Laguna's Summer Fairs & More

Laguna's Summer Fairs & More, Laguna Beach, California (A)

Hundreds of thousands of visitors come to Laguna Beach each summer to enjoy art festivals, theater, music, the prettiest coastline in Southern California, and some very best cuisine Orange County has to offer. This guide takes you to all of the art festivals, the Pageant of the Masters, Laguna Art Museum, several must-try restaurants, and concludes with a walk along Main Beach and through downtown Laguna. There's something in Laguna for everyone.
How it works: The full article is featured in the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" on iTunes App Store and Google Play Store. Download the app to your mobile device to read the article offline and create a self-guided walking tour to visit the sights featured in this article. The app's navigation functions guide you from one sight to the next. The app works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Sights Featured in This Article

Guide Name: Laguna's Summer Fairs & More
Guide Location: USA » Laguna Beach
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Article (A))
# of Attractions: 14
Tour Duration: 2.0 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.1 Km or 1.9 Miles
Author: Scott Weber
Author Bio: Scott has lived in just about every coastal town in Orange County and loves to help visitors find the best attractions on their visit. Please check out his other guides at GPSmyCity for San Clemente, Dana Point, Newport Beach, and Las Vegas and Boulder City.
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Sawdust Art Festival
  • Art-A-Fair
  • Pageant of the Masters
  • Festival of Arts
  • Laguna Playhouse
  • The Lumberyard Restaurant
  • Forest Avenue
  • Wyland Gallery
  • Laguna Hotel
  • Main Beach
  • Laguna Art Museum
  • Las Brisas Restaurant
  • Heisler Park
  • North Laguna Galleries and Restaurants
Sawdust Art Festival

1) Sawdust Art Festival

The Sawdust Festival is a non-profit organization and is dedicated to promoting art created in Laguna Beach. A long time favorite of summer tourists, the Sawdust Festival features more handcrafts than it’s Festival of Arts cousin. The Sawdust was started in 1965 in protest to the Festival of Arts jury system and that rebelliousness has served it well. You’ll find everything from jewelry, ceramics, woven goods, serigraphs, paintings, sculpture, quilts and more. The Sawdust grounds are nestled in picturesque Laguna Canyon and you’ll find the summer nights are cool, but comfortable. Constructed to resemble an old-world faire, the Sawdust is a perfect spot to wander through a maze of artisans in their colorful booths while a variety of musical acts play in the background. Admission is under $8 dollars for everyone and they serve food and wine on the grounds. The Sawdust also offers art workshops and has a Winter Fantasy show between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

2) Art-A-Fair

Although a relative newcomer to the artist colony of Laguna Beach, the 45-year-old Art-A-Fair is nonetheless a very popular event and because it’s a juried show, only 125 artists are selected to show their wares. This intimate festival, nestled in the canyon between the Sawdust and Festival of Arts, is a prime spot to view a variety of two and three-dimensional art in every medium including, oil paintings, watercolors, acrylics, drawings, photography, digital art, mixed media, sculpture, jewelry, ceramics, glass, and wood. The Art-A-Fair offers collectible in the mid-range price point, so if you want to take home a souvenir or your trip without going broke, the Art-A-Fair just might be the place for you. Admission is under $7.00 and the festival runs from late June to Labor Day.
Pageant of the Masters

3) Pageant of the Masters

Unlike anything else on earth, the Pageant of the Masters has been dazzling fans for more than over 50 years. Every night at 8:30, in the pageant’s own outdoors amphitheater, the audience is treated to 90 minutes of living art, literally. Whether it’s a painting, sculpture, or decorative item, each work of art features real people dressed and made-up to replicate the original. This is one of the must-see events for anyone visiting Laguna Beach in the summer. Not only is each exhibit accompanied by music from a live orchestra, each night the audience is treated to a behind the scenes preview of one of the features. They set up the background, the frame, the foreground, and arrange the people into their pose, and when they’re finally ready, they turn off the lights for a few seconds. When the real stage lights go on, you can’t believe your eyes. What was three-dimensional just seconds ago is now life sized work of art. Although professionals run the Pageant, the actors are all local citizens who volunteer for the summer production. Don’t miss this one. It’s a keeper. Order your tickets well in advance as they do sell out quickly. The theme for the 2011 season is, “Only Make Believe” and will feature paintings, sculpture, illustrations, and jewelry relating to myths and fairytales.
Festival of Arts

4) Festival of Arts

The Festival of Arts is the festival that started it all. Fulfilling the needs of the expanding artist colony of the 1920’s, the Laguna Art Association began promoting itself in the community center and success soon followed. They moved from one gallery to another until 1932 when they hosted a one-week summer festival with art exhibitions, community plays, pageants, parades, street market and even a costume ball. But the big hit of the event was a Living Pictures show. Everyone loved the event and year-by-year the event grew, and in 1941 the present day grounds were purchased and the festival found a permanent home. Besides showcasing the best painters and sculptors in the immediate area, you’ll find furniture, stained glass, jewelry, graphics, mosaics, weavings, and more. The festival is a juried show and only a certain number of artists in each art category are invited to participate. The festival also showcases student art from kindergarten through high school and workshops in printmaking and ceramics run throughout the summer. Food and wine is available on the grounds and live music is presented most evenings and weekends. The festival runs from early July through August and your admission is valid for the whole summer run.
Laguna Playhouse

5) Laguna Playhouse

Sitting right next to the Festival of Arts, the Laguna Playhouse is one of the last community playhouses in Orange County. With origins dating back to 1920 when a group of drama devotees got together to establish a community theater, Laguna Beach has been privileged to on-going live theater for more than 85 years. With a rotation of popular productions showcasing many rising stars, more than 100,000 fans visit the 420-seat Moulton Theater every year. And during festival season, the playhouse opens its doors to visiting headliners for limited engagements. In addition to staging major productions, the Playhouse also sponsors many educational programs and has a youth theater that stages two productions each year. The summer season sells out fast so reserve your seats early.
The Lumberyard Restaurant

6) The Lumberyard Restaurant

The Lumberyard restaurant is located in one of Laguna’s most historic buildings. In the early years, Santa Ana was the closest city to buy lumber and a lumberyard was desperately needed to service Laguna’s steady growth. In 1912, this now classic structure was built and served the community until the 1970’s when it was moved out into the canyon. Today the Lumberyard Restaurant serves both lunch and dinner and is known for great American food such as rotisserie chicken, steaks, and seafood, as well as some down-home favorites such as meatloaf, chicken potpie, and spaghetti and meatballs. You can dine on the beautiful outside patio overlooking historic city hall or relax in one of the two dining rooms. You can even belly up to the horseshoe bar and enjoy a signature drink while enjoying a sporting event on one of the large flat screens. The restaurant is open 11am to 10pm, but the bar stays open later and is a popular place to get a nightcap after an evening at the Festival or the Laguna Playhouse. Dinner reservations are recommended.
Forest Avenue

7) Forest Avenue

Laguna has long been cherished for it’s quaint small town charm and no street exemplifies this more than Forest Avenue. As you leave the Lumberyard Restaurant and make your way down to the beach, you’ll pass a multitude of gift and apparel shops as well as the Post Office. Across the street is the Laguna Presbyterian Church. This beautiful structure was built in 1928 by Raymond Brahams, and like San Clemente and Dana Point, a Spanish Colonial architectural style was adopted. The church is still in use and you’re more than welcome to attend services. Crossing Beach and Glenneyre Streets you’ll get to some of the city’s finest restaurants, cafes, art galleries, gift shops, and clothiers. The Brussel’s Bistro and 230 Forrest Avenue are excellent restaurants and are covered in the Laguna restaurant guide. The corner of Forest Avenue and Pacific Coast Highway is known as Greeter’s Corner. Throughout the 50’s and 60’s Eiler Larson stood at this intersection and welcomed visitors as they drove by.
Wyland Gallery

8) Wyland Gallery

Perched on prime beachfront property next to the Laguna Beach Hotel, the Wyland Gallery’s flagship store is not only Wyland’s personal home, but is where Wyland painted his first Whaling Wall mural. Wyland is known as one of the foremost marine artists and has done huge wall murals all over the world, and is work is viewed by over 1 billion people each year. His art is visually stunning and sought by collectors and museums. In addition to his commercial success, his foundations are actively engaged in teaching students about the oceans, rivers, lakes, streams, and wetlands. The original mural on the side of the building was redone several years ago in stunning glazed tile. The unique studio-gallery complex houses one of the world’s largest collections of original and limited edition Wyland oils, watercolors, brush art, and sculptures. It’s also the nice spot to enjoy a cup of freshly brewed organic coffee while you enjoy their ocean front deck or browse through the store. You might even catch Wyland wandering the premises.
Laguna Hotel

9) Laguna Hotel

Built on the beach and central to all of the restaurants, art galleries, and festivals, the Laguna Hotel has been a favorite of tourists for more than a century. The original Laguna Hotel was built in 1888, but was demolished in 1928 to build a safer and more substantial structure. As Laguna’s popularity grew, so did the hotel and now it stands as the city’s most recognizable landmark. The hotel has 63 guestrooms, 2 suites, a restaurant, a lounge, their own private beach, and they offer a terrific Sunday brunch on their beachside terrace. The hotel will even host your wedding on the sand or in their Rose Garden, and can handle receptions for as many as 150 guests. Make sure to visit the Laguna Hotel on your visit. This is a great place to watch the sun set while you sip a margarita at one of their great beachside bars.
Main Beach

10) Main Beach

At some point in your visit to Laguna you’re going to end up at Main Beach. This is one of the most popular beaches in Orange County and certainly one of the most beautiful. In fact, it’s hard to find any prettier stretch of coastline than Laguna’s seven miles of cliffs and coves. Whether you walk north or south, the view is spectacular. For the adventurous, take a walk to the rocks and explore some of Laguna’s famous tidepools. Summer brings thousands of beach lovers, volleyball players, and at the basketball courts you’ll see pros and amateurs competing in pickup games. The South Coast Movie Theater across the street was built in the 1930’s and is the city’s only theater. If you’re hungry, there’s no lack or choices. Pizza, burgers, coffee, or cocktails are only a few steps away. And one of Laguna’s most popular pastimes is to park your rump on one of the benches and watch the world walk by. Either way, Main Beach is a great place to spend the day and a great spot catch the sunset.
Laguna Art Museum

11) Laguna Art Museum

Laguna Beach and Orange County have a very rich and unique cultural and artistic heritage and there’s no better place to view it than the Laguna Art Museum. From Thiebaud, to Plein Air, to the watercolors of the California Scene painters, the curators have done an excellent job showcasing mainstream art as well as paying homage to local favorites. They also and have Q & A sessions with famous artists as well as providing in-depth lectures by visiting art historians. Perched above Main Beach, the Laguna Art Museum usually runs multiple exhibitions concurrently in their 4 galleries so it’s probably a good idea to check their website to see what’s showing and what live events are coming up. The museum offers guided and audio tours, and educational workshops. Admission is $12.00 for adults and children under 12 are free. The museum is open everyday from 11am to 5pm, has a gift shop, and is wheelchair accessible.
Las Brisas Restaurant

12) Las Brisas Restaurant

You’ll be hard pressed to find a more romantic place to have a drink or meal than at Las Brisas Restaurant. Set next door to the Laguna Art Museum, Las Brisas offers panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and Laguna Beach’s sculpted rock coastline. Originally known as the Victor Hugo Inn, the inn was converted to Las Brisas in 1979 and has been a magnet for visitors ever since. Las Brisas takes prides in presenting authentic cuisine of the Mexican Riviera and you’ll be treated to some of the best seafood, beef, and chicken entrees in Laguna Beach. The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a Sunday Brunch from 8am to 11pm. They can host limited-sized banquets, and due to their popularity, it’s a good idea to make a dinner reservation well in advance of your visit to Laguna Beach.
Heisler Park

13) Heisler Park

The views from Heisler Park are the ones that bring tourists back to Laguna Beach year after year. Sculpted into the cliffs above the beautiful Pacific Ocean, 3-block-long Heisler Park affords one of the most breath-taking strolls in the county and is a favorite location for small, intimate weddings. When you visit it, you’ll see why. On clear days you’ll catch Catalina Island to the west and to the south, you can follow Laguna’s beautiful coastline down to Dana Point. The park has several picnic areas, a gazebo, a beautiful rose garden, and hosts the Laguna Beach Lawn Bowling Club. In the winter and spring it’s not uncommon to see grey whales on their migration from Alaska to Baja California. And if you want to explore the tidepools or take a walk on the beach, there is an access ramp below the picnic tables. Take your time; it doesn’t get any better than this.
North Laguna Galleries and Restaurants

14) North Laguna Galleries and Restaurants

This section of Laguna is often overlooked, but is really the heart of the city’s gallery district and as an added bonus it hosts 3 of Laguna’s best restaurants. At the corner of PCH and Jasmine is the popular Pottery Barn, but if growing plants isn’t your thing, head across the highway to the Chakra Shack and get your aura adjusted. Moving toward downtown is the Laguna North Gallery, Whitney Gallery, and the Lu Martin, Rohrer, and Artman Galleries. At the corner of PCH and Cliff are three iconic Laguna restaurants. The Cottage was built in 1917 and has been open everyday for the last 35 years. Next-door is Madison Square where you’re served breakfast and lunch in their beautiful garden setting. And across the street is the Royal Hawaiian restaurant. If you like Polynesian-style food and colorful drinks with small umbrellas, this 1947 classic is the place for you. And don’t forget to try the house salad dressing. It’s so good it should be illegal.

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