Rocky bluffs and canyons dot the landscape of the tourist-rich community of Laguna Beach. Laguna Beach is the ideal destination for visiting laid-back cove beaches like Thousand Steps Beach and steep scuba diving locales of Wood’s Cove. Both scuba diving and snorkeling are big draws to Laguna beaches. One of the most popular destinations, Main Beach, offers a variety of beach activities as well as a number of tourist-friendly restaurants and shops.
Beyond the beach, the city is home to more than 20,000 acres of protected wilderness, making it a great location for exploration. From world-renowned mountain biking trails for all levels, hundreds of miles of hiking, dramatic vistas, verdant hills and marine sanctuaries, there’s no limit of new places to discover during a visit to Laguna Beach. Pack your flip flops and surfboard or hiking shoes and water bottles, and visit Laguna Beach. Continue reading our Laguna Beach travel guide. You can also visit the best southern California beaches here.
What Should You Pack?
When figuring out what to pack for the beach, there are two tips to keep in mind. First, forgetting an item isn’t the end of the world. Unless you’re heading for a remote, deserted island, chances are you can find a store where you can pick up the extras. Second, don’t stress out over making a packing list when there’s a stress-free beach travel essentials list for you below:
- Sunglasses and hats offer much-needed sunscreen and flip flops are perfect for navigating hot, sandy beaches. Go pack them now so you’re not kicking yourself later.
- What about those little items that make beach visits so much more enjoyable? For a little extra comfort on your trip, make sure you pack: Lip balm, sunscreen, bug spray.
- Beach toys and goggles are a must for kids. Building sandcastles and viewing the underwater wonders are perennial favorites.
- Take a first-aid kit with you. Hopefully you’ll only have to worry about a few minor scrapes from seashells, but having your own kit handy is a good precaution.
- Beach Bag – Your beach bag will likely contain a few of the items mentioned above. For a well-rounded bag, consider tossing in sunscreen, lip balm, bug spray, first-aid kit and water-proof baggies.
- Beach Gear – No matter who’s supplying the gear, look to have the following items on hand: beach bag, beach chairs, beach towels, beach umbrella or tent, beach cart and a cooler.
- Remember: Don’t wait until you’re parched to drink. When you’re out in the heat and sun, it’s important to stay hydrated by drinking regularly. So take along a water bottle as well.
Laguna Beach Attractions
Stretching along the bluffs on Cliff Drive from Aster Street to Diver’s Cove, this oceanfront park has walking trails, gardens, a marine refuge with tide pools, picnic tables, barbecues, lawn bowling greens. Popular park wedding sites include a Gazebo and Monument Point. Restrooms also available.
Crystal Cove State Park
Crystal Cove State Park’s rolling surf, sandy beaches, tidepools, gently sloping hills, and deeply wooded canyons and ridges provide a delightful contrast to its urban surroundings. Located off busy Pacific Coast Highway between Corona del Mar and Laguna Beach, Crystal Cove is one of Orange County’s largest remaining examples of open space and natural seashore.
1,000 Steps Beach
Thousand Steps Beach is one of the largest beaches in South Laguna Beach, CA. It’s a wide sandy beach with volleyball courts, restrooms, and tide pools and caves to discover. There is a large cave at the south end of Thousand Steps Beach that you can enter when the tide is out and the entrance is exposed.
Pageant of the Masters
Located on the Festival of Arts grounds is one of the most unique theatrical productions in the world, the Pageant of the Masters. Watch real people be magically transformed into life-sized re-creations of famous works of art. A live narrator guides you through the story of each living picture accompanied by a full orchestra. Shows are nightly. There is nothing like it anywhere… only in Laguna Beach. Get your tickets to Pageant of the Masters here.
The park offers a boardwalk, basketball courts, sand volleyball courts, a play area for children, and a wide sandy beach for laying out on. Lifeguards look on from a tower near the middle of the beach.
Things to do in Laguna Beach
Temecula Wine Country Tasting
Come explore the Temecula Valley Wine Country on this guided tasting tour. Your knowledgeable and fun tour guide will bring you to 4 different wineries -with 3 free wine tastings INCLUDED- where you can savor a number award-winning wines offered by the local wineries and vineyards while enjoying the irresistible charm of their friendly tasting rooms. This tour is a ton of fun with lots to drink and great views the whole time! Read more about Temecula Wine Country Tasting Tour
Laguna Beach Surf Lessons
Learn to surf in the world-famous waves of Laguna Beach during this 2-hour surf lesson. With an expert instructor in the lead, don a provided wetsuit and learn about ocean tides, proper surfing safety, technique, and etiquette. Use of surf board provided; all experience levels welcome. Read more about Laguna Beach Surf Lessons
Dana Point Whale Watching
This is a great boat trip experience with one of our Whale Watching partners off the coast of Dana Point to see WHALES, WHALES, WHALES! While touring, hear the detailed history and stories of each coastal area as your driver shows you the best of Orange County’s iconic PCH (Pacific Coast Highway)! Read more about Dana Point Whale Watching Tour
Laguna Beach SUP Lesson & Tour
Enjoy a standup paddleboard tour of Laguna Beach’s incredible marine reserve. Perfect for the beginner, enjoy a SUP lesson from a professional instructor, grab a life vest, and head into the reserve’s calm, sea life-filled waters with your board and guide. Cruise through pristine coves and beautiful beaches and stop by Seal Rock sea lion sanctuary. Read more about Laguna Beach SUP Lesson and Tour
Laguna Beach Kayak Tours
Paddle a kayak along Laguna Beach’s scenic coastline on a guided, 2-hour tour that takes in hidden reefs, swaying kelp forests, sheltered coves and beaches. Watch for bright garibaldi fish and playful dolphins as you explore alongside your experienced guide, learn about the area’s unique ecosystems, then get an up close look at Laguna’s sea lion colonies. Enjoy fresh Pacific breezes while steering your kayak through the gentle swell, and experience California’s vibrant nature and wildlife from the water. Read more about Laguna Beach Guided Kayak Tour with Sea Lion Viewing
Best Restaurants Laguna Beach
Nick’s Laguna Beach $11 – 30
This casual restaurant is the ultimate Laguna go-to because it’s one of the most crowd-pleasing restaurants you’ll ever encounter. You will also encounter ridiculous wait times, zero reservation availability (unless you book many weeks in advance), and the greatest prime rib sandwich of all time. Go for a post-beach lunch, go for drinks and snacks at the bar, or go for a dinner date. And get the prime rib sandwich. Telephone: 949- 376-8595 Web: Nick’s Laguna Beach
Selanne Steak Tavern $31 – 60
Find yourself in Laguna with the need to impress someone, or the need to eat a ribeye? Selanne Steak Tavern is your best option for both scenarios. Owned by a famous hockey player, Selanne is where you throw down in Laguna Beach. Telephone: 949- 715-9881 Web: Selanne Steak Tavern
Thai Bros Restaurant $11 – 30
Close to both the beach and Laguna’s main street is this small Thai spot, packed with regulars updating the owners on their kids in college and the new outfit they just bought for their dog. It’s good for an affordable post-beach meal – try the Tom Kha and the drunken noodles. Telephone: 949- 376-9979 Web: Thai Bros Restaurant
Broadway $31 – 60
This kind-of fancy restaurant has a very mid-2000s, semi-industrial interior (visible pipes, bare brick), plates with artful smudges of sauce on them, a Top Chef chef, and really good food. The menu is big, but whatever you do, leave room for the perfectly-cooked whole branzino that they conveniently remove all bones from for you. It’s a nice spot for a date, especially if you sit at the kitchen counter and order a couple of the fantastic cocktails to start. Telephone: 949- 715-8234 Web: Broadway
Alessa $11 – 30
Alessa is the best Italian food in Laguna Beach, and unfortunately everyone and their second cousin knows about it. It’s a night-out spot for locals and tourists alike – but if rich, satisfying Italian food is your kind of meal, then Alessa is worth the wait. You’re probably going to be hungry once you sit down, but try to resist the urge to get a fourth helping of the addictive bread and pesto – you have giant portions of pasta, pizza, and meatballs coming your way. Telephone: 949- 497-8222 Web: Alessa
Best Laguna Beach Nightlife
Wine Gallery is that rare Laguna spot that feels purely made for locals. This wine bar right on South Coast Highway is a low-key place where you can pop in for a glass of wine, chat with the guy eating a burger next to you, and then decide that the burger looks so good that you order one of your own. The staff is extremely friendly and will help you find whatever kind of wine you’re in the mood for, and it’s especially worth getting here for Happy Hour, when all glasses are $2 off and they do specials on some of the food as well. Telephone: 949- 715-8744 Web: Wine Gallery
There aren’t too many full-on, going-out spots in Laguna Beach, but The Saloon is about as good as you’ll find in terms of drinking destinations. And it has just about everything you need – sports on TV, a wide variety of liquor, and a lively crowd of locals and not-locals. Telephone: 949- 494-5469 Web: The Saloon
Marine Room Tavern
The oldest bar in Laguna Beach and one of the longest operating in Orange County. Though small, Marine Room packs quite a punch; grab a cue and pick up a game of pool, chill in high back chairs and listen to a live band, or take up residency at the bar and enjoy a whiskey flight. Telephone: 949-494-3027 Web: Marine Room Tavern
The White House
The White House increases in fun and energy. With an unfussy bar menu and a mix of popular dance music, it is a bar that knows how to burn the midnight oil. During Prohibition, this bar was one of the popular speakeasies that served rum that was floated in on boats landing on Main Beach and Fisherman’s Cove. Telephone: 949-494-8088 Web: The White House
It is one of the most popular live music venues in Laguna Beach. On the ground level they have an award-winning restaurant, upstairs, a bar and lounge area flank a packed stage area. Up one more level to the third, you’ll find a rooftop with a quieter bar and views of PCH and the Pacific Ocean. Mozambique hosts diverse musical offerings from the ’80s pop group Flock of Seagulls to chart-topping reggae bands, and local favorites including Nick I. Telephone: 949-715-7777 Web: Mozambique
Best Laguna Beach Hotels
This oceanfront property is just the place for an idyllic weekend escape. Vinyl record players replace television sets, and a private beach paired with access to the Adventure Garage—home to surfboards, hiking and diving gear, beach toys, and more—encourages guests to unplug during their time in Laguna. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room visit the Hotel Joaquin.
Casa Laguna Hotel & Spa
Offering an outdoor pool and a spa and wellness center, Casa Laguna Hotel & Spa is located in Laguna Beach. Free WiFi access is available. A free continental breakfast is included with each room. At Casa Laguna Hotel & Spa you will find a 24-hour reception and a garden. Other facilities offered at the property include laundry facilities. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room visit Casa Laguna Hotel & Spa.
Montage Laguna Beach
Perched on a coastal bluff above the Pacific, Montage Laguna Beach welcomes guests into the heart of Southern California’s preeminent artist colony. Spanning 30 acres, the beachfront sanctuary features two outdoor pool decks, a 20,000-square-foot spa and three signature restaurants with spectacular views of the California coast. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room visit the Montage Laguna Beach.
The Ranch at Laguna Beach
Nestled in the majestic Aliso and Wood Canyons, right in the heart of Orange County, resides The Ranch at Laguna Beach resort. This Orange County hotel and spa is situated on an iconic piece of land where canyon and sea meet. The Ranch LB has been re-envisioned as the home of Southern California’s newest hotel and spa. Welcome to this distinctly local resort and California’s only National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room visit The Ranch at Laguna Beach.
Laguna Beach House
Chic coastal décor and vintage furniture create the look and feel of an open, airy beach cottage with a palette of natural, warm colors with vibrant pops. Our convenient location is within a short walking distance to Main Beach and downtown Laguna Beach. Personalized service and attention to detail provide for the ultimate Laguna Beach Resort getaway, perfect for anyone from solo travelers to families. Enjoy a complimentary nightly wine hour at sunset to cookies and milk before bedtime. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room visit the Laguna Beach House.