Laguna Beach is a “hidden” treasure halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego. Its life began as an artist’s colony and that heritage runs strong though this charming seaside town.
The town of Laguna Beach is actually a seven mile strip running along the beaches surrounded by steeply rising hills. It offers pristine beauty, breathtaking ocean views, tide pools, sandy beaches, sea caves, hiking and mountain biking trails, shopping and art. Lots and lots of art.
At the time of writing this post, the world is still concerned about coronavirus and many Americans are rediscovering the road trip to avoid crowded airplanes. Sales of recreational vehicles, tents and outdoor camping equipment are at an all time high as more people are choosing to take their accommodations with them rather than stay at a hotel.
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If you’re one of the many making a road trip out of it with your recreational vehicle or tent, Laguna Beach is an RV haven. There are close to a dozen RV campgrounds within 3 to 30 miles of the town (we’ll cover some of those later).
A Tour of Laguna Beach
You’ll arrive in Laguna Beach either on the Pacific Coast Highway or on California 133. Right where the two meet is the main beach with the iconic lifeguard tower. This is the central part of the town and the activities we discuss branch out from here. This is a beautiful curved section of sandy beach with basketball courts, a boardwalk to make walking easier, benches to drink in the view, gardens and a large grassy area. But before you park and start our tour of Laguna Beach, stop by the Official Visitors Center at 381 Forest Ave and pick up some of the brochures on the various things to do.
Follow the paved path north up the hill to the top. This is an area known as Heisler Park. It is a half a mile stroll with breathtaking views of the ocean, gazebos, benches, public art and some restaurants and shops. The footage in the video above was taken from this vantage point.
When you have reached the end, head east about 100 yards and meet up with the Pacific Coast Highway. As you walk along it back toward the center of town, the street is lined with fabulous, unique art galleries. Take some time to stop into the galleries and browse. Also browse the public art as you walk through the town. Laguna Beach has over 100 public artworks scattered around the town.
As you get back to where we started, coffee shops, restaurants, bookstore, florists, apparel stores, spas take places among the galleries. Ffollow your eyes. The streets leading off to the east are very inviting and you’ll find you can’t resist walking down them to see what is there. Laguna Beach is home to over a hundred art galleries and one of a kind “made in Laguna” shops.
Just a couple blocks south of the main beach, an arched brick entry leads into Laguna’s oldest shopping district, Peppertree Lane. Shops in this small district offer gelato, fine dining, a saloon, unique clothing, gifts and more.
A few blocks farther down the coast highway you reach the HIP district. In this case HIP stands for Historic and Interesting Places. Once again you’ll find completely unique art galleries, shops and cafes. In fact everything in Laguna is unique. Big chain restaurants and shops just don’t fit in here.
While Laguna Beach is very walkable, there is a free trolly running through the town. Hours vary depending on the time of year.
Other things to do in Laguna Beach:
1. Explore the tide pools.
These are everywhere along the beach. You can see them from the walk along the path in Heisler Park and there are a number of informational signs describing the sea creatures to find. You can also get down into the tide pools from the beach level and get an up close look at the sea stars, anemones and other sea creatures.
2. Take a Whale Watching Cruise
Whales and dolphins can be viewed around Laguna Beach year round. Dana Wharf Sportfishing and Whale Watching and Newport Landing Whale Watching offer several whale watching cruises daily. Captain Daves Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari provides excursions that allow underwater viewing.
3. Roast Hotdogs and Marshmallows at Aliso Beach Park
A mile or two south in South Laguna, Aliso Beach Park provides fire pits. This is the ultimate beach experience to sit by the surf with a bonfire and great friends. Get there early. Fire pits are first come first served
4. Visit Treasure Island Park
Treasure Island Park is a beautifully landscaped beach in South Laguna Beach. There are benches along the way and restrooms as well. The Pacific Island and coastline views are amazing. Parking is available along Coast Highway. It lies between Goff Cove and Christmas Cove to the north and Aliso Beach Park to the south.
5. View the Pirate Tower
The “Pirate Tower” as it is known by locals is an old circular tower rising 60 feet from the beach up the side of a cliff to the top. While it’s architectures fits what you would imagine of the pirates of old, it was actually the staircase leading from the home that Los Angeles senator William Brown built to the sea in 1926.
The Pirate Tower is located on Victoria Beach aka Victoria Street, one of Laguna’s hidden treasures. Victoria Street offers a volleyball court, caves and even a swimming pool. It also tends to feature a lack of crowds!
The tower is on the north end of the beach. You can access it from the stairs on Victoria Street on the north end or from Blue Lagoon Road on the south. Parking is difficult. Find parking along the Pacific Coast Highway and walk in.
6. Visit the Bette Davis House
Bette Davis lived in Laguna Beach during the Forties in an English Tudor home that was built in 1929. It’s located at 1881 Ocean Way.
7. Enjoy Crystal Cove State Park
Crystal Cove is three miles of coastline, canyons, and bluffs. There is an offshore water area designed as an underwater park. Activities include swimming, fishing mountain biking, hiking, surfing and scuba diving.
RV Campgrounds Near Laguna Beach
As we mentioned above, the Great American Road Trip and traveling by RV or motorhome has made a huge comeback. The area around Laguna Beach and actually all of Orange County California are an RVers paradise. You’ll find no shortage of places to park your RV or pitch a tent near where you want to go. My personal picks would be the Sunset Vista or Waterfront RV Parks as they are located right by the water and are near both Huntington Beach and Laguna Beach.
Newport Dunes Waterfront RV Park
This is the closest at just 5 miles away. It’s also the most expensive with rates starting at $90 per night. There are also cabins for rent for under $300 per night. It’s located at 1131 Back Bay Drive, Newport Beach, CA. https://www.newportdunes.com/
Orangeland RV Park
Orangeland is 17 miles from Laguna with rates starting at $70 per night. This is a great choice if a visit to Disneyland is also on your agenda as it’s located near there as well. Address is 1600 W. Struck Ave.
Orange, California 92867 Their website is https://www.orangeland.com/
Sunset Vista RV Park
Sunset Vista puts you right on Huntington Beach and is only 10 miles from Laguna. This will offer all of the incredible things to do in Huntington Beach and the Huntington Beach Pier to your list of things to do. It’s located at 103 Pacific Coast Highway, Huntington Beach, CA .Rates run around $70 per night. Reservations are through the Huntington Beach city website https://www.huntingtonbeachca.gov/residents/parking/parking_and_camping.cfm
The Waterfront RV Park
This is also located 10 miles up the road in Huntington Beach and is located just off the beach. The address is 21871 Newland Street, Huntington Beach CA. The website for reservations is https://www.waterfrontrvpark.com/
Other RV Parks are about 30 miles away. The include Paradise by the Sea RV Resort Happy Camp Campground, East Shore RV Park, Lake Elsinore Marina and RV Resort, Oceanside RV Park, and the Anaheim Harbor RV Park,
Whether you are traveling from across the country, or live in California, Laguna Beach is one of the most beautiful places you can go to escape the harsh realities of day to day life for a while. A visit to Laguna Beach is guaranteed to recharge your soul and give you a fresh new outlook on life!
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Luxury by Causmic. From the YouTube music library
Video produced by Mark Stout Photography for Totally-LA.com