The Rooftop Lounge: Unarguably one of Laguna Beach’s best sunset watching locales, this bar, perched atop La Casa del Camino hotel, provides a bird’s-eye-view of nature’s nightly display. In a fast-paced world, it’s inspiring to see the mojito-swilling crowd go still at the moment the sun dips past the horizon.
Splashes Bar and 15fiftyfive: Surf & Sand Resort in South Laguna boasts two spots to enjoy a Laguna sunset (also the name of a specialty house cocktail). 15fiftyfive has couches and comfy chairs crowded around a giant fireplace, perfect for getting cozy, while Splashes Bar is a little more social, features a small plates menu, and hangs right over the sand.
The Deck on Laguna: This open-air bar has made a name for itself with specialty cocktails, a great small plates menu, and stunning views. Fire pits help keep you warm once the sun’s heat begins to fade and mellow musical acts add to the cruisy vibe.
OceanView Bar and Grill: Built inside the historic Hotel Laguna, this indoor/outdoor space features sweeping views of the coastline. Sit on the terrace and sip drinks that feel like they came from the Prohibition era with names like Cucumber Crisp and Laguna Tea. For sports fans, five large-screen TVs are complemented by a $10 Game Day menu and $13 pitcher specials.
The Stateroom Bar: To add a little history to your night, walk upstairs from The Deck to the Stateroom Bar inside Driftwood Kitchen. Situated where Hollywood icon Slim Summerville once had his library, the bar does a great job paying homage to this history with old photos on the wall, a throwback aesthetic, and a series of drinks named in honor of other legendary Laguna nightspots (like the now closed Boom Boom Room).
The Saloon: Definitely a favorite for locals, The Saloon (located along historic Peppertree Lane) feels akin to a speakeasy. Those planning a big night tend to stop in for a beer or a Piño—house infused pineapple vodka mixed with cranberry juice. A sign behind the bar shares the joint’s mentality in no uncertain terms, “Be Nice or Go to Newport.”
Watermarc: The environment at Watermarc is a little more buttoned up than its neighbor, The Saloon, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less fun. Drinks like Hot Lips and Fire & Ice—both featuring jalapeño—ensure that your night starts off with a kick and Chef Marc Cohen’s “grazing plates” give you plenty of inspired options if you’re feeling hungry (they’re also all $2 off during happy hour!).
Wine Gallery: With savvy bartenders and a friendly atmosphere, even a wine novice can feel comfortable talking about pinots and chardonnays in this South Laguna hangout. Like The Saloon, this spot is a locals’ favorite for that 8 o’clock drink—even for non-wine drinkers (they keep six craft beers on tap). If you still haven’t eaten, considering ordering a pizza from the wood-fired oven or a selection of cheeses and cured meats.
Mozambique: Though they have a great menu and a smartly curated weekly music lineup, Mozambique is best known for their Sunday reggae nights. Bands like Warrior King, Wailing Souls, and Kymani Marley have made this one of the best spots for reggae anywhere in Orange County. On Monday and Tuesday, when other bars are slow, a “Music Matters” series features Laguna legends like Nick I and Common Sense and good-vibe ambassadors World Anthem.
The White House: Orange County’s oldest restaurant and night club has been running since 1918 and shows no signs of slowing down. The lineup at The White House is as eclectic as can be—some nights you can drop in on an open mic, others you might hear the thumping beats of the house DJs. ‘80s cover band Flashback Heart Attack, who built a following playing at The Royal Hawaiian before it closed, appears regularly on the schedule and sends nostalgic fans into a frenzy.
Main Street Bar & Cabaret: This South Laguna club seems ready to single handedly reignite Laguna Beach’s once thriving gay scene. The entertainment lineup is diverse and exciting—with karaoke, cabaret, and piano nights all in the rotation. Weekends are reserved for dancing however and that’s when the place really starts to thump.
The Sandpiper: If you’re going to have “one of those nights”, if you’re going to push it to the brink, chances are you’ll end up at the ‘Dirty Bird.’ Don’t try to take a guess at what is going on—there’s no website for this place—just show up (flip flops and tank tops are perfectly acceptable), hit the dance floor, and soak up the atmosphere of Laguna Beach’s one true dive bar.