Laguna Niguel is a city of about 63,000 people situated in the San Joaquin Hills area of Orange County. The city is known for its year-round pleasant weather, an abundance of parks and green spaces, and a central location with easy access to the Pacific Coast and nearby cities such as Laguna Beach.
There are more than 80 miles of multi-use trails in Laguna Niguel. Along the beautiful coastline, are many beaches home to tidal pools and unique coastal ecosystems.
There are many museums and cultural attractions, such as art galleries scattered around the city. Some of the popular shopping areas include Laguna Niguel Promenade, Aliso Village Shopping Centre, and The Grove at Laguna Niguel.
Laguna Niguel is also home to many restaurants serving a wide variety of cuisines from all over the world.
Many festivals and events take place in the area throughout the year, including the Winter Fantasy and Crafts Festival, Laguna Art-A-Fair, and the Sawdust Art Festival.
Below are 15 of the best things to do in and around Laguna Niguel, California.
1. Spend a Day Outdoors at Laguna Niguel Regional Park
When it comes to outdoor activities for the whole family, the possibilities are endless at Laguna Niguel Regional Park.
This popular recreation area has many amenities, including a playground, horseshoe pits, volleyball and tennis courts, picnic areas with barbecue facilities, and hiking trails.
Also on-site is the 44-acre Laguna Niguel Lake, a popular fishing area home to species such as bass, catfish, and trout.
2. Learn About Local History at the Murphy-Smith Historical Bungalow
Constructed in 1923, the Murphy-Smith Historical Bungalow is a perfect example of what a classic builders’ cottage of that period was like.
Inside, you’ll discover what life was like in the Laguna Beach area in the earlier part of the 1900s, and you’ll learn about some of the history of the region.
Many artefacts, memorabilia, and photographs are on display, and guided tours are available.
3. Admire Fine Art at Kush Fine Art Gallery
Situated in the colourful Artist Colony of Laguna Beach, Kush Fine Art Gallery displays the fabulous artworks of artist, Vladimir Kush. On display are a variety of drawings, oil paintings, watercolours, and sculptures.
The artworks, along with handmade jewellery crafted from precious metals and stones, are for sale.
4. Visit Rescued Marine Animals at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center
The primary purpose of the Pacific Marine Mammal Center is to rescue injured and abandoned marine animals, rehabilitate them, and release them back into the wild.
Most of these marine animals, which include sea lions, elephant seals, Northern fur seals, and harbour seals, are found stranded along beaches.
During a visit, you’ll watch these animals as they regain their health and strength through various stages of their recovery. You can learn about the animals, their habitat, and how the centre helps them.
A number of events and educational programs take place throughout the year.
5. Take a Midday Break at Plumeria Cafe by Stacks Pancake House
Whether it be your first meal of the day or a midday break, Plumeria Cafe by Stacks Pancake House serves a wide variety of delicious breakfast and lunch favourites.
This laid-back cafe specializes in American and Hawaiian cuisine. On the menu, you’ll find an assortment of egg-based dishes, pancakes, salads, sandwiches, burgers, and pasta dishes.
6. Go on an Adventure with La Vida Laguna
One of the best ways to see the area’s beautiful coastline is by Kayak, and La Vida Laguna tour company offers a variety of kayaking tours.
During the Laguna Ocean Kayak Tour, you’ll be guided along the coastline, where you’ll see stunning beaches, high cliffs, and marine species such as sea lions, whales, dolphins, and a variety of seabirds.
The Newport Back Bay Eco Tour takes you to the biggest natural estuary in the region. On this tour, you’ll see mudflats, marshlands and a wide variety of seabirds and fish.
This tour company also offers other outdoor activities, including cycling, hiking, surfing and paddleboarding.
7. Enjoy Live Entertainment at The Laguna Playhouse
The Laguna Playhouse is a historic mid-sized theatre situated near the ocean in the arts colony of nearby Laguna Beach.
The theatre’s Moulton Stage showcases a wide variety of performances each season. Stand-up comedy acts, musicals, plays and children’s productions are just some of the shows that run throughout the year.
On-site, there’s a full bar serving snacks and beverages. Many events, including educational programs and workshops, take place from time to time.
8. Take a Stroll through the Hortense Miller Garden
The beautiful Hortense Miller Garden was established in 1959. Today, it features over 800 species of plants, including 150 native ones.
The 2.5-acre garden also has some furry residents, including foxes skunks, opossums and racoons. Guided tours of the garden are available.
9. Head to the Beach at Heisler Park
The scenery is beautiful, the beach is sandy, and there are many things to do. What more could you ask for in a park?
Heisler Park is a beachfront park in Laguna Beach featuring a lovely beach suitable for swimming but also perfect for sunbathing and relaxing. There are lawn bowling facilities and picnic areas with barbecues.
The tidal pools are interesting to look at: the clear water of these shallow pools that appear at low tide allows you to view the marine life that thrives in them.
10. Sample Local Wine at the Laguna Canyon Winery
Since 2003, Laguna Canyon Winery has been producing a variety of red, white and sparkling wines.
You can sample two of their premium wines, Laguna Canyon and Purple Paws, in the on-site tasting room.
Many events are held at the winery throughout the year, including wine and cheese receptions and WineMaker Dinners.
11. Browse the Laguna Niguel Farmers’ Market
The farmers’ market in Laguna Niguel is open all year round. It is a weekly tradition for locals and a must-do for anyone visiting the area.
There isn’t much you can’t find at this extensive market. Fresh, local, and organic produce is just the start. You’ll also find meat, dairy products, plants, spices, fresh seafood, free-range eggs, baked goods, essential oils, tamales, and so much more.
12. Take a Ride on the Trolley
There’s no need to worry about getting around Laguna Beach if you don’t have a car handy: the city offers a convenient trolley service that travels along the South Coast Highway from North Laguna Beach to Dana Point. The best part about this service is it’s free.
The trolley has open sides, but it’s comfortable and safe. As you make your way through the Laguna Beach area, you’ll be able to admire the stunning ocean scenery and can choose to get off at any of the 34 stops along the way.
13. Visit the Laguna Art Museum
If admiring fine art is something you enjoy doing, the Laguna Art Museum is the place for you. Inside this long-standing museum in nearby Laguna Beach, you’ll see a wide range of beautiful artworks by California artists.
The main purpose of the museum is to acquire and maintain these artworks so they can continue to be shared with the world for many years to come.
Much of the artworks are related to the state’s colourful history, and they all are from eras between the 19th century and today.
14. Go Whale Watching with Newport Landing
Numerous species of whales live in the waters off Laguna Beach, and Newport Landing Whale Watching is a local company that can take you on an exciting excursion to see these majestic creatures.
Tours leave several times a day. During a tour, you’ll have the chance to spot humpback whales, finback whales, and minke whales. Other marine creatures, including dolphins and many species of seabirds, are often spotted as well.
15. Explore the Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park
At the Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park in Laguna Niguel, you’ll get to explore a pristine nature area and wilderness sanctuary.
Within this 4,500-acre park is a beautiful landscape consisting of coastal canyons, steep ridges, and rare sage scrub. The Dripping Cave, which features stunning stalactites, is a top draw in the park, but the hiking is a close second. As you explore the park, you may even spot some wildlife.