(credit: Laguna Beach Real Estate)

As summer comes to a close, it’s time to squeeze in at least one more weekend in the sun. With miles of bright sandy beaches, dozens of art galleries and plenty of places to eat, Laguna Beach is the perfect place for a relaxing getaway. In addition to its famous art scene, Laguna Beach offers plenty of outdoor activities including hiking in the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park just off Highway 133 and scuba diving at Crescent Bay. Summer visitors may also enjoy the Festival of Arts through August 31, which includes the Pageant of the Masters and the Sawdust Art Festival.

(credit: Google Maps)

Getting There

A southeast trek on I-5 from Los Angeles makes for about an hour-long trip in ideal traffic conditions. Head south on the 55 Freeway in Santa Ana, and south again on state route 73 to reach Pacific Coast Highway. From there, it’s a scenic 10 miles to downtown Laguna Beach where you will find shopping, dining and ocean-front views. From San Diego, a straight shot up the Pacific coast on I-5 will get you to San Juan Capistrano in just over an hour. Once there, take Pacific Coast Highway northwest for an additional nine miles of ocean vistas until you reach Main Beach in the heart of Laguna Beach.

(credit: Dine in Town)

Ti Amo Ristorante
31727 S. Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
(949) 499-5350

Forget about the hustle and bustle of Orange County for a while and be whisked away on an imaginary trip to Italy at Ti Amo Ristorante.  Situated at the south end of Laguna Beach, Ti Amo creates an ambience replete with beautiful frescoes, ocean views and unique dining areas including the Ocean Room, the Upper and Lower Garden Rooms, and the Alcove. In addition to its hand-made giant raviolis, Ti Amo also features special dishes such as a must-try, delicious cioppino.

(credit: Laguna Beach Info)

Taco Loco
640 S. Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
(949) 497-1635

Just a few blocks south of Main Beach is Taco Loco, a great hole-in-the-wall taco and burger place with lots of personality. Taco Loco is perfect for outdoor dining next to the beach or for picking up an order of blackened tofu tacos for a picnic on the sand. With ample meat and vegetarian options, and a mix of creole, Mexican and southwest style cooking, Taco Loco offers endless dining options.

What To Do

(credit: Trip Advisor)

Laguna Art Museum
307 Cliff Drive
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
(949) 494-8971

Price: $7 general admission/ $5 students, seniors, and active military/ free for children under 12/ free on the first Thursday of every month from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

A visit to Laguna Beach would not be complete without checking out its famous art scene. The Laguna Art Museum is one of many art galleries to explore in Laguna and boasts a collection of 3,500 works of art that highlight American, and particularly Californian, art.  The Laguna Art Museum sits within walking distance from other art galleries and is right next door to Las Brisas restaurant where outdoor dining is available with a magnificent ocean view. During the summer months, visitors may take advantage of the free shuttle service designed to highlight Laguna Beach’s art exhibits and to reduce parking and traffic woes during the Pageant of the Masters.

Related:  Best Art Museums In Orange County


(credit: Marla Jo Fisher)

Pacific Edge Hotel
647 S. Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
(949) 777-6328

Click here for rooms and suites

Less than half a mile south of Main Beach and downtown Laguna Beach, the Pacific Edge Hotel is walking distance from virtually any activity offered in town. With beach-front and village rooms, plus apartments for extended stays, the Pacific Edge Hotel meets any lodging needs and any travel budget. Rent surf cabanas right next to the water, complete with air conditioning, flat screen TVs and staff ready to serve. For casual beach-front eating, enjoy crab cakes benedict for lunch or lobster thermidor for dinner at The Deck, and for dinner, the Beach House restaurant offers succulent sunset specials including hoisin-glazed salmon that’s just to die for.

(credit: LagunaBeach.com)

Art Hotel
1404 N. Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
(949) 494-6464

Price: from $134 per night

One block away from Crescent Bay Point Park and just north of Main Beach, the Art Hotel offers affordable lodging just the right distance from downtown Laguna Beach. For visitors attending the Pageant of the Masters at the Festival of Art, the trolley service provided by the festival makes a stop just across the street from the Art Hotel. For those who prefer walking with a coastline view, the Hotel is less than a mile from Heisler Park and the Laguna Art Museum, and one mile north of the main downtown area.

Related:  Best Views In Orange County 

David McDonald is a freelance writer covering all things Orange County. His work can be found on Examiner.com.