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Top 11 Things to Do in Laguna Beach, California

Laguna Beach draws numerous travelers to Southern California due to its Pacific Coast beaches, art-filled downtown attractions, and outdoor recreation opportunities. From hiking trails to art fairs, there is plenty to do in this coastal community. Composed of budget-friendly options, family-focused sites, and date night ideas, there are activities on this list that are sure to please no matter what type of traveler you are. Soak in the Golden Coast with these top things to do in Laguna Beach, California.

Surf or Swim at Main Beach Main Beach and boardwalk in Laguna Beach, California
Credit: Main Beach and boardwalk in Laguna Beach, California by © Foster Eubank | Dreamstime.com

Surf or Swim at Main Beach

What Is It: As Laguna’s largest beach, Main Beach is a main staple of the city. Located at the intersection of Broadway Street and the famous Pacific Coast Highway, Main Beach is grown into an iconic beachfront. 

Why Do It: No matter if you’re a surfer or just looking to enjoy the sun and sand, Main Beach is where to go for beach time in Laguna Beach. However, there is more to enjoy here than just the beach. With Main Beach Park just adjacent to the beach and plenty of eateries nearby, you’ll want to stroll the boardwalk to explore this area of the city. 

Good to Know: Main Beach’s lifeguard tower has grown into a famous landmark of the beach and the city. Make sure to get a photo with this historic tower, which has appeared in a number of TV shows and movies.

Take a Hike in Laguna Coast Wilderness Park Take a hike in Laguna Coast Wilderness Park
Credit: Take a hike in Laguna Coast Wilderness Park by OCParks_CA via Flickr.com

Take a Hike in Laguna Coast Wilderness Park

What Is It: Take a hike through the San Joaquin Hills by visiting this 7,000-acre wilderness park. Laguna Coast Wilderness Park has 40 miles of multi-use trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding.

Why Do It: This wilderness park protects one of the few coastal canyons that remain in Southern California, as many of these natural features were destroyed due to development. Hike or bike through woodland and up rocky outcrops to catch incredible views of the coast. Laguna Bowl and Water Tank Road Loop are two trails that offer views of the ocean. 

Good to Know: There is a small fee to park out the trailheads. It is recommended to arrive early in the day to avoid the heat, as there is not much shade on the trails here. Additionally, remember to bring your own water and adequate footwear.

Go Camping in Crystal Cove State Park El Morro Beach and Crystal Cove State Park
Credit: El Morro Beach and Crystal Cove State Park by © Foster Eubank | Dreamstime.com

Go Camping in Crystal Cove State Park

What Is It: Crystal Cove State Park is an outdoor destination that is home to one of the largest beaches in the Laguna Beach area and over 2,000 acres of backcountry woodland. 

Why Do It: With over three miles of sandy shore, 15 miles of hiking trails, and tent and RV sites, this California state park is a must-visit for outdoor enthusiasts. 

Good to Know: The beaches are day-use only. However, camping in the park is an option at one of the campgrounds. Consider car camping at Moro Campground for a scenic view of the coast, or backpack to one of the primitive backcountry sites.

View California Art at Laguna Art Museum Laguna Art Museum
Credit: Laguna Art Museum by lagunaartmuseum.org

View California Art at Laguna Art Museum

What Is It: View artwork from California’s top artists at Laguna Art Museum, the oldest cultural institution in the city.

Why Do It: Laguna Art Museum is the only museum in the state that strictly displays art from California artists. The museum’s permanent collection has over 3,000 pieces; however, there are also rotating and temporary exhibits on display here too. 

Good to Know: Heisler Park, local shops, and eatery options are all within walking distance to the museum, making it an easy attraction to knock off your bucket list.

Picnic at Heisler Park Heisler Park, Laguna Beach, California
Credit: Heisler Park, Laguna Beach, California by © Foster Eubank | Dreamstime.com

Picnic at Heisler Park

What Is It: This oceanfront park is one of the city’s most popular public parks. Centrally located near area attractions, like beaches and downtown, Heisler Park is hard to miss when you’re exploring Laguna Beach.

Why Do It: This park offers plenty to patrons, like a walking path through public art, access points to the beach, and onsite restrooms and picnic areas too.

Good to Know: Heisler Park doesn’t just gain visitors access to Main Beach but also three other beaches: Diver’s Cove, Rockpile Beach, and Picnic Beach.

See Seals at Pacific Marine Mammal Center View rescued sea lions and seals at Pacific Marine Mammal Center
Credit: View rescued sea lions and seals at Pacific Marine Mammal Center by pacificmmc.org

See Seals at Pacific Marine Mammal Center

What Is It: This wildlife rehabilitation center focuses primarily on the rescue and care of sea lions and seals. Pacific Marine Mammal Center offers a chance for visitors to learn about these marine animals and witness the care it takes to rehabilitate and release them back into the wild. 

Why Do It: View these animals in the “Visitor Yard” area of the center, where guests can explore interactive exhibits and artifacts. To learn more about the animals and the center, consider attending one of the educational programs offered here.  

Good to Know: The center is open year-round and offers free admission.

Whale Watch at Crescent Bay Point Park View of the Pacific Coast from Crescent Bay Point Park
Credit: View of the Pacific Coast from Crescent Bay Point Park by © Jon Bilous | Dreamstime.com

Whale Watch at Crescent Bay Point Park

What Is It: This Laguna Beach park draws visitors due to its breathtaking scenic outlooks that overlook the Pacific Ocean. Stroll down one of the walking paths or hiking trails to absorb the aerial views from this bluff-top park. 

Why Do It: Crescent Bay Point Park is smaller than the other parks on this list but has grown into a popular whale-watching spot. If you aren’t visiting Laguna Beach during whale watching season, Crescent Bay Point Park is a great spot to watch the sunset too.

Good to Know: This park is just a short walk from Crescent Bay Beach, a beach that is not very suitable for swimming yet is best known for its tidal pools and towering bluffs.

Attend a Live Show at Laguna Playhouse Watch a live show at The Laguna Playhouse
Credit: Watch a live show at The Laguna Playhouse by htfacebook.com/thelagunaplayhouse

Attend a Live Show at Laguna Playhouse

What Is It: The Laguna Playhouse is a regional theater company that puts on live performances, from musicals and comedic acts to kid’s plays and actor workshops. 

Why Do It: This historic theater operates year-round and offers both matinee and evening shows. With thoughtfully-crafted productions, talented actors, and affordable ticket prices, a show at the Laguna Playhouse makes for a great date night or family outing while in Laguna Beach.

Good to Know: Ticket prices vary depending on what seat you choose in the theater.

Ride the Laguna Beach Trolley Laguna Beach Trolley
Credit: Laguna Beach Trolley by © Foster Eubank | Dreamstime.com

Ride the Laguna Beach Trolley

What Is It: Enjoy free public transportation in Laguna Beach by the Laguna Beach Trolley. This trolley runs year-round and operates throughout downtown and various neighborhoods.

Why Do It: With 34 stops, travelers will appreciate this budget-friendly mode of transportation that takes the guesswork out of finding transportation in the city.

Good to Know: The trolley starts at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. However, many newcomers to Laguna Beach choose to catch a ride from the Visitor’s Center, where you can also snag a map of the trolley stops and local must-see sites.

Experience the Pageant of the Masters Outside entrance of Festival of Arts and Pageant of the Masters
Credit: Outside entrance of Festival of Arts and Pageant of the Masters by foapom.com

Experience the Pageant of the Masters

What Is It: Hosted by the Festival of Arts, Pageant of the Masters is a stage show that brings art to life. This summer event recreates famous artworks but with live actors to pose as the characters in the art pieces.

Why Do It: Also commonly referred to as the “Festival of Living Pictures,” this unique live event occurs in an outdoor amphitheater and is accompanied by a live orchestra. It’s a great way to enjoy the outdoor evening atmosphere in Laguna Beach.

Good to Know: This event runs during the Festival of Arts, the state’s top fine arts show. Aside from snagging a great spot to watch the Pageant of the Masters, guests arrive early to enjoy some of the artist booths.

Attend the Sawdust Art Festival Watch glass blowing demonstrations at the Sawdust Art Festival
Credit: Watch glass blowing demonstrations at the Sawdust Art Festival by sawdustartfestival.org

Attend the Sawdust Art Festival

What Is It: The Sawdust Art Festival, which occurs in both the summer and winter, is a showcase for local artisans, from glass blowers to jewelry makers to ceramists. Walk down the sawdust-lined avenues to shop work from over 200 local artists. This handcrafted village also has food and live music.

Why Do It: Aside from just shopping for artisanal goods, you can watch impressive art demonstrations in action. Watch glassblowing, woodworking, textile making, and pottery throwing here.

Good to Know: The summer festival lasts nine weeks and is open daily. There is an affordable admission fee to enter.

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