Travel Guide: Laguna Beach California
For a while now I’ve been meaning to do a post on all of my favorite things to eat and see and do when I’m home in Laguna and I am finally getting to it!
Isn’t it funny how you don’t often appreciate a place so much until you leave? I’m lucky that my parents still live in the town I finished out High School in, and since it happens to be a fairly significant tourist destination I figured what better place to share a round-up of local favorites!
A tiny bit of backstory, my mom owns a shoe store in town (that you should definitely check out if you’re there!) so some of the recommendations are based on what she has seen and heard over the years (mainly in terms of hotels).
Where To Stay:
- Super Fancy: The Montage, The Ritz, The St Regis
- Fancy But Cool: The Ranch
- Great Options Downtown: Casa Camino, Surf & Sand
- Newly Remodeled: Capri
Where To Eat:
- Shirley’s Bagels: A local favorite - and if you want to try their special, which I ate OFTEN in high school, get a toasted bagel with cream cheese and avocado. Then add a hefty sprinkle of the lemon pepper they put out on the tables/counter.
- Anastasia: OK my mom didn't want me to share this one because we don't want the lines getting long but it'll be our little secret. We pretty much always get on a trip here while home, when I was in HS my mom and I would go there for weekend breakfast. It’s tucked a little further back in town but worth the couple block walk. The restaurant is attached to a clothing store but don’t let that fool you, their food is amazing. My go-to is the Egg’s Ana, although I used to build my own omelet with broccoli, feta, and avocado. If you’re in the mood for lunch their salads (especially the spinach & bacon) are wonderful. Oh and don’t miss getting at least a side of the french toast, it’s unlike anything you’ve had before!
- La Sirena: My recommendation is the carnitas burrito but you can’t go wrong, it’s a local favorite and has a few locations
- Urth Cafe: This is newer to the restaurant scene in Laguna but it’s quickly become a fan favorite for locals & tourists. They have a massive menu with a huge variety and you really cannot go wrong!
- Carmelita’s: For a fun Mexican dinner. Not fancy but not a casual burrito, Carmelitas is great for a low key date night or even a family dinner. It’s got a great atmosphere and the food is relish
- Taverna: Similar in the atmosphere to Carmelitas but the Mediterranean!
- Also, check out SkyLoft & Nicks!
- Heidelberg Cafe: For breakfast or lunch. My go-to’s are the healthy harvest muffins/scones or at lunch a turkey sandwich on a croissant. Hit’s the spot EVERY TIME.
- Active Culture: This place is all about the bowls. Whether a quinoa bowl, a yogurt bowl, or a pick your toppings fro yo bowl you don't want to miss this one for a snack or sweet treat.
- Orange Inn: I love the turkey sandwiches here (hello sprouts & avocado - so California) but they have a huge variety. Great place to pick up food for a picnic at the beach.
- Taco Loco: My favorite taco’s in town! This tiny walk-up joint right on PCH, it’s super casual and a perfect spot to grab a bite from the beach.
- Harvest at The Ranch: This is the cool hotel I mentioned above. They do breakfast, lunch & dinner in a beautiful dining room with a rustic vibe, they also have a great balcony/porch area. Good for families or a date night.
- The Rooftop at Casa Camino: Perfect for a gorgeous view of the water, a yummy lunch, or a sunset cocktail.
- Mozambique: This has been here forever and seems a little goofy but it’s great. With awesome rooftop views, the food is fresh and delicious every time.
- Sapphire: Great for a nice dinner, sit inside or outside for good people watching.
- Oak: A Trendy new spot with farm to table dishes
- San Shi Go: Every local's go-to sushi spot
- Coming Soon: South of Nicks just like the one in San Clemente
South Laguna/If You Have A Car:
- Baja Fish Taco: THE BEST FISH TACOS. My go-to order is the blackened fish tacos with rice and beans (pinto’s with cheese on top). Plus get an extra side of the white sauce, just trust me. If you don’t like blackened get them “Baja style” which is fried (yum). My dad also swears by the shrimp burrito with green sauce. And don't miss stocking up on tons of fresh pico from the salsa bar, oh and their guac is the best. Pretty much my #1 spot to visit when home.
- Angelina’s: Truth is I haven’t been but my parents have recently found this easy Italian spot and fallen in love. Good for couples or families.
What To Do:
- The beach! This one is obvious, but there are a few options. Downtown is fun to walk through but the actual beach is very crowded. If you venture a little further south you will hit the smaller local beach at Thalia, Oaks, Brooks etc - these might be fun to watch kids skim board but they can get a little tight when the tide is up. If you have a car or want to hop on the free shuttle I would HIGHLY recommend going to Salt Creek Beach. My parents live within walking distance so it has become my very biased favorite but it is also the main beach for people staying at St Regis & Ritz (aka it’s beautiful). It is wide and long so it’s never overly crowded but there are always locals surfing, in addition to a nice grassy park and great walking path (not to mention the gorgeous cliff views!)
- Walk around downtown! My favorite shops are Hobie for swimwear & Tuvalu for home goods but there are tons of cute shops, worth strolling all over.
- Visit Tootsies: My mom’s store in central Laguna, it’s situated in a cute little shopping center called the Pottery Shack which is full of interesting historical tidbits & facts. You could walk from downtown to her store.