Laguna Beach is a beautiful coastal city, about an hour south of Los Angeles. Home to a thriving art scene, the city hosts its annual Pageant of the Masters and Festival of the Arts, which happens each July. The Pageant of the Masters (now in its 85th year) brings art masterpieces to life with life-size, three-dimensional staged reproductions of famous works of art, occupied by real people in make-up, body paint and / or costumes. Aside from the annual arts festival, Laguna Beach and the surrounding area is a great place for a weekend getaway. The close concentration of luxury hotels, the beach, great restaurants and great art, combined with warm sunny weather almost 365 days a year make it the ultimate luxury getaway destination.
The Ranch at Laguna Beach is a new luxury resort, snuggled in the Aliso and Lake Canyons, right across from the beach. There’s a challenging, 9-hole golf course on the property along with a very nice spa (also very popular with the locals). The Ranch at Laguna Beach is also the only California hotel property to be a part of the National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World collection. The rooms and suites (and villas) have a very contemporary, yet casual California design with a lot of light colors. They are spread out around the large property in low-rise one- and two-story buildings.
Spend some time on the beautiful beach but watch out for the birds. They will quickly find and steal any food you leave if you go swimming or walking. There’s also a few blocks of great shopping, art galleries and bars and restaurants along Pacific Coast Highway right next to the city’s main public beach. That public beach is called Main Beach and it’s where Ocean Avenue and Broadway intersect with Pacific Coast Highway. Aside from the wide, sandy beach there are miles of running and biking trails and on the beach there are volleyball and basketball courts.
We ventured across PCH to the Montage Laguna Beach (it’s across the street and about a1/4 mile away from The Ranch) for a fancy dinner at Studio, their on-site, very fine dining restaurant. Dinner was delicious and the service was excellent, truly Michelin-star level. Great sommelier as well. We shared a risotto with fresh, shaved black truffle and also shared a loin of venison for our main course.
Laguna Beach is close to John Wayne Airport in Orange County, which is served by a lot of airlines. The city was the very first stop on an epic 1,500 mile California road trip I did in the mighty Lexus RC F. The powerful sports coupe brings Lexus’ race technology to the street. When it’s time to cruise, you can put the RC F into Normal mode for a soft, touring coupe ride. We started our road trip at The Ranch, then drove north to Malibu, then up the 5 freeway all the way to Sonoma. After Sonoma, we drove into San Francisco for a few days before driving back home to Los Angeles.