Laguna Beach, CA


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Colorful Laguna Beach, California, got its start in the late 1800s as an artist colony. The crown jewel of this creative community is the Laguna Art Museum. Founded by artist Edgar Payne in 1918, it is one of the first art museums in the Golden State. Today it houses works primarily from regional artists; past exhibits have featured the works of Timothy J. Clark, Dan Lutz and Robert Williams. Laguna Beach tourists often come for the views and stay for live concerts and other special events.

A major Laguna Beach attraction is its network of public parks. In all, 74 parks are spread out on more than 63 acres of public land. Several beachside stairways transport visitors to long stretches of soft sand and ever-shifting waves. Treasure Island Park is a favorite destination among Laguna Beach visitors, particularly photographers and families, because the beach is clean and the landscape unspoiled.

Nature lovers will also appreciate Laguna Beach’s Glenn E. Vedder Ecological Reserve, where visitors can check out tide charts and glimpse local marine life. Located between Main Beach and Diver’s Cove, the reserve is a festival of plants, shells and aquatic animals. When ocean conditions are favorable, divers are free to (carefully) explore the undersea world.

The James and Rosemary Nix Nature Center has an expansive trail system spread across more than 20,000 wild acres. Guided hikes and educational activities are offered. Tourists will want to visit the Pacific Marine Mammal Center while they are in the area. Staff members at this rescue and rehabilitation center care for injured sea lions and seals.

Those who prefer retail pursuits will find plenty of unique boutiques in Laguna Beach. Fawn Memories offers quality California-style T-shirts and gifts, along with charming wind chimes, kitschy signs and cool frames. Red Fox specializes in independent clothing brands in a boutique setting. LF Stores has trendy styles in store for young adults and the young-minded. At Stephen Frank Garden and Home, tourists can pick up distinctive tableware and outdoor décor.

Beyond its abundant natural beauty, Laguna Beach is known for its fine wines. The Laguna Canyon Winery will not disappoint even the savviest connoisseur. Its award-winning output includes reds, whites, sparkling blends and dessert wines, from Pinot Noir to Petit Verdot. A good way to experience many flavors is to take advantage of Laguna Canyon Winery’s tastings and periodic wine-pairing dinners.

Another hotspot for wine fans is the Laguna Culinary Arts Gourmet Cheese Shop and Wine Cellar on Laguna Canyon Road. The center hosts wine-pairing dinners, Saturday lunches and tastings, along with classes for visitors who want to learn more.

Laguna Beach has an abundance of fine restaurants to go with its fine vintages. The Nirvana Grille offers California cuisine made from local ingredients, hormone- and antibiotic-free meats and an extensive wine list. Brussels Bistro on Forest Avenue serves a hefty selection of Belgian beers on tap and in the bottle. Nearby, 230 Forest Avenue Restaurant and Bar is an ultra-popular seafood spot and martini bar with outdoor dining.