Weekend Getaway: Where to Dine and Unwind in Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach

Yes, we deride the “OC” for its privileged attitude and superficiality (as exhibited in a series of unfortunate television hits). But could it be that secretly we’re a little jealous of their ideal year round climate? While we bundle up against the thick fog, residents of Orange County are out on the beaches (usually, it must be noted, in far too tiny clothing). And so we say, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em”…for the weekend.

Here, everything you need to know about a weekend getaway of fun in the sun in one of Orange County’s most famous (for better or worse) towns: Laguna Beach.

What to do
1. Join the sun gods and goddesses on Main Beach. No Laguna weekend is complete without a little beach time (obvi). This popular stretch of sand is great for sunning, strolling, and even a little beach volleyball. (Ocean Avenue and Pacific Coast Highway)

2. Get artsy. Fun fact: Laguna Beach is home to a thriving (and exciting) art scene. That means great galleries and arts organizations like Pageant of the Masters, and thanks to that amazing weather, a 70-plus strong collection of public art pieces. Bonus: The first Thursday of every month sees the art extravaganza known as the First Thursday Art Walk. (firstthursdaysartwalk.com)

3. Take a hike. Situated just inland from the beach, Laguna Canyon offers some of the most beautiful hiking trails in southern California, in an area known as the “California Riviera.” The trails are suited for a relaxing stroll to medium difficulty with minimal elevation gain. For more outdoor activity ideas and tips on eco things to do, visit greenlagunabeach.com. (lagunacanyon.org)

Where to eat
1. Though on the pricier end (entrees between $45-$55), Studio Restaurant at the Montage is great for that special treat. Breathtaking views are on the menu here, along with mouthwatering French dishes incorporating fresh-caught fish and farm-raised meats. (30801 South Coast Highway, studiolagunabeach.com)

2. A more affordable option is O Fine Japanese Cuisine, an intimate sushi spot that serves up very fresh fish to a casual beach crowd. (30872 South Coast Highway, ofinejapanesecuisine.com)

3. Locals flock to the off-the-beaten-path La Sirena Grill for Mexican fare. The fish dishes are not to be missed, and don’t even get us started on the chips and salsa. (30862 South Coast Highway, lasirenagrill.com)

Where to sleep
1. For a little taste of that Laguna Beach privilege, check into Montage Spa and Resort, a luxury property with spectacular views, swanky spots for wining a dining, two ocean-view pools, a world renowned spa, and unmatched elegance. (30801 South Coast Highway, montagelagunabeach.com)

2. The oceanfront Surf & Sand Resort is a solid hotel pick. Elegant without being stuffy, it offers friendly service, a central location, and fun extras, from $400 a night. (1555 South Coast Highway, surfandsandresort.com)

3. Located within a 10-minute walk from the gorgeous Woods Cove Beach, the Laguna Beach Inn provides a more affordable option without sacrificing quality. This pet- and family-friendly spot comes complete with an outdoor pool and barbecue area, from $180 per night. (2020 South Coast Highway, thelagunabeachinn.com)

Fly into John Wayne Airport (SNA), then take the Laguna Beach Transit bus, which costs $.75 for adults and is free for children under 7, into town. Come summer, enjoy the free shuttle service.