10 Things to Do in Laguna Beyond the Beach

Check out our list of some non-beach activities to help plan your next visit or long-weekend itinerary to Laguna Beach!

With 30 beaches and coves and Southern California’s only marine reserve, there’s no doubt that Laguna Beach appeals to all sorts of beach lovers. Locals and visitors flock to the beaches to enjoy the pristine waters and chilled atmosphere that flows through the coastal city. But believe it or not, there’s a lot more to Laguna Beach than just the beaches. From an incredible food scene to an art scene that easily lands near the top of the list of what Laguna Beach is known for, to a nature preserve that mostly insiders only truly know about, to some sweet, new spaces to sit back and enjoy some adult beverages proudly made in Laguna Beach.

1. Sip and Savor Wine at Laguna’s Newest Tasting Lounge

McClain Cellars is a family-owned boutique winemaker that begun making wine just a few short years ago. Their winery is founded on four pillars of life that keep them focused and driven: family, faith, friends and freedom. Their wines are sourced from the finest regions in California with the reds coming from the Santa Ynez Valley, Los Olivos District and Paso Robles. McClain Cellars currently has 16 unique wines to taste and their newest tasting room is located right in Laguna Beach, next to Sawdust Art Festival, in The Hive. Spend some time there getting to know more about the passionate winemakers while enjoying a glass of your favorite wine, after your tasting. 

2. Cool Down with Beach Brewed Beers

Laguna Beach Beer Company was founded in 2014 by two Laguna Beach natives and childhood friends. Although the brewery is just a few short miles away in Rancho Santa Margarita, in May of 2018, the brewery opened their marquee location which includes a tap room and kitchen, in the iconic art district of Laguna Canyon, conveniently located next to McClain Cellars’ tasting room. With 17 of their own beers on tap in addition to some guest brews, you won’t struggle to find a cold beer that suits your palate. Pair your beer with bites or full meals from their impressive food menu (the warm pretzel with queso poblano is well worth it).

3. Have a Photoshoot in Front of Laguna’s Newest Art Murals

The Hive, Laguna Beach’s creative hub in the Laguna Arts District, and along Laguna Canyon Road, houses a variety of commercial tenants such as Laguna Beach Beer Company and McClain Cellars Tasting Room. But in addition, it’s also home to retail and a satellite location for Laguna College of Art + Design’s Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Departments. It’s a creative ecosystem that thrives with creators, students, makers, observers, enthusiasts and consumers. The Hive also provides space for well-known, world-class, large-scales artists to paint murals on the facades of The Hive businesses, and the end results are spectacular. After some wine, beer or both, spend some time walking around to all the different businesses located within the art complex and then pose for some epic selfies in front of the city’s newest art murals. If you post them on social, be sure to tag us @VisitLaguna so we can share your stories. 

4. Go for A Hike in South Laguna

If you’re looking for a short, yet challenging hike that will reward you with epic views, check out the Valido Hiking Trail in South Laguna Beach. The trailhead is in a residential neighborhood so make sure to look for signs regarding parking restrictions and of course, be mindful of where you are parking. The hike offers several single-track sections, a creek crossing, lots of stairs and when you crest the ridge and continue a few hundred yards more to Aliso Peak, you will see some of the most stunning coastal views in Orange County, including the blue waters of Aliso Beach. The hike also leads to longer hikes that can take you up to Niguel Peak. Valido Trail is rarely crowded and is highly recommended not only for the views, but also for a great workout. 

5. Improve Your Art Skills with an Art Class 

Currently Closed Due to Covid-19.

The Sawdust Art Festival is a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating the public and promoting art created by local artisans in Laguna Beach. For nine weeks during the summer, Sawdust Art & Craft Festival draws more than 200,000 visitors where guests are invited to shop along sawdust-covered paths in a hand-built village of fine art and eclectic craftsmanship. Sawdust also offers a year-round art program onsite, Sawdust Art Classes, featuring a comprehensive array of art and studio workshops taught by local, working artists. From beginner to advanced, artists teach their trade hands-on, from learning how to wire wrap stones to silk scarf painting to photo enameling to gemstone bracelet workshops, the list of options is endless. 

6. Take an Electric Bike Tour to Visit a Quieter Side of Laguna Beach

La Vida Laguna is one of the beach city’s top tour providers. Best known for their kayak tours, surf lessons and stand up paddle board tours, the mostly water-based tour company also has a really cool electric bike tour that allows you to experience the beauty of Laguna Beach via a relatively easy and historic loop that bypasses the busy streets. Ride your way through the quiet Craftsman neighborhoods and gardens, access amazing view corridors and stop at Heisler Park to experience some of the city’s incredible public art. The tour concludes in the charming downtown commercial district. It’s a fun and easy way to explore a different side of Laguna Beach. 

7. Learn About Laguna’s Prohibition History

Southern California’s most famous rumrunner, a mobster by the name of Tony the Hat, would smuggle massive shipments of whiskey and rum into Southern California using a shrimp boat. The boat would idle about three miles offshore while small skiffs, painted black, would deliver the cases of booze to Laguna’s secret coves. Learn more about Laguna’s prohibition history along with other historical facts with a visit to the Laguna Beach Historical Society, located in the historic Murphy Smith Bungalow in downtown Laguna Beach. Here you can take self-guided tours or speak with volunteer docents who would be more than happy to share some of Laguna’s history with you.  

8. Golf on the Original Homestead of Laguna Beach

Located in one of Orange County’s most serene and natural settings, carved into the naturally dramatic and lushness of Aliso and Wood Canyons, Ben Brown’s 9-hole GEO Certified®Opens a New Window. golf course, designed by Gary Roger Baird, creates a private, playing experience with stunning views and elevation changes on every fairway. The off-the-beaten-path location without a residential house in sight provides a quiet playing experience that permits you to fully connect with nature. The course is located at The Ranch Laguna Beach, a premier boutique coastal ranch hotel and spa, which originally was a 152-acre homestead that housed a one-room wood shack. 

9. Get to Know California Art at LAM

Currently Closed due to Covid-19.

Laguna Art Museum, one of the oldest museum’s in the state, is dedicated to California art. It collects, cares for and exhibits works of art that were created by California artists or that represent the life and history of the state of California. The museum is unlike any other as it collects California art and only California art, and ranges across all periods and styles, nineteenth-century to present day. A visit here provides a unique opportunity to get to know the state of California through incredible works of art and carefully curated exhibits. 

10. See a Play Where Harrison Ford Got His Start

Currently Closed Due to Covid-19.

Laguna Playhouse is an historic Equity theatre located in the arts district of Laguna Beach. The Playhouse is known for its year-round season of comedies, dramas, musicals, stand-up comedy and family fare. As a member of the League of Resident Theatres, Laguna Playhouse often features stage and screen stars who come to Laguna Beach for its pristine beaches, upscale lifestyle and fine dining, all which are located within steps of the theatre. Film star Melanie Griffith recently had a limited run performing in The Graduate at the Playhouse. In addition, the Playhouse is also famously known as the place where Harrison Ford got his start in John Brown’s Body back in 1967. 

Whenever you decide to visit, be sure to share your experiences with us on FACEBOOKTWITTER and INSTAGRAM by tagging us @VisitLaguna and utilizing our citywide hashtag, #MyLagunaBeach.

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About the Author

David Duran

Wordsmith

David Duran is an award winning travel writer who has traveled to all seven continents and more than 70 countries. His work focuses on general destination and luxury travel as well as culinary, hospitality and airlines. He has contributed to such publications as Travel+Leisure, Jetsetter, The New York Post, Fodor’s and Southbay Magazine. In addition, he has written for every major LGBT publication in the US as well as several others overseas.

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