Laguna Beach is a little piece of paradise in Orange County, California. It has been the setting of such popular shows as Laguna Beach on MTV and Real Housewives of Orange County. It is no wonder, with its gorgeous coastal landscapes; absolutely breathtaking. Many people think of Laguna Beach as this pretentious bubble of wealth, but Laguna Beach is much richer than this swallow perspective. Laguna Beach has culture, with art galleries around every corner. There are endless options for fantastic dining; a real foodie heaven. Natural lovers will love the miles of untouched coastline, hiking trails and tide pools to explore. In so many words, Laguna Beach has a little something for everyone to love. What more? Read on.
Keep the Cost in Check:
Laguna Beach has a reputation for being expensive, but it is actually quite easy to have a reasonable experience.
First of all, the beach is free. No one will charge you to plant you bum on the sand and have fun with the family.
Secondly, most of the restaurants offer a happy hour, which is a great way to enjoy small plates and discounted cocktails. Plus, there are plenty of inexpensive dining options to choose from.
Third, on the weekends the beach trolley is free! Hop on the blue trolley and take it around the city.
Drop Your Bags:
Laguna Beach is a resort town, so finding a place to stay is easy peasy. Trip and you will land on a hotel. No matter your budget, no matter your requirements, you will find a spot to rest your pretty head.
HotMama Picks: I picked the following based on personal experience and location to downtown activities and main beach, but like I said, there are TONS of options.
Surf & Sand: This luxury resort has spectacular views of Laguna’s coastline. The surf literally meets the sand in front of you at this beach front hotel. What I love is that EVERY room has a view of the ocean as well as easy access to the beach for families. It is pretty pricey with room rates starting at $200. Look out for slow season and promotion packages for great deals.
La Casa Del Camino: I love the hacienda feeling of this hotel and the location is great. It was established in 1929 and I find it charming. Also pricey, this hotel has gorgeous views of the sea and elegant Spanish-style rooms.
Holiday Inn Laguna Beach: Budget friendly, this hotel is very nice and still close to all the action. It is not exactly beach front, but rather on the opposite side of the street. Some rooms on the upper levels have views, but this is a great option if you want to be close to the beach and downtown, but not break the bank.
Hotel Laguna: Ocean front rooms start at $200 a night, but you can get rooms with village views for $100. This historical hotel is home to the Ocean View Bar & Grill, which is a great spot to have a snack and a cocktail as you watch the sunset.
Get Your Grub On:
Okay, this is my favorite part, because Laguna Beach has so many fabulous restaurants. I love to eat in Laguna Beach!!
I never go without my babies, but that doesn’t mean I am going to sacrifice where I eat completely. Luckily, Laguna Beach has plenty of family-friendly, yet mama-friendly dining options!
HotMama Picks: First let me clarify, when I am near the ocean I want to look at the ocean…like the whole time. That means even when I’m eating I want to see the sea. So, all my picks have glorious views along with fantastic cuisine.
The Cliff: Connected to the Laguna Village shops, this gorgeous, yet casual restaurant has spectacular ocean views. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, The Cliff is happening all hours of the day. The dishes are fantastic and filling, so splitting is very possible. The patio hangs off the edge of the cliffs, giving it its name and glorious views, but don’t worry it is safe for kids. Feel free to take the family, relax in the shade and enjoy a delicious meal.
Greeter’s Corner: Known as the corner restaurant, Greeter’s is perfect for breakfast or casual lunch. The neighborhood diner, Greeter’s is walking distance from the main beach, playground with beautiful views and low(er) prices.
C’est la Vie: Don’t be intimidated by the glassware, table clothes and fancy atmosphere. This lovely French restaurant overlooking the main beach is non-pretentious. After a long day out in the sun, our kids were done, but we still wanted to have fun. Free parking, great food, wine, views and live music? Sign me up. I was a bit hesitant to roll into this romantic establishment with my crazy crew, but the staff was so sweet, warm and welcoming. It is the perfect spot for a relaxing, a mouthwatering dinner and a bottle of wine.
A good cocktail is not hard to come by in Laguna Beach, but I am a happy hour fan if I can time it right. Most of the restaurants offer great happy hours that are sure to wet your whistle.
The Bloody Mary at The Cliff was very nice and you can’t beat the view. Also, there is a fire-pit section off the bar that is great for the evening or having a quick drink while you wait for a table.
C’est La Vie has a nice variety of wine, ranging in costs, so I recommend having fun and getting the bottle…or two.
The great thing about Laguna Beach is that is can be as relaxed or as adventurous as you want it to be. There are beaches, nature, outside activities, art, festivals, restaurants, bars and more.
Beach: You can’t beat the beach. Whether you would like to hang out and bask in the sun or play in the waves, the beach is the place to be. Maybe you just want to sit back and enjoy the views from one of the many restaurants along the coast. When I travel with the kids, I have to compromise with a little fun on the beach or playground for the kids then a relaxing cocktail break for mama.
Nature: There are five wilderness parks to explore called, Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, Crystal Cove State Park, Laguna Canyon Foundation, Laguna Coast Wilderness Park and the Nix Nature Center. Each offer different landscapes and levels of adventure. I love the vintage cottages on Crystal Cove and you can even take a self-guided tour of these vintage bungalows.
Sea life is easy to find in Laguna as sea lions love to bask in the sun. You can also visit sea mammals at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center. Admission is free, but donations are encouraged as they are rehabilitating injured mammals to return to the sea.
Art & Festivals: If you love art then you will love Laguna Beach. There is an event going on all the time, like Art & Nature Conference and Festival, the Art-A-Fair, Celebrate Good Taste, Festival of Arts/Pageant of the Masters, Laguna Beach Music Festival, Laguna Dance Festival, and Sawdust Art Festival.
The first Thursday of the month is the Art Walk where visitors get free admission to participating galleries from 5:00pm to 9:00pm as well as free shuttle service.
Laguna Playhouse always has a fun production going on and Sawdust is always open to explore and take art classes.
Trolley: So how do you get around this charming beach town? By trolley of course and it is free to ride on the weekends! Not only is the blue beach trolley convenient for getting around without having to deal with parking, but it is an attraction its self. Take it for a full lap around the city before getting off at a stop. The kids will love feeling the wind in their hair and seeing the coastline. The trolley makes it so nice for parents hauling their kids from one point to the next. Even if the fall asleep at the stop!
So? You feeling beachy? I’m pretty hungry after writing this post! Think I need to make a visit again soon. Meet me for a cocktail on the sea!
Have you ever been to Laguna Beach? What are your favorite things to do and places to eat?
Author: Hot Mama
I’m a busy working mama, who understands the importance of taking a time out to enjoy life. Always ready for an adventure, this mama will not hesitate to pack the family up and go. Family vacations are a great way to bond with your kids and create wonderful memories that they will carry with them throughout their life. A fabulous getaway doesn’t have to break the bank! I’ll give you the tips and tricks you need to make every trip memorable, reasonable and HOT!