Last weekend, hubby and I decided to revisit Laguna Beach for a bit of baby boomer bliss..
This charming beach town, located halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego, with over 20 different scenic coves offers everything from surfing, paddleboarding, snorkeling, kayaking, and whale watching excursions. Add ultra-chic restaurants and shops and one-of-a-kind art galleries and you get the picture.
My husband and I happen to have a bit of history here. When I was 16, my father had to meet someone for business in Laguna Beach (if you look behind the town, you’ll see one of my father’s proudest engineering feats, the design of Portofino Laguna, a 200 home development built into the hillside).
He offered to take me and my boyfriend, Scott, along and drop us off at the beach ( incredibly, the same guy I later married – we’ll celebrate our 38th anniversary this year!).
Did I mention that the surf can be a little rough in Laguna? We decided to do some body surfing despite the churning waters. I wiped out on a massive wave (think Beach Boys’ song: Heheheheheheee wipe oooout!) and my face – upper lip first – was smashed into the ocean floor.
Actually, I blame the Beach Boys for this entire mishap since they went and romanticized this whole surfer chick thing with songs I grew up on like Surfer Girl.
The result: the ugliest scab mustache that lasted for what seemed like a year, but in reality was just a few miserable weeks. Yes, I know, it could have been worse. I could have broken my neck, but this was a teen girl’s absolute nightmare!
I begged my Mom not to send me back to school where the teasing was merciless, to no avail. But good ol’ Scott still loved me and told me I looked beautiful despite the thick scab that made me look like a cross betweeen Cheech Marin and Burt Reynolds. He’s a good guy; that’s why I married him.
I eventually got over the traumatizing experience and have been back to Laguna Beach a few times since then. I knew it was absolutely gorgeous. So, hubby and I went back for a romantic weekend and visited a couple of places somehow we had missed previously.
By the way, the water was waaaay too cold for me this time of year and after my experience, I’m not sure I’ll ever navigate the waves in Laguna again, so the places we visited were more about the hiking and spectacular scenery than swimming.
Located just north of the main beach, Heisler Park offers an easy half-mile stroll along a paved path with spectacular views of the coastline and the soothing sound of crashing waves. You can take one of the paths to the beaches and tide pools, just watch the tides and weather.
Benches, picnic tables, and barbecues abound where you can enjoy the magnificent views. Hubby and I had a picnic on one of the grass areas and it was perfect!
We visited the end of April and were fortunate and didn’t run into a lot of crowds – which I know can be a nightmare during the popular summer months. There are metered spaces all along Cliff Drive if you can find a spot.
Treasure Island Park
A true hidden treasure, this park is located on the grounds of the five-star Montage Laguna Beach, where the truly rich stay. Exquisitely landscaped, several lookout benches line the easy-to-walk winding path to enjoy the stunning scenery. Stairways and ramps lead you down to the beach, where you can walk through a beautiful rock archway during low tide, find a spot in the sand for sunbathing, and a large tide pool.
In addition, there is plenty of grass areas for a picnic. I’d suggest bringing some wine and cheese to catch a romantic sunset.
I hear parking can be difficult on crowded days. We were lucky and used an inexpensive pay-to-park underground parking garage. There’s also free parking east on Wesley and we saw coin-metered parking along South Coast Highway.
If you visit my home state of California, be sure and stop at this magical place. I’d highly recommend it, even though the place once gifted me a scab mustache!