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Hey there – it’s Sarah, Stephanie’s P.R. girl and the editor of this blog, popping in for a guest post!

One of my best buddies calls Laguna Beach home so on a recent July weekend, I opted to beat the 100 degree heat of the San Fernando Valley and head south for the cooler clime of the Southern California coast.  I’ve traveled all up and down the state of California in the 13 years I’ve lived here, and I think Laguna has one of the prettiest coastlines I’ve seen with steep cliffs down to the sea, robin’s egg blue skies, turquoise sparkling water, lush vegetation and pristine beaches.  It’s a popular tourist destination and summer is peak season with art festivals bringing even more people into the coastal town.  Even with packed streets, the sense of tranquil relaxation can’t help but pervade as soon as you hit PCH.  Here are some highlights.

DO

With seven miles of gorgeous coastline and approximately 20 public beaches, hitting the surf and sand is a must.  To make beach-hopping even easier, the city offers a free trolley/bus service between downtown and South Laguna (ending at the Ritz Carlton) that operates during the summer months.  Choose one of the open air trolleys and enjoy the breeze whipping through your hair as you cruise along Pacific Coast Highway.  Ah, summer.

Walk.  There are no shortage of carefully curated boutiques, art galleries, cafes, and breathtaking vantage points along PCH, not to mention insane people watching.  South Laguna boasts the spectacular Montage Resort, with its gorgeous ocean views and acres upon acres of immaculately landscaped gardens.  The perfect spot for a summer wedding, on any given weekend you can catch a glimpse of a bride and groom posing for photographs along the pretty garden pathways.

Laguna Beach, Trolley Ride, Stephanie Johnson copyGet artsy.  Laguna is an artist’s colony and in addition to the countless art galleries that populate downtown, summer also brings in the Sawdust Art Festival (celebrating local Laguna Beach artists) and the renowned Pageant of the Masters, which brings famous masterworks to life in a live stage show.  Expect both to be crowded, and advance tickets are a must for the popular Pageant of the Masters.

STAY

If you’re going the luxury route, the Montage is a must-stay.  Set on thirty acres of pristine oceanfront property, the stunning grounds and sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean are impossible to beat.  Even if you’re not a hotel guest, indulge in the laidback luxury that’s so quintessentially California with an outdoor meal at Mosaic Bar & Grille or an evening cocktail on the patio of the Lobby Lounge.

Situated halfway between the Montage and downtown, Casa Laguna is a romantic boutique hotel with historic Mission architecture and offering personal touches like an evening wine and cheese reception.  With a maximum occupancy of two per room, Casa Laguna is uniquely designed for couples.

If it’s history you’re after, you’ll enjoy Laguna Beach’s oldest hotel, The Hotel Laguna, situated in the heart of downtown along the ‘California Riviera.’

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EAT

Downtown offers a ton of mouth-watering restaurants and anything with an ocean view will be popular (and crowded).  I like Asada on PCH for upscale Mexican food and a killer tequila bar.  A few doors down from Asada is Nick’s, a trendy bistro with a welcoming atmosphere and lots of delish comfort food options.  Try the fried deviled eggs, a Nick’s original.  No-fuss California cuisine can be sampled at Zinc, while C’est La Vie is a French restaurant and bakery that specializes in delicious crepes.  And I would be remiss without mentioning Taco Loco, a sidewalk taco bar south of downtown with a hippie surfer vibe that stays open late and offers plenty of good, cheap grub.  The vegetarians in the bunch will appreciate the yummy blackened tofu mushroom burger.

SPA

If you’re craving luxury but can’t quite afford the price tag, consider signing up for a yoga class at Spa Montage.  On off peak nights (Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays) $40.00 will get you a one-hour yoga session as well as access to their world class spa.  Totally worth it.

Want more Laguna?  Shop the BRAND NEW Stephanie Johnson Laguna collection, available in Coral, Turquoise, Emerald and Brown, and stay tuned for Style Guide:  Laguna Beach, next week on Style Compass!

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