The beautiful enclave of Laguna Beach maintains its arts-positive image, even though most of the artists that once lived here have relocated from the seaside resort to nearby Laguna Canyon due to the high cost of real estate. Its location makes it the idyllic spot that it is. Bordered by the Pacific Ocean, Crystal Cove State Park and Laguna Woods, it is a natural work of art.
Laguna Beach is an ideal getaway for adults; its picturesque location and small size (population about 24,000), combined with unique shops and fine dining make for a romantic escape for a week or just a weekend. Ocean vistas and breezes, plus a plethora of cultural festivals create a balance of natural beauty where the hours while away lazily, and intellectual activities inspire and invite involvement.
The main beach, which is the largest and most popular one in town, is just long enough for a leisurely beach walk; it rises sharply from the water’s edge into the San Joaquin Hills, a perfect perch from which to view the sandy beaches and turquoise waters below. A boardwalk, lovely for a romantic evening stroll, runs the length of the beach; artists and street musicians are present on the boardwalk every weekend.
The beach has a primarily sandy bottom, but is slightly rocky at the northern end, near Bird Rock. It boasts a “shore-break” variety of surf, making it popular with swimmers and body surfers. Surfing is not permitted during the summer months; the surf can be dangerous with its rip currents and heavy waves.
There are two basketball courts at the north end of the beach, and several beach volleyball courts along the beach. Kiosks rent the required games equipment. Because it is so close to downtown, the beach is in easy access of boutiques, bistros and galleries. Everything is close at hand.
Festivals run at all times during the year, and the town is accordingly very busy during these periods. There is no designated parking lot at the main beach, but metered parking is available on the local streets. Since Laguna Beach is fairly walkable, it may be best to park on the edge of town and then walk in during peak periods and festivals, or take advantage of the shuttle service that the city offers. Cars are not as ubiquitous in Laguna Beach as they are in Los Angeles; in fact, residents are known for their environmental activism, so it is best to park the car and walk. This is the ideal setting for doing just that.
Among the festivals and events that take place in Laguna Beach are the enchanting Tall Ships in September and the Doheny Blues Festival in mid-May. While there are numerous arts festivals, the two best known are the Sawdust Festival, an alternative arts fair, running from June to August, and the wonderful Pageant of the Masters. In the latter, artworks of the great masters are recreated in settings that duplicate the original works, and people pose as the characters in them. The artists of California are the focus at the Laguna Art Museum, a very worthwhile visit.
Laguna Beach is a dream for the aesthete, a blissful place to rekindle romance, and a escape that feels unique among the American beaches.