Saturday, March 17, 2018
Travel News

Southern California’s Seaside Gem

By Angela Southard Winther

Laguna Beach, California and its surrounding areas are an ideal destination for your next getaway. The weather is close to perfect year round, with temperatures ranging from the mid 60s to the low 80s. The picturesque walkable downtown, with sweeping ocean views at every turn, is lined with charming art galleries, locally owned and operated retail stores, and incredible restaurants that are sure to please the most discriminating palates.

With seven miles of coastline, there are a host of options for enjoying the sunny Southern California surf and sand. Laguna Beach has more than 30 coves and beaches that are all are open to the public. Motorized boats aren’t permitted in or out of the waters, and that helps keep the tide pools overflowing with marine life such as sea stars, hermit crabs, urchins, sea anemones and fish.

The centerpiece of Laguna Beach is Main Beach. Located in the heart of downtown and along the famous Pacific Coast Highway, it’s a treasure trove for people watching. You’ll find families and couples strolling the boardwalk and eating ice cream, sunbathers taking in the beaming California sunshine, children playing on the jungle gym, and sports enthusiasts enjoying beach volleyball and basketball.

Nestled between San Diego and Los Angeles along the southern coast of Orange County, this community is passionate about the arts. Laguna Beach has been an artists’ colony for more than a century, and today there are more than 100 art galleries, 80 pieces of public art and 400 working artists and studios there. Each summer, the area becomes even more focused on the arts when the town’s renowned arts festivals take place. During Festival of Arts, Sawdust Art Festival and Pageant of the Masters, visitors and locals take part in art demonstrations and classes, enjoy recreations of famous works of art and have the opportunity to purchase unique, locally made goods.

Laguna Beach is also known for its delicious California cuisine. From quaint cafés to upscale beachfront dining, there is an abundance of outstanding restaurants and most are independently owned. On my last visit, we discovered a new favorite, Nick’s. It’s centrally located in one of the liveliest blocks in Laguna Beach, and offers indoor and outdoor dining, impeccable service, delicious food and hand crafted cocktails. Nick’s is open daily for lunch and dinner and serves breakfast on the weekends.

There are many options of where to stay when visiting the area, but my recommendation is Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, just a few miles from Laguna Beach. The four-story oceanfront property has all of the bells and whistles of the luxury hotel chain but the view puts this property in a class by itself. The grand hotel has a beautiful, recently renovated lobby, 367 rooms, 29 suites, a pampering spa and two outdoor pools. The hotel is also home to five restaurants, including a poolside café, an outdoor lounge that overlooks the Pacific and specializes in small plates and unique cocktails, an upscale steakhouse, and a market that is open for breakfast, lunch and to-go items.

If you’d prefer not to pay Ritz-Carlton prices, there are many other excellent choices. Two of my favorites are Capri Laguna on the Beach and Surf & Sand Resort; both are oceanfront and centrally located.

It’s easy to get to this idyllic seaside community, as there are several nearby airports. John Wayne Airport Orange County (SNA) is the closest, but other options include Long Beach Airport (LGB), Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and San Diego International Airport (SAN).

For more information about Laguna Beach, California, visit

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