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Guide to Laguna Beach for Families

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Laguna Beach is a quaint and much beloved destination for families from all over the world. Many Californians (and even Southern Californians) choose this charming and well located beach city for vacations. Not only can you find loads to do in the pretty town, but you can also use its great location as a base for exploring other areas of southern California. Here is how to make the most of this fun spot with your family.

Good for
  • Family
  • History Buff
  • Thrill Seeker
  • Shopping Fanatic
  • Art and Architecture Lover
  • Nightlife Seeker
  • Nature Lover
  • Peace and Quiet Seeker
  • Beach Goer
  • Luxury Traveler
  • Thrifty Traveler
  • Trendsetter
  • Like a Local

14 Places

4 City Tips

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Map

14 Places

Disneyland Park

Disney Parks & Activities, Theme Parks

Mission San Juan Capistrano

Specialty Museums

Irvine Spectrum Center

Shopping Malls

Balboa Island Ferry

Ferries

Knott's Soak City U.S.A.

Water Parks

International Surfing Museum

Specialty Museums

Main Beach

Piers & Boardwalks, Beaches

Sawdust Arts and Craft Festival

Lessons & Workshops

Davey's Locker

Boat Tours, Boat Rentals, Dolphin & Whale Watching, Fishing Charters & Tours, Nature & Wildlife Tours

Aquarium of the Pacific

Aquariums

Endless Sun Surf School

Sports Camps & Clinics, Lessons & Workshops, Surfing, Windsurfing & Kitesurfing

Ocean Institute

Science Museums, Dolphin & Whale Watching

Vans Skatepark

Parks, Game & Entertainment Centers

Irvine Regional Park

Playgrounds, Parks, Biking Trails, Hiking Trails

scottca075's City Tips

  • When planning your trip, check to see what events are coming up. Festivals, live theater, and art and music events, take place in Laguna on a regular basis.
  • If you plan on spending more than five nights here, consider a vacation rental or condo.
  • Rent a car to make the most out of using Laguna Beach as your base for a family vacation.
  • Summer is the most popular time, but given Laguna's wonderful climates, this is a year-round destination.
  • Disneyland Park
    Disney Parks & Activities, Theme Parks
    See more photos
    scottca075 Says:

    The popular catchphrase, 'It started with a mouse' is true. Walt Disney made a fortune from his animation business, and used it to bring to life his vision of an entertainment venue that the whole family could enjoy. And it succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. Disneyland is a magical place for kids and adults alike, with terrific rides, shows, and dining. It now offers two theme parks (Disneyland and Disney California Adventure) as well as a themed dining and shopping area (Downtown Disney).

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Luxury Traveler
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Thrill Seeker
    • Senior
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Nightlife Seeker
    Tips
    • Arrive at the park 30 minutes before the official opening time — the gates open early, so you can take advantage of a short time before the real throngs arrive.
    • If you are driving, allow 20 minutes to park and ride the shuttle to the main gate.
    • Ride lines drop during parades and fireworks, so that is a good time to hit some of the most popular attractions.
    • You can easily spend three to five days exploring the parks, but don't let that dissuade you from a one-day visit if that is all the time you have available.
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #2 of 127 things to do in Anaheim
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Great ! but too short a visit 10/15/2018
    • AWful 10/15/2018
    • Disneyland Park
    Address:
    1313 Disneyland Dr
    Anaheim, CA 92803
    Phone:
    +1 714-781-4565
    Hours:
    Mon
    9:00 AM - 10:00 PM
    Tue
    9:00 AM - 11:00 PM
    Wed - Thu
    10:00 AM - 8:00 PM
    Fri - Sun
    9:00 AM - 12:00 AM
    Other:
  • Mission San Juan Capistrano
    Specialty Museums
    See more photos
    scottca075 Says:

    During the early days of colonization, Spanish Franciscan priests founded the mission system to bring Christianity to the native population of California. Today, Mission San Juan Capistrano, founded in 1776, is one of the best preserved of the state's 21 missions.The buildings and grounds are extensive and beautiful, and the surrounding area is also charming and worth exploring. This is a great place enjoy some family fun — and to slip in a bit of education without the kids noticing!

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Arrive in the morning, when the day is cool.
    • Plan on an additional two or three hours for the shops and restaurants in the area around the mission.
    • Be sure to tour the basilica next door as well.
    • Of particular interest is Serra's Chapel, the oldest continuously used chapel in California and the only documented in which Father Junipero Serra, father of the mission system, performed mass.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #1 of 24 things to do in San Juan Capistrano
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • San Juan Capistrano Mission Audio Tour 10/14/2018
    • Peaceful Capistrano 10/13/2018
    • Mission San Juan Capistrano
    Address:
    26801 Ortega Hwy
    San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675-2601
    Phone:
    +1 949-234-1300
    Price range:
    $10 - $10
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
    Other:
  • Irvine Spectrum Center
    Shopping Malls
    See more photos
    scottca075 Says:

    More than just a shopping center, the Irvine Spectrum is also a local venue for fun and entertainment. There is a giant Ferris wheel, a carousel, and water fountains that are welcome play areas in the hot summer months. Plus, there is also an IMAX theater and 20 other premium theaters, as well as more than 120 shops and restaurants, ranging from fine dining to fast food.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Family
    Tips
    • Take dry clothes for the kids if they are going run around in the water fountains.
    • Buy IMAX tickets online. The venue is popular and they go fast.
    • Try a dim sum lunch at Capital Seafood.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #1 of 32 things to do in Irvine
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Always Busy 10/15/2018
    • Mall with many options! 10/14/2018
    • Irvine Spectrum Center
    Address:
    670 Spectrum Center Dr
    Irvine, CA 92618-4956
    Phone:
    +1 949-753-5180
    Hours:
    Sun
    10:00 AM - 8:00 PM
    Mon - Thu
    10:00 AM - 9:00 PM
    Fri - Sat
    10:00 AM - 10:00 PM
    Other:
  • Balboa Island Ferry
    Ferries
    See more photos
    scottca075 Says:

    It is hard to call a successful business that has been around since 1919 a 'hidden gem,' but that is how I'd class the Balboa Island Ferry. This isn't just a means of transportation between Balboa Island and the Balboa Peninsula — it transports you between eras. The simple ride across the bay in Newport Harbor harkens back to the days when a tent city sprang up on the Balboa beaches and the Balboa Pavilion was a venue for top entertainment. Whether you use the ferry as a pedestrian, cyclist or motorist, it is a 'must do' attraction — as is spending time on Balboa Island and the Balboa Peninsula.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Nature Lover
    • Foodie
    • Beach Goer
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    Tips
    • Spend time in the Balboa Fun Zone and walk out on Balboa Pier.
    • Stroll the continuous boardwalk around Balboa Island, and gawk at the houses and yachts.
    • Shop and dine on Balboa Island along Marine Avenue.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #1 of 42 things to do in Newport Beach
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • A Blast from the Past 10/15/2018
    • A bit of History 10/14/2018
    • Balboa Island Ferry
    Address:
    410 S Bay Front
    Newport Beach, CA 92662-1042
    Phone:
    +1 949-673-1070
    Other:
  • Knott's Soak City U.S.A.
    Water Parks
    See more photos
    scottca075 Says:

    Knott's Soak City is a great family water park attached to the larger Knott's Berry Farm, America's first theme park. There are rides and attractions for people of all ages, with thrill rides for teens and adults, a special section for 'gremmies' (California surf speak for 'little ones'), a lazy river the family can enjoy together, and a wave pool.

    Good for
    • Beach Goer
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Thrill Seeker
    • Senior
    • Family
    Tips
    • Take and use lots of sunscreen.
    • Take clothes to change into, and then enjoy a meal at the famous Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant.
    • Take lots of pictures — gremmies grow fast!
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #5 of 17 things to do in Buena Park
    • Awesome 10/05/2018
    • It was ok 10/03/2018
    • Knott's Soak City U.S.A.
    Address:
    8039 Beach Blvd
    Buena Park, CA 90620-3200
    Phone:
    +1 714-220-5200
    Other:
  • International Surfing Museum
    Specialty Museums
    See more photos
    scottca075 Says:

    Surfing wasn't born in California, but it is indelibly linked to the California lifestyle — and rightly so. The International Surfing Museum isn't a large place, but it's a great choice for a family outing and for visiting the Huntington Pier area of Huntington Beach. Featuring memorabilia from some of the biggest names in surfing, the collection provides a great intro to surfing history — or a nostalgic look back for those who lived it.

    Good for
    • Beach Goer
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    Tips
    • Park at the state beach parking lots and walk over.
    • Spend an additional few hours shopping, dining, and beaching.
    • Walk out on the pier to watch the surfers.
    • Rent a board and join the fun surfing!
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #11 of 26 things to do in Huntington Beach
    • DUDE!! 09/16/2018
    • Friendly Downtown Vibe 06/25/2018
    • International Surfing Museum
    Address:
    411 Olive Ave
    Huntington Beach, CA 92648-5142
    Phone:
    +1 714-960-3483
    Hours:
    Sun - Mon
    12:00 PM - 5:00 PM
    Tue
    12:00 PM - 9:00 PM
    Wed - Fri
    12:00 PM - 7:00 PM
    Sat
    11:00 AM - 7:00 PM
    Other:
  • Main Beach
    Piers & Boardwalks, Beaches
    See more photos
    scottca075 Says:

    With California's famed Pacific Coast Highway residing between it and downtown, Main Beach sits at the crux of Laguna Beach's shopping, dining, and beach entertainments. There is a wooden boardwalk — the only one in Orange County — that runs the length of the beach, and both ends offer play areas, restroom facilities, convenient parking, and easy access to food and drinks.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Like a Local
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Nightlife Seeker
    • Nature Lover
    • Foodie
    • Beach Goer
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    Tips
    • Rent a beach chair, umbrellas, and boogie boards from Main Beach Toys.
    • Walk down to Whole Foods to stock up on fixings for a beach picnic.
    • Use lots of sunscreen, and reapply on the kids when they get out of the water!
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #9 of 57 things to do in Laguna Beach
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Always a treat to walk here. 10/08/2018
    • The Place To Be 10/02/2018
    • Main Beach
  • Sawdust Arts and Craft Festival
    Lessons & Workshops
    See more photos
    scottca075 Says:

    While the Sawdust Festival is most famous for its summer arts and crafts festival, it also holds a special Winter Festival just before Christmas, as well as year-round art classes and workshops.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • A pottery or art class is a great bonding experience for the whole family.
    • There really is sawdust on the ground, so shoes are better than sandals here.
    • The Pageant of the Masters is a quirky show that has become an icon of the craft festival. Each night during the festival, the pageant features "living" recreations of famous works of art — using real people. If you're in town while this is going on, be sure to book tickets!
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #1 of 4 Classes & Workshops in Laguna Beach
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Best one yet 09/17/2018
    • Art - Innovative, Imaginative, Incredible 09/16/2018
    • Sawdust Arts and Craft Festival
    Address:
    935 Laguna Canyon Rd
    Laguna Beach, CA 92651-1840
    Phone:
    +1 949-494-3030
    Other:
  • Davey's Locker
    Boat Tours, Boat Rentals, Dolphin & Whale Watching, Fishing Charters & Tours, Nature & Wildlife Tours
    See more photos
    scottca075 Says:

    Davey's Locker offers year-round dolphin and whale watching tours. While some months make for better sightings than others, it's always fun to get out on the water and look out for sea creatures.

    Good for
    • Hidden Gems
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Bring a jacket/sweatshirt with you (even in summer), as it can be cold on the open ocean.
    • Take a half day fishing tour — and catch your dinner!
    • Davey's Locker is next to the Balboa Island Ferry, so it could be part of a day in Newport Beach/Balboa.
    • Try to visit in March or April, when the young calves make their first northern migration!
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #3 of 50 Boat Tours & Water Sports in Newport Beach
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Sport fishing 10/07/2018
    • Can't complain fishing all day 10/02/2018
    • Davey's Locker
    Address:
    400 Main St
    Newport Beach, CA 92661-1396
    Phone:
    +1 949-673-1435
    Price range:
    $30 - $30
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    6:00 AM - 9:00 PM
    Other:
  • Aquarium of the Pacific
    Aquariums
    See more photos
    scottca075 Says:

    At only 17 years old, the Aquarium of the Pacific is one of the newer attractions in Southern California, but has quickly taken its place among the most respected aquariums in the world. The exhibits focus heavily on the California and Baja California ocean environment, but the shark exhibit, with its 'pet a shark' feature, has to be the most popular.

    Good for
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Pet a shark! How often can you do that?
    • Have a meal on the Queen Mary.
    • Plan for a few extra hours to take advantage of the time in Long Beach and visit other sights in the immediate area of the aquarium.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #5 of 54 things to do in Long Beach
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Great 10/15/2018
    • Great experience for whole family 10/15/2018
    • Aquarium of the Pacific
    Address:
    100 Aquarium Way
    Long Beach, CA 90802-8126
    Phone:
    +1 562-590-3100
    Price range:
    $30 - $30
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
    Other:
  • Endless Sun Surf School
    Sports Camps & Clinics, Lessons & Workshops, Surfing, Windsurfing & Kitesurfing
    See more photos
    scottca075 Says:

    Nothing says California more than surfing! Endless Sun Surf School is one of the best year-round places to learn how to surf. You can get two-hour lessons, or have the kids do a whole week of surfing day camp. It's a skill they can enjoy their whole lives, and this is a good place to start.

    Good for
    • Beach Goer
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Thrill Seeker
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Book early to be sure they aren't full.
    • Slather on sunscreen even in winter or on cloudy days.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #1 of 3 Classes & Workshops in Newport Beach
    • Awesome time 07/20/2018
    • Great surfing lesson! 06/20/2018
    • Endless Sun Surf School
    Address:
    Newport Beach Pier
    Lower Level of Lifeguard Headquarters/ under the Pier
    Newport Beach, CA 92627
    Phone:
    +1 949-533-1022
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    6:00 AM - 8:00 PM
    Other:
  • Ocean Institute
    Science Museums, Dolphin & Whale Watching
    See more photos
    scottca075 Says:

    The Ocean Institute in Dana Point Harbor is a hands-on ocean education center that features two historic tall ships, an oceanographic research vessel, and a learning center where kids can interact with ocean life. Don't tell the kids it's educational — they'll be having too much fun to realize it!

    Good for
    • Hidden Gems
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Look for a time to sail on one of the tall ships, or go on a whale watching tour.
    • Throughout the year, the Ocean Institute offers many special events, including camps, overnight trips on the ships, a Tall Ship Festival, and a Whale Festival. Check the website to see what's happening during your visit.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #1 of 2 Museums in Dana Point
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • If you have young children with you, just say YES! 09/06/2018
    • Nice for a smaller community, But 08/06/2018
    • Ocean Institute
    Address:
    24200 Dana Point Harbor Dr
    Dana Point, CA 92629-2723
    Phone:
    +1 949-496-2274
    Hours:
    Mon - Fri
    10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
    Sat - Sun
    10:00 AM - 3:00 PM
    Other:
  • Vans Skatepark
    Parks, Game & Entertainment Centers
    See more photos
    scottca075 Says:

    Van's Skate Park at the Outlets at Orange (formerly The Block at Orange) is a surefire way to please the kids. They can gear and 'shred' on their own, or just watch as other skilled skaters tear up the obstacles in the skate park. Lessons are offered for everyone from beginning shredders to more advanced skaters.

    Good for
    • Trendsetter
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Thrill Seeker
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Family
    Tips
    • Just do it. Everyone started at some point, so don't let the better skaters embarrass you out of jumping into it.
    • The Outlets are a great place to find deals while the kids are checking out the skating.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #3 of 10 Fun & Games in Orange
    • Neat store and skate park to check out 07/11/2018
    • Blown Away 12/06/2017
    • Vans Skatepark
    Address:
    20 City Blvd W
    Suite A2
    Orange, CA 92868-3100
    Phone:
    +1 714-769-3800
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    10:00 AM - 10:00 PM
    Other:
  • Irvine Regional Park
    Playgrounds, Parks, Biking Trails, Hiking Trails
    See more photos
    scottca075 Says:

    Irvine Regional Park is a good distance from Laguna Beach, but it's worth the drive to enjoy everything the park has to offer. The most popular attractions are the Irvine Park Railroad, the Orange County Zoo, and the trail rides on horseback, but there are also pony rides, horseshoe pits, volleyball courts, lakes, hiking trails, and more. It is a valuable open space in the urban landscape of Orange County.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Thrifty Traveler
    • Hidden Gems
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Pack a picnic lunch and make a day of it.
    • Pet a pot-bellied pig in the OC Zoo.
    • Despite its name, Irvine Regional Park is not in Irvine; it's at the northern end of the massive Irvine Ranch that once covered about a third of Orange County.
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #1 of 21 things to do in Orange
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Great Pumpkin Patch 10/10/2018
    • Great place to walk,Hike ,bike and horseback ride! Tons of trails!!! 10/02/2018
    • Irvine Regional Park
    Address:
    1 Irvine Park Rd
    Orange, CA 92869-1000
    Phone:
    +1 714-973-6835
    Other:
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