START at MAIN BEACH— with a line of cars crawling past you—all hot, annoyed, and envious of the fact that you’re traveling by foot. Embrace the masses for a moment, people watch, and get ready to explore some of Laguna’s most remote, unknown, off-the-beaten track spots.
HOP ON the trolley where PCH meets Park. Get off at Mountain, cross the street and find ANDREE’S PASTISERIE (behind Selanne Steak Tavern). Owner/baker Ron Reno prepares pastries that locals line up for. Each cinnamon flecked bearclaw and flaky croissant has the artisan touch of a man who has cultivated his craft and lives for his customers. Be sure to show up early though—many of Reno’s regulars are up at dawn and when an item sells out, it’s gone for the day.
CONTINUE South on the trolley from Mountain and PCH to EAGLE ROCK and walk down the steps to TABLE ROCK BEACH. This beach is beloved by South Laguna residents who savor the privacy and the striking scenery of the waves hitting the flat-topped rock formation that gives the spot its name. Walk to the south end of the beach and swim around the craggy headland.
FIND YOURSELF all alone at HIDDEN COVE, Laguna’s most private patch of sand. This tiny hideaway is perfect for picnics (assuming you can hold your pastries over your head as you swim), reading, and speaking sweet nothings in the ear of a loved one.
TRAVEL North on the trolley until you get back to downtown, waving at THE NEW GREETER as you pass and pointing out the two Greeter statues as you pass them. Get off at Park and walk away from the ocean to get to NORTH Menswear at 380 Glenneyre Street. This stylish shop—located across from the Library—feels like a great discovery for anyone with the surf-vagabond sensibility. For women’s fashion, stroll to 370 Ocean Avenue where you’ll find ROCK ETIQUETTE, a hyper-chic boutique settled just outside of downtown’s heaviest foot traffic area.
MEANDER back through the city center, letting your instincts guide you. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for art installations—including the boldly painted “REAL CHANGE” METERS, which provide anyone exploring the city with a chance to donate pocket money to the homeless in a way that makes a genuine difference.
TREAT YOURSELF at DOLCE GELATO. This locals’ favorite won’t stay a secret for long, considering the fact that Chef Lindsey Nelson makes her flavors daily. The ever-changing menu reveals Nelson’s inventiveness with bold choices like blackberry zinfandel, salted maple caramel, and habanero chocolate—along with a few standard classics.
HEAD UPHILL, walking north along PCH. Drop in on the galleries that line the side of the road, like JOANNE ARTMAN and SUE GREENWOOD FINE ART. Keep hunting for that one piece that holds a secret, hidden meaning just for you.
CROSS PCH and walk along the path at HEISLER PARK. Find the 16-foot breaching whale sculpture (along with other public art works) and watch members of the LAGUNA BEACH LAWN BOWLING CLUB challenge one another while wearing their pressed dress whites. If you’re feeling energized, FISHERMAN’S COVE, just past the end of the park, is another great, secluded beach that locals love.
FOR EXTRA ADVENTURE, hike the DARTMOOR BOAT CANYON TRAIL up Dartmoor Street. The scenic, little known hike offers a bird-eye-view of Laguna’s hidden coves.
DINE back downtown at BRUSSELS BISTRO. The restaurant is built below an art gallery, making it feel like a secluded speakeasy. Amongst Laguna Beach foodies, the mussels and French fries at Brussels are second to none. With great beers on tap, you just might stay late enough to see Laguna Beach’s favorite hidden restaurant turn into its favorite hidden nightclub.
REST your weary feet. Perhaps while enjoying another scoop of gelato…don’t worry, your secret is safe with us.