Laguna Beach is a coastal paradise—from its bright hillside cottages to its downtown streets—coming together at the edge of a sparkling blue sea. This is a grownup play land, with romantic hideaways, rooftop restaurants perfect for toasting the sunset, and a coastline dotted with protected crescents of sand—some attracting the local surfer crowd, some family favorites, and some perfect for a peaceful escape.
The town—first settled as an artist’s colony—is filled with quality galleries. Painters often perch their easels along the bluffs—watch them create a pretty seascape before your eyes. Or dip into the hushed galleries of the Laguna Art Museum, with its excellent collection of contemporary works by California artists, such as Wayne Thiebaud and David Gilhooly. Laguna Beach is also home to summertime’s remarkable Pageant of the Masters, a one-of-a-kind event where classic artworks are recreated using brilliantly painted tableaux, all populated by real people done up to replicate figures in the original paintings. The festival is wildly popular and performances always sell out, so get tickets well in advance.