Laguna Beach Overview
by Regina Hinrichs
When I know that I’m heading to a new destination, I do exactly what you’re doing; I research and read about it. In the case of Laguna Beach, I went to a new extreme; I watched the MTV reality series “Laguna Beach.” Armed with everything I needed to know about Taylor, Talan, Jessica and Jason, I was equipped to maximize my time here.
We stayed at the fantastic Laguna Beach Surf & Sand Resort. Not only is it an amazing resort, it was featured in an episode of the TV show and is across the way from the Koffee Klatch. One thing I learned, the cast of Laguna Beach loved their coffee. There’s no better place to grab a Latte and get some local flavor.
There is much more to Laguna than being the backdrop of the TV show. Its roots are in the Arts which is evident in the galleries and specialty shops found throughout the area. In the summer, the Festival of the Arts, Sawdust Festival, Art-A-Fair and Pageant of the Masters takes place. In the fall there’s the Winter Fantasy and Laguna Arts & Craft Guild show. Occasionally, free concerts are scheduled by Laguna Beach Live. Year round the Laguna Playhouse features award winning performances at the Moulton Theater.
One thing I love doing when I travel is shop. Knowing that Laguna is an exclusive community, I assumed that the prices would be $$$$. I was amazed to find that many stores were well within my budget and I got some terrific souvenirs for my MTV addicted daughter. She was thrilled to be outfitted in “Laguna Beach” from head to toe, and I was happy that it didn’t cost a fortune.
Dining was another pleasant surprise. In upscale communities, you anticipate being served a stalk of asparagus with one scallop, and being handed a check equivalent to a mortgage payment. Not only were there tons of moderate priced restaurants, the staff was always friendly and welcoming.
For those of you who enjoy the great outdoors, Laguna is known for its Tide Pools. You can visit the Crystal Cove State Park, the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, the Glenn E. Vedder Ecological Reserve, and the Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park. From mid-December to early April, you may be lucky enough to spot the gray whales during their annual migration as they pass the coastline. The Pacific Marine Mammal Center is a marine rescue center and is open to the public.
For something different, the Laguna Culinary Arts Cooking School offers hands-on cooking classes as well as wine tastings and instruction in Wine and Food Pairing. The Laguna Canyon Winery has the only public wine tasting room in Orange County.
Want to visit the destination made famous by the Four Preps? (Bet you thought it was the Beach Boys.) Head to Dana Point where you can catch a boat or catamaran to Catalina Island, the island of romance, romance, romance, romance. (Sorry, the song is stuck in my head.)
You’re probably saying “sounds great for grownups, but what about kids?” Of course, there are the beaches and the parks. There’s also the Balboa Fun Zone located on Balboa Island in nearby Newport Beach. Boomers in Irvine is a short drive away and has bumper boats, mini-golf, laser tag, rock wall, go karts, batting cages and game room. Irvine is also home to the Wild Rivers water park. Captain Dave’s Dolphin Safari will take you in search of dolphins and blue whales. At the Ocean Institute you can sail on a tall ship adventure.
Your teens will be able to conduct your own tour. Between the OC and MTV, they’ll be pointing out such landmarks as Wahoo’s Fish Tacos and the Thalia Street Surf Shop. Laguna is such a fun destination for this somewhat hard to please age group. (By the way, I’m just on pins and needles waiting for season 3 of “Laguna Beach” to begin. I wonder if Stephen will end up with Kristin or LC?)
Laguna Beach has a bit of everything. It’s upscale but at the same time, down to earth. They take great pride in their history and embrace the latest trends. You’ll find warm smiles at every turn, and bring back wonderful memories.