Laguna Beach has a bit of everything.
From a thriving art scene to prime surfing waves and plenty activities in between, this coastal city serves visitors with plenty of things to do in Laguna Beach. Located in Orange County, California, the community comes alive with natural beauty, eye-popping illustrations, and universally appealing activities. In fact, there are so many things to do in Laguna Beach that this spot is one of our favorite travel destinations for the entire family. With the dawn of the New Year, we've composed a list of the best things to do in Laguna Beach to help kick start your resolution to travel more. Don't miss these hot must-trys:
1. Crescent Bay Point Park
In search of the best photo-ops in Orange County? If so, look no further than Crescent Bay Point Park, a major draw for hikers and sunset chasers alike. Thereby, this is one of the best things to do in Laguna Beach.
The park is situated atop a bluff, a fact that lends to 360 degree views of the surrounding vicinity. Trail and paths lead hikers through the park high above the awaiting ocean below. Crescent Bay Point Park will take your breath away.
2. Take a Ride on the Laguna Beach Trolley
Our tour of the best things to do in Laguna Beach begins with a leisurely weekend ride upon the Laguna Beach Trolley. The free transportation runs in the bounds of the city of Laguna Beach and parallel with the South Coast Highway. Riders may opt to pick up the Trolley at the Official Visitors Center after helping themselves to a plethora of resources regarding the locale. Brochures, maps, and guides give travelers the lay of the land.
Upon boarding, riders choose from 34 stops serviced by the Laguna Beach Trolley, beginning at the Dana Point Ritz Carlton Hotel upward to Cajon Street in the northern part of Laguna Beach. Service generally runs every Friday evening through Sunday night year-round. Not only is the Laguna Beach Trolley one of the best things to do in Laguna Beach, it's also an affordable and convenient mode of transportation during your stay.
3. Pageant of the Masters
Those with an affinity for performance and art love the Pageant of the Masters, which is also known as one of the most unique things to do in Laguna Beach. In the Pageant of the Masters, live humans pose in like manner to original pieces of art to make the scene come truly alive. The recreation presents itself in the form of a stage show held each summer during the Festival of the Arts.
Over the course of ninety minutes, bodies pose to give life to classical and contemporary art. Theatricality and imagination collide and couple with a full orchestra, narration, plays on lighting, and illusion to make the living pictures. The Pageant of the Masters acts as the perfect introduction of the most unique things to do in Laguna Beach for those who enjoy the human form and art.
4. The Whaling Wall
Anyone with an eye for art will certainly appreciate Wyland's 100 Whaling Walls. The artist specializes in sea life and designed these murals in homage of whales and their sea peers. Being that the sides of large buildings often feature the Whaling Walls, Wyland is able to paint the whales with great care and attention to scale. In addition to making a great photo-op, the Whaling Walls also give viewers a sense of their size and role in the universe when compared next to the majestic painted whales.
5. Pacific Marine Mammal Center
A great family friendly activity and one of the most fun things to do in Laguna Beach is to visit the Pacific Marine Mammal Center. Originally named Friends of the Sea Lions in 1971, the now Pacific Marine Mammal Center still acts as Laguna Beach's main rescuer of marine mammals. The Center was the first of its kind, forging the plan to rescue, care for, rehabilitate, and release California sea lions, Northern elephant seals, Northern fur seals, and Pacific harbor seals found along the Orange County coast. Kids of all ages and nature lovers alike enjoy seeing these majestic animals, in addition to learning about their natural habitats.
6. Explore a Shipwreck
Trekkers searching for true adventure (or treasure) will want to explore the shipwreck that lies offshore of Laguna Beach. For snorkelers and certified divers, the sunken Foss 125, also known as the Cleo Street Barge, offers one of the most exciting things to do in Laguna Beach.
Since 1985 when the ship met its abysmal and untimely demise, the wreck has hosted abundant marine life. Divers and snorkelers peek into the complex inner-workings of an underwater ecosystem only 200 yards off the Laguna Beach coastline. For those with a sense of adventure, the Cleo Street Barge is one of the premier once-in-a-lifetime things to do in Laguna Beach.
7. Crystal Cove State Park
Situated in between Corona del Mar and Laguna Beach sits Crystal Cove State Park. The incredible open space features more than three miles of beautiful beach, wilderness in excess of 2,000 acres, and a wealth of activities for trekkers on the move. Because of its wide variety and astonishing scenery, Crystal Cove State Park is by far one of the can't-miss things to do in Laguna Beach.
Adrenaline junkies thrive on the versatility offered by Crystal Cove- ranging in activities from fishing, hiking, and biking to scuba diving, swimming, and surfing. Regardless of ability, interest, or age, the park has something for all members of your group.
Even still, if high octane adventures are out of the scope of your realm, Crystal Cove boasts many serene tidal pools. Exploration and relaxation are the name of the game. In addition, the park is home to scenic beaches and numerous hills, canyons, and ridges that combine to form a breathtaking, yet challenging landscape. Furthermore, park resources complete the experience with staff-led hikes, geology lessons, and educational programs. It's no wonder why this is one of the greatest things to do in Laguna Beach.
8. Glenn E. Vedder Ecological Reserve
Aspiring marine biologists must visit the Glenn E. Vedder Ecological Reserve. The Underwater Park and Tidepools gift an uncommon glimpse into the connections of the marine ecosystem, and surrounding beach nearby.
Trekkers love the area south of Picnic Beach. This spot is flat and rocky, harboring anemones clearly visible to the naked eye at low tides. In addition, a favorite spot of magnificent opportunity is Rock Pile. This tide pool sometimes offers a peek of an octopus to lucky travelers. Furthermore, Bird Rock, another prime spot, is home to red urchins, sea cucumbers, and other nifty creatures.
This Ecological Reserve is wealthy in thriving life forms of the sea and surrounding habitats. An appreciation for nature and its corresponding phenomena are the only requisites for visiting one of the best things to do in Laguna Beach.
9. Visit the Site of a World Record
Intrigued yet? You certainly will be upon setting foot inside the St. Francis of the Sea Cathedral! At one time, this site held the title of the world's smallest cathedral as recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records. Built in 1933, St. Francis of the Sea measures out to be 1,008 square feet and seats 42 individuals comfortably. Although it is been removed of its title and is now the second smallest cathedral in the world, the St. Francis of the Sea Cathedral is nonetheless one of many interesting things to do in Laguna Beach.
10. Whale Watching
Whale watching is not only a majestic adventure, but also one of the greatest year-round things to do in Laguna Beach. A variety of species can be seen depending on the time of year you visit. Travelers expect to see gray whales in the winter and spring, while the summer and fall months promise views of blue whales.
Moreover, other marine life appears year round. For example, trekkers report sightings of dolphin and humpback, finback, and minke whales. Daily cruises are not difficult to find, and some even have the option for underwater viewing. Regardless of which option you choose, whale watching is one of the most exciting and awe-inspiring things to do in Laguna Beach.
11. Laguna Art Museum
The Laguna Art Museum is a highlight and one of an art enthusiast's favorite things to do in Laguna Beach. The museum first opened as the Laguna Beach Art Association in 1918. In 1986, the museum began to go by its current namesake.
The fine arts museum is unique amongst its counterparts. To enumerate, the Laguna Art Museum works to preserve the work of artists hailing from California -- the only museum of its sort to solely focus its collection on California art. These aforementioned works tend to portray historical events in the establishment of California, and incorporate styles ranging from the 19th Century to modern day pieces. Patrons of the arts shouldn't miss out on one of the most artsy things to do in Laguna Beach.
12. Table Rock Beach
The short journey down to Table Rock Beach is one of the best things to do in Laguna Beach. A wooden staircase winds up to a bamboo trail that leads travelers to the beach.
Table Rock Beach is one of the hottest spots for amateur photographers and outdoor sport lovers. It is not uncommon to see fellow trekkers snorkeling, skimboarding, surfing, and swimming. In addition to it's ample activities, Table Rock Beach consists of a rock wall formation that offers breathtaking views all around.
13. Heisler Park
Heisler Park exudes the ambiance of a green paradise. The park covers the edges of Cliff Drive above Laguna Beach and offers many options in terms of the greatest things to do in Laguna Beach.
In addition to serving as an access point for beautiful beaches and scenic ocean views, Heisler Park welcomes travelers with its many trails and amenities. Those in search of serenity wander the tidal pools and trails. Families and friends enjoy the company of one another at picnic tables and barbecue stations. Furthermore, Heisler Park hosts the exclusive Laguna Beach Lawn Bowling Club, benches, and a gazebo, each of which enhances the natural beauty brought about by each sunset.
14. Hit the HIP District
The HIP District is one of the best things to do in Laguna Beach for window shoppers, foodies, and art aficionados. HIP stands for Historic and Interesting Places and features one of Laguna Beach's bustling business hubs.
Travelers find stores, cafes and coffee shops, eateries, and art galleries. The HIP District acts as one of many places to be explored while staying in Laguna Beach. Local hospitality merges with chic sophistication and living to give visitors a taste of just how hip the HIP district is.
15. Laughter Yoga
Laughter proves itself to be the best medicine time and time again. Coupled with mindfulness, laughter marries yoga to create one of the happiest, most mindful things to do in Laguna Beach. Additionally, yogis love that their practice maintains consistency even while away from home.
The Laughter Yoga Institute holds practice at the end of Main Beach. These free, guided sessions offer one of the best things to do in Laguna Beach to unwind and let loose. Namaste!
16. Seal Rock
Sure to impress the animal lover and nature enthusiast in your group is one of the coolest things to do in Laguna Beach. This spot is also known as Seal Rock and quickly shows visitors why.
Sitting a short 120 yards offshore of Crescent Bay, Seal Rock is more of a hang out spot for seals and sea lions. While visible from the shore, kayak out towards the rock to join the seals in a ballad of barking and the perfect photo-op. Seal Rock is unlike anything you've ever seen before!
17. Laguna Coast Wilderness Park
As promised, Laguna Beach contains something for everyone. Perhaps no group recognizes this more than outdoor enthusiasts, who delight at the chiseled California coastline and abounding beauty. To illustrate, Laguna Coast Wilderness Park drives this point home.
The park sits along Laguna Canyon Road and spreads across 7,000 acres. Moreover, this spot is one of the last coastal canyons remaining in Southern California and the contains the only natural lake in Orange County. A myriad of fauna call Laguna Coast Wilderness Park home, a list that includes weasels, bobcats, birds, and deer. The corresponding fauna provide shelter in the form of imposingly tall sycamores and oaks, as well as prickly cacti and even maritime chaparral.
It isn't all about your surroundings though. Laguna Coast Wilderness Park also presents plenty of opportunity for travelers to engage in outdoor activities. In fact, over 40 miles of trails line the park - an amount that challenges bikers and hikers alike. Laguna Coast Wilderness Park is by far one of the best things to do in Laguna Beach.
18. Public Art Tour
It's no secret that this destination is home to so many of the best things to do in Laguna Beach for artists. In fact, the area houses works of art strewn about the beachfront and coastline. Murals, sculptures, frescos, pottery, signs, adorned benches, and more line the way. Thereby, Laguna Beach acts as an enormous canvas along which travelers take a self-guided tour to view.
The incredible artwork compliments each facet of the surrounding landscape, from the colorful sunset to the sound of crashing waves. Laguna Beach's Public Art Tour is a perfect way to see natural and man-made beauty side by side thus making it one of the most visually appealing things to do in Laguna Beach.
19. Hang Loose
The annual Victoria Skimboards World Championship of Skimboarding is one of several must-see things to do in Laguna Beach. The competition occurs at Aliso Beach Park and is the premier event of the sport. Skimboarders maneuver the waves with ease and grace, all the while pulling off incredible feats and tricks in pursuit of the title. If you're in the area, be sure to stop by!
20. Murphy-Smith Historical Bungalow
If you want to see a quaint piece of history and one of the more timeless things to do in Laguna Beach, head over to the Murphy-Smith Historical Bungalow. This prime example of Laguna Beach life during the 1920s has seen the changing tides of time.
The bungalow survived both World Wars and is now managed by the Laguna Beach Historical Society. Visitors tour the abundant photographs, artifacts, and memories seeped within the four walls of the bungalow. Guides point out various architectural features typical of builder's cottages of the day, including classic clapboard siding and gabled roof. Those interested in historical context are sure to love that this is on the list of the best things to do in Laguna Beach.
21. Thousand Steps Beach
Thousand Steps Beach has a bit of a misleading name, but is still one of the best things to do in Laguna Beach. In actuality, only 223 steps lead down to the sand beach below. On either side, trees and vines create a canopy of shade, offering refuge from the sun's rays. The length of the beach is flanked by two cliffs, both of which feature caves visitors walk through during low tide. Travelers find Thousand Steps Beach at the intersection of 9th Avenue and the South Coast Highway.
22. Hortense Miller Garden
Hortense Miller established this garden in 1959. As an artist, environmentalist, and feminist, Miller expressed her passion and dedication to each of her causes through gardening.
Sitting atop a 2.5 acre slope on Boat Canyon, the Garden houses more than 800 plant species, as well as foxes, skunks, raccoons, and other creatures. Guides narrate the tour, providing background and introducing picturesque ocean views. Anyone with a love of the outdoors will recognize that the Hortense Miller Garden is one of the most beautiful things to do in Laguna Beach.
23. Wine Tasting
During your trip to Laguna Beach, be sure to stop and enjoy a glass of wine. The Laguna Canyon Winery makes looking at life with a glass half full perspective easy. The winery handcrafts several of the available wines which are sourced of grapes hailing from Napa and Sonoma Valley. Visitors tour the winery, participate in tastings, and thoroughly relax at one of the best things to do in Laguna Beach.
Laguna Beach awaits.
A seemingly hand-carved coastline match an equally spectacular lapping of the waves along Laguna Beach's sandy shores. The quaint bungalow town compliments the universally appealing art gingerly littered about the area. Unfathomable sea creatures lounge in the tide pools whilst sea lions bark from the rock not far off shore. The easy beach life suits the picturesque landscape and enhances the uniquely alluring art of both nature and man.
As a whole, Laguna Beach has much to offer travelers. History, beauty, and hospitality create the perfect trifecta needed to cement Laguna Beach's title as a top travel destination. Those in search of a vacation designed for the whole family needn't look further than this small coastal town. If you're New Year's resolutions involve more travel, consider our list of the best things to do in Laguna Beach!
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