9 Surprisingly Fun Activities To Do In Laguna Beach

January 2, 2017 5:14 AM

(Credit: SoCal Snorkeling Tours)

(Credit: SoCal Snorkeling Tours)


Laguna Beach is one of the most gorgeous spots in Southern California. While relaxing on Main Beach might be one of the city’s best pastimes, it has so much more to offer. From tiny churches, historic bungalows and pirate towers to a flurry of art, exercise and marine animals, there are plenty of activities that may not even come to mind when planning a day out in Laguna. These are nine of the best activities to include in your itinerary no matter what season it is!

(credit: H Q./yelp)

(credit: H Q./yelp)


Hike to the Pirate Tower
Victoria Beach
2713 Victoria Drive
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
www.visitlagunabeach.com

Seaside cottages are one thing, but there aren’t many California beach towns that can boast of their very own Pirate Tower. But, Laguna can! The single turret stands 60 feet tall, nestled near the rising Laguna cliffs at Victoria Beach. It was originally constructed for William E. Brown, a senator from L.A. that began painting and wanted a private staircase that would provide him with easy beach access from his home on the cliff above. Though it’s not possible to go inside the tower, it’s still an incredible sight and definitely worth a trip. Take some beautiful photos, skimboard in the nearby cove or sit back and relax with a view of the tower in the background. But make sure you time your visit right—the tower is only reachable at low tide.

(Credit: Paul Obleas of Kickstand Studio)

(Credit: Paul Obleas of Kickstand Studio)


Do Yoga on the Water
Bliss Paddle Yoga
Diver’s Cove
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
(949) 529-4242
www.blisspaddleyoga.com

While it’s possible to do stand-up paddleboarding in Laguna Beach, you can make it a little more interesting with Bliss Paddle Yoga. Capitalizing on the serenity of the ocean environment, this yoga class is one that will leave you blissed out. Head down the stairs to the beach at Diver’s Cove, where you’ll grab a paddleboard and take to the water. The class is then led on the ocean, giving visitors the perfect chance to practice their balance as they do their best downward dog. Yoga with Bliss is a great way to get your exercise in while still soaking up the sun and enjoying the beautiful view of the Laguna Beach shoreline. Aside from yoga, Bliss offers paddleboard rentals as well as teacher training so you too can learn to become a yoga instructor.

(Credit: SoCal Snorkeling Tours)

(Credit: SoCal Snorkeling Tours)


Go Snorkeling at Wood’s Cove
SoCal Snorkeling Tours
Laguna Beach, CA 92629
(949) 287-3813
www.socalsnorkelingtours.com

With Catalina Island a mere 20 miles away, Laguna Beach is often overlooked as a snorkeling spot. But, with a state marine reserve just offshore, it is actually the perfect spot to spy colorful fish and kelp reefs crawling with life — not to mention endless birds, some seals and dolphins and the occasional whale. Wood’s Cove is a great place to start because it’s a lot less crowded than Main Beach, but still pretty close to Downtown Laguna and easy to reach from the roadside. Sign up to go out with SoCal Snorkeling Tours. They offer two-hour trips which are led by professionals including owner Dalton Best, a former lifeguard well versed in ocean safety. They provide a snorkel, eye mask, fins and even a wetsuit plus they have GoPros available to help document your experience with underwater pictures and videos.

(Credit: Johanna Ellis)

(Credit: Johanna Ellis)


Take a Walking Tour of Historic Properties
Laguna Beach Historical Society
278 Ocean Avenue
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
(949) 497-6834
www.lagunabeachhistory.org

There are many different historic properties to check out in Laguna. First, stop by the Laguna Beach Historical Society, which is housed inside the 1923 Murphy Smith bungalow. Docents often give visitors tours of the house, which housed the Murphy family prior to Blanche Smith who lived at the home until her death. Though only open a few days each week, it’s a great chance to learn about Laguna’s architecture, culture and history. Another option is the self-guided walking tour that leads guests all around the north and south sides of town. A brochure created by the city’s heritage committee details which properties to stop at in the Top of the World, Laguna Canyon, North Laguna, Arch Beach Heights and Bluebird Canyon areas. The bungalows in the north and the cottages in the south have their own distinct architectural styles, but still represent Laguna’s artistic background.

(Credit: Hanna Ellman)

(Credit: Hanna Ellman)


Volunteer at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center
20612 Laguna Canyon Road
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
(949) 494-3050
www.pacificmmc.org

Living so close to the ocean makes it easy to lounge on the beach and completely forget about the life brimming below the water’s surface. But, that doesn’t make it any less present. Consider volunteering at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center to get up close with the marine animals that need our help to get rehabilitated and released into the sea. While you can also volunteer in the gift shop or as a docent who presents information to guests, the real magic is in volunteering in animal care. Though it is a yearlong commitment, there is nothing more satisfying than helping an animal to recover and become healthy enough to return to the wild. The center helps creatures like sea lions, seals and various cetaceans, like dolphins and certain types of whales.

(Credit: Michelle Schumacher)

(Credit: Michelle Schumacher)


Soak Up the Artwork
Various Locations
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
www.lagunaart.com

Since the early 1900s, Laguna Beach has been an artist’s colony that promotes the creation and distribution of various types of artwork. Not much has changed as there are so many opportunities to explore art in Laguna. Places and events like the Laguna Art Museum and the Sawdust Festival are great places to see and buy art, but it goes beyond that. The first Thursday of every month lends itself to an Art Walk with over 100 local art galleries. This open-house type of event is another way to experience a huge amount of artwork. On top of that, the Annual Laguna Beach Plein Air Painting Invitational occurs every October, giving locals and visitors the chance to watch plein air painters in action, get tips, compete in competitions and learn all about painting outdoors. With additional art-related events throughout the year, Laguna is without a doubt Southern California’s greatest art city.

(Credit: Festival of the Arts)

(Credit: Festival of the Arts)


Experience Pageant of the Masters
650 Laguna Canyon Road
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
(714) 614-2212
www.foapom.com

Known all around the world, Laguna Beach’s Pageant of the Masters is a big deal. Held for over a month each summer, the living pictures performance brings paintings to life, bringing a human component to the artwork. Rather than simply viewing paintings, set designs, makeup and costumes enhance the experience, creating life-size images of truly epic proportions. The 90-minute show features both classic and contemporary art pieces, this year modeled after the theme of “partners”. Coupled with live narration, an orchestra playing an original score and well placed light and props, the event has been winning the hearts of both locals and visitors from around the world for years. There aren’t many shows if any that do what the Pageant does so it is a special treat that stands out as being one of Laguna’s main highlights.

(Credit: Driftwood Kitchen)

(Credit: Driftwood Kitchen)


Eat Seafood Next to the Sea
Driftwood Kitchen
619 Sleepy Hollow Lane
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
(949) 715-7700
www.driftwoodkitchen.com

No trip to Laguna Beach would be complete without a trip to a seafood restaurant, but Driftwood Kitchen provides a chance to sit right over the crashing waves. The expansive glass windows offer spectacular sunset views and the smell of the saltwater drifts in over the deck outside. Fresh seafood in a beach town is always great, but the food at Driftwood Kitchen is incredible. Gourmet dishes like the Bay of Maine Monkfish, the Grilled Colossal Tiger Prawns, the Venus Clams and Meatballs and the Chilean Sea Bass are obvious hits, but the menu also includes Lobster Spaghetti Carbonara, Grilled Local Swordfish and Wild King Salmon. If you’re interested in smaller seafood plates, the restaurant also offers grilled octopus, calamari steaks and crab cakes. While the seafood is the main appeal, don’t forget to try their dessert and delicious cocktails during your meal.

(credit: Pippi L./yelp)

(credit: Pippi L./yelp)


Visit St. Francis By The Sea
430 Park Avenue
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
(949) 497-4678
www.saintfrancisbythesea.com

As the second smallest church in the world, St. Francis by the Sea is a fascinating blend of religion and history. The church’s worship space has only 42 seats, in the form of imported pews that were sliced into sections to fit in the incredibly small room. Bright red carpet, stained glass windows and the wooden ceiling create the perfect vibe for Sunday morning mass, which is open to anyone and everyone who’d like to attend. There is an alternative healing service on the third Wednesday evening of the month and the church is also open during the first Thursday Art Walk. Aside from religious services, weddings and quinceaneras, the church is home to the National Sick Call Museum. Located in the choir loft, the museum features a display of devotional items used during the reading of last rites from the 1800s to today.

Ashley Ryan is an Orange County native that loves traveling, live music and photography. She blogs at Pure Wander and freelances for a variety of publications including Newport Beach Magazine and Laguna Beach Magazine.

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