What the Hamptons is to New York City, Laguna Beach is to Las Vegas. Dive into the hospitality that makes this seaside enclave so popular with pleasure-seeking Las Vegans.
Cool places to stay …
Part of the city’s charm is the exclusivity when it comes to accommodations. While the most luxurious game in town belongs to Montage Laguna Beach and Surf and Sand Resort, the quaint beachy vibe reigns at Laguna Beach House (thelagunabeachhouse.com), which upon check in, makes guests feel as if they’ve taken possession of their very own seaside property. The design, unveiled in early 2015 as part of a $1.5 million renovation, is pure California with vintage surf and skate touches throughout—surfboards above the beds and skateboards as towel racks. The color palette is neutral with pop of vibrant hues and succulents, vintage surf books, small handcrafted instruments, canvas totes and coastal-inspired accessories displayed throughout the guestrooms. To up the cool factor, the hotel commissioned a Laguna Beach destination poster reminiscent of vintage travel posters, which is hung in each room, with T-shirts available as well.
Check the daily wave report on a classic chalkboard at reception and get cozy in the lobby, adjacent to a majestic California State flag. With just 36 rooms situated around the pool deck and fire pit, it’s possible to get to know the neighbors here, which makes sundown wine time—nightly in the lobby—even more fun. Also on offer is complimentary coffee in the morning and cookies in the evening. Twenty of the rooms have private balconies with coastal views and all feature a flat-screen television, Wi-Fi access and king or double queen beds as well as pullout sofa beds, making this a great place to stay with the kids. Located on the north of town, Main Beach is just a short walk. Room rates start at around $200.
The rumble of the waves that lull guests to sleep every night makes a stay at the Inn at Laguna Beach (innatlagunabeach.com) a memorable excursion. On the bluffs in a prime location, and a stone’s throw from Laguna Beach House, the Inn has 70 rooms and a rooftop terrace for sunset cocktails, along with a delightful pool if the ocean just isn’t enough. If you want to hit the shops and galleries, the Inn at Laguna Beach is just steps away to the heart of it all. Room décor is beach chic and spacious with pillow-top beds, 250 thread count linens and luxurious spa-inspired bathrooms. From light fare such as pastries, coffee and juice in the morning and cocktails and snacks at the Poolside Bar, a nightly wine hour in the Lobby, as well as room service available throughout the day, the Inn at Laguna Beach offers ample dining choices. Room rates start at $249.
What to do …
Long walks on the seven miles of coastline—while it may seems cliché, now that it’s a brisk freezing here in Las Vegas, Laguna Beach’s temperatures range from highs in the mid-60s to lows in the 50s.
Laguna offers a fun sense of discovery with more than 30 coves and beaches, all with public access. Tide pools at low tide (best spots are Crescent Bay, Picnic Beach, Rockpile Beach, Shaw’s Cove and Treasure Island) harbor plenty of easy-to-spot sea life such as hermit and shore crabs, sea anemones, black turban snails, limpets, barnacles, sea lettuce and coraline algae.
For those who enjoy water sports, all the typical offerings can be found on Main Beach from bodyboarding and stand up paddle boarding to sand volleyball, basketball courts, playground equipment and a boardwalk.
Families can visit the Pacific Marine Mammal Center (pacificmmc.org), dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating sea lions, seals and other marine mammals stranded along the 42-mile Southern California coastline. They release healthy mammals back into the wild.
Visit Laguna Coast Wilderness Park and the Nix Nature Center, located at the top of Laguna Canyon Road, with five exploration trails leading from the center. (Open 9 a.m.-4 p.m., free admission.)
In support of that small-town vibe, try the free trolley that runs Friday-Sunday from September through June as your main method of transportation.