Here is why you should bring your family to the beach: childhood is short. The more you love parenting, the quicker it seems to race past. The moments of childlike wonder and unfettered joy grow harder and harder to come by. But at the beach, everyone feels younger. Technology is tucked away and “play” is the focus.
These are the moments you live for: your seven-year-old racing up from the ocean dripping wet, rolling in the sand, covering themselves from head to toe, and announcing proudly “It’s my SCUBA suit!” before diving into the water to start the process all over again. These tiny reminders of childhood’s innocence and natural inventiveness offer lasting memories for any parent.
A few ideas as you plan your next “No Car Needed” family beach day:
CLAIM YOUR SPOT ON THE SAND: What defines your perfect beach? Is it long stretches of empty sand you crave? Try visiting Totuava or Thousand Steps. Does your taste skew toward easy ice-cream access and a giant playground? Main Beach is the spot for you. Are you captivated by the sight of jagged rocks and foreboding spires? Check out the PIRATE TOWER at Victoria Beach. Or are you simply looking for superb skim board waves and fire pits? Aliso Beach Park has both.
Using the #LAGUNAFREETROLLEY as your only mode of transport, leapfrog up and down Pacific Coast Highway, giving each member of your family the chance to discover their ultimate beach. The rules for this game are simple: everyone gets to pick one beach for an hour and the family goes along with them, no matter how daunting the journey. When the hour is up, everyone clambers back on the trolley and you’re off to the next spot.
Along the route, stop for a grab-n-go snack at one of Laguna’s many fast-casual restaurants. Headed south from downtown, you’ll see Taco Loco, Wahoo's Fish Taco, and Gina’s Pizza all in cluster. Just a little further, Active Culture offers healthier fare—with a selection of soft-serve frozen yogurts on tap. Zéytoon Café is in North Laguna, near a second Gina’s Pizza location, and the historic Husky Boy Hamburgers.
FIND WHAT YOU SEEK: Unlike so many of Laguna Beach’s quickly developed neighboring towns, this city has history. With that history come mysteries—bold tales of rumrunners, retired seamen, ancient Australian trees, and traveling mystics. For adventurous spirits trekking through town there’s no lack of things to see. Teach your children about Laguna Beach’s longstanding love for public art, and have them look for examples around town. Downtown and North Laguna are hotbeds of outdoor artwork with sculptures that are alternately simple, playful, and downright bizarre. See if your kids can find Cheryl Ekstrom’s “Deer Warrior” or Jon Seeman’s iconic 16-foot “Breaching Whale.” If you’re still on the beach, you might try to see who can find the best caves and dream up an inventive story about what might be buried therein.
For a more directed type of treasure seeking, try CLUEHOO—an interactive scavenger hunt that recently launched in Laguna Beach. The various ClueHoo adventures are app-based, and filled with riddles, timed-challenges, secret treats and hidden Easter Eggs. Participants can choose from three adventures—Laguna Citta, Laguna Matata, and Laguna Vista—which range from 2-3 hours long. The various adventures take participants on wide-ranging explorations of town—two of which finish at the Official Laguna Beach Visitors Center.
“Grade school kids love to solve mysteries,” says Urs Wiederkehr, ClueHoo’s founder. “Our adventures give them a chance to interact with their surroundings and one another.”
Wiederkehr says that the chance to bridge the gap between generations of adults and kids has been the highlight of operating ClueHoo. “I’ll always remember one family who told me it had been years since they’d done something that grandparents, parents, and kids could all enjoy together.”
Along each route, you’ll find all sorts of perks—from free museum entry, to ice cream, and a victory medal at the finish line.
SAVOR YOUR SUGAR: We all love a good treat, but for a peaceful family day you’ll want to moderate the kids’ sugar intake. The endless options along Laguna Beach’s trolley routes make it easy for kids to maximize their sweet-experience by giving them the power to choose the one place that they crave the most. For handmade chocolates and confections, downtown, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and Chocolate Soldier in the H.I.P District both offer bespoke chocolates, caramels, and nougat filled treats straight out of a storybook. If your kids crave candy, The Candy Baron in downtown sells barrels and barrels of taffy, along with hard to find sweets and off-the-radar sodas. Of course, it isn’t the beach without ice cream and for those craving something cold Laguna has no shortage of options. Juice & Shakes next to the historic movie theater sells exquisitely smooth coconut milk ice cream in flavors like salted caramel, mint chip, mocha, and hazelnut fudge. Fresh fruit toppings are available too. For the 1950s diner experience, Johnny Rocket’s just a few doors down, has milkshakes and malts done the old fashioned way and prepared so thick that you can tip your tin cup upside down without spilling.
**BONUS ADVENTURE: If you and the family are walking through Laguna during the summer months, hop aboard the free trolley on Broadway and head out to LAGUNA CANYON’S three art festivals THE FESTIVAL OF THE ARTS, ART-A-FAIR, and SAWDUST ART FESTIVAL. Between the three of them, the festivals showcase more than 500 artists, 300 hands-on workshops, along with bands, and special daily events and exhibits. There are tons of art classes for the kids—including the chance to use a pottery wheel at the Sawdust Art Festival. If you decide to check out all three festivals be sure to purchase a, PASSPORT TO THE ARTS, which allows guests to visit all three festivals for the entire summer for only $23. Passport holders also receive one-time free parking at ACT V parking lot, as well as merchant offers.**