15 Free Things To Do

15 Free Things To Do

Stretch your vacation budget further on your next trip to Laguna Beach, with our pick of the city’s top free things to do.

From art tours to concerts, hiking to wildlife-watching, there’s something for the whole family to enjoy, without paying a single dime. 

1. Stroll, picnic & watch live music at Heisler Park

Stretching along the bluffs on Cliff Drive, from Aster Street to DIVER’S COVEHEISLER PARK boasts spectacular views of MAIN BEACH and the city’s pristine coastline. Take a half-mile stroll around its oceanfront vistas, picnic in its groomed gardens, admire its public art sculptures, and pause for a selfie at the picturesque gazebo.

Visiting in May or September? Don’t miss the free Sunset Serenades concert sessions hosted at the park’s Rockpile Amphitheater. Concerts are held every Friday evening, in May and September, from 5:30pm-sunset.

2. Take a self-guided art tour

Breaching Whale public art in Heisler Park

Renowned as an artists’ colony for over 100 years, Laguna Beach is the epicenter of SoCal cultural life. Home to more than 70 independent GALLERIES, 400 working artists, 100 unique works of PUBLIC ART, and a diverse range of FESTIVALS throughout the year, it’s a great place to get involved in the local art scene. Pick up a free map from the OFFICIAL VISITORS CENTER (381 Forest Avenue) and take a self-guided tour to explore its numerous sculptures.

Visiting on the first Thursday of the month? FIRST THURSDAY’S ART WALK is a FREE festive, cultural evening that runs from 6-9pm on the first Thursday of every month. Visit more than 40 galleries and LAGUNA ART MUSEUM for free – and make the most of the city’s complimentary trolley service.

3. Ride the free trolley through town

Looking to make the most of your time in town? Get from A to B in the blink of an eye – aboard the free Laguna Beach open air TROLLEY. Running every Friday (4pm-11pm), Saturday (11am-11pm) and Sunday (11am-8pm) from September through June; and 9:30am-11:30pm during the summer months (July and August); it’s a great way to explore further afield. Be sure to download the VISIT LAGUNA BEACH APP for a real-time Trolley Tracker.

4. Spot marine life in the tide pools

15 Free Things To Do

Get an up-close look at a host of sea creatures – from sea stars to anemones – at one of Laguna Beach’s famous TIDE POOLS. Head to the OFFICIAL VISITORS CENTER for a free illustrated brochure to help you identify the marine life you might spot, and make your way to Treasure Island Beach for the best tide pooling opportunities in town.

Need a helping hand? Look out for tide pool docents who’ll be happy to give you a glimpse into Laguna’s underwater world and answer any questions you may have.

5. Explore Treasure Island Park

15 Free Things To Do

Located on the grounds of the five-star MONTAGE LAGUNA BEACHTREASURE ISLAND is a pristine, oceanfront beach park, set right in the backyard of a beautiful resort. Set up your easel on the cliffs, picnic on the grassy bluffs, or access the sand via the southwestern corner for sunbathing and even skimboarding at its southernmost end.

6. Browse the Laguna Craft Guild Show

For one-of-a-kind window SHOPPING, check out the monthly LAGUNA CRAFT GUILD SHOW, held in the downtown area, on the MAIN BEACH cobblestones. Featuring a variety of arts and crafts – from pottery to textiles and jewelry – by local Laguna artists, it makes for a unique place to browse, even if you’re not in the market for anything special. Shows are held monthly (dark in July & August) on a Sunday, from 9am-4pm.

7. Visit the Pacific Marine Mammal Center

15 Free Things To Do

Open daily and free to the public, the PACIFIC MARINE MAMMAL CENTER is the only one of its kind in Orange County. Dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating stranded marine mammals from the county’s 42 mile-long coastline, it’s a unique place to get up-close to sea lions, seals, and other magical underwater creatures. Plus, you may even catch a feeding!

8. Be entertained at Live! at the Museum (free with museum entry)

For an unforgettable art and music fix, be sure to visit town over the second Thursday of the month, when LAGUNA BEACH LIVE! and LAGUNA ART MUSEUM present a memorable evening program. Concerts by talented musicians – performing everything from classical chamber music to cabaret jazz – run from 7-8pm, to a backdrop of California art, and are free with museum admission.

9. Play volleyball at Main Beach

Known locally as Laguna’s ‘Window to the Sea,’ MAIN BEACH sits in the heart of downtown Laguna Beach. Featuring picnic tables, a children’s playground, two half-court basketball courts, and several sand volleyball courts, it’s the perfect spot to enjoy a pickup game. Slap on the sunscreen and stay fit on your Laguna Beach vacation.

10. Snorkel at Diver’s Cove

One of the hottest snorkeling and scuba diving spots in town, the 300 foot-long DIVER’S COVE is the ideal 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 & Paddle or Laguna Surf & Sport.

11. Watch the sunset from Crescent Bay Park

15 Free Things To Do

CRESCENT BAY PARK, Laguna’s northernmost stop – located where Cliff Drive intercepts North Coast Highway – makes a great place to take in one of the city’s famous sunsets. Enjoy a day of skimboarding, body surfing, and tide pooling down at the water, before settling down on the sand to watch the sun set over the ocean.

12. Hike to the Top of the World

Looking for Laguna’s ultimate panoramic view? Head to the Top of the World, in ALTA LAGUNA PARK, for endless views of both the coastline and the canyon. Set above the village area, pack a picnic and drive up to this famous vantage point for some of the clearest vistas in the area. Then, explore its numerous hiking trails that lead down to the shore.

13. Make a bonfire at Aliso Beach Park

Aliso Beach Park Playground

Make your own evening entertainment at ALISO BEACH PARK, the only beach with fire pits in town. Located in South Laguna, it’s a popular local spot for an after-dark bonfire. Bring your friends and family, and something to throw on the grill. It makes for a great, free alternative to staying downtown. Fire pits are available on a first come, first serve basis.

14. Surf at Thousand Steps Beach

15 Free Things To Do

One of Laguna’s hottest hidden beach coves lies between 9th and 10th streets – and the 230 steps to get there certainly feel like 1,000! This intimate spot is well worth the hike – not least to admire some of the area’s most magnificent private homes, that lie around THOUSAND STEPS BEACH.

15. Birdwatch at Laguna Coast Wilderness Park

Home to several unique and endangered bird species – from California Gnatcatcher to Orange-Throated Whiptail – Laguna Beach is a haven for birders. Spot them in their natural habitat at LAGUNA COAST WILDERNESS PARK, which features some of the last remaining coastal canyons in Southern California. Follow its forty miles of trails through woodlands and Coastal Sage Scrub, and keep your binoculars at the ready.

Looking for more Laguna Beach activities? Browse Not-to Miss Outdoor Adventures

About the Author

Trip Advisor

Trip Advisor

TripAdvisor, Inc. is an American travel and restaurant website company providing hotel and restaurant reviews, accommodation bookings and other travel-related content.

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