Steve Bramucci’s travel writing has appeared in USA Today, Outside, AFAR, The Huffington Post, MadeMan, COAST, and many other print and online outlets. His first novel, Ronald Zupan & the Pirates of Borneo! will be released by Bloomsbury in 2016. He also recently started writing for Visit Laguna Beach!—so we thought it would be fun to ask this worldwide vagabond about the city he calls home.
My favorite hidden spot is the white-sand beach at Totuava. It’s a public beach, but unless you live there the only access is by walking around the craggy rocks at the north end of Thousand Steps (10th Street). I don’t live there, but I make the trek often—just the very idea that you can be in the fifth most populous county in the country and have an entire beach almost completely to yourself is amazing. I feel giddy with a sense of discovery every time I’m there.
Wow. I just gave up a big secret right off the bat. But that’s the Laguna way. I feel like people aren’t too territorial here, it’s a very “let me show you my favorite spot” type of town.
When I get hungry, my favorite starter is the marinated heirloom beet salad at Broadway by Amar Santana (and his roasted beet and goat cheese salad is pretty incredible too—the guy knows his beets). As a main course, Brussels Bistro has worked hard to have the most-garlicky mussels in town and I think they’ve done so with flying colors. My favorite dessert is the ultra-rich sticky toffee cake at Driftwood Kitchen. For late night eats, I don’t think anything beats Ryan Adams’s short-rib poutine at Three Seventy Common.
All of that eating means I need to stay active. I’m a waterman and love surfing at Thalia or Brooks Street or body surfing at Crescent Bay. In the afternoons, if there are no waves, I’ll go for a hike in the Laguna Canyon Wilderness Park. The late light makes the cliffs glow red and it feels like somewhere Butch Cassidy’s Hole-in-the-Wall Gang would hide out. Another perk of living here is that activity is easily integrated into your day-to-day life; it’s a walking friendly city. I’ll often stroll to the library or the bank with mini-stops at Spice Merchants or Hobie. Saturday mornings without fail, you’ll find me headed to the farmer’s market on foot.
When the trolleys are running, there’s literally no reason not to travel by trolley. They’re quick, easy, free, the conductors are friendly, and the vibe is good. Unlike trying to find a parking space, the trolley is an overwhelmingly positive experience every time. I leave the car parked and use my feet, a bike, or the trolley as much as possible.
If you have kids, or write books for kids (as I do), meet the children’s librarians at the Laguna Beach Library. Such a friendly crew! They just want to share good books with young people. I can’t think of a more worthy ambition. If you’re just visiting, check out the reading series, storyteller events, and other family-friendly activities!
I feel like there is so much about town that even locals forget to appreciate. To name a few: 1) The Laguna Playhouse puts on incredible plays every season (as does the high school...and Thurston middle school for that matter!). 2) I’ve been interviewing people for the OC Register for years and they all call Laguna Canyon the best kept secret; yet somehow it continues to remain slightly below the radar—a remote wilderness area in the middle of a megalopolis. 3) As for beaches, alongside the aforementioned Totuava there’s 10th Street, Fisherman’s Cove, El Moro…I could write a post a week featuring Laguna’s most stunning, less-trafficked beaches—the list feels endless.
If you like basketball, the courts at Main Beach offer one of the most competitive half-court games you’ll find outside of NYC. Especially summer Sundays. If volleyball is your thing, you can get a pickup game just a few hundred feet away.
The Marine Reserve and Marine Protected Areas have worked! SCUBA diving or snorkeling in Laguna Beach is an experience not to be missed. Seals, sea lions, dolphins, kelp bass, garibaldi—you won’t get bored down there!
I live literally right next door to the Sawdust Festival (we share a wall), and I absolutely love it there. I work from home and when I need a break I get inspired by walking through for a few minutes, chatting with glass blowers, meeting tourists, and buzzing with local artists about their craft.
I rarely miss Taco Tuesday at La Sirena Grill. Week after week, their chefs come up with wildly inventive tacos to pair with local craft beers.
My favorite sunsets are seen while sitting on a surfboard waiting for the perfect wave to come in. But if I’m going to be dry, sunset while barbequing carne asada at Heisler Park is a pretty good consolation prize.
The new greeter seems like he’s here to stay and he can dance—twirling, swinging, spinning, and smiling the whole time. The man is a treasure; give him a honk and a wave! That attitude: an openhearted spirit and the ability to find joy in simple interaction is something resident and tourists alike would be wise to strive toward.
‘My Laguna Beach' is a new series of interviews in which some of the city's most prominent fans give us a virtual tour and share their Laguna Beach secrets. Tweet or Instagram your own Laguna faves to us @VisitLaguna with the hashtag #MYLAGUNABEACH.
---Image, OC Register
---Image, Dale Kobetic