I’m not ashamed to admit it: I love a good teen drama.
It all started back in the 90’s, with Beverly Hills, 90210. Yes, I’m talking about the original series – you know, the one with Jason Priestley and Shannen Doherty – not the blasphemous facelift they aired from 2008-2013. The series where tween and teen girls everywhere wanted to be Brenda Walsh, not for her mousy brown hair or mom jeans, but for her uncanny ability to secure at least one lip-lock with Dylan per episode.
Until he, you know, got busy with her best friend while she was in Paris.
The particular drama spurred a worldwide interest in Californian teens and college kids, especially when it came to following their (often alcohol-infused) antics. Years later, when reality shows became all the rage, one particular MTV gem roped me in just as surely as the students of West Beverly High.
The show? Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County.
The series, however – serving up just three seasons of guilty pleasure – was about more than just love triangles, bon fires on the beach and girl drama. (Although, they seemed to be the crux of the show.) To us older folks – you know, the 20-somethings who lounged in our condos, reveling in the throwback to our youth – it was a chance to live a different life; a life on the beach, in a gorgeous Californian town, surrounded by opulence and luxury. The kind of life that was far-removed from reality – served up on Tuesday nights.
And during those reality tv binges, I promised myself that one day, I’d visit Laguna Beach; walking in the same sand as Kristen, shopping along the same streets as Lauren.
OMG. Shopping along the same streets as Lauren!
This past summer, as part of our #DisneyVacayCA, my family was afforded to opportunity to spend a day touring the beaches of Orange County. Included in our agenda was a stop in Laguna Beach – and it’s like years of MTV fandom suddenly became a reality. Located midway between Los Angeles and San Diego, this seven-mile stretch of sand and surf offers a year-round retreat for art lovers, nature enthusiasts and beachgoers. (And, anyone who ever spent an hour on Tuesday nights following its most famous inhabitants.)
Welcome to Laguna Beach.
Globally renowned for pristine, picturesque beaches, try Main Beach or Aliso Creek Beach if you’re into people watching – and perhaps, celebrity spotting. Main Beach is also a mecca for volleyball players; teams of toned, tanned bodies can be seen serving up a friendly game throughout the day.
Laguna Beach is also a skimboard haven (a smaller counterpart to a surfboard without fins), as professionals from around the world test their skills at 1,000 Steps Beach, Brooks Street Beach or the beach that founded skimboarding itself, West Street Beach. According to Visit Laguna Beach: “If you’re lucky, you might happen upon the annual pro surfing contest at Brooks Street Beach, which is only announced 24 hours in advance when the summer’s most “epic” day of waves are predicted.”
Turn beach day into one your family will never forget: you’ll find plenty of retailers and water devotees offering wakeboard rentals, surf lessons, stand-up paddle board lessons, snorkel and diving adventures, tide pool tours and Smash ball equipment.
Take home a unique vacation keepsake or two by indulging in some savvy shopping in Laguna Beach. It’s home to over 100 galleries and one-of-a-kind shops – all accessible in a casual walking environment (with a Starbucks for refueling). Whether you’re shopping for home furnishings, jewelry, surf wear, beach fashion or gifts, you’ll want to spend some time striding along the scenic boardwalk or through sides streets teaming with ready-to-wear designer clothing and accessories.
Check out Sasha; decked out with a colorful display of clothing and modern decor, Sasha features trendy clothing from some of today’s top designers. Or pop into Muse Boutique; offering young women’s contemporary handbags, jewelry, shoes and accessories, it’s a budget-friendly option, too. And don’t miss The Laguna Colony Store; nestled next to the town’s post office in the heart of Laguna Beach on Forest Avenue, Laguna Colony Store is a treasure trove of one-of-a-kind collections.
Arts & Culture.
Visiting Laguna Beach? Circle these months on your calendar. In late June, the globally famous Sawdust Art Festival opens its doors to art lovers everywhere, while Art-A-Fair opens just a half block down from Sawdust, featuring 125 international and domestic artists who have been juried into the show.
From July 5-August 31, 2015, take in the Festival of Arts, where you can find affordable and unique works of art. From Visit Laguna Beach: “Enjoy art workshops, several dining options, guided art tours, nightly musical entertainment and hands-on demonstrations. Special art-related attractions and events, such as jazz concerts, wine and chocolate pairings, art discussions, cooking demonstrations and activities for children, provide entertainment for all.” Click here for a full list of Laguna Beach Art Festivals.
Consider Laguna Beach an essential stop on your California Beach Vacay. Just a 30-minute drive from Disneyland Resort, it’s a great option if you’re looking to tack on a bona fide beach day or two. Beachfront hotels are available to suit all budgets and travellers.
And for this gal, who loves a good Californian teen drama, it’s the perfect way to live on the other side, if even just for a day.