Laguna Beach is such a beautiful little town. Totally artsy fartsy and so much to look at but there is entertainment for the entire family. What I love is that they offer a Free trolley that goes all day, everyday, that makes all the right tops along Coast Highway all the way down to the Dana Point Ritz Carlton. So you can hop on and off and enjoy a little of everything. The beaches are amazing and there so many cool shops, eateries, bars, and local attractions you can find plenty to do for the entire family. We have the advantage of having Uncle Sean that lives just off Laguna Canyon road and has been a local for the last 10 years so even HE uses the free trolley to get around town since there is such limited parking, especially when the festivals are going on. There are three different trolley routes depending on your destination or parking spot. You’ll see the Rainbow Trolley signs along the route. They come frequently but even more often on the weekend…and run till 11:00 pm.
Trolley 1 – Downtown Canyon Route (Yellow)This one just gets you from a couple parking lots off Laguna Canyon Road to the Depot in town just a couple blocks from the beach off the same road.
Trolley 2 – Coastal Route (Purple) – this one makes numerous stops along Coast Highway all the way to the end and back. Takes a little while but the open air trolley is enjoyable.
Trolley 3 – “Limited Stop” Coastal Route (Pink) – This new one only that makes a few stops to specific destinations which is good if you know where you’re heading to. It includes, but not limited to, the Montage Resort, Ritz Carlton, 3 Arch Bay and back to town at the Legion Street stop.
We hopped on the trolley off a parking lot just off Laguna Canyon Rd that is $10 on the weekends for all day . From there it takes you to the Transit Depot. From there you can either peruse through town or to the beach OR you can hop on one of the other two Trolleys that heads towards the Ritz. If you want to just get a feel for the lay of the land, I’d take the one that has less stops just so you get a look around, but the Coastal Route one isn’t that bad. More options to hop off if you see something you want to visit.
We opted to walk through town, past the art galleries and then walked up Coast Highway to have lunch. We tried the Famous little Penguin Malt Shop at 981 S. Coast Highway… right past Thalia. It’s been around forever and is known for there great Breakfasts… but we had lunch there right before they closed and their burgers and sandwiches were very flavorful to….. and of course… I had a Groupon for it. 🙂 It’s like a 50’s malt shop. Family run and just a cute, cozy little place. (Super busy for breakfast but worth the wait… not so bad for lunch since it’s out of downtown area…kind of a locals joint).We then hopped back on the trolley at Oak Street and took it to the Montage (which is the Blue Lagoon stop- or confirm with the driver). Just walk up a block to Montage Resort and then you can either walk down the staircase all the way to the beach or if you haven’t seen the inside of the resort or the view from up there… go thru the main entrance first (before you get sandy if your destination is the beach). Just walk a little further to the left and walk past the valet (which always has incredibly expensive cars parked there) and go into the main entrance of the resort. WOW… beautiful is an understatement. Then walk directly straight and look down off the balcony…OMG… what a view of the coastline and the pool/resort below. We then came back in and went to the left and took the Elevator down to the first floor and then walked along side the pool to the beach and from there you can go right along the cliffs and take the staircases down the the beaches. There are beautiful grass areas along the top that is maintained by the resort which is a nice place for a picnic. So many areas along the coast to pick from.
*The Montage has to allow public access to all those beaches so you get the feeling of being a guest at the resort by using these pristine beaches along the front of the resort. The public can also enjoy the restaurants there as well. The cocktails are amazing, but so is the price. A great place to spend with someone special.
After pretending to live the life of the rich and famous as we walked around/thru the Montage, we made our way back up the staircase to Montage Resort ave and crossed the street to hop on the trolley going the other direction to go back to town. Hopped off across from the Wyland Museum(which is an absolute visit since this was the original hometown of the artist Wyland and his sealife paintings/art are my favorite) and had to get a scoop of ice cream in a waffle cone and walked along the beach that was packed but picture perfect. Volleyball, Basketball, tanning…relaxing on a perfect day! After time was up, we caught the trolley from the Depot back up to the parking lot.
Next weekend starts the Pageants of the Masters– a famous production every summer that has been summed up to me as a show of living art…actors become famous artwork and is supposed to be breathtaking how they do it. If you can get tickets it’s supposed to be one of the Bucket List things that you gotta do (if you enjoy art and theater…so I’m hoping to do it someday). They do sell out but the actors give tickets back to the Pageant to sell the day of, so according to Uncle Sean, you have to prepared to get in line about 7:00 am but you can get good tickets for a good price if you’re lucky. So Laguna is going to be very busy while this is going on.
Happy Day Trippin!
Laguna Beach Official Website – Great link to see when things are happening…like the SawDust Art Festival and the Pageant of the Masters.