Boasting 7 miles of gorgeous Southern California coastline, featuring stunning beaches, coves, and majestic canyons, it’s no surprise why Laguna Beach is considered one of Orange County’s premier seaside cities. Best known as an artistic community, Laguna Beach is laid back and bohemian and its 23,000 or so residents enjoy its perfect weather, natural beauty, and creative sensibility.
Founded in 1887 and later incorporated in 1927, Laguna Beach was one of the earliest cities incorporated in California. Once home to the Tongva people, the area was settled by waves of settlers after its annexation by the United States in the aftermath of the Mexican-American War. Laguna Beach eventually became a small but thriving community and established itself as a tourist destination during the 1800s.
Laguna Beach’s natural beauty appealed not only to regular tourists, but to artists seeking inspiration as well. During the 1900s, plein-air painters such as William Wendt, Edgar Payne, and Frank Cuprien made their home here and formed a group that became known as the Laguna Beach Art Association. More artists, filmmakers, writers and other creative types followed suit in the years since until the city finally became the renowned artist community that it is today.
Laguna Art Museum. Located on the Pacific Coast Highway, the Laguna Art Museum features changing exhibits on Californian art from contemporary artists. The museum also showcases a permanent exhibit of landscapes, photographs, and other works by early Laguna Beach artists.
Pacific Marine Mammal Center. For animal lovers, this center located on Laguna Canyon Road is run by a nonprofit organization that is devoted towards helping and rehabilitating injured marine animals. A small staff dedicates their time and efforts in nursing rescued sea lions and seals. Volunteers and donations are most welcome.
Beaches. Laguna Beach has 27 beaches and coves stretched over 7 miles of coastline. Head over to Main Beach, which features volleyball and basketball courts and a playground for kids. If swimming is your thing, Main Beach is the best beach to go to. Picnic Beach is the place to go for tide pools, while Divers Cove is popular among snorkelers and divers.
Hobie Surf Shop. Before you get your stoke on, head first to Hobart “Hobie” Alter’s surf shop. Hobart started this line back in the 1950s in his parents’ garage. This is where beach bums and surfers get their stylish beachwear and surfboards that come in a wide variety of styles and colors.
Things to Do
Laguna Beach enjoys a rich surfing history. Although participation is only open to locals, visitors often watch the Brooks Street Surfing Classic, which holds the honor of being the oldest continuing surfing contest in the world. Rock stars of the surfing world such as Mickey Munoz and the owner of Hobie Surf Shop, Hobie Alter himself, are some of the surfers that have participated.
Laguna Beach holds a number of art festivals all throughout the year. Pageant of the Masters is held annually during the Festival of Arts. This event is mostly known for its living portraits or tableaux featuring classical and contemporary artworks. In Pageant of the Masters, great works are recreated by real people, and everything is identical to the artworks that they are imitating, from their costumes and props, down to the smallest detail. The Festival of Arts is a two-month long celebration wherein hundreds of artists exhibit their works. Workshops are also available, and guests are entertained all day by live music.
The Sawdust Art Festival is another event celebrating the arts. This festival features arts and crafts created by the skillful hands and imaginative minds of local artists and craftsmen. The festival also offers classes to guests of all ages, and is held in a handcrafted village with paths paved with sawdust.
There’s also a plethora of recreational and outdoor activities for everyone seeking a dose of adventure. Heisler Park, which is just north of Main Beach, offers trails and views of the famed 7-mile-long Laguna Beach coastline. Discover the excellent marine life in Laguna Beach as you dive or snorkel in Divers Cove. If you don’t have your own gear, don’t fret for you can rent the diving or snorkeling equipment that you need from a nearby surf shop. Skimboarding is also a popular sport in Laguna Beach, and Victoria Beach is where all the skimboarding action is. These are just some of the activities that Laguna Beach offers residents and guests alike.
An affluent seaside community, Laguna Beach has a wide variety of housing options for prospective buyers spread over 21 diverse neighborhoods and communities. You can choose to live in a luxurious single-family home in gated enclaves such as Irvine Cove in North Laguna, or in a condo near the ocean. There are hillside mansions, luxury apartments, and estates with their very own private beaches. These homes come in a variety of styles as well, from homey California bungalows to ultra-modern and minimalist pads.
As its name implies, this Laguna Beach area is part of the grand Laguna Canyon, which runs between the San Joaquin Hills in Orange County. With the majority of the area located within the Laguna Coast Wilderness, Laguna Canyon has abundant wildlife – it is home to several native Southern California fauna such as mountain lions, mule deer, bobcats, and a myriad different species of birds. Some of the bird species that make their home in the canyon are endangered, such as the Orange-throated whiptail. Initiatives such as the Laguna Canyon Foundation have been set up in order to protect and preserve what is left of the canyon wild lands.
Recreational activities such as hiking are popular in Laguna Canyon and there are plenty of trails to choose from. There are trails that offer splendid views of the Laguna Lakes, while others lead farther up into the canyons. If you want to live up in the hills, then this is the area for you. Properties here typically have a lush and deeply wooded setting.
Offering some of the best ocean views in Laguna Beach, Laguna Village is charming and is conveniently located within close proximity to the downtown area and its numerous retail stores and restaurants as well as the city’s amazing beaches.
Unlimited access to Main Beach gives plenty of opportunities for residents to enjoy the sun, sea, and surf of Laguna Beach. Gorgeous views of the ocean coupled with friendly neighbors as well as an eclectic collection of one-of-a-kind homes make living in the Village nothing less than an absolute delight.
Homes in Laguna Village tend to have more personality and flavor than those in other newer areas, thanks in large part to the fact that most of the homes here tend to be older. Expect the residents of these homes to have vibrant characters to match as well. These houses come in various distinctive styles, from quaint beach cottages to ultra-modern homes constructed with glass, steel and concrete.
Located just south of Newport Coast, North Laguna is quite possibly the most sought-after address in Laguna Beach. More peaceful than the rest of the city, this area is home to gated and exclusive communities such as Emerald Bay, Smithcliffs, and Irvine Cove. North Laguna is synonymous with luxury living. Beautiful homes and well-kept yards are the norm. What it lacks for in nightlife it more than makes up for in gorgeous homes and amazing views of the ocean. If you are tired of crowded beaches and you want some “me” time, North Laguna is the gateway to more secluded beaches.
Avid divers and snorkelers will find paradise in Divers Cove, while other water sports enthusiasts will experience the time of their lives in Laguna Sea Sports. After a day in the ocean, you can hike and camp overnight at Crystal Cove State Park. North Laguna offers a completely serene and relaxing way of life.
It’s hard not to love South Laguna. Located north of Monarch Beach, South Laguna features beautiful beachside and hilltop communities. Choose a home closer to the ocean or opt for an estate high up on the cliffs and feel like you’re on top of the world. South Laguna is home to exclusive communities such as South Laguna Village and the beachfront community of Three Arch Bay. Homes range from simple and charming cottages to luxury estates. Unsurprisingly, these homes do not come cheap. Single-family homes are plentiful in this area, and you may find a few condominiums here and there. Residents of South Laguna are also typically friendly and neighbors tend to know each other personally, which instills a real sense of community.
You will find that the shopping at Pacific Coast Highway is more than sufficient to fulfill your needs, and that South Laguna offers a wide range of recreational activities as well.