The first time I drove down Pacific Coast Highway into Laguna Beach, I immediately felt drowned in its scenic charm. Of course, the ocean is the most prominent attraction in Laguna, but there’s so much more to this charming coastal city.
Laguna Beach has a wealth of other unique natural beauties, including serene beaches, rolling mountains, canyons, and two state parks filled with mountain bike trails and an array of pristine flora.
An escape to Laguna Beach is a fun weekend away from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles or Orange Coast, which is why it is such a popular destination for tourists and locals seeking a relaxing weekend.
How you spend your time once you arrive, however, is totally up to you. But you’re still going to need a few pointers for all the great things to do in Laguna Beach. In fact, that’s what makes this Southern California beach town so downright irresistible: the things to do are as endless as the beautiful views around every bend of the coast.
Take in a show at Laguna Playhouse or listen to the waves crash on the beach while sipping cocktails at The Shack – there’s a little something for everyone in this ace Laguna Beach hotel package deal. I reserved a one-week time to explore Laguna Beach, and it proved to be just enough for all the activities I had planned. So here are my top picks.
- The 20 Most Fun Things To Do In Laguna Beach
- Visit Heisler Park
- Visit the Laguna Art Museum
- Ride the Laguna Beach Trolley
- Visit Pageant of the Masters
- Enjoy Crescent Bay Point Park
- Visit Sawdust Art and Craft Festival
- Visit the Murphy-Smith Historical Bungalow
- Relax at Victoria Beach
- Watch a Show at the Laguna Playhouse
- Spend Time at Main Beach Park
- Visit Thousand Steps Beach
- Aliso Beach
- See the Kush Fine Art Gallery
- Laguna Coast Wilderness Park
- Hortense Miller Garden
- Drink Wine at Laguna Canyon Winery
- Experience the Festival of Whales
- Glenn E. Vedder Ecological Reserve
- Visit the Pacific Marine Mammal Center
- Wrapping Up The Things To Do In Laguna Beach
- Which of these things to do in Laguna Beach do you want to try first? Let us know in the comments section below!
The 20 Most Fun Things To Do In Laguna Beach
375 Cliff Dr, Laguna Beach // +19494970716
Laguna Beach’s Heisler Park is a scenic, family-friendly park. Heisler Park, north of Main Beach between Aster Street and Diver’s Cove, is a sanctuary for residents and visitors with peaceful views, beaches, walking trails, picnic tables, and barbecues. Visitors can also access the many courses adjacent to the park high above Laguna Beach.
The Heisler Park in Laguna Beach is a dog’s paradise, with a designated area to walk your pets and a dog beach. You are not only going to find Heisler’s fulfilling the requirements as an excellent place to exercise a dog, but it also has picnic tables with the most beautiful ocean view. The park is also home to the Laguna Beach Lawn Bowling Club.
307 Cliff Dr, Laguna Beach // +19494948971
The Laguna Beach Art Museum was founded to fill the need for a permanent center in Laguna Beach to exhibit and preserve local art. Laguna Beach Art Association was the original name of the museum when it opened in 1930 on California Coast Highway. A community project of local citizens, the current facility opened in 1929.
There is a long tradition of art collecting in Laguna Beach. In the first months after Laguna’s inception, artists worldwide were attracted to the wonderful scenery and ideal artistic environment. California is home to many renowned artists who work and live in this unique setting nearby galleries and museums.
The museum is frequently home to temporary exhibitions and one-person shows like other similar art museums in Southern California. There are also many opportunities for visitors to meet artists and get involved with lectures.
339 Broadway St, Laguna Beach // +19494970766
During the busy summer season and holidays (Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day), the trolley is free and operates between 10 am and 9 pm. Generally, transportation within the city runs until 9 pm. It may begin running earlier, depending on the time of year.
So, if you want to enjoy the beauty of Laguna Beach, take a ride on the Laguna Beach Trolley. A trolley service runs along the city’s coastline and through some commercial areas. Whether you are riding with friends or family, it is a fun way to get around Laguna. It is possible to purchase a one-day, three-day, or week pass.
650 Laguna Canyon Rd, Laguna Beach // +19494941145
In the Pageant of the Masters, real people perform as original artwork for a 90-minute stage show. Laguna Beach’s art festival usually takes place on the first Saturday of July. They can be enjoyed immediately afterward. It’s an exciting and entertaining way to be stimulated by art of all categories in twenty-minute increments.
The cost is only $5 per person (if you buy two to three tickets, you get a discount) and parking is free. It is easy to find these shows because they occur here in Laguna Beach every year from the beginning of July to Labor Day Weekend.
I loved the Pageant of the Masters because it’s a fun, relaxing, and entertaining way to spend an afternoon at Laguna Beach, which is my favorite area on the west coast.
Crescent Bay Dr, Laguna Beach // +19494970716
Crescent Bay Point Park is one of those often overlooked but beautiful beaches in Laguna Beach. I love this particular beach because there’s an excellent lagoon which is great for people interested in scuba diving and snorkeling.
Once you cross the bridge at the far end of the parking lot, you can access Crystal Cove Caves, a marine refuge with tide pools and hidden caves perfect for children to explore.
It is a great place to visit with the entire family. However, there are no restrooms in the park.
You can also enjoy the breathtaking views of the ocean from a hiking trail atop the bluff. If you make it to the top, you are rewarded with an excellent 360-degree panorama and beautiful scenery.
935 Laguna Canyon Rd, Laguna Beach // +19494943030
If you are looking for fun things to do in Laguna Beach, check out the Sawdust Art Festival. A family tradition since 1950, the Sawdust Art Festival celebrates art through handmade objects. There is a showcase of over 400 Southern California artisans represented by more than 120 artists.
Artists travel from as far away as New York and Hawaii to display their work at the artisan show, which is considered the largest in Southern California.
The Sawdust Art Festival brings together artisans, craftworkers, collectors, creators, and visitors, all of whom contribute art to the world.
You’ll find countless booths and tents set up side by side to sell the unique handmade creations of artists as you stroll the festival grounds, which cover 30 acres and an adjacent city block.
You can enjoy live music and entertainment at one of the four outdoor cafés or the saloon serving refreshments.
278 Ocean Ave, Laguna Beach // +19494976834
A slice of Laguna Beach history can be found in the Murphy-Smith Bungalow. Designed by noted Laguna Beach architects Charles and Henry Greene, the bungalow was built as the family residence of Robert Murphy in 1923. It was standardized to be sold commercially to other families.
There is a veranda around the north side of the building that surrounds a two-story stucco house with a low-pitched gable roof. The Laguna Beach Historical Society manages it today, and docents lead tours so visitors can see this piece of history.
So, if you’re a history buff and like charming bungalows, do not miss this attraction in Laguna Beach.
Relax at Victoria Beach
There are endless recreation options at Victoria Beach, and you’ll even find a lifeguard station in the parking lot! There are approximately ten minutes between Victoria Beach and Laguna’s best-known Main Beach, located in the downtown area.
Turn right on S. Victoria Blvd. after crossing PCH all the way to South Laguna Blvd. After 1.7 miles, you will see the beach on your left. Continuing down South Laguna will also require making a left turn at Ocean Avenue instead of continuing to Crystal Cove.
You’ll find there are tons of great activities on this scenic beach. At Victoria Drive, you can stroll along the Victoria Promenade. Main Beach is located at the end of the promenade, a scenic walking trail that zigzags along the coast.
Additionally, the promenade passes by the famous Victorian Tower, which was built in 1886 to serve as a landmark for ships sailing along the coast.
606 Laguna Canyon Rd, Laguna Beach // +19494972787
There are comfortable seats for everyone at the Laguna Playhouse, from the orchestra to the balcony and the floor.
It’s the perfect place to bring your children, built with an art deco style that reflects its Hollywood heritage. The stage has clear visibility from every angle, so there are no bad seats.
Laguna Playhouse offers world-class dramas, comedies, and productions geared toward young audiences. Playhouse has entertained audiences worldwide for nearly ninety years, now located in a picturesque beachside complex with spectacular outdoor amphitheaters.
The Laguna Playhouse has several things you can do in Laguna Beach, including seeing live theater productions and comedy shows.
Broadway St & Pacific Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach // +19494973311
If you can visit only one California beach, then make it the Main Beach. It is located in Laguna Beach, where Broadway Street and Coast Highway meet South Coast Highway.
The 1929 lifeguard tower that stands at Main Beach is a well-known landmark on this famous beach. Main Beach is popular not only for its sand and surf, but also for its swimming, body surfing, and paddleboarding.
Also, Main Beach is one of the best places in Laguna Beach to go if you want to watch a volleyball game. For many years, this has been the location for numerous volleyball tournaments and leagues.
There are even beach volleyball courts where locals play daily. So the next time you are in town, head over to Main Beach and see why so many people enjoy this multi-use beach.
31972 Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach // +19494973311
Thousand Steps Beach is a scenic stretch of sand shaded by two large cliffs, making it an excellent place to relax and play in the water and sand. The beach gets its name because it has approximately 1,000 steps that lead down to the shoreline.
These steps begin at 9th Avenue and Ocean Avenue on the southern side of the beach.
This secluded beach has a narrowboat ramp and a trail that leads to a fenced, bluff-top viewing platform where visitors can watch whales breach during the winter months. The water here is cold and deep and only suitable for experienced ocean swimmers. The beach is sometimes referred to as Gaviota Beach or Glorietta Bay.
At the south end of the beach is a large cave with an exposed entrance at low tide. Through the cave, you can walk to a small beach.
There is no better place to spend time with family and friends than the Aliso beach park. This large sandy beach has moderate surf conditions. Aliso Beach has everything you need for a great day near the ocean, outdoor showers, restrooms, picnic tables, benches, grills, and fire rings. The beach is also home to the annual world championship of skimboarding, and there is a high chance you will spot skimmers practicing once you get there.
A giant rock formation above the beach provides refuge to numerous wildlife species like the kelp flycatcher, snowy plover, monarch butterflies, deer moose, and several species of shorebirds. Climbers often scale the rocks in search of the infamous Monarch Butterfly.
You won’t feel bored at all, with all the sand volleyball courts, horseshoe pits, and a playground, and all of them are free. However, some special events do require a fee to enter.
210A Forest Ave, Laguna Beach // +19493768017
Aside from its visual quality, Kush Fine Arts is impressive because it functions effectively. Kush Fine Art’s art collection is presented beautifully in an expansive space with a spiral staircase and wide-open walls.
It’s a place where you can find something to add to your collection or bring a new element to your home decor. Aside from the large display area, there are also simply furnished rooms available for rent for parties, receptions, and private viewings.
Individuals are celebrated in this place. It’s an escape from the day-to-day spiral and an outlet for creative expression.
The Kush Fine Art Gallery is where art becomes attainable to those who may find value in it but think they could never be able to create it of their own accord and where you open your mind while embracing the peace that comes with it.
18751 Laguna Canyon Rd, Laguna Beach // +19499232235
I went to Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, located in Orange County, with a friend on a weekend afternoon. Located off of Pacific Coast Highway, Laguna Canyon Road leads to our destination. The sign indicated the trailhead was about five minutes away after turning off Laguna Canyon onto a side dirt road.
Located in a scenic canyon, Laguna Coast Wilderness Park is Orange County’s most popular attraction. Over 40 miles of hiking and biking trails are in this 7,000-acre park, leading visitors through various habitats, including oak, sycamore, and willow woodlands, chaparral deserts, and groves of coastal live oak trees.
The park is home to many different animals, including birds, bobcats, deer, hawks, weasels, and more. In addition to the canyons and ridges, this park is the only one in Orange County with natural lakes.
As someone who loves spending time outdoors, I became instantly intrigued when a friend introduced me to the Hortense Miller Garden. Located in Laguna Beach, one is treated to the sights, sounds, textures, and even smells of the ocean, inland valleys, and gardens created on hillsides overlooking the sea and surrounded by eucalyptus trees.
I spent a whole day exploring the Hortense Miller Garden. There was a garden sale at the Farmers Market, displaying various plants for people who want to buy a piece of nature for their homes or yards. It was a real Southern California treasure tucked away in Laguna Beach. I struggled to find it for quite some time, but it was well worth it!
You have to reserve a free time slot in advance and know what time to go. Then, allow yourself enough time to see everything. The way they take care of the whole place is fantastic. The garden looks almost unreal.
2133 Laguna Canyon Rd, Laguna Beach // +19497159463
San Juan Capistrano is home to Laguna Canyon Winery. The facility is known as the Rancho del Lago. The hacienda has been passed down through five generations and is one of the largest privately-owned Mexican haciendas.
Laguna Canyon Cheese Company turned the hacienda into a cheese factory after being initially a cattle ranch. In 2003, the Lafond Family purchased the property and opened Laguna Canyon Winery a year later.
Laguna Canyon Wine Co. is a family-owned winery producing quality handcrafted wines from grapes grown in Napa and Sonoma valleys. These types of home winemakers have been an ongoing trend for the last decade or so.
Many high-quality wines produced in Laguna Beach are sold in local restaurants, delis, and wine venues.
Dana Point is a lively city near Laguna Beach on the rugged coast of Southern California. Dana Point, also known as “Whale Bay,” is home to Whales’ Annual Festival. It is a popular spot for tourists looking to surf and watch dolphins and whales. Thousands of people attend this event from across the nation.
More than 200 types of whales can be sighted off the coast of Dana Point during the festival, which lasts for two weeks. Among the festivities are educational exhibits, ocean activities such as snorkeling and kayaking, and many other things.
Vedder Ecological Reserve is located between Main Beach and Diver’s Cove, in the Laguna Beach Ecological Reserve. A part of the park’s mission is preserving and enhancing marine life for current and future generations.
You can choose from a wide range of activities, from the more popular ones such as scuba diving at Diver’s Cove to relaxing on the beaches. There are less popular activities to choose from, such as tide pooling, exploring tide pools, and walking along the shoreline and on the beach.
This section of the coast has many protected areas where visitors can observe birds and learn about the environment.
20612 Laguna Canyon Rd, Laguna Beach // +19494943050
If you’re looking for places to go and things to do in Laguna Beach, you won’t find a more exciting attraction than the Pacific Marine Mammal Center. Seals that have been stranded or have health problems are rescued and rehabilitated here.
In my opinion, the Pacific Marine Mammal Center tells a better story about seals than an aquarium does since you can learn about the individual seals. The center is around twenty minutes drive from Laguna Beach, and the entrance is free. Misha and Noelle, incredibly playful seals, kept me entertained during my visit, while the caretakers were sharing the work this center does, through education and research, to conserve marine mammals.
Some visitors may feel disturbed by the unpleasant odor from the animals, but nothing to be alarmed about. After a while, you will get used to it, and as you spend more time observing the animals, it won’t be as disturbing.
Visit the nearby butterfly garden to see bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies after you’ve met the seals. As with the rehabilitation efforts here, the garden’s primary mission is conservation, in this case aiding pollinators.
Wrapping Up The Things To Do In Laguna Beach
Outdoor enthusiasts may finally discover their heaven. Laguna Beach is perfect for anyone looking to marry the ocean and the mountains for a memorable stay. Solid common ground for artists, with plenty of special events and festivals, entirely focused on California artists.
I did it as the Californians do, took a good sweaty hike, and ended my day in some of the Most popular Laguna Beach restaurants and bars. From sipping on premium wines to admiring the extraordinary marine life, this place easily won my heart, and I would gladly return to Laguna Beach on the next chance I get.
Which of these things to do in Laguna Beach do you want to try first? Let us know in the comments section below!
Travel writer and owner of the blog. My work has been featured on Fodors, Eater.com, International Living, and Great Escape Publishing, among many others. My story? Nearly six years ago, I left my job at an Oklahoma City law firm and embarked on a journey around the world. At the time, I thought I would only be gone for 6 months, but the more I traveled, the longer my bucket list became. Flashpacker describes how I travel. Rather than traveling as the normal world wise backpacker and staying in hostel dorms, I prefer a more comfortable experience, and typically stay in private rooms, take Ubers instead of taxis, and now use a suitcase instead of a backpack. Foodie, on the other hand, describes one of the key reasons why I travel. I love to pick a central “base camp” and then explore the surrounding area, really immersing myself in the culture and interacting with the people, and enjoying and exploring the food of an area is an essential part of this experience.