- Things to Do
From Stand-Up Paddling to Snorkeling to public art and culinary classics, guides are available to take visitors on insider tours of some of Laguna's hidden gems
A longtime business, La Vida Laguna is a one-stop shop for water-sport lessons and tours in addition to corporate team-building outings. Options include private and group stand-up paddle-boarding lessons and tours, surf lessons and kayak and bike tours. Transformational Arts sessions in yoga, mindfullness, breath-work and more are offered as corporate wellness initiatives as well. For those who want to try surfing for themselves, La Vida Laguna takes participants to Thalia Street Beach in private sessions and semiprivate groups limited to three students per instructor. Meanwhile, SUP tours start at Fisherman's Cove which is protected by a reef, making the water calmer. (lavidalaguna.com)
Local diver David "D.J." Mansfield, a top-rated diving instructor and director of operations at Laguna Sea Sports in Laguna Beach, has an impressive background. With master's degrees in business and marketing, he also spent 20 years in the U.S. Marine Corps. Now retired from the military, he devotes his time to diving and snorkeling, having traveled to nearly 30 different countries. "My absolute favorite dive site in all of those adventures has been Shaw's Cove in Laguna Beach". Mansfield says "I have more interaction with the ocean life, seen more stuff and even enjoyed days of excellent visibility there." (Photo courtesy of beachcitiesscuba.com).
Want to see more sea life? Motorboats are not allowed in Laguna Beach's waters, but just a short drive north up the coastline to Davey's Locker Newport Landing Whale Watching, or south to Captain Dave's Dolphin & Whale Safari or Dana Wharf Sportfishing & Whale Watching, enables you to hop aboard to view dolphins and whales up close throughout the year. (daveyslocker.com) (dolphinsafari.com) (danawharf.com)
Established in 1959, the 2.5 acre Hortense Miller Garden on the upper slopes of Boat Canyon demonstrates the range of plants that can be grown in Southern California coastal zones. The vertical, pesticide-free garden was built by namesake, Hortense Miller, an environmentalist and author who created one of the best private gardens in the country and whose knowledge of plants was sought by leading horticulturists. The garden and mid-century home is open for tours Tuesday through Saturday from 9:45am to noon by reservation only. (949-497-0779; hortensemillergarden.org)
A culinary-focused walking tour company, Feast Laguna - a fun experience led by knowledgeable local guides - showcases authentic dishes from independent and family-run Laguna eateries, interspersed with insightful information about the city's history and public art. Best Bites of Laguna A Food & Culture Walking Tour, is a three-hour food tour with a local guide that includes six generous food tastings from some of the best eateries and food purveyors in Laguna Beach as well as meetings with local chefs, bakers, chocolatiers and gelato makers.
The company was founded by Quinn Christman, who has also led clients on countless culinary immersion trips around the world and developed award-winning public relations programs with celebrity and Michelin-starred chefs like David Myers, Chris Cosentino and Sang Yoon.
Christman says the Laguna tours highlight hidden gems that even locals may not know about, such as where to find authentic poutine, a pizza delivery service on the beach, the Laguna Beach Lawn Bowling Club in Heisler Park and Dawson Cole Find Art Gallery's sculpture courtyard. Some stops along the way include demonstrations, such as waffle cone making at Gelato Paradiso. In addition to the Best Bites of Laguna, there's also Legendary Libations: A Historical Bars & Taverns Walking Tour. (feastlaguna.com)