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Laguna Beach, USA: A Hidden Gem in Orange County
Although neighbouring cities like Anaheim, Irvine, Huntington Beach, Buena Park, and Newport Beach receive far more attention, Laguna Beach is a top destination in its own right. This city is known as the area where those who live in Orange County go to escape the crowds that go along with living in one of the country’s most populous regions and there is a very good reason for this popularity.
Laguna Beach is full of great things to do, both indoors and outdoors, making it a wonderful place to spend a few days while in Southern California, while staying away from more traditional tourist areas.
Music and Culture
Laguna Beach was originally settled during the 1870s and then founded in 1887. It became a city in 1927 and it has held onto some history from that period. The Laguna Playhouse, for example, was founded in 1920 and is the oldest running theatre on the entire west coast of the United States. Events are held in the Moulton Theater, which is a 420-seat venue that is just outside of the city’s downtown area.
The Laguna Art Museum is another important cultural venue that is located right beside Main Beach. The waterfront position of this venue means that it receives plenty of traffic, as visitors can stop in on their way to the beach or when they wish to escape the sun for a little while.
Every summer, the Laguna Beach Arts Commission puts on a Summer Concert in the Park Series. These concerts are held at Bluebird Park and Heisler Park, and provide a relaxing environment in which to enjoy some live music in the evening. Many visitors love leaving their hotels in the evening to hear some live music after dinner.
Of the approximately three million people who pass through Laguna Beach each year, many of them come for one of the annual events. The Pageant of the Master is perhaps the most popular, as it draw in visitors from all over the country and quickly fills hotel rooms. This event is essentially a series of living pictures, as actors are arranged to re-create some of the most famous pictures in history, complete with period costumes and backdrops. Music is played at the same time, creating an interactive experience for those who attend.
Another popular event in Laguna Beach is the Sawdust Art Festival. This festival features crafts and fine art that have been created by residents of the city. Although the event isn’t judged, it acts as a source of pride for those who are able to enter their artwork. Other events held each year in the city include the Bluewater Music Festival, Kelpfest, and Art-A-Fair.
Beaches and Surfing
No holiday in Laguna Beach is complete without stopping by Main Beach, which is the largest and busiest beach in the city. This is a quintessential California beach, complete with lifeguard towers, plenty of surf, warm temperatures, and oceanfront hotels. Main Beach leads right into Heisler Park, which is also quite busy and has some green spaces for those who wish to avoid the sand. Other beaches in the area include Table Rock Beach, Crystal Cove State Park, and Aliso Beach Park.
Because of its beachfront location, surf culture is huge in Laguna Beach. The Brooks Street Surfing Classic is recognised as the oldest contest in the world and is only open to residents of the city. The date and location of the event change every year to correspond with ideal surfing conditions. The Skimboarding World Championship is also held in the city annually at Aliso Beach.
Meet the Marine Life
The preservation of nature is an important theme that runs through the culture of Laguna Beach and nowhere is this more visible than at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center. This venue provides a place for sick or injured seals and sea lions to recover and is run by a volunteer staff. Visitors can go to the centre to see the animals during their recovery or make a donation to the cause.
Glenn E. Vedder Ecological Reserve gives visitors the chance to see ocean life up-close and in its natural habitat. The basic idea is that visitors can walk out into the reserve and interact with crabs, urchins, and other sea life that sit in tidal pools. There are guides on-site to help guests know what to look for and where to head for the best view.
Sample the Cuisine
When spending time in Laguna Beach, CA, there is always the chance to try some local cuisine. Luckily for visitors, this cuisine is quite diverse, as there are casual local holes in the wall and five-star dining experiences within steps of each other and often close to nice hotels, as well.
It is recommended that those visiting the city take a change of clothing with them to the beach. This is because after leaving any of the major beaches in Laguna Beach, there is sure to be a nice restaurant within walking distance. Many of the beaches, such as Main Beach, also have dining options present on the waterfront, which provides a true California experience for anyone who has never been to the area before.