Lives in Corona del Mar, CA
Since Jun. 2007
I live in So Cal (two different areas), work in the Bay Area and travel on business way too much.
Piers & Boardwalks, Beaches
Nature & Wildlife Areas
Nature & Wildlife Areas
Nature & Wildlife Areas, Parks, Biking Trails, Hiking Trails
Beaches, State Parks
Antique Stores, Gift & Speciality Shops
Main Beach is the beating heart of Laguna Beach, and the famous Pacific Coast Highway sits between here and downtown Laguna's main streets. At one end sits the venerable Hotel Laguna, at the other, the path up to Heisler Park, and a wooden boardwalk — the only one in Orange County — joins the two. Both ends of the beach have restroom facilities as well as child play areas. The north end of Main Beach also has two famous half court basketball courts that have hosted such NBA luminaries as Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson, as well as local collegiate stars
The Glenn E. Vedder Ecological Reserve is just north of Main Beach, below Heisler Park, and is a magical place for children to discover ocean life they may never have seen before. You can view sea urchins, striped shore crabs, hermit crabs and more here, just remember: look, but don't touch! All these creatures are protected by state and federal laws.
The views from Heisler Park are stunning, making it a popular venue for outdoor weddings and wedding pictures. The vista from the gazebo near the Main Beach end is particularly impressive: Looking back towards the Hotel Laguna, the scene looks like it's been taken straight from the French Riviera, and you'll often see artists with their easels trying to capture the view.
Directly across from Main Beach is BJ's Restaurant & Brewery, a great place to reload and recharge. They have delicious Chicago-style deep dish pizza, but also an entire diverse menu of more goodies to choose from. They brew their own beers and carry others as well.
The Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Canyon is a non-profit organization that rescues seals, sea lions and other pinnipeds. The California coast is full of sea life and often our watery friends can be the victims of malnourishment, infection, pneumonia, gill net strangulation, and even shark attacks. The volunteers and staff here at the PMMC nurse the animals back to health, and release them back into the wild once they are healthy.
Zinc Cafe & Market might be the quintessential Laguna Beach eatery. It is casual (counter service), has lots of vegetarian options, is heavy on the fresh and organic side, and at night it transforms into a chic, Mediterranean bistro.
Laguna Beach Walks has a website with free, downloadable maps of various self guided walks in Laguna Beach. The Heisler Park/Downtown Tour starts and ends at the iconic Lifeguard Tower at Main Beach, and takes you past many sights and landmarks that might otherwise have gone unnoticed.
Coffee Pub is a little oasis situated in the Lumberyard Mall. It has all the usual hot and cold coffee/espresso based drinks, plus teas and an assortment of pastries, sandwiches and tchotchkes (or knick knacks if you will.)
Laguna Coast Wilderness Park has some of the last remaining coastal canyons in Southern California. The canyon trails meander through coastal sagebrush, oak and sycamore trees and seasonal creeks. This is the Southern California coast as it was before the arrival of Europeans, and many rare and threatened species call the LCWP home, from the California Gnatcatcher to the Orange Throated Whiptail.
If there was one 'must do' restaurant in Laguna Beach, it would be 230 Forest Avenue. The epitome of California cuisine, the ingredients here are fresh, mostly local, and put together using classic French techniques. The Blackened Ahi Niçoise salad is a work of art. Impeccable service is matched with a menu that changes with the season, so it is never stale. The wine list is small, only two pages, but highly diverse and incredibly reasonable. It is a great spot to end the day.
The Beachcomber Cafe on the beach in Crystal Cove is a beloved local institution. Breakfast is probably the most popular meal, so if you are not there early, be prepared to wait. While breakfast is the most popular however, dinner might in fact be the best. There is nothing better then nursing a Singapore Sling as the sun sets in the Pacific, and complete with a pan roasted sea bass in front of you.
Crystal Cove State Park is the most natural beach in Orange County. There are no facilities on the beach other than at the Beachcomber Cafe, and it is a decent hike down to get here. Definitely worth the effort if you'd like some relative solitude in the fifth most populous county in the U.S!
Laguna Beach has been a renowned art colony since the early 1900s, when many 'plein-air' artists made their way to the area, attracted by the good weather, pristine landscapes and good light. The Laguna Art Museum started as an art gallery in 1918, and, over time, became a museum. It has a great permanent collection of over 3,500 works by Californian painters from the early 19th century to the present day, as well as frequent touring exhibitions.
If you can't get to Arizona, New Mexico or Utah, Len Wood's Indian Territory Gallery is a great place to pick up Native American items. This space houses Navajo rugs, Navajo blankets, Zuni jewelry, Hopi jewelry, Hopi kachinas, historic and modern pueblo Indian pottery, and more. It's truly a gem.
Tortilla Republic is the perfect place to draw your three days in Laguna Beach to a close. It has a fresh, modern approach to Mexican food. The margaritas will take the edge off a hectic day, while the duck confit enchiladas will take you to a place you've never been before... with Mexican food.