Laguna Niguel is an affluent, suburban city of Orange County in California. Its name is derived from the Spanish word “lagoon” (laguna) and Native American word “Niguili”. The city is situated on Joaquin Hills southeast of Orange County and forms the borders of the following cities: San Juan, Mission Viejo, Laguna Hills, Laguna Beach, Dana Point, and Aliso Viejo.
The city is California’s first community that was master-planned. It is mostly residential and home to the workers from the north and center of Orange County. It is popular for having a low crime rate, wonderful coastal climate, and relaxing surroundings that are abundant in public trails and parks. Here are the best things to do in Laguna Niguel:
1. Visit a park
Source: wikimedia commons
If you’re wondering what to do in Laguna Niguel and not entirely sure where to start, we recommend visiting one of the scenic parks in the area.
Firstly, stop by Heisler Park for some fresh air. This beachfront park is a popular destination for travelers visiting Laguna Niguel. The park stretches from Diver’s Cove to Aster Street along the bluffs of Cliff Drive. You will enjoy a lot of outdoor activities here. Aside from swimming on the beach, there are tide pools, lawn bowling greens, barbecues and picnic tables. The picturesque beach park is also the perfect venue to have weddings.
Address: 375 Cliff Drive, Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Website: Heisler Park
Another popular park that is a must-visit is the Laguna Niguel Regional Park. With remote picnic shelters equipped with barbecue stoves, sand volleyball courts, tennis courts and hiking trails, it is a family-friendly destination that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. Not to mention the Laguna Niguel Lake, a 44-acre (17.8 hectare) lake found within the park that holds a wide variety of fishes including trout, bass, and catfish. With so many different types of outdoor activities offered by the park, you’re sure to find something for yourself!
Laguna Niguel Regional Park
Address: 28241 La Paz Rd, Laguna Niguel, CA 92677, USA
Website: Laguna Niguel Regional Park
Lastly, the Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, a designated wildlife sanctuary, should also be on the top of your list of must-visit destinations in Laguna Niguel. It is made up of 4,500 acres (1821 hectare) of coastal canyons, high ridges, and endangered coastal sage scrub, making it a perfect getaway for hiking enthusiasts and nature lovers. The most popular feature of the park is the Dripping Cave, where you can spot many gorgeous stalactites hanging from the ceilings of the cave.
Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park
Address: 28373 Alicia Pkwy, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656, USA
Website: Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park
2. Join the festivities at First Thursdays Art Walk
Every first Thursday of the month, a cultural art festival is held featuring the artworks of the local artists in Laguna Beach – Laguna Niguel’s neighboring city. This year long festival started in 1998 and is traditionally held every month. It is free for public viewing. It is held from 6 PM to 9 PM in several galleries starting from the Laguna Art Museum. There is even a free trolley service that will take you to these different art galleries located in the north, south and center of Laguna Beach.
First Thursdays Art Walk
Address: P.O. Box 4654, Laguna Beach, CA 92652
Website: First Thursdays Art Walk
3. Ride a trolley
You won’t have a problem exploring the town even if you don’t have a car. The city has an efficient trolley service system that gives a free ride to all public commuters. The trolley is open on the sides and covered with a wooden ceiling. It is a comfortable and safe ride even if it’s not an air-conditioned vehicle. It takes you to different parts of the city and bus stops while you are enjoying the view of the scenic coastline. They even allow pets and service animals on board.
Laguna Beach Trolley
Address: 361 Forest Avenue, Suite 200 Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Website: Laguna Beach Trolley
4. Explore tide pools
The tide pools of Laguna Beach are protected marine life areas of the Main and Treasure Islands. The shallow pools are formed by waves that crash on the rocky beaches of the islands. The little pools give you a clear view of marine life that is sustained by these pools. You don’t have to go diving to see urchins, starfish and colorful corals and fish. You can already view them by just standing on the edge of the pool and looking into the water. It’s a fun escapade that is safe to do with little kids. These parts are protected, meaning you are not allowed to touch the marine life or take anything from these areas (not even a piece of stone)!
Laguna Beach Tide Pools
Address: 381 Forest Avenue, Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Website: Laguna Beach Tide Pools
5. Go wine tasting
Laguna Canyon Winery is a popular destination of wine lovers who are visiting Laguna Niguel. The winery offers a free taste of their award-winning wine that is handcrafted on-site. Their exquisite wine is made from the quality grapes of Sonoma and Napa Valley vineyards. Drop by the winery except on days when they are closed like Mondays and major holidays.
Laguna Canyon Winery
Address: 2133 Laguna Canyon, Laguna Beach, California, CA 92651
Facebook: Laguna Canyon Winery
See our full list of recommended Hotels in Laguna Niguel and also compare the prices with Vacation Rentals in Laguna Niguel
6. Go whale watching
Another exciting activity you can do is take a cruise and go whale and dolphin watching in the waters of Laguna Beach. There are daily cruises for as low as 26 USD (babies get to ride for free)! The boats make four trips in a day. These giant gentle creatures are plentiful in these waters so you won’t be disappointed. Just check the schedules of the the cruises when you plan to go on one.
Newport Landing is one of the reputable cruise companies that ply the waters of Laguna. A portion of the proceeds of every ticket you buy for the cruise goes to support the Crystal Cove Alliance and the State Park Marine Conservation Area.
Newport Landing Whale Watching
Address: 309 Palm St. #A, Newport Beach, CA 92661
Website: Newport Whales
7. Visit the museum
Source: wikimedia commons
The Laguna Art Museum curates, collects and cares for all forms of art made by California artists. What makes this museum unique is that it displays and exhibits artworks exclusively made by Californian Artists ONLY and focuses on the history and life of California from all art forms and periods, starting from the 19th-century to the present time.
The museum was formed by the collaboration of Californian artists in 1918 and in 1920 appointed Edgar Payne as president. The first collections were exhibited in a renovated cottage. Thru the years, several fundraisings helped in developing the museum into what it is today. It is now a popular destination for art enthusiasts, tourists, families and educational trips for children.
Laguna Art Museum
Address: 307 Cliff Drive, Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Website: Laguna Art Museum
8. Go skimboarding
Skimboarding is similar to surfing but the skimboard is smaller and doesn’t have fins. You ride it across the waves and back to the shore. In Laguna Niguel, there are a lot of beaches along its coastline where you can play this sport. Aliso Beach, one of the family friendly beaches on its coastline, is where the annual Skimboard Word Competitions are held every August. While watching the competition you can play with the kids on the sand or take your dog out for a stroll on the beach. Just remember to keep the dogs on a leash!
Address: 381 Forest Avenue, Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Website: Alisio Beach
9. Go shopping
Here in Laguna, you don’t simply just go shopping. When you go shopping in this very high-end community that means shopping for the latest paintings, artwork or jewelry…or something really one-of-a-kind.
The city has over 100 art galleries you can choose from. Buy an artwork from an upcoming California artist and you never know, one day he might become famous. The painting could be worth millions in the future. 7° [seven-degrees] is a popular art gallery that is known for its unique facade and fancy artwork displays. You can interact with the artists because they actually live on the premises. Its awesome interiors are also a popular place for social events.
If you want exclusive fine jewelry, Laguna has a lot of those luxurious shops as well. You can shop for these valuables in places like Adam Neely’s Fine Art Jewelry. In his store you will see an awesome display of his artwork as he customizes each jewelry design. You can have one specially made and it will be handcrafted right before your eyes. Adam is a multi-awarded jewelry designer. His “South Sea Glow” pendant is now a permanent collection in the Smithsonian Institution.
Address: 891 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Website: 7° [seven-degrees]
Adam Neely Fine Art Jewelry
Address: 352 N Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Website: Adam Neely Fine Art Jewelry
10. Visit an art studio
Every year Laguna Beach launches a fun event called Artist Open Studios. It gives you a tour of at least 30 private art studios starting from Forest Avenue, down to Laguna Canyon Road and ends at Rt. 133. There are several stops made through the entire route so you can experience entering a studio and seeing the artists in action. A free shuttle is provided to the participants of the tour. The event is to promote the local artists and their creations. You will have to check with the local government for the specific dates when these events will be held during the year as it varies.
Laguna Canyon Artists’ Studios
Facebook: Laguna Canyon Artists’ Studios
11. Visit the Farmers’ Market
Open all year-round on Sundays from 8:00 AM-12:00 PM, the Laguna Niguel Farmers’ Market is a market that you definitely have to stop by! From meat and dairy products to a vast array of Asian and Western greens, you can be sure to find only the freshest produce as only local farmers certified by the Orange County Farm Bureau are allowed to sell their harvest in the market. On top of that, the Sprouts Farmers’ Market and restaurants that are well-loved by the locals, such as the Nalu’s Hawaiian Fish Grill, can be found in the vicinity of the market. With convenience and great food at your fingertips, what’s not to love about the Laguna Niguel Farmers’ Market?
Laguna Niguel Farmers Market
Address: Plaza de Paz Shopping Center, 27271 La Paz Rd, Laguna Niguel, CA 92677, USA
Fun on land and on water
Laguna Niguel offers a lot of fun and exciting activities both in its pristine blue waters and on the city shores. The city offers more than just beautiful coastal scenery. It’s full of interesting historical sites and cultural events that will keep the whole family entertained. A visit to this city is rejuvenating if you are on vacation. It’s not surprising if you end up wanting to stay for good!