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You Should Go to Laguna Beach

Find sun, surf, and scrumptious fish tacos on the California coast. Plus: A boutique hotel opens on Chicago’s North Side, there’s a new reason to visit Atlanta, and more.

Coastline view of the main beach from Heisler Park   Photo: visitlagunabeach.com

A muggy, wet Chicago summer is a fine time to hop a flight to Laguna Beach. Killer beaches and sunshine are a given, and new dining options and art festivals are a bonus. There’s never a bad time to visit Laguna Beach, but July is quite nice—it comes at the end of the “June gloom” that cloaks the California coast, and the start of great weather, with temperatures ranging from the high 70s to the low 80s.

July is also smack in the middle of Laguna’s summer art festival season, including the Festival of Art (July 6 to August 30; from $7.50 for adults, kids under 12 free), featuring juried works from 140 artists, and the unique Pageant of the Masters (July 9 to August 30; $15), where famous works are re-created with real people posing in tableaux vivants (“living pictures”). For a local favorite, try the Sawdust Art Festival (June 27 to August 31; $8.50 for adults, $4 for ages 6–12, 5 and under free). The city’s only non-juried event, Sawdust is set in a eucalyptus grove and showcases a range of works from 200 artists who live and work in Laguna Beach. If you go, check out the large glass-blowing enclosure where you can watch gaffers at work.

Beaches: It would be criminal to visit Laguna and not hit the beaches. Start at Treasure Island. Soft wide beaches backed by rocky bluffs narrow into hidden coves, and surfers and lifeguards speaking in SoCal-isms make it feel just right. For more people watching, go to Main Beach, which fronts the main drag in town.

Eat: Chow down on the city’s famous fish tacos at the new boat-to-plate focused Slapfish opened in April just across from Main Beach. The saucy, overstuffed taco is as good as the meaty lobster roll and best washed down with a cane-sugar-sweetened Shirley Temple from the fountain machine. For something more dressed up, make a reservation at Selanne Steak Tavern (one of the owners is ice hockey icon Teemu Selanne), opened in November within a beautiful 1934 home on the Pacific Coast Highway. Oysters with a punchy mignonette, truffled risotto, and a massive cut of Wagyu dubbed the Lord Stanley are all excellent.

Stay: You’ll feel yourself completely swept away when you walk into the lobby at the 250-room Montage Laguna Beach (from $895), where a huge, open-air veranda overlooks the ocean below. A pretty pool, mega spa with fun surfboard-inspired fitness classes, great al fresco dining options, and, not least, direct access to Treasure Island Beach are the other reasons you should stick around. For something easier on the wallet, try the inland Tides Laguna Beach (from $185) with roomy rooms, a saltwater pool and a location just steps from the Laguna Art Museum.

Travel News


A New Boutique Hotel Where Guests Live Like Locals

With 25 units, a residential vibe and loads of perks for families, the new Guesthouse Hotel (4872 N. Clark St.), opened last week, brings a sweet new option to Chicago’s North Side. Originally built as a 10-unit condo building, the hotel features one- to three-bedroom units with full kitchens, room service options like farm-to-table groceries, and complimentary goods for the little ones—cribs, high chairs, camera monitors, children’s eating utensils, and more. And with rates ranging from $200 to $300 a night, you have found a new place to stash visiting relatives.

Atlanta’s Civil Rights Museum Opens

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