Nestled in southern Orange County, Laguna Beach is an artist community and a sublime seaside resort city. Settlers began to arrive after the American Civil War but development was slow. By 1900, homesteaders were still struggling to farm the land. Looking for an additional source of income, the homesteaders began to rent sections of the beaches to farmers from Santa Ana, Riverside, Fullerton and Tustin. Slowly, a tourist industry emerged which is still a mainstay of the local economy.
In the 1920s, Laguna Beach began to attract the attention of landscape artists. This attention laid the foundation for its art community, which still thrives today. Marveling the beauty of the majestic mountains, stunning beaches and deep valleys, the artists drew the attention of novelists, the wealthy and the progressive. Adding to its diversity, the pioneer days of Laguna Beach were gone, and the art colony turned Laguna Beach into one of the most beautiful seaside resorts in California.
Bordered by the Pacific Ocean on the southwest and Crystal Cove State Park on the northwest, the views of the city’s shoreline into the hilly topography are absolutely magnificent. Laguna Beach is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in California. There are over 20 beaches encompassing seven miles of picturesque Pacific coastline with pristine sands. Surfing, skim boarding, sailing and jet skiing are just a few of the fun watersport activities locals enjoy. Snorkelers and scuba divers enjoy spotting marine life along the colorful reefs, even an occasional octopus. With up to 15-foot waves, the surf is always up. Laguna Beach is also home to renowned tide pools. Visitors can get a bird’s eye view of the diverse marine ecosystem along the rock formations during both low and high tide.
With modest roots as a small art enclave, Laguna Beach is today a world-renowned destination for art festivals, art masterworks and galleries. The city has over 100 art galleries and studios showcasing all types of artwork, from modern art to glass blowing. Gallery hopping is easy along the quaint and pedestrian-friendly streets of the city. From the art galleries in North Gallery Row to the downtown village of South Laguna, one can take in the talents of local and international artists.
Art isn’t the only shopping experience in Laguna Beach. Funky and one-of-a-kind boutiques line the streets of this charming village. Unique coffee shops, decadent chocolate stores and wine boutiques offer a taste of delight for aficionados. There are also designer clothing stores, chic jewelry shops and rare bookstores.
The three most popular landmarks in Laguna Beach are the Heisler Park Gazebo, the Main Beach Lifeguard Tower and Irvine Bowl. Perched on a bluff at the Coast Highway, the Gazebo offers a spectacular view of the Laguna coastline. Rocky shores and tide pools can be viewed from this landmark. There are also picnic tables and grassy areas with lush hiking trails that run parallel to the Pacific Ocean. This romantic location is a popular spot for weddings and engagements.
The Main Beach Lifeguard Tower is one of the most photographed and painted structures in Orange County. Originally an office of a Union Oil gas station, the structure was moved to the beach in 1937 and repurposed as a lifeguard tower. The beach itself has great surf for body boarders, surfers and swimmers. It is also set up for volleyball games.
The Irvine Bowl Amphitheater is tucked in a six-acre natural valley along Laguna Canyon Road and is home to the Festival of the Arts and Pageant of the Masters. Locals enjoy the concerts and exhibits in an open-air setting along the picnic grounds.
Laguna Beach is the perfect mélange of art colonies and sparkling beaches that create a unique and upbeat persona of the village. The perfect place to call home, it is the destination of many.