First populated by artists of every ilk, the Laguna Beach community grew up in the 1930s and 40s as an exclusive art colony and retreat for Hollywood celebrities and quiet millionaires alike. It offers stunning coastline, a mild year-round climate, and plenty to see and do for tourists and residents alike.
Today, Laguna Beach might be more sophisticated with her offering of world-class art galleries, art festivals, museums, world-class dining, expansive beaches and turquoise waters, but her real charm lies in her ability to be both eclectic and eccentric.
There are no “suburbs” in Laguna Beach. No house looks like its neighbor, and, in fact, sleek mansions happily abide next to hobbit-y huts on every street. There are no Big Box stores, and no franchises or chains, save for a handful of small entities and hotel chains that settled in the Laguna Beach community many decades ago and remain grandfathered in.
While Laguna Beach is one of the most affluent cities in the United States, there are no divisive class or “group” divisions in Laguna Beach, either. Retired billionaires will wander down to the coffee shop in sweats and slippers and hobnob for hours with struggling artists in UGGs. In Laguna Beach, there’s a relaxed energy here – even the people who might be “keeping up with the Joneses” do so with neighborhood volleyball tourneys and chatty Beach Night gatherings.
Thanks to decisive action in the “development years” of the 1980s and 1990s, the Laguna Beach community remains relatively isolated from urban encroachment by its surrounding hills, limited highway access and a dedicated “open space” greenbelt. Nearly six miles of Laguna Beach’s coastline is also protected by a State Marine Reserve, and an additional 1.21 miles of Laguna coastline is a State Conservation Area, which disallows fishing and motor boats.
Pacific Coast Highway, running north and south, Highway 133 (Laguna Canyon Road), allowing east/west access, and the South Laguna entry from Crown Valley Parkway allow for the only three primary access points into and out of Laguna Beach. As the Laguna Beach community exists on tourism as its primary industry (more than 3 million people visit annually), expect traffic congestion in the high-season months. Residents who live here, however, find ways around the congestion points, and rarely complain – after all, the majority of them will tell you they live in paradise.
The city has its own award-winning public school district with two elementary schools, one middle school and one high school (the renowned Laguna Beach High School). Laguna Beach caters to several private academies as well.