Things to do in Laguna, Carrie on a rack looking at the beach

The 12 Best Things To Do In Laguna Beach, California 2023

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Looking for the best things to do in Laguna Beach?

There are many fun and relaxing things to do in Laguna Beach, California, but let’s just get you started with the top 12 things to do in Laguna Beach.

Laguna is perfect for a couple’s romantic getaway, a family vacation, or a girlfriends’ trip.

Laguna stretches for 9 miles and has 36 beaches! Enough coastline to keep you happy for a long time!

From Northern  California’s San Francisco, Laguna is about a 6 hour drive. And it’s just 50 minutes south of Los Angeles, along the stunning southern California coast.

Things to do in Laguna Beach
Things to do in Laguna Beach

Quick & Easy Links

  Flights & Hotels: I recommend Expedia
  Vacation rentals: I recommend VRBO
  Car Rental: I recommend Hertz
  Tours: I recommend Viator
  Gear: Check out my Travel Stuff
  Create Your Travel Memory Books with MILK

Here are my top recs for the 12 best things to do in Laguna Beach, California. Not in any particular order, but if you’re short on time, then just plan on sleeping on the beach all day. You can’t go wrong!

#1 Laguna’s Main Beach

One of the 12 best things to do in Laguna Beach is obviously, to go to the beach!

The Main Beach is aptly named, as it is the main attraction in Laguna. When you enter town, your first sighting of the ocean includes the iconic Laguna Lifeguard Tower.

While the Main Beach can get pretty crowded at times, it remains one of the most exquisite spots in Southern California.

Teaming with volleyball matches, families in the waves, dogs walking their people, and views for days, this beach is the quintessential California scene.

Take a walk south along the beach to see gorgeous hotels and homes.

Keep walking and you will encounter rock formations and surfing competitions.

My favorite time of day to walk this beach is early morning when it’s still a bit foggy and quiet.

There are restrooms and outdoor showers for washing off the sand at the end of the day.

Things to do in Laguna Beach
Things to do in Laguna Beach
Things to do in Laguna Beach
Things to do in Laguna Beach

#2 Stroll Through Heisler Park

One of the 7 best things to do in Laguna Beach, California is to stroll through Heisler Park. 

Heisler Park is the beautifully landscaped park on the coast, up above the bluffs, at the north end of Main Beach.

Howard Heisler purchased the land in 1905 and named the park after his wife, Lucinda Heisler.

Enter the park via the stairs by the restrooms on the Main Beach or come from the north. Either way, you can enjoy views like you’ve never seen.

The paved paths wind through the park with its perfectly groomed gardens, exotic flowers, picnic areas, and lawn bowling green.

Gazebos offer a romantic spot for a wedding, or just to enjoy the  blue water below.

There’s a veteran’s monument in the park with a time capsule scheduled to be opened in 2027. Fun, right?

Things to do in Laguna Beach
Things to do in Laguna Beach

#3 Explore the Tide Pools

A personal favorite on the best things to do in Laguna Beach is to explore the tide pools. 

If you walk a short distance to the north on the beach, you will discover the famous Laguna Tide Pools.

This is a Marine Protected Area which means that the marine life, animals, shells, rocks, and plants cannot be touched or collected.

Please follow the rules of Leave No Trace!

Things to do in Laguna Beach
Things to do in Laguna Beach

#4 Don’t Miss the Pageant Of The Masters at the Festival of Arts

The famous Laguna Festival of Arts is a non profit organization started in 1932 and has since been a huge part of the Laguna community.

The Festival hosts art and music events, education, exhibits, has a permanent collection, and provides scholarships and grants to artists.

The festival is not only known for its summer art festival of booths displaying artists’ works, concerts, and food, but is best known for the world famous Pageant of the Masters.

Imagine masterpieces coming to life. I’ve never seen anything like it!

Living art created before your very eyes! Sit in the small amphitheater and watch as volunteers recreate works of art to music.

And what a deal! Ticket prices are reasonable for the quality of the performances.

When is The Pageant of the Masters?

Timing is everything here as the Pageant only runs from July through early September.

Bring a blanket as it can be chilly in the evening. This is a family friendly event and not just for art historians. It’s a great way to spend an evening in Laguna.

How do I get to The Pageant of the Masters?

You can easily walk to the festival on Laguna Canyon Road or take the shuttle. If you plan on driving, read the website parking instructions carefully.
Things to do in Laguna Beach
Things to do in Laguna Beach
Things to do in Laguna Beach

#5 Shop at The Sawdust Festival

From the end of June through the end of August, just across the road from the Festival of the Arts, is another great Laguna tradition. The Sawdust Art Festival.

With a colorful history of supporting artistic expression since the 1960’s, the festival now displays the work of hundreds of artists.

Their hand crafted, locally made art is fused with food, music, and culture.

If you’re visiting Laguna in the winter, visit the Sawdust Winter Fantasy market that rivals the European Christmas markets with its lights, decorations, live music, caroling, and treats! 

Things to do in Laguna Beach

#6 Enjoy the Laguna Art Museum

Laguna Art Museum
307 Cliff Dr., Laguna

Talk about the 12 best things to do in Laguna Beach, California! In case you don’t get enough art from the festivals and all the galleries in town, you can always dip into the Laguna Art Museum.

This museum hosts over 3000 California Artists’ works.

Since 1918, the Laguna Art Association has worked to support a Museum of California Art.

The permanent collection is vast and the exhibitions offer an excellent view into a diverse group of artists.

Another great bargain at $12 per adult and $9 for seniors, students, and children.

Things to do in Laguna Beach
Things to do in Laguna Beach
Things to do in Laguna Beach

#7 Plenty of Shopping & Dining

Like any good beach town, Laguna has shops!

Souvenir shops, clothing shops, hat shops, shoes shops, and jewelry shops. You name it, you will find it.

Plenty of penny candy and ice cream too.

Wander up and down the PCH and into the side streets in town to find all kinds of great spots.

You’ll find lots of touristy and pricey items, but there are quality bargains out there as well. I’ve gotten some really nice things during the post Christmas sales.

Laguna Beach

#8 Hike in the Laguna Hills

There are hiking trails a plenty if you want to go vertical instead of horizontal on the beach all day.
Laguna Coast Wilderness Park
18751 Laguna Canyon Rd., Laguna

This region has 40 miles of trails in the coastal canyons that offer you views of the ocean and take you through beautiful woodlands. You can hike, ride horses, ride bikes, and take guided tours. There is a Nature Center for information and maps. The park is sometimes closedd after rain. There is a $3 parking fee.

Crystal Cove State Park
8471 N. Coast Highway, Laguna

This park has over 3 miles of beeach and 2400 acres of backcountry wilderness.It includes an offshore underwater region! Find the park between Laguna and Corona Del Mar. You can take guided hike tours, explore the tidepools, bike, horseback ride, and see incredible views along the bluffs.

Alisio & Woods Canyon State Park
28373 Alicia Parkway, Laguna Niguel

This park has 30 miles of trails and is a wildlife sanctuary. Some rare and endangered species live here and it was originally part of the Acajchemen tribal Land. Enjoy hiking trails, bike trails, and scenic overlooks. There’s a Visitor Center at the Awma Road parking lot. There is a $3 parking fee.

#9 Visit the Pacific Coast Marine Mammal Center

The Pacific Marine Mammal Center
20612 Laguna Canyon Rd. Laguna

The Marine Mammal Center is FREE to visit and they are open 7 days a week! They rescue, rehabilitate, and release marine mammals and inspires ocean stewardship through research, education, and collaboration. Look for tours and activities for all ages.

Things to do in Laguna Beach
Things to do in Laguna Beach

#10 Visit the Beautiful Hortense Miller Garden

 Hortense Miller Garden
22511 Allview Terrace, Laguna

This is a two and one half acre garden. Located on Boat Canyon’s upper slopes.  The Garden was established in 1959 and was designed by the remarkable Hortense Miller at the home she and her husband built. The garden has a wide range of plants that can be grown in Southern California coastal zones.

#11 Explore the La Tour of Victoria Beach

Victoria Beach
2713 Victoria Dr. Laguna

At the corner of Victoria Dr. and Sunset Terrace you will find the  Victorian La Tour Tower. Its a 60-foot castle-inspired staircase tower designed to get from the house down to the beach, originally built for the senator William Edward Brown’s family in 1926. 

#12 Take a Whale and Dolphin Watching Boat Tour

Whale watching is offered through a few boating companies in nearby Newport Beach and Dana Point just south of Laguna Beach.
Things to do in Laguna Beach
Things to do in Laguna Beach
Things to do in Laguna Beach
We have primarily stayed in the same place for over 30 years, and it’s The Pacific Edge Hotel.

The Pacific Edge is family friendly, dog friendly, has two pools, a hot tub, two restaurants on site, rooms with views of the ocean, and best of all, a private section of the beach with beach chairs, umbrellas, and towels at your disposal.

The rooms are are clean and reasonably priced.

We park our car once and never drive again until we are leaving town. The hotel has valet parking, but we save some cash by parking in the neighborhoods across the street.

Is Laguna Beach Safe? a view of Laguna beach form up on the hill.

Is Laguna Beach worth a visit?


Laguna has a thriving arts community, lots of local boutiques, tons of great food, and sun, sun, sun! It’s perfect for a day trip, a weekend, or a full-on two week vacay.

Laguna has all the charm of a sleepy beach town, all the amenities of a paradise vacation, and all the casual vibes for a perfect Southern California getaway.

You can do so much without getting back in your car! When you crave to be barefoot all day and dine overlooking the ocean at night, I highly recommend Laguna Beach.

Why is Laguna Beach one of our favorite getaway spots? My husband spent childhood summers there and when we first met, he introduced me to Laguna. I’ve never looked back!

And if you’re wondering if Laguna Beach is safe, no worries! Read more here!

When is the best time to go to
Laguna Beach?

Laguna is lovely all year round. It’s known for its Mediterranean climate. I’ve rarely had bad weather there and have had many a December day warm enough to swim!

So, visit when it works for you.

Summer is of course the busiest time. Winter time is also very beautiful, cozy, and festive.

I love spending my Xmas Eve birthday in Laguna! It’s very difficult to find food on that night, but always great weather!

What are the best places to eat in Laguna?

We have eaten at many places in Laguna and can safely say, we have never left hungry or cranky!

You can spend a lot of money at restaurants in Laguna, but you don’t have to.

I recommend:

~ The Greeter’s Corner Restaurant -great fish & chips
~ Alessa – amazing Italian

~ The Orange Inn – favorite breakfasts
~ Las Brisas – best views
~ The Deck – great cocktails
~ Gelato Paradisio – best gelato

And for a real treat stop at the Malibu Farm Restaurant on your way to or from Laguna. You won’t be sorry!

Laguna Tips

~ Take advantage of the Laguna Beach Free Trolly. There is a Canyon Road route, a Coastal route, and a Festivals route. Check it out! 

~ Bring layers, the day may start off foggy and end a little cooler.

~ Park in the neighborhoods with no meters, to the east of the PCH, across from the ocean.

~ Shop at Ralph’s for whatever you need, if you don’t want to dine out for every meal.

~ Bring good walking shoes and beach shoes.

~ Don’t forget a beach blanket and towels if you are not staying at a hotel which provides them.

~ Of course you will need a bathing suit for the ocean or hotel pool or hot tub.

~ Bring your dog.

The Laguna Greeter Story

Eiler Larsen was a “vagabond” from Denmark who traveled the world and eventually landed in Laguna Beach at age 52. Larsen became known as the Laguna Greeter for standing on a corner from the 1940’s through the 1970’s saying hello to all who passed. He was supported by locals with free rent and food and even was named the Official Greeter by the mayor in 1964. Look for his image in paintings and sculptures. He passed away in 1975 at the age of 84.

Things to do in Laguna Beach

Now you have so many things to do in Laguna Beach, California.

Better get packing!

In a nutshell…

Laguna Beach is a comfortable and stunning southern California beach town. It has all the things you want in a vacation – beach, food, hiking, art, and shopping. Go for a weekend or go for a week. There’s tons to do and its always a good time!



Hi There! I’m Carrie.

Carrie Green-Zinn Bio Page

I’m a native New Englander, turned New Yorker, turned California girl! Following a dance career, working as a dance therapist, and being a school psychologist, I’m now ready to share my passion for photography and travel with you! I absolutely love seeing the world with my family and friends. I know you feel the same! Let’s go! 

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