Fifty miles south of Los Angeles, Laguna Beach lies between Newport Beach and Dana Point. You can’t walk a block in Laguna without running into an art gallery, museum, artist studio, public art piece, outdoor market or supply shop. It’s amazing how much art is packed into one seaside city. There is also no shortage of indoor and outdoor exploits to entertain visitors.

Students flock to this land of beautiful bodies and beaming smiles not only to attend Laguna College of Art + Design ( but also for playtime with waterfront activities and the vibrant nightlife. Try your hand at surfing, kayaking or paddle boarding either on your own or with the experts. La Vida Laguna ( offers instruction in all three sports, plus it provides combo fun like a Kayak and Hike Tour.

More amusement can be had in the hills of the Nix Nature Center (, where you can explore any or all of the five trails and wander through just a section of Laguna’s 20,000 acres of wilderness. One popular option is a walk through Crystal Cove State Park to the shore, where you can dip in the sea to cool off and see creatures in tide pools.

What makes Laguna stand out from the myriad of beaches littering the SoCal coast is its focus on art. Laguna hosts its own First Thursdays Art Walk (, the Laguna Art Museum ( and the Laguna Dance Festival (, which celebrated its sixth season this past April with a special performance by “Kings of the Dance” star Desmond Richardson. Artsy (and non-artsy) folk can take art classes at Sawdust Studio ( or create their own self-guided tour of the Laguna Beach Public Art Collection (There are more than 70 pieces on view around town.).

Even if you’re in Laguna for the day or just don’t have time to take in any of its celebrated sights, just lounging on Main Beach is extremely fun. There are basketball and volleyball courts and usually a fest (i.e., KelpFest 2011) or outdoor arts and crafts market. You’re also just steps away from Forest Avenue, where shops, restaurants and galleries extend for several blocks. There is even a Hi De Ho Comics nearby.

When you can pull yourself away from the hot bods on the beach long enough to feed yourself, stop by Sundried Tomato ( for lunch. Happy Hour happens every day at the bar from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. The staff is comprised of friendly faces and cute chicas, and the food tickles your taste buds. Plus, its list of scrumptious salads makes eating light easy. Then it’s back to the beach for more eye candy.

For dinner, nobody serves a meal like Alessa ( Chef Alessandro Pirozzi already has locations in Newport and Huntington beaches, and now he’s wowing ’em in Laguna as well. Presentation and atmosphere are just two elements of his winning formula. Following Laguna’s theme of art everywhere, each dish is like a sculpture. Pirozzi walks around greeting peeps like old friends, asking how they’re enjoying their food. Customers unanimously agree: It’s good till the last drop.

If you’re the type of person that likes to stay within your comfort zone, Johnny Rockets can satisfy a burger fix.

After a full day of soaking up Laguna life, and an even longer night of hanging at the Rooftop Lounge at Hotel La Casa del Camino or dancing at Brussels Bistro, it’s wise to turn in close to the sand, where the action starts all over again in the a.m. Laguna Cliffs Inn ( is only one block from the beach. The rooms were recently remodeled, and guests get a basket of complimentary breakfast treats. The ladies at the front desk are more than helpful about suggesting places to go and dispensing directions. On your way into or out of your room, you have the bonus of taking a refreshing dip in the pool and relaxing soak in the jacuzzi. There’s no such thing as too much of a good thing.

Because the weather is spectacular all year round, and there are always events on the calendar (art and non-art), any time is the right time to take a trip to Laguna Beach.

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