In april, I participated in an annual golf tournament that brings together California tourism partners and global travel advisors (i.e. travel agents, agency owners, etc.). Even for those not good at golf ( ... me ...), it's still a great week of networking (yes, it is work), fun, and charity.
Each year, the host destination works with a local charity in their region. Then, throughout the week, there are many opportunities to bid on travel prizes, "live like a local" prizes (prizes donated by the countries in attendance), etc.
I apparently wasn't paying attention on the last night of the event when my friend bid on -- and won -- a trip to laguna beach. But yay! The itinerary they put together is below ... it was insane.
Here goes ...
Friday, July 19
12noon Arrive to Laguna Beach
On Own Head across the street to Aliso County Beach and enjoy lunch at your leisure at Lost Pier Café.
4:00pm Check In to The Ranch at Laguna Beach
Nestled in the majestic Aliso and Wood Canyons, right in the heart of Orange County, resides The Ranch at Laguna Beach resort. This Orange County hotel and spa is situated on an iconic piece of land where canyon and sea meet. The premier boutique coastal ranch hotel and spa is the perfect blend of the rich history of this storied canyon and the artistry that is Laguna Beach. Welcome to our distinctly local resort and California’s only National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World.
5:00pm Dinner at Carmelita’s
Chef Javier Perez meets with local growers and vendors at the Laguna Beach Farmers Market to find the freshest fish and organic ingredients to use in his dishes. By using traditional cocina techniques, the kitchen prepares their menu from scratch daily.
Note: Carmelita’s is within walking distance to Laguna Playhouse.
Get swept away by the infectious music, uplifting story and dazzling dance numbers that have made Mamma Mia! a worldwide phenomenon. As wedding festivities commence on an idyllic Greek island, a young bride-to-be schemes to discover the identity of her father among three men from her mother’s past.
10:00am Stand Up Paddle Boarding with La Vida Laguna
Location: Please meet at the top of the stairs of Fisherman’s Cove, 631 Cliff Drive, 5 minutes prior to start time. There will be a white truck, meet on street level. Click to See Map
They will have everything ready to go down at the beach.
Suggested Attire: Bathing suit, t-shirt, hat, sunglasses (with straps), sunscreen. Leave shoes on the beach (unless they are water socks or Teva-type sandals) and valuables in the car. Bring a towel and water.
Open Sawdust Art Festival
Voted “Best Festival” by OC Weekly, and “one of the country's top five festivals” by American Style Magazine, the Sawdust features artwork created only in Laguna Beach. Located in a beautiful eucalyptus grove, visitors experience the creativity of more than 200 local artisans. Sawdust exhibitors create and sell unique pieces from a wide variety of media. Visitors are drawn to the large glass-blowing enclosure where glass masters perform their skill at the furnace. Other highlights of the festival include live entertainment, a great selection of outdoor cafes and the Sawdust Saloon.
Open Laguna Art-A-Fair
View fine art by 125 renowned artists and master craftspeople from around the world, across the United States and gifted local artists as well. Stroll through Art-A-Fair's peaceful garden setting, with cool ocean breezes, and enjoy a memorable day among the artists as they work on their oil paintings, watercolors, acrylics, drawings, photography, digital art, mixed media, sculpture, jewelry, ceramics, glass and wood.
Award-winning Selanne Steak Tavern, located in a historic 1934 home on Pacific Coast Highway, brings the spirit of classic American steakhouses and taverns to Southern California’s iconic Laguna Beach. Proprietors Hockey Hall of Famer and six-time Olympian Teemu Selanne and local businessman Kevin Pratt are friends who share a commitment to providing a comfortable and appealing eatery for friends and families to enjoy great food and libations.
9:00am Breakfast at The Loft at Montage Laguna Beach
The Loft, a favorite of guests and locals alike, is the resort’s comfortable all-day dining restaurant. Situated on the fourth floor, this popular Orange County restaurant features stunning panoramic views — the perfect backdrop for enjoying creative American cuisine.
2:00pm Wine Tasting at McClain Cellars
With vineyards in the Santa Ynez Valley and the family's roots in Orange County, McClain Cellars creates fine red and white wines with passion and love.
On Own Explore Downtown Laguna Beach
Ocean and Forest Avenues, and along PCH; Some suggested stops: Areo, Brass Tack, Tuvalu, Simple, National Geographic Fine Art Galleries, Kush Fine Art, Elena Bulatova Gallery, Hobie, Black Bough, Buy Hand
Fun fact: Laguna Beach has landed the top #1 spot on the “Top 20 Cities to Shop Local in 2018,” as decided by Yelp from a 2018 Yelp survey conducted by The Harris Poll. The survey highlights several of the City’s “Top Local Shops,” most of which are clothing, sportswear, and surf shops. A limit of no more than one city per state and at least 100 relevant businesses per city were set.
The Festival of Arts is California’s longest-running outdoor fine art exhibition, celebrating 87 years. Its jury process and open-air gallery setting allow this festival to please all types of connoisseurs. The show features the original artwork by 140 award-winning artists from Orange County. Art-related attractions and special events include jazz concerts, wine and chocolate pairings, and guided and audio art tours throughout the eight-week run.
8:30pm Pageant of the Masters
The Pageant of the Masters is arguably one of the most unique productions in the entire world. Audiences are amazed by 90 minutes of tableaux vivants ("living pictures"), incredibly faithful re-creations of classical and contemporary works of art, with real people posing to look exactly like their counterparts in the original pieces. An outdoor amphitheater, professional orchestra, original score, live narration, intricate sets, sophisticated lighting, expert staff and hundreds of dedicated volunteers have won recognition for the Pageant of the Masters as the best presentation of its kind. The 2019 theme, “The Time Machine,” will take audiences around the globe and into the past, present, and future in search of great art and amazing stories.
Monday, July 22
At Leisure Breakfast at HARVEST at The Ranch at Laguna Beach
Harvest marries the bounty of the season with the atmosphere and creativity of Laguna Beach into a dizzying array of local flavors, ingredients and traditions of California cuisine. Our restaurant, bar and private dining room celebrate the storied of California's history of organic farming, brewing, and oenology.
Visit Laguna Art Museum, 307 Cliff Drive
The Laguna Art Museum is a museum located in Laguna Beach, California, on Pacific Coast Highway. LAM exclusively features California art and is the oldest cultural institution in the area. It has been known as the Laguna Beach Art Association, as well as the Laguna Beach Museum of Art. NOTE: Upon arrival, name will be at front desk for complimentary entry, if you wish to visit.
Free Trolley runs throughout town daily from 9:30am-11:30pm. Be sure to download the Visit Laguna Beach app, which will give you access to a whole host of information as well as a real-time Trolley Tracker.
Laguna Beach is surrounded by 20,000 acres of protected wilderness. Here you can find hundreds of miles of hiking and mountain biking trails with incredible views of the coastline and our two canyons. You can read more about that here. We recommend checking out El Moro BFI trail and vista, Top of the World and Valido Trails.
Visit our 30+ beaches and coves, which are the only protected marine environment in Southern California and therefore has abundant sea life and clean waters. In addition, our 7-mile coastline is a series of coves that make for some really beautiful beaches and vistas. You can read more about each cove and beach here. Check out the following: Thousand Steps, Victoria Beach, Treasure Island, Goff Cove, Wood's Cove, Pearl Street, Shaw's Cove and Fisherman's Cove.
Tide Pool Exploration
Laguna Beach is known for its spectacular tide pooling. From the deep, secluded pools at Thousand Steps to the easily accessible rock shelf at Crescent Bay or Picnic Beach, the city has no shortage of marine life just waiting for you to explore. Anemones, hermit crabs, sea stars – there’s a whole world just below the water’s surface. Low tides (ideal time to view): 5:10pm (7/19); 5:54pm (7/20); 6:54am and 6:46pm (7/21)
Farmers Market – Saturday from 8am-noon
From just-picked produce, flowers to local honey, homemade delicacies and more from 40+ vendors and farmers the Laguna Beach Farmers' Market is a must.
Laughter Yoga - Free
Location: Gathers daily on the sand at the northernmost end of ‘Main Beach’ in Laguna Beach (Pacific Coast Highway at Broadway/Route 133). If the tide is low enough, they will go as far north as the sand opposite Bird Rock, below the Gazebo of Heisler Park (375 W. Cliff Dr., off PCH near the Laguna Art Museum and Las Brisas restaurant). Led by Certified Laughter Yoga Master Trainer and club founder Jeffrey Briar, Certified Laughter Yoga Leaders and Teachers David Sullenger, Kathryn Burns, Ruthe Gluckson, David Fleischmann, Linda Morphew, Sue Snyder and others. The Laughter Club is a group of people gathering to practice laughter as a form of exercise. The practice of laughing itself improves your mood, and then you feel good. Laughter as exercise develops your sense of humor, and – by creating the Chemistry of Happiness – delivers many health benefits. The Laguna Laughter Club is the first club in the Western World to meet seven days a week. After a few minutes of socializing, the group performs easy stretching, breathing exercises, and laughter practices, ending with a healthy guided relaxation. Each session runs 45 to 60 minutes.
Visit Laguna Beach - Facebook, Twitter & Instagram - @VisitLaguna
Although the whole weekend was amazing, there were a few stand-out activities.
For starters, I've been wanting to go stand-up paddle boarding for years and I finally had the chance. I'm not a lover of the ocean in general (the sand ... the sea creatures ......I get sea sick .....), but I was excited for this opportunity. Surprisingly, I wasn't half bad. Well, I wasn't bad. I didn't fall off, but I did get sea sick.
Yhe second stand-out activity was dinner at Selanne Steak Tavern. The restaurant is in this cute bungalow-style house. The service was impeccable. The food. The foooooooooood. I started with oysters and beet ravoli (filled with goat cheese!). Next round was steak. As sides, I went with their mac & cheese; roasted carrots covered with a lavender honey/ laura chenel goat cheese; and corn (which was an off-the-cob version of mexican street corn). Since we were still able to walk a little, we topped off the meal with two scoops of ice cream. ahhhhhhhh.
If you've never been to Laguna Beach (or any of the beaches south of Santa Monica) ... go there. Now.