The Pageant of the Masters, founded in 1935, is held annually during the summer months. The unique show presents recreations of famous artworks using real people as models.
The most unique watching in the world-with magnificent blue whales (May through October), gray whales (December through April).
Most popular surfing beaches span from north to south and include the Rockpile (north) and mid-town beaches of St. Ann's, Thalia Street and Pearl Street.
Laguna Beach has a mild Mediterranean climate. The natural landscape of beaches, rocky bluffs and craggy canyons have been noted as sources of inspiration for Plein air painters.
Take a half-mile walk on the bluffs of Laguna Beach to see spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean. Stop by the Heisler Park gazebo and look down to the tide pools below.
With more than 100 art galleries and artist studios, you'll come to understand why Laguna Beach refers to itself as an art colony.
Be sure to explore our one-of-a-kind retail shops for made in Laguna décor, bath salts and oils, jewelry, clothing, purses, hats and much more.
Settlers arriving after the American Civil War found scarce amounts of land available for homesteading, and one such tract, known then simply as “the public lands” was the coastal strip from Laguna Canyon to Three Arch Bay. During the 1870s, a small community named Arch Beach had been started at the mouth of Bluebird Canyon. By the early 1880s most of the land around its small Post Office and general store had been subdivided. At about the time that Orange County separated from Los Angeles County and became independent in 1889, the community was caught in an economic downturn.
When the economy renewed itself, the decision was made to relocate the town to the mouth of Laguna Canyon. This was possible because a dispute with the Irvine ranch over the public right to traverse Laguna Canyon had been resolved in the courts, allowing an additional means of access to the coast. The streets were laid out in a grid plan despite the location’s hilly nature, which has resulted in some streets having extremely steep inclines.
By 1900 Laguna Beach was occupied by five families of homesteaders struggling to farm land. They soon found an additional source of income by renting sections of the beaches to farmers from Tustin, Santa Ana, Fullerton, Riverside, and other inland communities who were eager to escape the summer heat. Thus began the tourist industry which is still a mainstay of the local economy.
In the early 1920s the area was discovered by a group of landscape painters who laid the foundation of the art community which is still thriving to this day. Subsequently, various groups have “discovered” Laguna Beach and added incrementally to the town’s diversity. Many wealthy and progressive people have made Laguna Beach their home and added to the local culture. Gerry Max, in recording the life of one of the community’s most famous early members, travel writer Richard Halliburton (1900–1939), has called Laguna a “weary rover’s dream,” and in Horizon Chasers offers a sense of Laguna Beach in the 1920s and 1930s. Hildegarde Hawthorne, granddaughter of the novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne, described Laguna “as a child of that deathless search, particularly by persons who devote their lives to painting or writing, or for some place where beauty and cheapness and a trifle of remoteness hobnob together in a delightful companionship.”. Halliburton himself marveled at the “sensational vistas” and “the peaceful valley on the one side (of the home called Hangover House which he had built on the ridge) and the full sweep of the ocean on the other.”
The region was originally known to the Spanish as “La Cañada de Las Lagunas” which means “The Canyon of the Small Lakes”, in reference to two lakes found near the head of Laguna Canyon. However, in confusion with the word “Lagoon”, Laguna Beach was nearly misnamed “Lagoona” by the State of California. While it was still an unincorporated community, the Postmaster, Nicholas Isch, journeyed to Sacramento to rectify the mistake, and the original Spanish spelling was retained.
Laguna Beach was incorporated as a General Law City in 1927 and has experienced a slow but steady population growth since that time. Laguna Beach was the southern California epicenter of ‘alternative’ culture in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In early 1967, John Griggs and other founding members of the Brotherhood of Eternal Love relocated from Modjeska Canyon to the Woodland Drive neighborhood of Laguna Beach, which they later re-christened ‘Dodge City’. Timothy Leary lived for several months with the Brotherhood until his December 26, 1968 arrest for possession of marijuana, near the intersection of Woodland Drive and Roosevelt Lane.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 25.2 km2 (9.7 sq mi). 22.9 km2 (8.8 sq mi) of it is land and 2.3 km2 (0.89 sq mi) of it is water. The total area is 9.24% water.
It is bordered by the Pacific Ocean on the southwest, Crystal Cove State Park on the northwest, Laguna Woods on the northeast, Aliso Viejo and Laguna Niguel on the east, and Dana Point on the southeast.
The land in and around Laguna Beach rises quickly from the shoreline into the hills and canyons of the San Joaquin Hills. The town’s highest point, at an elevation of 1,007 feet (307 m), is Temple Hill in the Top of the World neighborhood. Because of its hilly topography and surrounding parklands, there are few roads into or out of town; only the Coast Highway connecting to Newport Beach to the northwest and to Dana Point to the south, and State Route 133 crossing the hills in a northeastern direction through Laguna Canyon. Parts of Laguna Beach border the Aliso/Wood Canyons Regional Park.
In 1979, Laguna Beach was described as “a paradise, an inexhaustible source of inspiration” by artist Marco Sassone, one of the many artists who made the “idyllic” town home since the 1920s.