9 Fun Things to Do in Laguna Beach, California (+Photos)

A couple of years ago, my husband and I decided we wanted to travel to a relaxing but fun destination that we’d never visited before. As a millennial, growing up with the popular MTV show “Laguna Beach,” a coastal California oasis came to mind. With 36 beaches and nine miles long, we knew it would be the perfect romantic getaway.

Below, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite activities to do at this well-known west coast destination. These activities aren’t listed in any particular order; however, even if you’re short on time, lounging on the beach is acceptable, too!

Take a Ride on the Free Trolley

Free Trolley

When arriving, you’ll quickly notice how parking spots are a hot commodity in the area. Since we didn’t want to deal with the hassle of finding a parking spot with our rental, we decided to take advantage of the coast’s convenient trolley. The trolley transports locals and tourists around with comfort and ease.

During our stay, we found ourselves riding the trolley almost daily because of its convenient stops to the town’s restaurants, shops, and beaches. The free trolley has two routes: the coastal route and canyon route which run daily.

Pro Tip: If we would have known about the trolley before booking our trip, we probably would have avoided renting a vehicle and would have taken a cab or Uber to our hotel. Depending on the location of your hotel, I highly recommend looking into this option if it means you can save money on the trip.

Attend the Laguna Festival of Arts

Laguna Festival of Arts

Since we visited during the summer, one of the first events we attended when we arrived at Laguna Beach was the Pageant of the Masters at the Laguna Festival of Arts. Any event that hosts delicious food with live music entertainment, and you can sign me up! This specific festival gives grants and scholarships to artists and hosts music events and art exhibits.

After purchasing our ticket for the Pageant of the Masters to view Orange County’s largest artist event, we found a table where we indulged in a delicious wine and chocolate pairing with a Seagrams Escape Cocktail and mini chocolate bites.

Pro Tip: If you’re planning on attending this event during evening hours, you may want to bring a blanket as it can get chilly. I also highly recommend taking the shuttle if you don’t plan on driving.

Take a Hike Through Laguna Hills

Crystal Cove State Park

Since the Laguna Festival of Arts took up the majority of our evening on day one, the next day, we decided to start with a refreshing hike through Laguna Hills. A sought-after location we decided to try out was Crystal Cove State Park. Crystal Cove has 2400 acres of wilderness and more than three miles of beach.

During our hike, we looked down upon the white sandy beaches of Laguna, and since it was such a clear day, we even caught a glimpse of the Santa Monica Mountains. Through the trails, we spotted many types of birds: a road runner and a quail. We personally enjoyed this hike and would love to return after finding out camping is allowed in these areas.

Pro Tip: If you plan to visit for camping purposes, there’s no drinking water available on-site, and only backpack stoves are permitted.

Visit Main Beach

Main Beach

A visit to Laguna Beach isn’t complete without a beach day, and a relaxing day at the beach is just what the doctor ordered after a hike. As one of the most popular beaches in Laguna, this location is filled with families, volleyball matches, and locals walking their dogs. After taking a refreshing dip into the ocean, we walked along the beach, where we viewed surfing competitions and unique rock formations.

Main Beach was among my top favorites, and I loved how they had outdoor showers for rinsing off the sand and restrooms for convenience.

Relax at Heisler Park

Heisler Park

Laguna Beach’s most popular attraction has to be Heisler Park. This beautiful tropical park offers stunning ocean views and plenty of outdoor fun. Located on the bluffs, there are scenic walking paths and picnic areas to enjoy as well as easy beach access. You can explore tide pools, snorkel, or just relax on the sand.

With BBQ spots and grassy lawns, it’s perfect for a family day out or a peaceful escape. Whether you’re catching the sunrise or enjoying a picnic, Heisler Park is a slice of coastal paradise.

Explore the Galleries

Sawdust Art winter festival

As the art lovers we are, we decided to explore some of Laguna’s galleries, the first being the Beach Art Museum, which holds a stunning collection of contemporary and historic Californian art that focuses on cultural heritage.

We paid $7 each for our tickets and opted to take the self-guided walking tour, where we explored other small galleries such as Kush Fine Art and City Hall, where we were able to view free art exhibits by local artists.

Visit the Tide Pools

Tide Pools

If you have a chance while spending the day at the beach, you don’t want to miss the opportunity to explore Laguna’s tide pools. We enjoyed Treasure Island, Heisler Park, and Main Beach, which I mentioned previously. Since tide pools are ecosystems, you’ll want to avoid removing or touching any sea life you spot.

When visiting the tide pools, we were able to see striped shore crabs and periwinkle snails.

Pro Tip: Be careful, though, as periwinkle snails can appear to look like rocks or eggs.

Take a Surfing Lesson

Surfing Lesson

Since Laguna is known for its beaches, we knew we wanted to dedicate some time to trying out water sports, especially since you’ll always see locals surfing on any clear day. Since surfing appeared to be the number one water sport, we booked surfing lessons with Thalia Surf Shop.

With never having any formal surfing lessons, we picked a spot at Victoria Beach since it was a calmer section of the water and great for beginner surfers. California is filled with water-based fun, so I highly suggest not passing up the opportunity to squeeze in a bit of surfing if you can.

Enjoy the Sea Food

Sea Food

On our final night in Laguna, we had made plans to dine out at a fancy restaurant, one where we could relax and indulge in conversation. One of Laguna’s newest restaurants at the time was Rebel Omakse. This was a reservation-only restaurant, and its experience was one-of-a-kind. This new restaurant had a chef’s tasting menu where you got to choose from seasonal Japanese dishes.

For dinner, we both opted for the fresh fish that comes directly from LA’s fish markets. If you can, I highly recommend booking a reservation in advance, especially if you want to have an intimate experience.

Pro Tip: Ensure you arrive for your reservation on time, as their service begins in unison, and if you’re late, you could miss a course, as we noticed with several guests.

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