In search of the perfect location to photograph part of our new campaign, we unanimously decided on Laguna Beach. In Southern California, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more beautiful stretch of coast. The easy-going spirit of the town, the rugged beauty of the coastline and the stunning sunsets are the perfect backdrop to show off our new collection.
Laguna Beach has almost 50 lifeguard positions per day during summer but from the first week of September that drops back to 10. There’s a very good reason for that: summertime for locals in Laguna Beach, a town minutes south of Newport, is September and October. Over the two preceding months, the resort is on heat – a playground-slash-mecca for surfers, holiday-makers and golf aficionados. Cramming beach-life, shopping, art and leisure into a villagey resort over a stretch of 8 miles, Laguna Beach knows how to summer.
Ask Californians about Laguna Beach and you’ll hear about the traffic. It can get crazy. But traffic comes down to its reputation, and not just for the wealth and beauty that earned it a trashy reality series on MTV to rival The Hills, but because of its unrivalled beauty. There are few stretches of California coast that exist in this league. We were warned that the 8 mile stretch could take us 45 minutes to drive, but we are here in September, and come September this beautiful seaside village returns back to local hands. So if you like always finding a parking spot and a front row seat at a beachside bar, you might want to do Laguna Beach like a local. Here are some tips.
Aliso; Treasure Island; Goff Island, Christmas Cove
Laguna Beach isn’t a “beach” per se. It’s an extended family of smaller pristine coves that ramble some eight miles. And like a true family each of them has their own personality and quirks. The clear water of Crescent Bay, the tide pools of Shaw’s Cove, the workout of Thousand Steps Beach, each draws beach-goers in its own image. There are lots of places to research exactly what you can find at each, but our favorite is easy to overlook because many visitors assume it’s a private beach belonging to a hotel. In South Laguna, right in front of The Montage are four beaches of pristine sand and some of the most breathtaking views in Orange County. The four hidden gems are Aliso beach (which has it’s own parking lot) Treasure Island, Goff Island and Christmas Cove. Four beautiful, chilled hideaways. Visit all four; you’ll thank me later.
Zinc Café and Market
350 Ocean Ave, Laguna Beach.
A gourmet market with a hedged patio serving vegetarian, vegan dishes, and Intelligensia coffee. French Press, Americano, Hammerhead, and all the usual suspects. Oh and a pretty decent Matcha Green Tea Latte.
Driftwood Kitchen + Stateroom Bar
619 Sleepy Hollow Ln, Laguna Beach.
It’s difficult to look past the view at Driftwood Kitchen, whether you’re inside (which is basically a breathtaking balcony under canvas) or outside (a second balcony with an equally picturesque view) but the stunning food served by chef Rainer Schwartz here puts up a serious fight for your attention. Carlsbad Mussels steamed in white wine, buttermilk fried soft-shelled crab sandwiches, a charcuterie plate like no other, and then comes the desserts, battling everything that’s come before and a pretty idyllic sunset to snag first place in this beauty contest. Hard to beat.
370 Glenneyre Street, Laguna Beach
I’m always a sucker for an artisan cocktail, and one that lets the subtlety of each ingredient shine. 370 Common is a restaurant from creative chef/proprietor Ryan Adams. We weren’t here for the food but as our cocktails were mixed, the bar-tender told us about their Fried Chicken Sunday, a 3 course prix fixe menu one Sunday afternoon once a month, served up family style with bowls and plates shared amongst everyone. I made a calendar entry so I wouldn’t not miss the next one in. The cocktails were divine; we had Gin Lucie (gin/rhubarb/lemon/thyme-simple syrup/egg white) and the Nicolas Sage (vodka/sage/lemon/sage-simple syrup/cinnamon-cranberry juice). If only we had had the evening clear!