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Explore Laguna Beach on the Trolley with Family

Laguna Beach Family Day by Trolley

August 17, 2015

Exploring the beaches, tidepools, restaurants and attractions of Laguna Beach is easy with the free, open-air, summer trolley that runs seven days a week from 9:30 am to 11:30 pm until the end of August (and on weekends through the rest of the year).

Stop 1 – Explore the Tide Pools at Diver’s Cove

All of Laguna's beaches are family friendly, but one of the best for early morning sand castle building and tide pool exploring is Diver’s Cove. At low tide, get off the Coastal Route trolley at Heisler Park on Ciff Drive and head down the sandy steps to explore the shallow saltwater pools, or grab a boogie board and ride the gentle surf. The next two beaches south, Picnic Beach and Heisler Park Reserve, are also popular tidepooling sites with grassy hillsides above. During peak summer months and holiday weekends, docents are available at the tide pool sites to answer questions and guide families over the sea-sculpted rocks. Email [email protected] to request a complimentary tide pool DVD produced by the Laguna Ocean Foundation.

Stop 2 – Breakfast at Madison Square Garden and Café

Get back on the Coastal Route trolley for one more stop to Aster Street by the Laguna Art Museum. Across the street on the inland side, wet bathing suits and even dogs are welcome at Madison Square Garden and Café, where you can order everything from granola to German apple pancakes at the counter, and then take a seat amongst the garden gnomes, wind chimes, water fountains and crafted planters. The friendly owner, Jon Madison, will surely come by to welcome you and your family to this whimsical spot.

Stop 3 – Be Arsty at The Sawdust Festival

Walk past Main Beach where body-surfers and skimboarders entertain at the surfline, sand volleyballers show off their serves, and basketball players go head to head in half-court hoops. Hop onto the Downtown Canyon route trolley on Broadway and disembark on Frontage Road at the Sawdust Art Festival, which features the arts and crafts of over 200 Laguna Beach artists. Since 1966, artists have been showing their hand-blown and fused glass, painting, jewelry, surf art, ceramics, clothing and textiles, wood and metal sculpture, scrimshaw, and photography to art enthusiasts and collectors who scamper amongst the funky booths on the sawdust covered grounds. The festival features glass blowing demonstrations, free hands-on art workshops, a children’s art booth, three stages of live music, food vendors and cold beverages from the Sawdust Saloon. The Sawdust runs through Aug. 30. Other art festivals within the block are the juried Festival of Arts (through Aug. 31) and Art-a-Fair (through August 30).

Stop 4 – Grab Some Grub at La Sirena Grill

Take the Downtown Canyon Route trolley back to Main Beach and switch to the Coastal Route trolley, going south to the Treasure Island Park stop. Across the street in the Albertson’s Shopping Center is La Sirena Grill, a “Mexeco” eatery which offers 20 craft beers on draft plus a family friendly menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Eat in (or take it to go across the street at the beautiful Treasure Island Park at Montage) and enjoy responsibly sourced fresh daily fish, carnitas, chicken or grilled organic veggies piled into tacos from homemade corn tortillas. Salads and a kids menu is also available. Open daily 8 am-10 pm.

Stop 5 – Golf a round at Ben Browns Golf Club at the Ranch at Laguna Beach

Two more stops south on the Coastal Route trolley is Aliso Creek, where a beautiful beach park sweeps the shoreline and on the inland side, a Gary Roger Baird-designed 9-hole course is situatein one of the most serene and natural settings in Orange County.The course is carved into the dramatically lush walls of Aliso and Woods Canyons, creating an ultra-private playing experience with stunning views and elevation changes on every fairway. It’s a course that seems custom-tailored to fit families. It’s short (so it doesn’t take up the whole day), and the food at Harvest (overlooking the course) is fantastic. Half and full day junior golf camps are available, while adults can tee off for $25-$30 a player.

Stop 6 – Watch the sunset at Crystal Cove

Returning north on the Coastal Route, the trolley’s most northernmost stop is El Morro, where families can enjoy the 12.3 acre Crystal Cove Historic District. Here, local activists have been working with the state to renovate this old beach cottage community since 2006. More than a dozen films have been shot here including To Have and Have Not and Beaches. The 21 restored beachfront cottages that make up Crystal Cove State Park are available for rent for less than $200 a night. It’s challenging to secure this much-coveted reservation, but you can still stroll on the three mile stretch of exquisite beach, visit The Store (which sells original plein air artwork, jewelry, books, photographs and educational toys), and dine on the sand at the Beachcomber Café, a portion of whose proceeds get channeled into Crystal Cove’s continued restoration efforts. Shuttle down or walk the trail from the state park's parking lot, put your name on the waiting list at the Beachcomber café and walk the beach at sunset.


31106 S. Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
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