Laguna Beach is a unique, upscale coastal city known for its wide array of distinct eateries, fine shops and incredibly immaculate beaches and sparkling blue waters. Dubbed as the "California Riviera," Laguna Beach stands out from surrounding cities because it is located on the most beautiful section of Southern California's coast and is separated from the rest of Orange County by rolling foothills. It is an area that boasts warm clear waters throughout most of the year, allowing for surfing, scuba diving, snorkeling, fishing and much more.
Disneyland, Hollywood, Knotts Berry Farm, Four World Class Convention Centers, The San Diego Zoo, Sea World, Mexico, and Sport Fishing are just a short drive away. But with all the amenities located right here in beautiful Laguna Beach, canyons, coastal hills, sandy beaches, bluff top trails, art galleries and yearly events, it's obvious why so many flock to Laguna to escape the congestion of the big city and enjoy a relaxing day at the beach.
Some of the most popular attractions in Laguna Beach are, of course, the beautiful beaches. The Laguna Beach itself is a gorgeous, clean beach that offers plenty of recreational opportunities, as well as nearby seaside restaurants. Driving down Pacific Coast Highway, one can see the most gorgeous view of Crystal Cove, another of the most well-known beaches in Laguna Beach. Both of these beaches are great places to walk, picnic, swim, suntan, take photos, and more. Many residents and visitors enjoy spending time walking around Heisler Park, as well, which is a lovely park full of nature and artwork right along the coast. The nearby shopping opportunities are truly one-of-a-kind, and many stores are charming boutiques that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
The city is home to many artists and professionals and has become a colony of art. Today, art festivals and more than 100 art galleries grace the city, bringing in visitors from all over. The outdoor Pageant of the Masters, a fabulous stage production of living art re-creations, started in the early 1930s and is held each summer. Other attractions and events include the Art-A-Fair Festival, the Sawdust Festival, Cultural Artist Designed Benches, Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach Live and The Laguna Playhouse.
Laguna Beach also provides a large variety of services to its residents including police, fire, paramedic, marine safety, recreation, parks, public works, community development, transit, information technology and animal control. The city employs more than two hundred full-time employees and an additional hundred part-time employees during the peak summer months.
The city manages 20 parks, many of which include tennis courts, playgrounds, basketball and volleyball courts, picnic areas, scenic vista points and public artists work. Parks in the area include Alta Laguna Park, Crescent Bay Beach and Park, Heisler Park, Divers and Shaws Cove/Picnic and Rockpile Beach, Main Beach Park and many more. Laguna Beach also features 19,000 acres of coastal wilderness, open space and marine preserves that offer opportunities for walking, hiking, cycling, horseback riding, bird watching and nature studies. Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, Orange County Natural History Museum, Crystal Cove State Park and Laguna Coast Wilderness Park are some of Laguna's natural preserved areas.
The Laguna Beach Unified School District serves the educational needs of the community. Laguna Beach High School ranks in the top 10% of schools in California on the Academic Performance Index. More than 85% of the high schools' students are active in extra-curricular activities including ASB, athletics, drama, dance, instrumental music, Model United Nations, Mock Trial as well as campus clubs. Students can choose from a variety of local colleges to attend after graduation. Nearby community colleges include Irvine Valley College, Orange Coast College and Saddleback College. California State Universities closest to Laguna Beach are California State University at Fullerton, California State University at Long Beach, University at California, Irvine and University at California Los Angeles.
Long before Laguna Beach became known as one of the most beautiful destinations in Southern California, an Indian Tribe called the Ute-Aztecas occupied the area. The group was attracted to the area for its warm climate and untouched land. The tribe named the area Lagonas, meaning lakes, after the two fresh water lagoons that accented the canyon. In 1904, the name was officially changed from Lagonas to Laguna Beach.
By the early 1900s, a large number of artists discovered the beauty of Laguna Beach and decided to settle in the area. In 1903 Norman St. Claire (the first important artist) left San Francisco and made his way down to Laguna Beach to paint the surf, the hillsides and the lagoons surrounding this seaside village. Many of his friends followed him after seeing his paintings. By the late 1920's, Laguna Beach had approximately 300 permanent residents, with nearly half of them being artists.
After a hard day's work in Hollywood, many film stars resorted to Laguna Beach where many of them owned a luxury estate or second home. Some of Laguna's well-known residents included Bette Davis, Mary Pickford, Mary Miles Minter, Victor Mature, Judy Garland, Rudolph Valentino, Charlie Chaplin and Mickey Rooney, to name a few. These early Hollywood stars founded the Laguna Playhouse in 1920. Today, it is the oldest continuously operating theatre company on the west coast.
Today, Laguna Beach is home to a broad mix of residents, who greatly value the beauty and high quality of life that Laguna Beach offers.
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