LAGUNA BEACH ISN’T THE #1 place on earth for snowboarding. There are better spots to rock climb and the team handball scene is just so-so. But picnics? We can do picnics.
We can picnic like it’s nobody’s business.
A good picnic isn’t just about finding a good gingham blanket either, it’s about the food, the setting, and the company. Your company is yours to choose—but as for those other two elements, we’re here to help just in time for National Picnic Week (June 13-21st)!
PICNIC #1: BEACH BLANKET BINGO. The best beach for a picnic isn’t actually Picnic Beach. It’s special, to be sure—but it’s going to be hard to top the privacy, accessibility (you’re carrying food, remember), and scenery at Agate Street Beach. The beaches around Agate and Diamond streets are among the most secluded spots in town which means you can spread out a blanket without having to jostle for space; while the rocks and sandstone bluffs provide a dramatic backdrop for your meal.
FOR YOUR PICNIC AT AGATE STREET: Stop by Active Culture at the corner of PCH and Anita. The food at Active Culture feels light and fresh—perfect fare for a day at the beach. Try the Bountiful Bowl, or for something more substantial, the Southwest Wrap. You’re going to want some self-serve frozen yogurt for dessert, but you ought not burden your afternoon with a time constraint. You can always circle back for the yogurt after you finish up on the sand.
PICNIC #2: SITTING ON TOP OF THE WORLD. Alta Laguna (often called Top of the World) and Moulton Meadows Parks are both stunners. They offer wide swaths of grass, barbecue grills, and drinking fountains. But forgo these conveniences and opt instead to walk the dry, un-landscaped trail that stretches between these two emerald isles. On this path you’ll catch sweeping views of the ocean and surely find a bluff or boulder big enough for a blanket. You might even get lucky and see the imported Peruvian goats munching the shrubbery.
FOR YOUR PICNIC AT TOP OF THE WORLD: What’s better for this Mediterranean landscape than Mediterranean food? Zéytoon Café offers a selection of fantastic Mediterranean-inspired salads and sandwiches. The grape leaves are a must and the Greek salad is a classic. While you’re there, pick up a few bottles of Peroni Nastro Azzuro—if sipping Italian beer doesn’t make you feel like you’re in southern Europe, nothing will.
PICNIC #3: ADVENTURES IN AQUATIC EATING. All right, we admit it: this one is a little dicey. For this picnic, rent two SUP boards from CA Surf N’ Paddle—the big, foam ones—and pick a still evening with no swell. An hour before sunset, paddle toward the horizon, leaving the world (and your worries) behind. Once you’re far enough offshore to forget about cell phones and schedules, raft your boards together and dine as the sun slips past the horizon line. Be sure to keep a weather eye peeled for the green flash.
FOR YOUR PICNIC ON A PADDLE BOARD: Nothing says “ocean” like fish. So drop by Slapfish in Downtown Laguna to pick up a chilled lobster roll with smoked chili sauce, a daily fish sandwich, and some hand cut chips. Ask whoever packs your order to wrap everything up tight, then stuff it in a backpack and race off to get your boards. As for beverages, you might want something in a plastic bottle.
PICNIC #4: SECLUDED INTERLUDE. For the intrepid adventure, a little elbowroom makes everything better. If you want a spot that know one goes, try swimming with your picnic basket around the rock outcroppings at the south end of Table Rock beach in South Laguna. This hidden cove is perfectly secluded, totally romantic, and not as tough as it seems at first glance (if the tide is low you’ll hardly get wet). If this secret spot is taken when you arrive, Table Rock itself isn’t too shabby of a consolation prize.
FOR YOUR PICNIC AT THE HIDDEN COVE: Who are we kidding? You aren’t taking a family of five to the Hidden Cove (though if you do, Parent of the Year Honors are all yours). Assuming this picnic is romantic in nature, forget the food altogether and head straight to Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory for some chocolate covered strawberries, melt-aways, and caramels. These sweet treats make the perfect decadent dessert, as you and your companion play castaway on a private beach.
PICNIC #5: ART IS EVERYWHERE. Laguna Beach plays host to more than 80 pieces of public art and a simple stroll through town can easily turn into an impromptu art walk. For this picnic, amble along the paths of Heisler Park, heading South to North. As you go, you’ll spot stunning commissioned pieces and maybe a few Plein Air painters posting up near the historic gazebo. Set up your picnic in the shade of the gnarled melaleuca tree that rests beside the path. The tree is artful in it’s own right—an abstract sculpture shaped by sea breeze and sandy soil.
FOR YOUR PICNIC IN HEISLER PARK: Madison Square & Garden Café makes a spectacular chicken club sandwich and a fantastic smoked salmon bagel (both of which reference the NY roots of owner Jon Madison). Get one of each and split them down the middle, along with a bottle of sparkling lemonade so that you can toast to the good life at sunset.