Laguna Beach Travel Guide

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 balmsunscreenbug 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 sunscreenlip balmbug sprayfirst-aid kit and water-proof baggies.
  • Beach Gear – No matter who’s supplying the gear, look to have the following items on hand: beach bagbeach chairsbeach towelsbeach umbrella or tentbeach 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

Heisler Park

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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.

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Crystal Cove State Park

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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.

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1,000 Steps Beach

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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.

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Pageant of the Masters

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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.

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Main Beach

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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.

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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

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

The Saloon

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

Mozambique

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

Hotel Joaquin

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.

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.

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.

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.



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32 Comments

  1. Sajua24

    Wow, this is a wonderful travel guide on Laguna Beach. I have been visiting your site for quite some time now. Me and my wife have been thinking about heading to a nice beach destination.  We have always wanted to visit California. Laguna Beach looks wonderful and a great spot for us to spend time relaxing. I like the selection of hotels.  I will have my wife take a look to decide where we want to stay.  Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      You are very welcome.  Please let me know how your vacation goes and where you decided to stay.  Thanks for visiting my Laguna Beach travel guide.

      Reply
  2. Eromomen

    Wow,this is a wonderful presentation. I am already carried away with this your vacation packages. I and my wife have thinking where to spend the last vacation and with what you have just presented are mind blowing. All the packages are so wonderful that I don’t know the one to choose for my family vacation. They all have a great features in their packages. Please will you help me to make a good selection for my family vacation very urgent please?

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Hi there, glad you enjoyed. If you can email me your dates and what your price range is, I would be glad to put an itinerary together for you. I look forward to hearing from you and thanks for stopping by!

      Reply
  3. Demi

    I have been to Laguna beach before but for a shorter period of time. Couldn’t explore the place to it’s core. The details you have mentioned here is very helpful. Now I know what all adventures I can do. I’m gonna try the surf lessons. Being an amateur surfers, I’m sure the surf lessons will be fun. The Ranch at Laguna Beach appears to be a nice place to spend some time!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Great Demi, glad you enjoyed my Laguna Beach Travel Guide. Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply
  4. Dave

    What an comprehensive guide to this beautiful location of Lauuna Beach.

    I loved the video and the information of what is available outside the location, such as 20,000 acres of protected wilderness and the world-renowned mountain biking trails for all levels, plus marine sanctuaries. These would definetely be of interest to me.

    The “What Should You Pack ” section is well put together and I congratulate you. I also liked “Things to do in Laguna Beach “, especially “Temecula Wine Country Tasting” as I do like my wine.

    The list of Restaurants is also a great help to families, especially the listed price ranges.

    Well done on the content, which has been so well reseached and put together

    Dave

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Thank you so much Dave!  I am glad you enjoyed my Laguna Beach Travel Guide.

      Reply
  5. jaykaynigltd

    This is another wonderful travel guide from you. I have read some wonderful guides from you in the past and this is not an exception. 

    This is another great destination to go to. My wife and I will be celebrating our 4 years of marriage and this would be a beautiful place to celebrate. What do you think? All the hotels look great, choosing one is now a big deal, Which one  would you recommend? Not minding the price of course. 

    More importantly the packing list is very well put together!

    thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Thank you Jay, I am glad you enjoyed!  I would recommend staying at the Hotel Joaquin.  It is luxurious and romantic.  You will have a wonderful stay. Please let me know if you need any additional information.

      Reply
  6. Louise

    If I ever get the chance to travel to the USA again, I’ll definitely be heading to this website first in order to find great places to visit, accommodation and things to do.

    All the information I require about making plans for a holiday are right here.

    I would definitely be visiting the vineyards in the area.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Great Louise, thanks for stopping by 🙂

      Reply
  7. Brent

    I really loved your review on Laguna Beach.  My wife and I love beaches and would love to see California.  This looks just like the perfect area for us.  The list of hotels is great, now we just have to decide. Definitely going to head to 1000 Steps beach.  That looks awesome. 

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Thank you Brent and thank you for stopping by beach travel destinations.

      Reply
  8. rafiullah

    It has always been my dream to visit California.  We are finally ready to start planning our trip.  So finding your website and all of the great information is perfect timing for us.  Laguna Beach looks like a great California beach town!  It is perfect for us with all the things to see and do.  Glad you put this together, very informative.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Great!  I am glad I could help with your planning.  Thanks for stopping by.

      Reply
  9. Saori

    Thank you for a full packaged infomative article! I feel like I got everything I need to prepare for the visit and won’t have to research for anything else. I live fairly close to Laguna Beach but did’t know there are so many things you can do there. I can probably make it a long weeken vacation there. And big thanks for mentioining that restrooms are available at the park because the information is hard to find sometimes.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Yes sometimes you can’t always find everything you need.  I am glad I provided you with it for your trip to Laguna Beach.  Thanks for visiting my Laguna Beach Travel Guide.

      Reply
  10. Antonio

    Hi Leahrae

    You make Laguna Beach sound like paradise, with so much to offer and so much to do. It would make an ideal holiday location for many people. It is a place I must visit  and I thank you for this review.

    How long would you expect to spend at the beach, to have a decent holiday and see all the sights?

    Thank you 

    Antonio

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Hi Antonio,  I would spend at least two weeks to allow for some beach time and time to see all the sights.  This will also allow for your travel time there and back.  Please let me know if you have any other questions.

      Reply
  11. ODavid

    Wow! What a beautiful and interesting holiday beach travel destination it is. From your elaborate description and images, I can say that I love every bit of it and my self and family will definitely give it a try this summer… Thank you so much for doing a great research and bringing this amazing Laguna Beach Travel Guide my way!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Glad you enjoyed David, thanks for visiting beach travel destinations.

      Reply
  12. Salim

    We are planning a family reunion and have been thinking about California.  Laguna Beach sounds like the perfect place.  The weather is definitely ideal for the time of year we would like to go.  I will recommend this to my family and we will decide on a hotel from your recommended options.  Thanks for the great ideas and helping us plan.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Great location for a family reunion for sure!  Please let me know if you need any additional information.  I would be glad to help.

      Reply
  13. Peace

    Hi Leahrae, 

    It was a pleasure reading your article on Laguna Beach and giving a detailed guide to the world famous vacation location. 

    Your is so detailed that I don’t need to look any further for supporting information on the vacation spot. You pulled all the stops to educate us on the place. That’s applauded, thanks for the effort you put into the article. 

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Thank you Peace for stopping by and visiting my Laguna Beach travel guide.

      Reply
  14. Alex

    Hi Leahrae. Thanks to you for writing this great post review about Laguna Beach. I’ve been to California once but I think I have one unfinished business to attend to now lol. My parents are working on our family vacation, honestly this is the real deal for us, I cant wait to have fun. I like the Montage Laguna Beach and I’ll love to watch whales too. Thanks for sharing 

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      You are very welcome Alex, thanks for visiting beach travel destinations.

      Reply
  15. Tracy cole

    This sounds so exciting and adventurous. I feel tickled by the theme. What an amazingly talented writer you are!

    I’ve really enjoyed reading this article as you’ve provided us with lots of valuable information. I have been thinking of visiting africa during my next summer holiday but i am highly intrigued by your review and i think the perfect fit for my next holiday would be  Laguna beach California. Thanks for the guide, I will surely be planning my vacation to this wonderful beach town!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Great Tracy!  I think you will love it in Laguna Beach.  I can say that it should be a lot easier on the pocketbook than a vacation to Africa!  Thanks for stopping by my Laguna Beach Travel Guide.

      Reply
  16. Daniella

    Hi Leahrae,

    Wow, another great destination to go to. My husband and I will be soon celebrating our 20 years of marriage and this would be a beautiful present. Don’t you think so?
    All the hotels look great, which make it hard for me to choose:)What hotel would you suggest for a romantic trip? I don’t really care about the price:)
    Thank you for the packing list!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Yes, this would be a wonderful present Daniella! I would take him to the Hotel Joaquin, hands down 🙂 And you are very welcome!

      Reply

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