Lauren Conrad's guide to her hometown of Laguna Beach

During the summer months, I spend every weekend an hour south of L.A. in my hometown of Laguna Beach. I enjoy being close to the ocean on longer summer days, and it’s such a nice time of year to be near my family (not to mention how much my pups Chloe and Fitz love a good beach run every morning). Since I do spend a lot of time in Orange County, I often get friends, family and even LaurenConrad.com readers asking me for my top recommendations for where to eat, what to do, and where to stay in this beachside town. And while we have done an L.A. city guide here on the blog (and several other cities, here), it recently hit me that I have never shared my Laguna Beach recommendations. So, I sat down and made a list of my favorite spots for all of you who may be making a trip here this summer. I must say, it was a pretty fun process because it inspired me to do a mini staycation in my very own city!

Without further ado, here is my list of must-dos in my hometown: Laguna Beach, California…

Where to Eat

Javier’s
7832 Pacific Coast Highway, Newport Beach
www.javiers-cantina.com

This Mexican food restaurant near Crystal Cove boasts the most delicious spicy margaritas, awesome guacamole, and a bustling bar scene after the sun goes down. I crave Javier’s at least one a week during the summer months!

Nick’s
440 S. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach
www.nicksrestaurants.com

In the heart of Laguna Beach, just a block off the main drag is American fare restaurant, Nick’s. Their craft cocktails and buttermilk fried chicken are definitely something to write home about. Just make sure to make a reservation a couple weeks ahead of time—this spot is always in high demand.

Driftwood Kitchen
619 Sleepy Hollow Ln., Laguna Beach
www.driftwoodkitchen.com

I love having girls’ dinners at Driftwood Kitchen on the weekends because the windows of the restaurant look right out onto the beach. You can literally feel the sea breeze. Arrive early and grab a drink at The Deck before you eat—more on that below!

San Shi Go
1100 S. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach
www.okidoki345.com

Looking for the best sushi restaurant in all of Laguna? San Shi Go is one of my favorite restaurants for fresh fish and a beautiful view of the ocean. The service is unbeatable, and this spot is perfect for both a casual lunch or romantic dinner date.

Where to Happy Hour 

Rooftop Lounge
129 S. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach
www.rooftoplagunabeach.com

Rooftop Lounge is the place to be on a summer evening in Laguna. Climb the stairs up to the roof and try not to gasp when you see those 360-degree panoramic views of all of Laguna Beach. The appetizers aren’t bad either—just arrive early if you want a seat. Otherwise, it’s standing room only.

The Deck
627 Sleepy Hollow Ln, Laguna Beach
www.deckonlaguna.com

As I mentioned above, The Deck is the perfect beachside bar for sunset cocktails and live music. It’s such a perfect spot, you may never want to leave.

The Cliff
577 S. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach
www.thecliffrestaurant.com

A tad more casual than Rooftop and The Deck, The Cliff is one of those happy hour spots you might even stumble upon without realizing. Hidden within a maze of outdoor shops right off PCH, The Cliff is the perfect destination if you’re looking for cocktails and live music on those evenings when you haven’t even changed out of your bathing suit yet.

Skyloft
422 S. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach
www.skyloftoc.com

Skyloft in downtown Laguna is the new kid on the block when it comes to happy hour spots, but it’s definitely one worth visiting. Take the stairs to the rooftop and secure a table by the ledge for a view of Laguna’s Main Beach. Oh, and the Mai Tais here are deadly.

Where to Stay

Surf & Sand
1555 S. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach
www.surfandsandresort.com

This hotel is nestled on the beach on PCH, which means the ocean is right in its backyard. And not only are the rooms clean, airy and white, but the hotel restaurant Splashes isn’t one to miss.

Casa Laguna Hotel & Spa
2510 S. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach
www.casalaguna.com

The Spanish-colonial style décor of this charming boutique hotel is reason enough to book a room. Pair that with its prime location one block from the beach and it’s private swimming pool and… Do I really need to say more?

The Inn at Laguna Beach
211 N. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach
www.innatlagunabeach.com

This beachfront hotel is situated at the top of the cliff above Main Beach. With ocean views and restaurants and shops just a few blocks away, The Inn is convenient and comfortable all at the same time.

Air BnB
Laguna Beach Air Bnbs

Whenever I travel to a new city, I always look up cool Air Bnbs to stay in because I love feeling like I’m staying in a house or apartment when I travel. Laguna has some pretty amazing options when it comes to beach bungalow Air Bnbs, so click the website above and be sure to browse before booking your hotel!

Where to Beach

Thalia Beach, Oak Street & Brooks Street

These three drop-dead gorgeous beaches are all just a block from each other, but each one has a different draw for surfers and beach-goers alike. If you’re looking to catch a wave, this trifecta of rocky bottom beaches has your name all over it.

Thousand Steps Beach

Not only is this spot great for that ideal sunset beach snap, the fish and aquatic life swimming in the tide pools also make for a unique experience and hours of entertainment.

Montage Beach

The beach at the Montage is everything you might dream of when you picture Laguna Beach. The blue-green water and the striking rock jutting up from the sea are unsurpassed.

Where to Hike

Top of the World
W Ridge, Laguna Beach

The name says it all… This hike will give you impeccable views over all of Laguna. Just be sure to bring water—there isn’t much shade on this hike and it can get hot!

El Morro
El Morro Canyon Trail, Laguna Beach

El Morro is a Laguna local favorite when it comes to scenic hikes. You can walk the trail by foot or rent a mountain bike and hit the pedals (if you’re feeling super outdoorsy). No matter how you get there, the views at the top are breathtaking. Note to dog owners: They don’t allow dogs on this hike, so leave the pups at home.

What to Do

Pageant of the Master’s
650 Laguna Canyon Rd., Laguna Beach
www.foapom.com

Okay, fun fact for you all: My very first summer job was working as an usher at Pageant of the Master’s! The Pageant of the Master’s is an annual arts festival in Laguna that is most famous for its “living pictures” performance, where people are dressed in costume and makeup to literally imitate art. That’s all I will tell you because you’ll have to see it to believe it.

Sawdust Festival
935 Laguna Canyon Rd., Laguna Beach
www.sawdustartfestival.org

Sawdust Festival is another arts festival you won’t want to miss if you’ll be in Laguna anytime during June through August. You can walk around the (literally) sawdust-covered grounds to admire and/or purchase art and handcrafted gifts.

Laguna Supply
210 Beach St., Laguna Beach
www.lagunasupply.com

This clothing and jewelry boutique is tucked away on Beach Street right in the heart of downtown Laguna. Take a step in their doors and I can’t guarantee you’ll walk away empty handed—between the Isabel Marant pieces, Current Eliot denim and vintage French lace dresses, you’ll want to bring your credit card with you to this little treasure.

Every one of the places and activities on this list is a must if you’ll be traveling to Laguna any time soon!

If you live in the area, do you have any recommendations to add to my list?

What city guide would you like to see us do next?

Let me know in the comments below.

XO Lauren

Photos: Jessi Burrone for LaurenConrad.com
Pinterest
  • Cassidy Short

    Sounds like the perfect summer getaway! And looks so beautiful.

    xoxo
    Cassidy

    http://heartofgoldandglitter.blogspot.com/

  • Great tips, on my next LA trip I’ll definitely escape to Laguna for a day or two.

    || D I A N A ||

    http://www.TheNeonFactor.com

  • Thanks for sharing this! I need to go to Laguna Beach soon. I’ve been meaning to take a trip down to SoCal.

    xo Azu

    http://www.raven-locks.blogspot.com

  • Great list! Will save it to my next Cali trip.

    http://utochspring.com

  • Julie Strong

    You can’t forget about Victoria Beach!

  • Great list! Will be pinning this for my sext trip down to Laguna!
    xox,
    Veronica
    http://www.thefourthreads.com

  • wh1tewave

    Visited LB a few months ago and the Deck was really nice! Great for an evening date night.

  • I love Laguna Beach! It’s such a beautiful city. I just went to 10,000 steps and the views are breath taking!

    http://www.thebeautydojo.com

  • Kelsey B

    Laguna beach seems like a lovely city! whenever I can make it out to Cali, Laguna is definitely on the hitlist!

    http://www.chicresilience.blogspot.com

  • What a great list ! Thank you !!

  • David Livesay

    Did you know that they filmed the old Warner Bros. Errol Flynn pirate movie Captain Blood in Three Arch Bay? They had a big sword fight right there on whale rock. Secret Cove & Treasure Island are two of my favorite beaches. I lived there before moving to Malibu.

  • Tarni

    Love this post!! Such a good insight into the area!! I feel the same about Air bnb, the idea of staying in a little house while your away is so appealing!!

    http://www.basicallylife.com

  • I been to Lagune Beach quite a few times and I loooove it ! I will go back soon , so I will make sure to take your recommendations with me !
    http://www.nobletandem.com

  • Would love to visit Laguna Beach some time :))) ANd if I will, these are great tips to follow 🙂

    I invite you to visit my travel blog and read my latest post about Singapore and what to do in this financial city 🙂

    http://travelekspert.com/2016/07/top-13-things-to-do-in-singapore/

  • Holly

    I just came back from Laguna last week. I’ve been there a couple times love it there!! OceanView Bar & Grill is really nice too.

  • I’ve been in love with Laguna Beach since I saw images of it on your MTV shows. It looked like paradise to me! It’s one of the reasons I moved to California for a year. However, I ended up living in the Bay Area during those 12 months -which I also love. During my time there I visited LA and San Diego but never had the chance to visit the OC. Hopefully, I’ll get to visit it some day!

    http://memoriesofthepacific.blogspot.com.es/

  • Raven Robledo

    Gelato Paradiso, just next to Nick’s, is to die for! You literally walk into the shops and can smell the cones they make. And 10 out of 10 would recommend Victoria’s Beach.

  • Laguna beach looks stunning. If I ever have the pleasure to visit I will for sure use these recommendations!

  • Georgia Rose

    It’s my absolute dream to visit here! Will definitely check out these places if I ever get the pleasure! the scenery is just wow!

    Georgia Rose xo

    http://www.justgeorgiarose.com

  • Genevive Ngo
  • San Shi Go is our favorite sushi spot in ALL of Orange County! We loving going there for special occasions and the fact that it is so close to the water can not be beat! Gelato Paradiso is a must, must stop anytime we are bringing visitors to Laguna Beach. Nick’s is away up there in my fave places to eat, so glad you included that one! Also, the Candy Barron is a milestone! Laguna Beach is definitely one of our fave locations to take out of town guests…you can probably see why 🙂 http://www.chasingbelle.com

  • Thank you so much for sharing all of these great spots! I used to go to school in the OC, but I never really had that much time to explore. Just like you, though, I always go back to visit, so I’ll definitely be keeping these spots in mind the next time I’m there! 🙂 <3

    XO, Elizabeth
    http://clothestoyouuu.com/

  • KDLM2000

    Thank you so very much for sharing your Laguna Beach hotspots! It’s wonderful getting tips from an insider who can help make you feel less “touristy”, and more like a local. I have never been to LA before, and would love to travel there. I have a sweet daughter who just turned 16, and is beginning to really appreciate traveling to new places. I haven’t done much traveling myself, so invaluable suggestions from amazing people like you and your readers are incredibly helpful. I was wondering if you could suggest the best way to get to Laguna? Would it be to fly into LAX and rent a car? I wasn’t sure if having a car was necessary once you arrived. Also…..You were kind enough to pose the question of other places people would like to explore, and I was wondering if you had much experience traveling to Miami. New York City would be awesome too! Thanks again!!

  • I would love to visit Laguna Beach one day! Thanks for sharing all your recommendations. Saving this post for if I ever do decide to visit! xx

    thesundaychapter.com

  • Babak V

    I just don`t get tired of walking through this city. An amazing place to cool down and have peace of mind. there is this ice cream shop there called Gelato Paradiso. You really don`t want to miss that!

    http://www.cupoftrip.com