There is no better beach destination in Southern California than Laguna Beach. With incredible things to do in Laguna Beach, there is no shortage of having fun here.
You’ll have access to pristine beaches and coves with turquoise waters, epic sunsets, and a bustling downtown. It’s the best of all worlds for a Southern California beach getaway. With access to hiking trails and ocean activities, you can really choose your own adventure here.
I’ve been visiting Laguna Beach since I was a young kid. I have fond memories of walking down the beaches, perusing the tide pools, and exploring the downtown. It’s a favorite of mine for spending more relaxed time by the beach.
There is so much to do in Laguna Beach for all ages, making it a great family, couple, or even solo getaway. Read on to see the best things to do in the Laguna Beach area for your trip!
Getting to Laguna Beach, California
Getting to Laguna Beach, California, is relatively straightforward. If you’re flying in from outside the area, the closest major airport is John Wayne Airport (SNA), which is approximately a 20-minute drive from Laguna Beach. You can rent a car at the airport or take a taxi or rideshare service for the short journey to the beach town.
If you’re driving from other parts of Southern California, you can reach Laguna Beach via the Pacific Coast Highway (California State Route 1) if coming from the north or south. The scenic drive along this iconic coastal route is part of the appeal of visiting Laguna Beach.
Short on Time? Here Are My Top Picks for the Best Hotels and Things to Do in Laguna Beach:
- Montage Laguna Beach, for the best luxury oceanfront resort
- Hotel Joaquin, for the best design hotel
- Laguna Beach House, for the best design-for-dollar stay
Things to Do
19 Incredible Things to Do in Laguna Beach, California
1. Have a Beach Day at Treasure Island Beach Park
One of the most easily accessible beaches in Laguna, Treasure Island Beach Park is a perfect spot to hole up for the day. With pristine waters and private coves, the beach is well known for great snorkeling and hang time. The few protected inlets down the beach mean calmer waters, perfect for time out in the water.
The stretch of beach is known for having excellent service as well and it’s maintained by the Montage Laguna Beach Resort. The beach is open from dawn to dusk as most beaches are in this area.
2. Peruse the Local Shops in Downtown
If you’ve had your fill of sun and sand, head into Laguna Beach’s downtown area to peruse local galleries and boutiques. There are a handful of wonderful local stores to stock up on goods and souvenirs. Easily go through the several blocks and find a ton of gems.
I personally loved Good Together House for its curated home and lifestyle goods. Thalia Surf Shop is a total classic in Laguna Beach for all things surf from apparel to goods. Vertigo Home has a wonderful selection of home goods that are modern and eclectic, great for a peruse.
3. Self-Guided Walking Tour Through Downtown
When I was researching things to do downtown, I stumbled across these free guided walking tours. While I didn’t have time on this trip, I loved seeing the different things listed on there that you can see yourself. The downtown tour takes about 1-2 hours depending on how fast you go and has several iconic sights.
4. Go Hiking in Laguna Coast Wilderness Park
One of my personal favorite hiking trails just outside of Laguna is the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. With 7,000 acres of land to go hiking in, I always opt for a morning hike to beat the full sun. I typically park right near Nix Nature Center and take off from there. I’d recommend going in to see which hike is best for you.
5. Sit Down to Omakase at Rebel Omakase
One of the newest restaurants to open up in Laguna Beach is Rebel Omakase. Done by Chef Jordan Nakasone and his wife, Deborah, this seated and reservation-only dining experience is one of a kind. He was previously at Sushi Enya in L.A., one of the most famous sushi spots around.
This new spot is purely a chef’s tasting menu that takes you through classic and seasonal Japanese dishes. The fish is sourced fresh from several fish markets in LA., making it an incredibly elevated experience. I’d recommend booking a seat in advance if possible!
6. Spend the Afternoon at Crystal Cove State Park
As one of the last remaining open spaces and natural seashores, Crystal Cove State Park is one of the most stunning beaches in Southern California. With a 3.2-mile stretch of beach, there is a lot of space to enjoy here for an afternoon at the beach.
You’ll need to pay to park at one of the four entrances, but it’s well worth it to be able to enjoy the pristine beach. The state park also encompasses 2,400 acres of backcountry wilderness as well. You’ll find awesome trails for mountain biking here in addition to all of the ocean adventures.
7. Visit the Art Galleries and Laguna Beach Art Museum
Laguna Beach downtown is home to several art galleries which you’ll stumble upon as you stroll. One great location just outside of downtown is the Laguna Beach Art Museum, where exhibits often rotate. It’s well worth a visit when in town and the galleries always have something new to see.
8. Stroll Along Crescent Bay Point Park
For those looking for a scenic and often much quieter park, there is this small park above Crescent Bay Beach. You can park in the neighborhood for a few hours and stroll around the park and scenic viewpoint. You can even walk down the hill through the neighborhood to the beach. I loved bringing my coffee here for some quiet time.
9. Sit Down for a Wine Tasting at Laguna Canyon Winery
Located just in the canyon entering Laguna Beach, Laguna Canyon Winery is one of the few wineries in the area. The grapes are sourced from Napa and Sonoma and blended there for their bottles. You can pop into the tasting room for a guided tasting and shop their collection of wines.
10. See Rescued Marine Life at The Pacific Marine Mammal Center
Completely free to enter, visit the Pacific Marine Mammal Center to learn about their operations. You’ll often see rescued seals and other wildlife who are getting ready to transition back to the wild. It’s an informative center, great for young to older kids as well.
11. Have lunch at Larsen at Hotel Laguna
One of the best ocean-view meals in town is at Larsen inside Hotel Laguna. The patio opens up to the ocean, making for a scenic backdrop. This is the new hit spot to come in for sunset drinks and a bite to eat.
There are two main art festivals that happen every summer which draw in thousands of people. The first is the Sawdust Art Festival, and it’s like a mini “amusement” park of formal arts and interactive spaces for visitors. While there, you can shop local art, eat food, and drink wine and beer. It’s a ticketed entrance, typically running most of the summer.
The second is the Festival of the Arts, held over where the Pageant of the Masters is. This is a bit more formal, with higher-end jewelry and art pieces available to browse and purchase. This is also a ticketed entrance, running most of the summer.
13. Go Explore the Tide Pools
Laguna, California is home to iconic tide pools all along the coastline. Visitors often go looking to see what they may see on the shoreline. Do remember to not touch marine wildlife and only look with your eyes!
14. Go See the Pageant of the Masters
Known as the living art, the Pageant of the Masters is an iconic theatrical performance in Southern California. Known for the living recreation of art masterpieces, actors recreate the art pieces themselves. It’s well worth snagging tickets for the evening show if you’re in town.
15. Stroll the Oceanfront Heisler Park
One of my favorite parks to go to for an evening stroll is Heisler Park. You can walk quite a ways either south or north, so I typically park anywhere to hop on the trail. You can also make use of the lawn space if you want to even just bring a picnic and watch the sunset. This is one of the most stunning outdoor green spaces in Laguna.
16. See the Pirate Tower on Victoria Beach
You’ve probably seen the famous pirate tower on Victoria Beach on Instagram at some point. While it does get overcrowded, head out early in the morning for a stroll to see this architectural beauty.
You are in Southern California after all and what better way to get out in the ocean than with a surf lesson? I’ve done this before with a private group, and it was so much fun to try the calmer waves on the south end of Laguna. I found this highly-rated 1.5-hour surf lesson which will get you out on the water and give you a taste of Southern California surf culture. Book your surf lesson here.
18. Go Paddleboarding or Kayaking
You’ll see paddleboarders and kayakers all day out on the water in Laguna, going up and down the coast. Past the break, the ocean tends to be calmer in this part of the coast, making for a great spot to go paddleboarding. If you don’t want to go by yourself, consider jumping on this paddleboard tour which takes you up and down Laguna’s coast with a guide. This kayak tour is also one of the top-booked activities in the area as well.
19. Have a Spa Day at Montage Laguna Beach
The Spa at Montage Laguna Beach is a personal oasis within the beautiful Montage Laguna Beach Resort. Here, you can treat yourself to all sorts of amazing pampering, from massages and facials to body therapies, all while taking in the breathtaking California coastline. It’s the perfect spot to unwind, offering you a rejuvenating experience right here in Laguna Beach.
Where to Stay in Laguna Beach
The Montage Laguna Beach Resort is a luxurious coastal retreat nestled atop a stunning bluff overlooking the picturesque shores of Laguna Beach, California. This world-class resort offers guests a blend of opulence and natural beauty, with meticulously designed rooms and suites, exquisite dining options, and a world-renowned spa. Its idyllic location provides breathtaking ocean views and direct access to pristine beaches. Book the best rates here.
Hotel Joaquin in Laguna Beach is an intimate and artfully designed boutique hotel that embodies the essence of coastal California chic. With only 22 rooms, this adults-only retreat offers a serene and secluded atmosphere, with bohemian-inspired decor and lush garden surroundings. Book the best rates here.
Laguna Beach House is a charming and laid-back boutique hotel situated in the heart of Laguna Beach, California. With its coastal-inspired design, comfortable accommodations, and welcoming atmosphere, it offers guests a cozy and authentic beach town experience. Located just steps away from the beach and a short walk to the town’s art galleries, shops, and restaurants, Laguna Beach House is an ideal choice for travelers. Book the best rates here.
Frequently Asked Questions About Laguna
What is Laguna Beach Best Known For?
Laguna Beach is best known for its stunning coastal beauty, including pristine beaches, rugged cliffs, and crystal-clear waters. It’s also renowned for its vibrant arts scene, with numerous art galleries, annual art festivals, and a rich history of attracting artists and creative individuals.
Additionally, Laguna Beach is famous for its upscale resorts, excellent dining options, and relaxed, beach-town atmosphere that makes it a popular destination for visitors seeking a blend of natural beauty, culture, and luxury.
Is it Worth Visiting Laguna Beach?
Absolutely, visiting Laguna Beach is definitely worth it. The town’s breathtaking coastal scenery, beautiful beaches, and artistic ambiance make it a unique and enchanting destination. Whether you’re an art enthusiast, a nature lover, or simply looking for a relaxing beach getaway. Laguna Beach offers a captivating blend of culture, natural beauty, and leisure activities that make it a must-visit spot along the Southern California coastline.
Is Laguna Beach a Walkable Town?
Yes, Laguna Beach is a highly walkable town. Its compact downtown area features pedestrian-friendly streets lined with shops, restaurants, and art galleries, making it easy for visitors to explore on foot. Additionally, many of the beaches and scenic viewpoints are within walking distance of the town center, allowing for a leisurely and enjoyable stroll while taking in the picturesque coastal landscape.
Save This Post for Later on Pinterest
PS — Are You Booking a Trip Soon? Use My Booking Checklist!
These are the sites I use most to book my own trips. Using the links below is a great way to support Bon Traveler’s travel journalism at no extra cost to you. If you need help organizing your itinerary, get my free travel itinerary template here.
1. Book Your Flights
Use Skyscanner to find the best flights. It searches 100s of airlines and websites across the globe to ensure you’re not missing out on any route options or deals.
2. Book Your Accommodations
Use Booking.com for hotels and guest houses. They have the biggest inventory and consistently offer the best rates.
3. Book Your Tours & Experiences
4. Book Your Car
Use Discover Cars to find the best car rental deals. I recommend comparing rental agency reviews on Google to ensure you are booking with the best company in that destination, as the reviews are often more accurate than the car rental search engines.
5. Don’t Forget Airport Lounge Access
Get a Priority Pass membership to gain access to 1,400+ VIP lounges and airport experiences worldwide. The Priority Pass app is the first thing I check when I have a layover. I’ve been a member for over a decade, and having a comfortable place to relax before and between flights makes air travel so much more enjoyable.
6. Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
I never leave the country without travel insurance. It provides comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong (ie. illness, injury, theft, and cancelations, etc.). I use it frequently for my travels to stay protected.
My favorite companies that offer the best coverage and rates are: