1. “The O.C.” didn’t lie. Neither did MTV’s “Laguna Beach.” There’s a side of Orange County that’s full of beautiful people, lavish homes, and rich lifestyles. But TV didn’t tell the whole truth, either. The closer you get to shore, the harder the surfer beach vibe hits.
Photo La Citta Vita via Flickr
2. Boho love chic just like peanut butter loves chocolate. Take the Sawdust Art Festival, which brings out the large artist population of Laguna to hand-carve, hand-paint, and hand-make everything from glass-blown statues to glow-in-the-dark paintings. Laguna Beach is also home to the Pageant of the Masters—a part of the larger Laguna Festival of Arts. The Pageant isn’t your average museum gallery of paintings. It’s made of people. Real people pose like the framed masterpieces.
Photo Laguna Beach Festival of Arts
3. The city has a designated greeter. The first was Eiler Larsen, a Danish man who became as much a part of Laguna Beach’s landscape as the beaches themselves: his footprints are memorialized in the sidewalk (as is his cane print), there’s Eiler Larsen Lane, and two statues of the greeter. This title was made official by the mayor in 1964. Nowadays, the greeting tradition is upheld by Michael Minutoli.
Photo CactusWriter via Wikimedia Commons
4. Boards rule. SUPs, Skimboards, Surfboards. Coves, reefs, and tidepools. Laguna Beach is less about terra firma, more about the sea. If you’re not keen to power yourself with a paddle, take a boat tour to view the life in the Pacific.
Photo Brian via Flickr
5. Sandcastles are a good living here. The company Archisand, based in Laguna Hills, gets commissioned to make castles life-size-or-bigger for tens of thousands of dollars.
Photo Ray Pennisi via Flickr
6. Is it an open-door art exhibit or a town? You can’t walk a few steps without seeing a mural or a sculpture by one of the many artists-residents who may also have a studio or gallery, like Vanessa Rothe, Forest & Ocean Gallery, and Pure Laguna Beach.