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Introduction

Laguna Beach is a resort-residential community (population about 20,000) along the Pacific coast in South Orange County in Southern California. It is known for its extensive artist community, seaside village atmosphere, beautiful beaches, and luxury resort hotels. Fans of the Beach Boys will recall the mention of the city in the song "Surfin' Safari". In warm sunny weather, Laguna Beach can have an overwhelming Mediterranean-island ambiance. Laguna Beach attracts a few million visitors a year.

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Neighbourhoods

Laguna Beach lies along the coast of the Pacific Ocean with a ridge of hills bounding its eastern edge. The main road is Pacific Coast Highway, also referred to as Coast Highway, Highway 1 and PCH.

  • North Laguna - This is the area from about High Street north to the city line at Crystal Cove State Park. This stretch of Coast Highway has a few restaurants and shops, but is main residential (large gated communities) with entry points to secluded beaches.
  • Main Beach / The Village - This area fans out from Broadway, a street that becomes Laguna Canyon Road (CA 133, a main artery into Laguna Beach). To the north is the famous Gallery Row area and oceanfront Heisler Park. To the south is the village area with shops and restaurants. Broadway ends at Main Beach, with its boardwalk and popular sandy beach area.
  • South of Main Beach - This is the long area from about Cleo Street south to Aliso Creek Beach. This stretch of Coast Highway contains a lot of shopping, restaurants, hotels and entry points to secluded beaches. Residential neighborhoods slope up the hills.
  • South Laguna - This is the area from Aliso Creek Beach south to Crown Valley Parkway. It contains cliff side beaches, some restaurants and shopping, a hospital and residential properties.

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Sights and Activities

Before seeing anything, visit the Laguna Beach Visitors Bureau, 252 Broadway (tel. 800/877-1115 or 949/497-9229). It is in the heart of town and distributes lodging, dining, and art gallery guides. It's open Monday through Friday from 9AM to 5PM, and Saturday from 10AM to 4PM (plus Sundays in the summer).

  • Art-A-Fair, 777 Laguna Canyon Rd, ☎ +1 949-494-4514. Su-Th 10-9; Fri & Sat 10-10. The Art-A-Fair Festival is one of three premier outdoor art shows held annually in Laguna Beach. Located in Laguna Canyon between the Sawdust Festival and Festival of Arts in a beautiful garden setting, it features over 125 artists, plus live entertainment, fine food, demonstrations and workshops. Artists from California as well as many other states and countries apply annually and are accepted through a jury system, which contributes to the high quality of art and master crafts among participants. $3.50-7.00.
  • Festival of Arts, 650 Laguna Canyon Rd. 10AM-11:30PM during the summer. This fine art festival showcases Orange County’s most accomplished artists during the summer months. Held on the same grounds as the Pageant of the Masters, there are demos, music, and food available in addition to the artwork. edit
  • Pageant of the Masters, 650 Laguna Canyon Rd. Held nightly during the summer, the Pageant of the Masters advertises itself as the place "where art comes to life", which is about the best description that could be given of an event that is unlike any other. For over seventy years this annual pageant has presented recreations of famous paintings, statues and other works of art on a stage with orchestral accompaniment. The catch is that real people act as models for the subjects depicted. The artwork is textured in such a way that it is often impossible to distinguish the 3-D reproduction from a 2-D image, so bring binoculars to get a closer look. Tickets sell out early every year, so plan ahead to attend this event.
  • Top of the World. So named because as the highest peak in the area, it provides a spectacular view of the ocean. Top of the World has been a longtime favorite destination for Orange County's romantically inclined. Sunsets and sunrises from this location are both incredible.

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Events and Festivals

Every summer there is the Sawdust Festival 935 Laguna Canyon Rd. It is going on at the same time as the Pageant of the Masters. Lots of brilliant local (Laguna Beach) art to look at.

Holidays

  • New Year’s Eve - The US celebrates the outgoing of the old year and incoming of the New Year quite dramatically. Every state boasts its own parties to ring in the New Year, but none is more extravagant than New York’s Time Square, which sees people overflowing into the neighboring restaurants, bars, parks, beaches, and neighborhoods.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day (officially Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. and sometimes referred to as MLK Day) is an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around King's birthday, January 15. The holiday is similar to holidays set under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. The earliest Monday for this holiday is January 15 and the latest is January 21. King was the chief spokesperson for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law.
  • St Patrick’s Day - March 17 celebrates the US’s large Irish population. Many cities around the country boast boisterous parades and Irish-themed parties, especially New York and Chicago, where the river is dyed green. Be wary of the drunkenness that dominates as this is definitely a party-day.
  • Memorial Day - Memorial Day is an important holiday throughout the United States, but not for crazy festivities. Parades commemorating wartime heroes are often held and the day is also the ‘unofficial’ start of summer. Most visitors follow the crowds to parks and beaches, which are capped off with informal BBQs.
  • Independence Day - Also known as the Fourth of July, Independence Day celebrates the US’s break from the British during the 18th century. Barbecues, street parties, beach trips, and weekend getaways are commonplace to appreciate freedom.
  • Labor Day is a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws, and well-being of the country. It is the Monday of the long weekend known as Labor Day Weekend. It is recognized as a federal holiday. Beginning in the late 19th century, as the trade union and labor movements grew, trade unionists proposed that a day be set aside to celebrate labor.
  • Halloween - Halloween is a fun holiday on October 31 for all generations to dress up in costumes and relive their youth. Children walk around the neighborhood trick-or-treating for candy, while adults attend parties. Other seasonal events include haunted houses, pumpkin farms and carving, and corn mazes.
  • Thanksgiving - On the fourth Thursday in November, Thanksgiving is held in almost every home in the US. Tourists will have a hard time finding anything to do as the country essentially shuts down in observation. A typical Thanksgiving meal consists of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie commemorating the original Pilgrim’s feast at Plymouth Rock.
  • Christmas - On December 25, Christians celebrate Christmas as the pinnacle of their calendar by attending church and opening gifts from Santa Claus. Almost everything shuts down to promote family togetherness. The northern regions hope to experience a “white Christmas,” with trees and festive lights blanketed by snow.

Sport

  • Super Bowl Sunday - the world’s most watched sporting event and one of the highest grossing TV days of the year, Superbowl Sunday is a spectacular extravaganza. Held the first Sunday in February, the Superbowl is the final playoff game between the NFL’s top two teams. The venue rotates every year around America, yet the local parties seem to remain. Pubs, bars and restaurants are great places to enjoy the Superbowl or locals throw their own parties with different variations of betting.
  • The World Series is the annual championship series of Major League Baseball (MLB) in North America, contested since 1903 between the American League (AL) champion team and the National League (NL) champion team. The winner of the World Series championship is determined through a best-of-seven playoff, and the winning team is awarded the Commissioner's Trophy. As the series is played during the fall season in North America, it is sometimes referred to as the Fall Classic.

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Getting There

By Plane

Orange County's John Wayne Airport, also known as SNA is only about 15 miles from Laguna Beach. From SNA, you can get to Laguna Beach by one of several ways: rent a car and drive (most popular), take a taxi (about $50), take a door-to-door shuttle (about $30) or limo, or take the OCTA [see Orange County Transportation Authority below] bus #76 ($2.50, runs hourly) to the Newport Transportation Center and transfer there to the OCTA bus #1 that runs to Laguna Beach via the Pacific Coast Highway. All of these modes may be found at the SNA's Ground Transportation Center across the street from Terminal A and B, with the exception of the OCTA bus #76, which is boarded at the OCTA Bus Stop at the far end of Terminal B curbside.

By Train

Amtrak and Metrolink stations are located in Irvine, Laguna Niguel, San Juan Capistrano, and San Clemente. From there it will be necessary to take public transportation or a taxi.

By Car

Laguna Beach is located along the Pacific Coast Highway (CA 1) at the "T" intersection of Laguna Canyon Road (CA 133), which becomes Broadway in town. When arriving on summer nights during Pageant of the Masters performances expect a lot of traffic along CA 133 and plan extra time to get into town.

From John Wayne Airport, you can take either Interstate 405 (to the north) or CA-73 (to the south and partway a toll road) to get to CA-133 and south to Laguna Beach. Alternatively, you can drive south from John Wayne Airport to Newport Beach and pick up CA-1 to Laguna Beach.

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Getting Around

Laguna Beach is a linear town stretched along the Pacific Coast Highway (CA 1) punctuated by several canyons. In town, Broadway (CA 133, which becomes Laguna Canyon Road out of town) divides the Pacific Coast Highway into the North Coast Highway and the South Coast Highway; address numbers increase outward from Broadway, with odd-number Coast Highway addresses on the ocean side.

By Car

Although a car may be convenient, parking is at a premium in the summer; beware of having your car towed. You'll probably have to pay to park downtown in beach weather. The cheapest option is parking in the residential areas on the other side of Pacific Coast Highway, although you risk begrudging the residents. If you are trying to get downtown a good place to park is the district parking lot just across from Laguna Beach High School. From here you can take a short walk into town. Lot prices in the summer range from $7 - $15.

By Public Transport

Orange County Transit Authority (OCTA). The OCTA Bus #1 runs up and down the Coast Hwy twice an hour. Route #89 runs up Laguna Canyon Road to Laguna HIlls twice an hour.
Laguna Beach Transit operates five trolley routes year round seven days a week (6:30AM to 6:15PM (11:00PM Friday) weekdays; 9:30AM to 11:15PM Saturdays; 11:00AM to 8:30PM Sundays). The routes are all named after the neighborhoods that they serve: Arch Beach Heights, Bluebird Canyon, Top of the World, North Laguna, and South Laguna. All routes loop back to the Transit Center on Broadway in downtown. In addition, all routes are free. The city also operates three routes during the weekend with the same hours as the neighborhood trolley (4:30 PM to 11:00 PM Friday; 9:30AM to 11:15PM Saturdays; 11:00AM to 8:30PM Sundays) The routes serve the coast as well as up the canyon. All routes are free:
Short Coastal: Starts at North Laguna and travels along the coast to Mission Hospital in South Laguna. Frequency: 20 Minutes.
Long Coastal: Starts at the Transit Center downtown and travels to the Ritz Carlton in Dana Point. Frequency: 30 Minutes.
Limited Stop Canyon: Starts at Lot 16 (Act V) parking lot in Laguna Canyon and travels to downtown via Laguna Canyon Road.

All routes can be lenient on schedules so do not expect your trolley to be on time. The weekend routes do not run on a schedule.

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Eat

There is a wide range of options for dining in Laguna Beach. The high-end restaurants and inexpensive options are mixed together both in the village core and along PCH. Most restaurants will have their menu outside so that you can determine if the food and prices are what you're looking for.

  • Adolfo's Mexican Food, 998 South Coast Hwy (at Anita Street, south of Main Beach). 9AM-9PM, Daily.
  • Café Zinc, 350 Ocean Ave (in the village), ☎ +1 949 494-6302. Vegetarian café serving breakfast and lunch. Very popular with locals.
  • Gina's Pizza and Pastaria, 610 North Coast Hwy, ☎ +1 949 497-4421. and 1100 South Coast Hwy. +1 949 494-4342. Two locations for some great Italian food including pizza, pastas and hearty sandwiches, with pitchers of beer available. The southern location has outdoor seating for people watching with an ocean view. Friendly and totally casual.
  • Healthy Chinese Cuisine, 215 Broadway (in the village, at South Coast Hwy), ☎ +1 949 281-6794. Probably the best eatery in this open-air Food Court.
  • Heidelberg Cafe & Bistro, 1100 South Coast Hwy (at Brooks Street), ☎ +1 949 497-4594. Popular breakfast place that also does lunch. Has indoor and outdoor seating. Breakfast $10, Lunch $10-15.
  • La Sirena Grill, 347 Mermaid St (in the village), ☎ +1 949 497-TACO (8226). 8AM-9PM M-Sa. Looks like a hole in the wall, seating is limited to a few barstools and handful of tables and benches, but the best Mexican food.
  • La Sirena Grill, 30862 S. Coast Highway (in the Aliso Creek Shopping Center, across the street from the Montage), ☎ +1 949 499-2301. 7AM-10PM Daily. Same great food as the village location, but with plenty of seating indoor and out. Also has 19 taps of craft beers on tap. Also has the advantage of free parking in a large lot.
  • Orange Inn, 703 South Coast Hwy, ☎ +1 949 494-6085. Good for breakfast & brunch, sandwiches, smoothies, coffee and tea. Freshly made baked good include delicious peach muffins. Small indoor seating area, but right next to a lovely stretch of beach if you get your items to-go.
  • Penguin Cafe, 981 South Coast Hwy (at Anita Street), ☎ +1 949 494-1353. Family-run and very friendly. Popular for breakfast and also serves lunch including malts and milk shakes.
  • Taco Loco, 640 South Coast Hwy, ☎ +1 949 497-1635. Fast-food ambiance, but quality of the food equals many higher-price restaurants. Favorites include Cajun-spiced seafood tacos, blackened lobster tacos, and the mushroom-and-tofu burgers. Opens late on Friday and Saturday, til 2AM.
  • The Stand, 238 Thalia St (near South Coast Hwy), ☎ +1 949 494-8101. 7AM-7PM Daily. If any eatery can be called typically Laguna, this might be it. Only organic vegan ingredients are used in preparations. Smoothies, salads, and pita sandwiches are favorites.
  • Wahoos Fish Taco, 1133 South Coast Hwy (at Oak Street), ☎ +1 949 497-0033. Popular local chain making fresh, delicious and inexpensive Mexican food.
  • C'est La Vie Restaurant and Bakery, 373 South Coast Hwy (in the village), ☎ +1 949 497-5100. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Dinner main course $15-18.
  • Hotel Laguna, 425 South Coast Hwy (in the village). The deck has great views of the beach and (relatively) cheap food like burgers and salads.
  • Las Brisas, 361 Cliff Dr (off North Coast Hwy). Mexican restaurant that has a patio with some great views of the ocean. Mediocre and expensive food, but excellent views for having a cocktail. It gets pretty packed on a nice summer day.
  • Olamendi's, 1100 South Coast Hwy (at Oak Street). #202. Mexican restaurant with a view and an extensive menu, including a Lite Menu (300 calories). Dinners about $15.
  • Rock'n Fish, 422 South Coast Hwy (in the village). 11:30AM-10PM Su-Th, 11:30AM-11PM Fr-Sa. New Orleans influenced seafood and steak menu, a dozen taps of draft beer and a full bar. Second-floor location has views onto the Main Beach area. Dinner $20 and up.
  • Ti Amo, 31727 S. Coast Hwy (in South Laguna), ☎ +1 949 499-5350. Creative Mediterranean cuisine. Try the seared ahi with a sesame-seed crust.

Broadway, 328 Glennerye St (in the village), ☎ +1 949 715-8234. 5PM-10PM Su-Th, 5PM-11PM Fr-Sa (Dinner only, note: closes at 1AM Fr/Sa but service ends at 11PM). Recently opened, notable wine list. Dinner $40.

  • Studio, 30801 South Coast Hwy (at the Montage Resort), ☎ +1 949 715-6420. 5PM-10PM Tu-Su (Dinner only). Panoramic ocean views, contemporary French cuisine. A great choice to celebrate a special occasion. Reservation strongly recommended and men should wear a jacket. Dinner $50 and up.

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Drink

  • Andree's Patisserie, 1456 South Coast Hwy (near Mountain Street), ☎ +1 949 494-1577. M 7:35AM-12PM; T- F 7:35AM-3PM; Sa 7:35AM-1PM; Su closed. A fantastic little bakery tucked away near French 75 restaurant. Highly recommended to grab some pastries and coffee, then head to the sand for breakfast on the beach.
  • Heidelberg Cafe & Bistro, 1100 South Coast Hwy (at Brooks Street).
  • Koffee Klatch, 1440 South Coast Hwy (near Mountain Street), ☎ +1 949 376-6867. 7AM-11PM M-Th & Su, 7AM-12AM F-S. Locally owned, you can get breakfast in the morning and treat yourself to dessert at night. Eclectic decor, big comfy chairs, patio seating and friendly staff. Some of the best coffee in Orange County.
  • Laguna Coffee Company, 1050 South Coast Hwy (between Anita and Oak Streets), ☎ +1 949 494-6901. 6AM-6PM Su-W, 6AM-8PM Th-Sa. Locally owned, the coffee beans are roasted in-house. Limited seating inside and along the walkway outside.
  • Orange Inn, 703 South Coast Hwy (at Cleo). See description above under "Eat".
  • Starbucks. There are two locations for this chain, and they're practically next to each other on either side of Broadway at Main Beach. The northern location has its own small parking lot.
  • Marine Room, 214 Ocean Ave. In downtown.
  • The Sandpiper. About six blocks south of Main Beach, it offers good local music.
  • Brussels Bistro, 222 Forest Ave, ☎ +1 949 376-7955. Brussels Bistro offers live jazz Tu-Th. On Friday and Saturday the brasserie-style restaurant transforms into one of the hotter nightclubs in town. Happy hour is offered daily from 4-7PM
  • The Whitehouse, 340 South Coast Hwy, ☎ +1 949 494-8088. The White House Restaurant & Nightclub in Laguna Beach is almost certainly the oldest restaurant in Orange County. Since its opening in 1918 The Whitehouse has been totally renovated and remodeled, and includes dining room with adjacent lounge bar and dance floor. Live music is featured 7 nights a week.
  • Hennessey's Tavern, 213 Ocean Ave, ☎ +1 949 494-2743. Casual pub with two bars, downstairs and upstairs. Live music most nights. Burgers, Irish comfort food and the like.
  • Ocean Brewing Company, 237 Ocean Ave, ☎ +1 949 497-3381. Casual bar with solid house beer and a cocktail selection. Lunch and dinner, with notable pizza options.

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Sleep

  • Aliso Creek Inn, 31106 South Coast Highway. Aliso Creek Inn & Golf Course offers full service suite lodging featuring full kitchens, dining, banquets, meeting services, golf and recreation amongst the historic and inspiring Aliso and Woods Canyons. The Canyon Lodge Special Event Venue accommodates up to 300 guests perfect for a memorable corporate event or celebration.
  • Art Hotel Laguna Beach, 1404 North Coast Highway, ☎ +1 949 494-6464, fax: +1 949 494-9776. Formerly America's Best Inns. Across the street from the ocean and Crescent Bay Park.
  • Best Western Laguna Brisas Spa Hotel, 1600 South Coast Highway, ☎ +1 949 497-7272, toll-free: +1-888-296-6834, fax: +1 949 497-8306.
  • Casa Laguna Inn & Spa, 2510 South Coast Hwy, toll-free: +1-800-233-0449. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. Bed and Breakfast across from the ocean in Laguna Beach. Rooms designed for one or two adults. Romantic, terraced gardens. Full service spa, charming unique rooms and suites with modern amenities, gourmet breakfast prepared with local ingredients, afternoon wine and cheese, high speed internet, and ocean view garden hot tub. $159-$649.
  • Holiday Inn Laguna Beach, 696 South Coast Highway (at Cleo Road, northeast corner), ☎ +1 949 494-1001. Convenient location, across the street from ocean access and a Ralph's supermarket open 24 hrs.
  • Laguna Reef Inn, 30806 South Coast Highway, ☎ +1 949 499-2227, toll-free: +1-800-922-9905, fax: +1 949 499-5575. Formerly Best Western. To close in 2010; bought by Montage across the street.
  • Laguna Riviera Resort on the Beach, 825 South Coast Highway, ☎ +1 949 494-1196, fax: +1 949 494-8421.
  • Montage Resort & Spa Laguna Beach, 30801 South Coast Highway, toll-free: +1-866-271-6953. Sumptuous oceanfront hotel on a bluff with superb service, gorgeous grounds, and delightful views. Facilities for meetings, weddings, spa retreats, as well as a variety of fine dining restaurants. (updated Mar 2017 | edit)
  • Inn at Laguna Beach, 211 North Coast Highway, ☎ +1 949 497-9722. A luxury hotel in Orange County featuring oceanfront suites, for business and leisure travel. This Laguna Beach hotel also offers romantic vacation packages, wedding venues, catering and meeting rooms.
  • La Casa Del Camino, 1289 S. Coast Highway. Built in 1929 as a seaside retreat for Hollywood movie stars, this elegant Mediterranean style landmark offers lodging accommodations with their own unique characteristics and antique furnishings.
  • Laguna Beach House, 475 N Pacific Coast Highway, toll-free: +1-800-297-0007. Mediterranean-inspired coastal retreat.
  • Pacific Edge Hotel, 647 South Coast Hwy, ☎ +1 949 281-5709. Two heated pools, Jacuzzi, poolside lounge, onsite Beach House restaurant, health club and beach butlers.
  • The Retreat In Laguna, 729 Gaviota Dr, ☎ +1 949-376-7170. Completely renovated in 2010, the villas of The Retreat offer luxury vacation rentals and extended-stay accommodations that sleep 4 comfortably.
  • Sunset Cove Villas, 683 Sleepy Hollow Ln (Located off of Pacific Coast Highway at the intersection of Cleo St.). Has one, two and three bedroom accommodations at a central downtown location with panoramic ocean views. Each villa has fully equipped kitchens, entertainment centers, satellite television and internet access and key-card security doors.

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Keep Connected

Internet

There is a very small internet bar/cafe culture in the USA. Even then most of the internet bars/cafes tend be located in major urban centers. Accessible WiFi networks, however, are common. The most generally useful WiFi spots are in coffee shops, fast-food chains, and bookshops, but also restaurants and hotels more and more have a network to connect on. Some of them might require you to buy something and you might need a password too, especially in hotels.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The general emergency phone number is 911. The USA has a great landline phone system that is easy to use. The country code for the U.S. is +1. The rest of the telephone number consists of 10 digits: a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. Any small grocery store or pharmacy has pre paid domestic or international phone cards. These phone cards are very cheap and offer good rates. The once ubiquitous pay phone is now much harder to find. Likely locations include in or near stores and restaurants, and near bus stops. The cellphone network in the states is slowly getting better but is still not as good when compared to other western countries. Cell phones tend to operate using different frequencies (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) from those used elsewhere in the world (2100 MHz). This used to prevent most foreign phones from working in America. Phones must be tri- or quad-band to work in the U.S. Fortunately, technology has meant that most phones should now be able to pick up one of the U.S. networks. Prepaid phones and top-up cards can be purchased at mobile phone boutiques and at many discount, electronics, office supply and convenience stores. A very basic handset with some credit can be had for under $40.

Post

The US Postal Service is a very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. Although some might keep longer hours, most are open at least between 9:00am and 5:00pm. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. First-class international airmail postcards and letters (up 28.5 grams) cost $1.10. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL, which might be better value sometimes and are generally very quick and reliable too.

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This is version 7. Last edited at 11:12 on Jun 14, 19 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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