12 Best Laguna Beach Hotels - Jul 2019
Montage Laguna Beach
Casa Laguna Hotel & Spa
Surf & Sand Resort
Surf and Sand Resort
Inn at Laguna Beach
Inn At Laguna Beach
Montage Laguna Beach
The Ranch at Laguna Beach
Laguna Beach House
Laguna Beach House
14 West Laguna Beach
Capri Laguna on the Beach - A Boutique Hotel
Your Travel Guide to Laguna Beach
Laguna Beach started becoming a summer vacation spot in the 1880s, and a destination for aspiring artists in the early 1900s. The scenic view of the pristine Southern California coastline, as well as the wildlife in the nearby natural areas served to inspire many an artist. It wasn’t long before the Laguna Beach Art Museum was established in 1918, followed by art festivals and art galleries. Ever since, Laguna Beach’s main attractions have been in those two areas: a mecca for artists and filmmakers taking advantage of the scenery, and a beach resort, offering recreational water sports for vacationers.
What are the Must-Do-s and See-s in Laguna Beach?
Top of the World and Nearby Parks
Top of the World in Laguna Beach is a lookout point on Alta Laguna Boulevard, otherwise known as Alta Laguna Park, with access to Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park. Its name is derived from the fact that it’s the highest peak in Laguna Beach, at 1000 feet elevation. It offers a tremendous view of Orange County, California. There are also lots of sports facilities within the park, including tennis courts, basketball courts, a baseball field, and a picnic area.
Just north of Laguna Beach, in nearby Newport Beach, you’ll find the Crystal Cove State Park. It is a very large park, encompassing 2800 acres of land, as well as 1400 acres of the Crystal Cove State Marine Conservation Area. Some fishing for recreational purposes is permitted. There are also interesting tide pools with displays of wildlife that are protected by law.
The Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park includes 4,500 acres of natural wilderness, with oak, sycamore, and elderberry trees, as well as 30 miles of hiking trails. The trails vary in difficulty, and some are suitable for hiking by foot, biking, and horseback riding. There are also areas for birdwatching and fossil hunting.
Art Museums and Galleries
Festival of Arts
The Festival of Arts and Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach is an art museum which was first established in 1958. Actually, Laguna Beach’s Festival of Arts was initiated in 1932, but it didn’t have a permanent home until 1958. The art displayed is far more than just paintings: it also includes photographs, prints, sculpture, ceramics, jewelry, and much more. Through July and August, there is a summer art show that includes demonstrations and hands-on workshops for the general public, to learn about the process of art making. There are even live music performances to enjoy!
Pageant of the Masters
The Pageant of the Masters is a 90-minute demonstration performed every night during the summer festival, displaying living models who perform recreations of famous artworks, literally bringing art to life. The result is a breathtaking combination of dance, music and art! Very close to the Festival of Arts Museum, you’ll find the hotels Inn at Laguna Beach and Laguna Beach House.
Sawdust Art Festival
The Sawdust Art Festival is located a short distance away from the Festival of Arts. It was started in 1965 by artists whose work wasn’t accepted by the Festival of Arts. After the year 2006, it went from being a summer festival to a year-round art exhibit, including art classes and workshops, as well as an art gallery where art lovers can purchase the works on display.
Laguna Art Museum
The Laguna Art Museum and the LagunaART.com Gallery and Studios are yet more collections of artwork. The Laguna Art Museum focuses on work of California-native artists, as well as art related to the history of California. It was founded in 1918, while the building was dedicated in 1929. Presently, the museum offers events that celebrate the interaction of art and nature, as well as cultural programs integrating art with music and dance.
The LagunaART.com Gallery was founded in 2004, originally serving as an online, virtual art gallery, where a person could view the works of the Laguna art museums and galleries through a computer app. It presently occupies a building near the Laguna Art Museum, featuring works of over 200 artists.
Laguna Beach State Marine Reserve and Marine Conservation Area
The Laguna Beach State Marine Reserve and the State Marine Conservation Area is an area near the coast, consisting of 10 square miles where marine life is protected. Even though it is prohibited to remove any of the aquatic life from the area, the waters may be used for scuba diving, swimming, surfing, and snorkeling.
Heisler Park and Laguna Beach’s Main Beach/Treasure Island Beach
Heisler Park sits along the oceanside, near the Laguna Art Museum. The park has walking trails, tide pools to see marine life, and picnic areas. There are also art sculptures bequeathed by the owner of the property, Howard G. Heisler, in 1905. Parts of the beach are entirely covered with water during high tide, creating fascinating tidal pools when the tide recedes.
Laguna Beach’s Main Beach is south of Heisler Park, which offers a boardwalk and basketball and volleyball courts.
Much further south, but still along the coast of Laguna Beach, you’ll find Treasure Island Beach and Park. There is an extensive set of stairs that allow you to access the beach. The park itself is nicely paved, and offers spectacular views.
Getting To and Around Laguna Beach
John Wayne Airport
The John Wayne Airport in nearby Santa Ana is the closest major airport near Laguna Beach. It receives traffic from all the major airlines (United, American, Delta, Alaska, and Southwest Airlines), from most big cities in the United States.
Getting to Laguna Beach
As for getting from the airport to Laguna Beach, there are taxis and rental cars, as well as the Orange County Transportation Authority’s buses. It takes three buses to get to Laguna Beach, using Bus #71, #57 and finally Bus #1 that goes down the coast to Laguna beach.
There also is Laguna Beach Transit, with seven bus lines that traverse Laguna Beach.