From beaches and wilderness reserves, to art galleries and world-class dining; whale watching and kayaking, to sundowners and shopping; Laguna Beach packs a huge number of attractions into its compact city limits.
Make the most of your time in this SoCal Riviera hotspot, with our 3 day itinerary.
Morning: Hike or bike at Laguna Coast Wilderness Park
Home to some of the last remaining coastal canyons in Southern California, Laguna Coast Wilderness Park is a great place to kick-start your vacation. Explore its forty miles of trails by foot, bike or horseback, taking in expansive scenic vistas from its ridges as you go. Plus, keep your eyes peeled for rare and endangered wildlife species - from California Gnatcatchers to Bobcats.
Lunch: Refuel with panoramic views at Zeytoon Cafe
Located right across from Heisler Park, take a seat on the rooftop deck at Zeytoon Cafe, for gourmet sandwiches and paninis with a side of ocean views. From vegetarian mezze and brick oven pizza to two-course specials, there's a delicious lunch option for the whole family at this cozy, Mediterranean bistro.
Afternoon: Swim, kayak, tide-pool or simply laze on the sand
Featuring more than 30 coves, beaches and parks along its seven miles of pristine Californian shoreline, there's nowhere better than Laguna Beach for coastal fun. Spend the afternoon lazing on the sand at Main Beach, tide-pooling for marine life at Treasure Island Beach, surfing at Thalia St. Beach or swimming at Fisherman's Cove - whatever you fancy, Laguna has the perfect spot for you.
Still time to explore before the sun sets? Visit the free Pacific Marine Mammal Center to get up close and personal with sea lions, seals, and more rescued creatures.
Evening: Sundowners at Skyloft
You won't want to miss a Laguna Beach sunset while you're in town, and Skyloft is one of the most popular sundowner spots in town. Boasting live music 5 nights a week, both early and late night happy hour deals, and a rooftop setting with views of Main Beach, it's the ideal place to toast your first day in Laguna.
Dinner: Authentic Mexican eats at Las Brisas
Craving authentic Mexican seafood? Look no further than Las Brisas for your evening meal. Serving up traditional Mexican Riviera cuisine from its landmark Laguna building - complete with an al fresco patio with spectacular ocean views - you can feast on everything from pomegranate goat's cheese tacos to pork belly tostadas at this seaside cantina.
Plus, there's live music every Wednesday through Saturday, from 6.30-10pm.
Morning: Self-guided art tour & browsing downtown
Pick up a free map from the Official Visitors Center (381 Forest Ave.) and start day two with a self-guided art tour of downtown Laguna. Starting at Main Beach and stretching to Legion Street, this area is home to many of Laguna's 100 unique works of art - from murals to statues and benches - as well as being a hotspot for specialty shops and galleries.
Head to Gorjana's for beautifully-crafted jewelry, The Vault for up-and-coming women's fashions, and Tommy Bahama Laguna Beach for classic island-inspired shirts and shorts.
Lunch: American classics at Kitchen in the Canyon
Hunger calling? Head to Kitchen in the Canyon, a neighborhood cafe located in the heart of the Civic Arts District. From soups and sandwiches to specialty salads and delicious Kean coffee, its fresh, seasonal menu features a variety of American favorites - including mac n cheese for the kids. Rest and refuel in this friendly, casual atmosphere.
Can't get enough of Laguna's art scene? We don't blame you. Continue your exploration of the city's creative side with an afternoon tour of its must-visit downtown museums and galleries.
The third oldest museum in the state of California, Laguna Art Museum focuses on the cultural heritage of the area. After admiring its extensive permanent and temporary displays, head to Avran Fine Art for museum-quality contemporary exhibits - featuring everything from glass sculptures to original paintings, by the likes of Laszlo Lukacsi and others. Last but not least, save some energy for the National Geographic Fine Art Galleries, where you'll find one-of-a-kind works by award-winning Nat Geo photographers.
Prefer another brush with nature in the breathtaking Laguna Beach wilderness? Enjoy a guided hike with a naturalist at Nix Nature Center, the headquarters of Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. Check out what's on during your trip and sign up for an afternoon adventure via the center's website. Plus, don't forget your binoculars!
Evening: Happy hour deals at The Wine Gallery
Where better to ‘wine down' for the evening than The Wine Gallery - home to rare, limited-production fine wines and some of the best happy hour deals in town. Pull up a stool at the bar of this cozy neighborhood gem, and browse its extensive selection of discounted wines-by-the-glass.
Visiting Laguna Beach in May or September? Set up camp at Heisler Park Amphitheater for a free Sunset Serenades concert performance. Held every Friday night in May and September, this live music series makes sunset an even more magical time.
Dinner & Entertainment: Three-in-one fun at Mozambique
Boasting three levels of oceanside dining - including a panoramic rooftop terrace and a lively lounge bar - Mozambique is a true, one-of-a-kind seafood destination, inspired by exotic Portuguese and African spices. Dine downstairs in its award-winning restaurant, before venturing upstairs for live music from chart-topping pop and reggae bands.
Morning: Whale watching with Captain Dave's or Davey's Locker
With fantastic opportunities to spot marine life throughout the year, whale watching off Laguna Beach is a must during your vacation. From finbacks and minkes to humpbacks and giant blue whales, plus several species of dolphin and seals that can be seen year round, you're almost guaranteed a close encounter on a trip with an expert local outfitter.
Boasting a 96% success rate, try a two-hour morning cruise with Davey's Locker; or ‘swim with the dolphins' in one of Captain Dave's special Eye-to-Eye Underwater Viewing Pods.
Lunch: Laidback local eats at Tommy Bahama Laguna Beach
Worked up an appetite? Part shopping, part dining experience, Tommy Bahama boasts a great mix of island-inspired merchandise and sustainably-sourced seafood. Pull up a chair at this popular local hangout, and feast on a tasty lunch of Prime Angus burgers, Hawaiian-style fish, and craft beer - just steps from Main Beach.
Afternoon: Snorkel or scuba dive at Diver's Cove
Continue your day of fun out on the water - this time beneath it. Diver's Cove is one of the hottest snorkeling and scuba diving spots in town, and the perfect place to explore Laguna Beach, below the surface. Located just north of Main beach, bring your own equipment and jump right in; or rent a snorkel, mask and fins from a local surf shop, like CA Surf N Paddle or Laguna Surf & Sport.
Looking for another great diving spot? Explore the shipwreck that lies 200 yards offshore at Cleo Street Beach.
Evening: Last minute souvenir browsing in the HIP District
Stretching down Pacific Coast Highway, from Anita Street to Bluebird Canyon, HIP (Historic & Interesting Places) District is home to 26 art galleries, unique coffee shops, and some of Laguna's earliest buildings. It also houses some of the most interesting stores in the city.
Make the most of the area's late night opening hours and pick-up some last-minute souvenirs. Culinary lovers on your list will love Sapphire Pantry, home to Orange County's largest cheese humidor; while you're sure to find gifts for even the fussiest family members at Buy Hand.
Dinner: Memorable last supper at Maro Wood Grill
Where better to end your Laguna Beach vacation, than at Maro Wood Grill - an Argentinian-inspired restaurant boasting the best mesquite wood-grilled meats in town. From grass-fed beef to organic chicken, watch your order being cooked over an open fire in front of you, and be sure to leave room for one of its award-winning desserts.
A memorable end to a memorable stay.