Tourist Spots in Laguna Beach, California
Laguna Beach, California is a small coastal city located south of Los Angeles. It is well-known for the beaches, art galleries, tide pools, and of course the TV series, Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County. There are many tourist spots in Laguna Beach to visit and dine at during your time in this relaxed, friendly city. Here are just a few favorites that would be a shame to miss on a 3-day California road trip.
See the Window of the Sea at Main Beach
In the heart of downtown Laguna lies the “Window to the Sea.” Main Beach is the perfect place to go for a leisurely walk, have a picnic, play some sand volleyball, or take in the sights. This top tourist spot in Laguna Beach is something that everyone must-see while in the area.
Location: N Coast Hwy and Broadway
Go for a Stroll at Heisler Park
Heisler Park is one of our favorite tourist spots in Laguna Beach. It is near Main Beach and is beautifully stretched over the cliffs and the ocean. It’s also a great spot to go for an afternoon stroll or take in the cotton candy or vibrant sunsets that are notable at Heisler Park each day.
One of the nice things about this tourist spot in Laguna Beach is you can stay for as little or as long as you want, but trust us… you’ll be back! While we were staying in Laguna Beach we went to Heisler Park for sunrise or sunset a few times.
Location: 375 Cliff Dr, Laguna Beach, CA 92651
READ MORE: Travel Hacking 101: How To Travel For Practically Free
Be Entranced by the Pirate Tower at Victoria Beach
It would be easy to think you somehow made it to Treasure Island while visiting this tourist spot in Laguna Beach. The Pirate Tower at Victoria Beach has a fascinating history but you could also come up with your own story to tell.
The tower was built in 1926 as an enclosed staircase to the beach for a California senator. Later, the senator sold his home to a retired naval captain, Harold Kendrick. Kendrick would dress in a pirate outfit and invite people over for stories and scavenger hunts.
Today you can visit the Pirate Tower during low tide and imagine it as Rapunzel’s famous tower or that it is a part of a castle that once stood.
Location: 2713 Victoria Dr, Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Climb Through the Caves at 1,000 Steps Beach
Upon arriving you’ll find a steep staircase covered in vines. After making your way down this one way down and one way up staircase, you will reach 1,000 steps beach – which in my opinion is one of the best beaches around LA.
On the beach, you’ll see a cove to your left in which you will find two caves to explore! Inside we found many tide pools and enjoyed hearing the soothing sound of the waves crashing on the rocks. Be sure to wear proper footwear if you are planning to climb in the caves, otherwise enjoy the beauty of the beach as there is much to see there too.
Location: 31972 Pacific Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA92651
Visit One of the Many Stunning Tide Pool Locations
All around the Laguna Beach area, you can find many tide pools. Each location is different from each other featuring different sea creatures that can come and go as they please while others have made this their permanent home.
If you are planning to visit the tide pools in Laguna Beach make sure you follow some simple viewing guidelines so you do not hurt or destroy the homes of these fragile ecosystems. Do not touch or take any living or non-living items from the tide pools and be very careful where you step while climbing on the rocks. Tide pools are only accessible during low tide so make sure to plan accordingly!
Tide Pool Locations
- Shaw’s Cove
Address: 989 Cliff Drive
- Crystal Cove State Park
Address: 8471 N Coast Hwy.
- Heisler Park
Address: 375 Cliff Drive
- Dana Point Marine Protected Area
Address: 24200 Dana Point Harbor Drive
READ MORE: The Best Tours from San Francisco
Go Dolphin and Whale Watching With Captain Dave
Another top tourist spot in Laguna Beach is in nearby Dana Point. You’re in for a treat if you take a cruise with Captain Dave! This whale watching tour is up close and personal as you can experience ocean life in a variety of ways.
Climb to the bow to be able to see whales swimming gracefully and dolphins jumping and playing right in front of you. You can also head to one of the underwater viewing pods to see what lies beneath the waves. Each season brings in different sea creatures so be sure to look into the whale spottings on Captain Dave’s site!
Tips for Captain Dave’s Excursion:
- Arrive roughly 30 minutes prior to your scheduled tour.
- Take Dramamine (or other medicine) if you suffer from motion sickness.
- Prepare to get wet if you stand near the bow!
- Bring a lightweight jacket as it can get windy when the boat is moving.
Location: 24440 Dana Point Harbor Drive
Price: $65/adult, $45/child, $20/infant
Take the Ferry to Balboa Island
Balboa Island attractions are a favorite pastime for many that
While on the island stop at the coastal shops for some souvenirs and get tickets to some of the rides at Balboa Fun Zone, one of the most popular family attractions in the Newport Beach area. Don’t forget to get a chocolate-covered frozen banana, the island specialty treat!
Address: Balboa Island, Newport Beach
Get a Shake From Ruby’s Diner
Ruby’s Diner is a 1940’s style diner chain that is known for its American fare and thick milkshakes! We loved the vintage charm of the classic cars out front and the beboppin’ oldies music.
While there are many locations to enjoy this Laguna Beach attraction and get a shake from
Location: 1 Balboa Pier
Explore the History of Mission San Juan Capistrano
History buff or not, you’ll be fascinated by the beauty and story of this nearly 250-year-old mission. Its story begins in 1775 when Mission San Juan Capistrano was first founded by Father Lasuen.
It was established to expand the territorial boundaries of Spain and teach the native people about Christianity. The mission is now run by the Catholic Church as a non-profit organization and has an impressive historical tour and beautiful architecture to view during your time at this tourist spot in Laguna.
Location: 26801 Ortega Hwy, San Juan Capistrano
Hours: Sunday – Friday, 9am – 5pm
Cost: $9/adults, $8/seniors, $6/children, FREE for children under 3 (prices include free audio tour)
Enjoy Lunch at the Beachcomber
The Beachcomber has incredible brunch and lunch options with a really fantastic view of the ocean. We loved the shrimp pasta and soup and salad combinations. One thing’s for sure, d
Location: 15 Crystal Cove, Newport Coast
Ride the Free Trolley and Take in the Sights
How can anyone not love free transportation?! Every day in the summer and every weekend in the winter months Laguna Beach offers its trolley services to get you to most of the top tourist spots in Laguna Beach. Wanting to get a good view of the city? Ride the loop from start to finish!
Hours of Operation: Fridays: 4pm-11pm, Saturdays: 11am-11pm, Sundays: 11am-8pm, July & August the trolley runs daily from 9:30am-11:30pm.
Experience Every Sunset While You Can
Golden hour is something special in California. One day you’ll have a warm, glowing sunset; the next day will be cotton candy skies. One thing’s for sure… be sure not to miss a second of it!
One of the best places to view a sunset in Laguna Beach is from The Rooftop Lounge. The Rooftop Lounge is located on the top floor of the La Casa del Camino hotel so be sure to get there early to snag a spot at this tourist spot in Laguna.
Regardless of what is on your California road trip itinerary, don’t miss these tourist spots in Laguna Beach!
Comments & Reviews
Ana Rose says
When I first see the word “Laguna” in your blog post, I thought you are from Philippines. We have a place named Laguna in here. I was surprised that there is also a place called “Laguna” in Los Angeles. I am impressed with all your photos. Those are all great motivations to someone to visit Laguna. 🙂
I had no idea! We still haven’t made it over to the Philippines but would love to visit. 🙂 Thank you very much for the comment!
I enjoyed Kendrick story in Pirate Tower at Victoria Beach. Great find you guys. I’m a sunset lover myself and must admit, that sunset looks magnificent. If that’s taken from your home, am sure you know you are so lucky. If not, still a great capture, love it!
We don’t currently live in Cali. However, those lucky enough to live there have such a treat each day with the sunsets. They are some of the best we’ve ever seen! Thank you Anna!
I Love tide pooling and visiting the missions. My mom was a 4th grade teacher for 15 years so she always had a lot to say about the CA missions! 🙂
The tide pools are such an awesome find. I personally enjoyed seeing all the different animals that live in them. Mission San Juan Capistrano was definitely a nice place to enjoy history. There was a 4th grade field trip while we were there and I couldn’t help but think of my own class of 3rd graders and how they would have loved the experience as well! Kudos to your mom for her 15 years. I’m only on year 3! 🙂
Great post. I really love the story of the Pirate Tower! Sunsets tend to be so magical, I wouldn’t miss one for sure!
Thank you! I also loved that story as well. Before I looked into it more I kept dreaming up many different stories that would explain it. The lighthouse is somewhat romantic don’t you think? 🙂
My father, recently a Filipino immigrant, lives in Laguna Beach. He said it’s a beautiful place, and by looking at your photos, he is absolutely right! The tidal pools and the sandy beach is awesome! We would love to go out there during the sunset and explore treasures that sea leaves behind as the tide recedes.
I’m jealous that he gets to live there all year long! It’s a beautiful city that is incredibly friendly as well. You’ll have to go and visit him there soon. 🙂
I have only visited Thousand Steps Beach from your list so I am excited to try the others! I am a sucker for dolphins so Captain Dave’s boat sounds awesome! I have never been on a dolphin watch with a boat that has underground views. That sounds and looks so exciting!
It was quite thrilling! At first my sister and I were worried we wouldn’t see any whales or dolphins but after searching we came across the pod of dolphins (had to be thousands of them) and we both were squealing with delight! Definitely a must next time you’re there.
They were quite fun to explore and had many tide pools inside the rocks. Thank you! 🙂
It really is! You could also do the Pacific Coast 1 drive and enjoy more of the west coast. 🙂
I personally haven’t watched it either but had a few friends that swooned over it! I can see it being the perfect place to film a movie or tv show as well. Thank you!
This looks like an amazing place! I’ve never been to California, but Laguna Beach has always been at the top of my list. The pirate tower looks like it’d be such a cool thing to visit- thanks for all of the great info!
As a native Southern Californian, I just love seeing posts like this! I haven’t spent a lot of time in Laguna, but have bookmarked this page for my next trip home. Your pictures are awesome, too!
Such a great tips and I’m glad that you seemed to have fun in my home state! I have always wanted to visited the pirate tower, it looks so cool. Someday I will have to take a trip over there just to see it.
Kallsy Page says
Where in California do you live Paula!? We have always been fond of your state. The pirate tower was such a unique place. 🙂
Anna Ambroszkiewicz says
What about watersports? Surfing or/and kiteboarding?
Kallsy Page says
Watersports are some of our favorite activities however this was such a short trip we didn’t get to enjoy any this time! Will definitely be back to experience more. 🙂
These photos are absolutely stunning!!! I’m looking to revisit LA this upcoming September and I’m so glad I got a chance to read your blog. Definitely adding this to my trip itinerary as well and I can’t wait. Thanks for sharing!
Kallsy Page says
Thank you Jas! Laguna Beach is so close to LA that you have to add it to the list. So glad you agree! Thanks for reading.
Our OC Adventures says
I am a Laguna Native and love everything about this post! Laguna has so much to offer for visitors and residents. If you come back for a visit, be sure to check out all of the secret beaches!