of Best Western hotels, there is now only one, the Las Brisas Spa Hotel. It’s across the street from the beach and the Surf and Sand. The Best Western Laguna Reef Inn is now The Travelodge Laguna Beach. It’s also across the street from the beach and across from the Montage.

Four waterfront hotels in Laguna Beach California include:

  • Montage Resort Laguna Beach
  • Pacific Edge Hotel (previously Vacation Village Laguna Beach)
  • Surf And Sand Laguna
  • Hotel Laguna — the white historic landmark right across from the village.

Dining

There are many restaurants in Laguna to choose from. There are all kinds of choices: gourmet, ethnic, casual, unique, American, Mexican and everything else in between. You can find them all around the village as well as up and down Pacific Coast Highway. The high concentration of hotels and international visitors helps to sustain a varied dining scene with something to please everyone.

Getting There

Laguna Beach California is located in Southern Orange County between Newport Beach and Corona del Mar to the north, and Dana Point to the south. You can reach it from the Interstate 5 or 405 south by taking the 133 Laguna Canyon Road exit. It’s about a 15 minute drive through countryside and canyon to the village.

Alternatively, you can enter the town from Pacific Coast Highway coming from the north or south. The closest airport to Laguna with commercial flights is the John Wayne Orange County airport in Santa Ana.

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