Laguna Beach

The Pacific Coast Highway goes right through Laguna Beach, a relaxed artsy beach resort whose attractions include shopping, galleries, dining, and beaches.

Photo Courtesy of Visit Laguna Beach

Getting to Laguna Beach

San Diego to Laguna Beach

From San Diego, the quickest way is to take I-5 to exit 85A, then CA-73N. The distance is about 80 miles and journey time should be around 90 minutes in average traffic conditions.

You could also leave at exit 79 into Dana Point and then finish the journey along the coast for the last few miles. It cuts a few miles off the journey and the time should be about the same.

Heisler Park. Photo Courtesy of Visit Laguna Beach

Los Angeles to Laguna Beach

Taking Los Angeles International Airport as a starting point, then Laguna Beach is about 55 miles south. The quickest way is to take I-405S and you should be there in about an hour, depending on the traffic.

If you want to go the coastal route through Redondo Beach, Long Beach, Huntington Beach, and Newport Beach, take Highway 1 south from the airport and follow it all the way. The distance is about the same, but it will take you at least a couple of hours depending on traffic.

The first part through the city isn't very scenic but it's a much nicer drive once you hit the coast around Seal Beach. The highway then goes right through the centers of all those beach towns so it's much slower driving. There are also more temptations to stop along the way.

Photo Courtesy of Visit Laguna Beach

What to Do in Laguna Beach

Most people go to Laguna Beach for the beaches, to have a relaxing break, or to take in one of the town's many events (see below). 

Beaches

There are about a dozen different beaches to choose from, stretched along seven miles of coastline, and they're rated among some of the best in Orange County. There are several family-friendly beaches. These include Crescent Bay, which has lots of tide pools for kids (and adults) to explore, Main Beach for its gentler waves, and Aliso Beach, which has a playground.

Don't be put off Thousand Steps Beach by the name. There are 'only' about 230 steps leading down to the beach, though it can seem like 1,000 when you're walking back up again after a day on the sand.

Fine Shopping Opportunities. Photo Courtesy of Visit Laguna Beach

Crystal Cove State Park

The Pacific Coast Highway goes right through this park, which extends out into the ocean as an underwater park. There are just over three miles of beach, along with 2,400 acres of natural woodland. There are some great hiking trails through here, and it's a good place for horseback riding too. It's also popular for swimming and surfing. It's about three miles north of town on the way to Newport Beach. www.crystalcovestatepark.org

Laguna Art Museum. Photo Courtesy of Visit Laguna Beach

Laguna Art Museum

With such an artistic community, it's not surprising one of the town's main attractions is its art museum. The Laguna Art Museum can trace its origins back to 1918 and the forming of the Laguna Beach Art Association, a group of artists who had settled in the town.

 The museum is devoted to California art and they have about 3,500 items in their permanent collection, from the early 19th century onwards. In addition there are changing special exhibitions.

Main Beach. Photo Courtesy of Visit Laguna Beach

When to Visit Laguna Beach

Although the town lacks major tourist attractions, it more than makes up for it by having a series of big special events and festivals throughout the year. These include several arts festivals (it's a very artistic community), The Laguna Beach Music Festival, The Sawdust Art and Craft Festival, The Laguna Dance Festival, and Pageant of the Masters.

Pageant of the Masters. Photo Courtesy of Visit Laguna Beach

Pageant of the Masters

Pageant of the Masters is one of the best and most unusual events in the USA. It was first held in 1933 and in it, people dress up to recreate famous works of art. Over 500 people work for over 60,000 hours to create these, and put on 56 90-minute shows in the Festival of Arts grounds. It's a truly remarkable and unique event, held over the summer with a different theme each year, though the traditional finale is a recreation of Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper.

Courtesy of Visit Laguna Beach

Festival of Arts

The other big event in the town's calendar is the summer-long Festival of Arts. It features works by about 140 artists from Orange County and is the longest-running outdoor fine arts festival in California. It goes way beyond just being a chance to see and buy art works, though. There are nightly music concerts, art workshops, art tours, dining events, art discussions, children's activities, and lots more fun stuff.

So before booking your trip, check the Events page of Visit Laguna Beach for dates. You don't want to visit and be told: 'You should have been here last week!'

Blue Whale Spouting. Photo Courtesy of Visit Laguna Beach

Where to Stay in Laguna Beach

Last time we stayed overnight we stayed at the wonderful Casa Laguna Hotel and Spa.

If they happen to be full or you prefer a different location, you can search for other options here:

Where to Stay in Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach Visitors Center

The official Laguna Beach Visitors Center is at 381 Forest Avenue and it's open every day. It's a very helpful and well-run center. There's also a smaller center at 190 Ocean Avenue that's only open Friday-Sunday.

The Fascinating World of Tide Pools
Photo Courtesy of Visit Laguna Beach

More Information

See the official website of Visit Laguna Beach

Preparing for the Pageant of the Masters
Photo Courtesy of Visit Laguna Beach

Other California coast pages

  • San Luis Obispo in California is half-way between Los Angeles and San Francisco, on the Pacific Coast Highway and with lots of things to do and see.

    San Luis Obispo

    San Luis Obispo in California is half-way between Los Angeles and San Francisco, on the Pacific Coast Highway and with lots of things to do and see.

  • Dana Point in California is the official start or end of the Pacific Coast Highway, and its attractions include whale watching, and Doheny State Beach.

    Dana Point

    Dana Point in California is the official start or end of the Pacific Coast Highway, and its attractions include whale watching, and Doheny State Beach.

  • Crescent City is on the Pacific Coast Highway in northern California and noted for its crescent-shaped beach, Ocean World sea park, and nearby redwoods and state parks.

    Crescent City

    Crescent City is on the Pacific Coast Highway in northern California and noted for its crescent-shaped beach, Ocean World sea park, and nearby redwoods and state parks.

  • The Point Reyes National Seashore is an hour’s drive northwest of San Francisco on the Pacific Coast Highway and is maintained by the National Park Service.

    Point Reyes National Seashore

    The Point Reyes National Seashore is an hour’s drive northwest of San Francisco on the Pacific Coast Highway and is maintained by the National Park Service.

  • Pacific Grove is a small city on the California coast, next to Monterey and close to Carmel, with attractions including its historic Victorian houses.

    Pacific Grove

    Pacific Grove is a small city on the California coast, next to Monterey and close to Carmel, with attractions including its historic Victorian houses.

  • Monterey in California is off the Pacific Coast Highway and home to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Cannery Row, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Monterey State Historic Park.

    Monterey, on the Pacific Coast Highway in California

    Monterey in California is off the Pacific Coast Highway and home to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Cannery Row, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Monterey State Historic Park.

  • Morro Bay is a delightful small town on the California coast roughly halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles and noted for the huge Morro Rock.

    Morro Bay

    Morro Bay is a delightful small town on the California coast roughly halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles and noted for the huge Morro Rock.

  • For a Moss Beach hotel just off the Pacific Coast Highway, the Seal Cove Inn offers good accommodation north of Half Moon Bay, minutes from the ocean.

    Moss Beach Hotel

    For a Moss Beach hotel just off the Pacific Coast Highway, the Seal Cove Inn offers good accommodation north of Half Moon Bay, minutes from the ocean.

  • Unique Inns on the Pacific Coast Highway include some of the best independently-owned boutique hotels, spas, and lodges in California, Oregon and Washington.

    Unique Inns on the Pacific Coast Highway

    Unique Inns on the Pacific Coast Highway include some of the best independently-owned boutique hotels, spas, and lodges in California, Oregon and Washington.

  • Carlsbad is a beach city north of San Diego in southern California famous for its flower fields, LEGOLAND resort and water park, surfing and SEA LIFE Aquarium.

    Carlsbad

    Carlsbad is a beach city north of San Diego in southern California famous for its flower fields, LEGOLAND resort and water park, surfing and SEA LIFE Aquarium.

  • One of the best California coast guides is the California Coastal Access Guide, describing the coast’s beaches, National Parks, State Parks, with many maps.

    California Coast Guide

    One of the best California coast guides is the California Coastal Access Guide, describing the coast’s beaches, National Parks, State Parks, with many maps.

  • San Simeon is a tiny town of a few hundred people close to Hearst Castle on the California coast midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

    San Simeon

    San Simeon is a tiny town of a few hundred people close to Hearst Castle on the California coast midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

  • Pismo Beach is a small beach town on California's Central Coast, a resort famous for surfing and clams.

    Pismo Beach

    Pismo Beach is a small beach town on California's Central Coast, a resort famous for surfing and clams.

  • Mendocino in Mendocino County is a small but pretty California coastal town, popular with artists and with travelers. It has featured in many songs and movies.

    Mendocino

    Mendocino in Mendocino County is a small but pretty California coastal town, popular with artists and with travelers. It has featured in many songs and movies.

  • Standing on the Pacific Coast Highway in California, Santa Barbara is an attractive resort with a historic downtown, sandy beaches, a mission, and good museums.

    Santa Barbara

    Standing on the Pacific Coast Highway in California, Santa Barbara is an attractive resort with a historic downtown, sandy beaches, a mission, and good museums.

  • A walk around the Point Lobos State Reserve near Monterey and Carmel provides lots of photo opportunities, especially of the Harbor Seal Birthing Area.

    Point Lobos State Reserve near Carmel and Monterey, with photos

    A walk around the Point Lobos State Reserve near Monterey and Carmel provides lots of photo opportunities, especially of the Harbor Seal Birthing Area.

  • Santa Cruz on the Pacific Coast Highway in California has its famous boardwalk, beaches, wine tastings, Surfing Museum, Mission, and Marine Discovery Center.

    Santa Cruz

    Santa Cruz on the Pacific Coast Highway in California has its famous boardwalk, beaches, wine tastings, Surfing Museum, Mission, and Marine Discovery Center.

  • Santa Monica in California is famous for its pier, and beaches, and is one of the best west coast vacation spots, with hotels, restaurants, surfing, museums.

    Santa Monica, California

    Santa Monica in California is famous for its pier, and beaches, and is one of the best west coast vacation spots, with hotels, restaurants, surfing, museums.

  • Pacific Coast Highway Travel recommends some of the top wildlife spots along the California coast.

    Top Wildlife Spots on the California Coast

    Pacific Coast Highway Travel recommends some of the top wildlife spots along the California coast.

  •  Historic and romantic Vagabond's House Inn Bed and Breakfast in Carmel is a great place to stay with free wine and cheese and generous breakfast.

    Vagabond's House Inn

    Historic and romantic Vagabond's House Inn Bed and Breakfast in Carmel is a great place to stay with free wine and cheese and generous breakfast.

  • La Jolla in southern California is north of San Diego off the Pacific Coast Highway and has museums, restaurants, hotels, beaches, and the Birch Aquarium.

    La Jolla, in southern California

    La Jolla in southern California is north of San Diego off the Pacific Coast Highway and has museums, restaurants, hotels, beaches, and the Birch Aquarium.

  • Drive the Pacific Coast Highway and you have to cross Bixby Bridge in California, ten miles north of Big Sur and 30 minutes south of Monterey.

    Bixby Bridge

    Drive the Pacific Coast Highway and you have to cross Bixby Bridge in California, ten miles north of Big Sur and 30 minutes south of Monterey.

  •  Of all Eureka inns, The Carter House Inns are the most romantic and historic, with one of the best restaurants in Northern California.

    Eureka Inns

    Of all Eureka inns, The Carter House Inns are the most romantic and historic, with one of the best restaurants in Northern California.

  • Bodega Bay is a small California coastal town on the borders of Marin County and Sonoma County, and the filming location for Alfred Hitchcock's the Birds.

    Bodega Bay

    Bodega Bay is a small California coastal town on the borders of Marin County and Sonoma County, and the filming location for Alfred Hitchcock's the Birds.

  • Santa Catalina Island, or Catalina Island, is off the shore of Southern California and reachable from Long Beach, San Pedro, Newport Beach, and Dana Point.

    Santa Catalina Island

    Santa Catalina Island, or Catalina Island, is off the shore of Southern California and reachable from Long Beach, San Pedro, Newport Beach, and Dana Point.



Recent Articles

  1. Touring Alcatraz

    Jan 30, 23 04:51 PM

    alcatraz-island-pixabay.jpg
    Touring Alcatraz, the former island prison, is one of the best things to do in San Francisco and attracts over 1.5 million visitors a year.

    Read More

  2. Pacific Coast Highway Reopens Wednesday Morning After Flooding

    Jan 26, 23 12:20 PM

    The Tuesday closure was caused by flooding and prompted safety officials to shut down both sides of the highway in Huntington Beach.

    Read More

  3. San Diego Zoo

    Jan 23, 23 06:19 PM

    san-diego-zoo-pixabay-gorilla.jpg
    San Diego Zoo is in Balboa Park, San Diego, California has been called the best zoo in the world and is the most visited zoo in the United States.

    Read More