Laguna Beach offers everything Hawaii does – Palm Trees, miles of beaches, great tide pools, fun restaurants, interactive family activities and hotels ranging from economical to five star resorts. If you live in California or a nearby state, you can drive and don’t have to fly to this resort town. Once you check into your hotel, you will never have to get into your car again, until your vacation is over.
One of the most Hawaiian feeling hotels is the Inn at Laguna Beach. It’s a 70-room hotel with spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean for almost every room. Sitting up on the bluff, The Inn is an ideal location on the beach and within a block from the charming village.
Checking into our room 313, we noticed it was a tad dark. There are two floors above our room located in the corner of the property. However, as we opened the plantation shutters covering our sliding glass door, we noticed our private patio had a door leading out to the 86 degree salt water pool. It was an ideal location for our family with two daughters.
After a day at the beach the hotel offers a complimentary wine reception up on the outdoor rooftop. They pour glasses of Chardonnay or Pinot Noir and serve some salty bar snacks between 5 to 6 p.m. overlooking the Main Beach and Pacific Ocean. Then at 6 p.m. the kitchen brings out trays of warm oatmeal, sugar, white chocolate Macademia nut, chocolate chip and double chocolate chip cookies to the lobby, with milk jugs of chocolate and regular milk.
After these refreshments, we donned our bathing suits and swam before dinner. Since other guests were dressing for dinner, walking along the beach or exploring the artsy town of Laguna, we had the pool to ourselves. The temperature was perfect for a swim before sunset.
Complimentary coffee and tea service is available in the lobby starting at 7 a.m. We stopped for a cup before starting the day with a walk to Main Beach, exploring the tide pools or visiting the shops. Guests can check-out towels and beach chairs from a hotel staff member at the bottom of the hotel next to the sand.
Here are some fun summer time activities we enjoyed while staying in Laguna Beach.
1. Free Trolley Ride
During the summer there is a Free trolley service that starts at El Monte Elementary School and travels along a coastal route down to the Ritz Carlton Resort with multiple stops along the way. There is also a Downtown Canyon Route, and a short Canyon Route. A trolley picks up visitors and locals at each stop usually every twenty minutes.
2. Festival of Arts
For over 80 years, the fine art show has been in Laguna Beach during the summer with art demonstrations, art workshops, art tours, live music and special events create festival atmosphere. The Pagent of the Masters brings art to life. During the 90-minute evening show, set in an outdoor amphitheater, a professional orchastra with an original score begins, as a live narrator guides guests on the live art masterpieces with moving sets and dedicated volunteers. Imagine famous art masterpieces coming to life right in front of your eyes.
3. Main Beach
Ideal for building sand castles, body surfing, playing volleyball and basketball or watching little ones have fun on the playground equipment. There are miles of soft sand for beachcoming and leisure walks along the shore.
4. The Marine Mammal Center
Our girls enjoy visiting the rescued and rehabilitated seals and sea lions. The center offers educational programs for kids as part of their community outreach program. They’re open to the public several hours each week. Many of these mammals wash up on shore and are often returned to the ocean after they have received food and medical attention.
5. Farmers Market
Every Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon next to Laguna City Hall.
6. Sunset Stroll
Walking along the cliffs and bluff past the various parks and exploring the tide pools at sunset when the tide is low is a popular activity. It’s a great time to take photos.
7. Tide Pool Exploring
There are 6 popular tide pool viewing sights in Laguna Beach. Crescent Beach, Treasure Island Beach, Shaw’s Cove, Heisler Park, Victoria Beach and Bird Rock. You can reach all of these destinations by trolley. Shaw’s Cove offers tidepooling on both sides. During low tides the south side of the Heisler Park Reserve beach has a flat rocky section that is covered with sea anemones. Our girls liked poking into their center to watch them close up to protect themselves. Walking north of the stairs, we observed many urchins, striped shore crabs, hermit crabs and small fish. At Bird Rock has we saw sea hares and a sea cucumber. Bird Rock is near The Inn at Laguna Beach and is about 30 feet off Main beach. It is home to a variety of birds that include brown pelicans, sandpipers and various gulls.
8. Dining in Laguna
We enjoyed Taco Tuesday at Big Fish Tavern; Sunset Dining at The Cliff with free rides to the restaurant for guests after 5 p.m.; Modern Mexican food at Tortilla Republic and fresh juice and healthy bowls at Juice and Shakes. All are within walking distance from The Inn at Laguna Beach.
It was hard for our family to leave picturesque Laguna Beach. The weather was ideal, the activities were fulfilling and the setting was idyllic for walking, resting, swimming and sightseeing.
This review was published in Independent Traveler too!