In our 36 Hours in Laguna Beach piece, we gave you all sorts of ideas on what to see, do, drink and eat while in Laguna Beach. If you're here for a longer period of time, though, we'd like to suggest you start living like a local.
Granted, all of the locals visit and engage in activities having to do with all or most of the items we mentioned in the 36 Hours piece, but here are a few more ideas to get you truly imbedded in the village of Laguna Beach.
On weekdays particularly, Laguna Beach locals tend to act more like Europeans in a few of our favorite coffee houses and cafés. Instead of grabbing a coffee and rushing off, sit and listen and watch for a while, and don't hesitate to make new friends along the way. Younger locals will hang out at the Coffee Klatch through late evenings, while those more "adult" (30 and up) beat a path to Zinc's Café, Laguna Coffee Company, The Orange Inn or the tiny bakery shop of local renown, Andreés Patisserie.
We have a number of yoga studios in Laguna Beach as our residents tend to lead a healthier, fit lifestyle. Any yoga practice you seek can be found, and each studio is unique in its own way. A definite favorite for locals, though, is Montage Laguna Beach's daily yoga on its grounds just north of the main resort. What better way to incorporate yoga into your day under palm trees, sea breezes and magnificent views of ocean and sky? If you feel like starting your day full of laughs, then be sure to attend a Laughter Yoga session on the sand at the northernmost end of Main Beach in downtown Laguna. Visitors are welcome to join these free classes that meet every day, rain or shine, in Laguna Beach.
The Dog Park
Most visitors don't know that Laguna Beach possesses one of the largest dog parks in California. In Laguna Canyon, it's a grassy, wide expanse which makes for a happy dog. The park even allows a large area for small dogs that might not feel comfortable around the larger pawed pups. Local residents usually gather in the mornings, and it can be quite a crowd of people friends and doggie friends.
Live music is a big deal to locals here in Laguna Beach, and you'll find a great variety of bands playing each week in Laguna Beach. Many of our most popular local and regional Reggae, rock and alternative bands play all week long at The Marine Room, Mozambique Restaurant's second-level lounge, and the outdoor theater at The Cliff Restaurant. Don't be surprised to see secretive "guest" appearances by many celebrity musicians as many make their homes here in Laguna Beach and have created bands or drop in regularly to play with friends' bands between tours.
For great jazz and blues, look for Jazz Wednesdays hosted by Laguna Beach Live!, and check out Mozambique's great live blues nights. Even renowned classical groups and chamber music regularly tour through Laguna Beach, also compliments of Laguna Beach Live!.
Starting from May forward in the summer months, be sure to visit our live music in the parks of Laguna Beach, too. We keep an active calendar here, and it's a great way to join our local residents on hillsides, or even at the Festival of Arts grounds for free afternoon concerts.
Happy Hours & Sunday Social
When it comes to happy hour, you most definitely want to go where the locals go. Granted, Laguna Beach houses nearly 40 happy hours in this town, all of which are immensely respected and attended. If you want to "hang like a local," though, consider the great "Opium Hour" of food and specialty cocktails at Starfish Laguna across from the Montage Laguna Beach, K'ya Bistro Bar's famed small plates in hotel La Casa del Camino and, of course, the well-loved Lumberyard in downtown Laguna.
On Sunday evenings, you'll find locals gathering from all points for 370 Common Restaurant's "Sunday Social." Devised after Chef Ryan's dinners with his grandmother on Sunday evenings, these are family-style meals featuring a 4- or 5-course menu, just as if you sat down to grandma's table. Residents love the "eat what we serve you" mentality and, fortunately, Chef Ryan is one remarkable chef (better than most grandmas, we'd venture to say).
Author events at our Indy Bookstore
We have an independent bookstore in town that simply rocks. Aptly titled Laguna Beach Books, this team of intrepid bookworms has won a slew of local, regional and national awards and acclaim. It is the residents' go-to store, undoubtedly.
For starters, the small store is absolutely packed with great reading material, including unique and rare coffee table books on every subject imaginable. With the reading material comes a staff that reads incessantly. Ask any one of them to help you find a book "like this author," and they'll suggest 10, instead.
Additionally, the store hosts a popular book club and produces a number of author signing events every single week. From locals who are freshly published to celebrities such as Kathy Griffin, Rick Springfield and the teens-now-turned-adults who sprang from MTV's Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County TV show (yes, they still have screaming fans), it's one interesting author after another.
You don't have to be a surfer or skimboarder to be a local on the beaches here in Laguna Beach. Most of the residents find some way to get some sand between their toes on a weekly basis (at least).
You'll see them running the beaches and various cove stairs, walking their dogs in off hours, and participating in boot camps or Kirk Morgan's well-loved beach volleyball classes. You might even be surprised how many locals you will meet soaking up the sunset (just like a tourist!) or having picnics on the beach, but remember ... most of the residents here were once tourists, too. There's a great appreciation and affinity for this beautiful village of ours, and this is the "vibe" you'll find when you sit and stay awhile in Laguna Beach.