Laguna Beach, CA

My Favorite Things to do in Laguna Beach

Sarah Rose

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Southern California is a sprawling metropolis of freeways and strip malls with mountains, desert, and the ocean tearing at its edges. This place was built for cars and runs on Botox and unnamable drugs. Among the ordinary people keeping this place afloat, there plenty of the self-obsessed and halfway famous. For all the glitz and glamor, there is just as much poverty here as anywhere else in the U.S. Just as much political division, just as much consternation. Except here, we can watch the sunset over the pacific ocean at night, whether we're watching from a multi-million dollar home or from a van parked on the beach. Sometimes, friends or colleagues will mention, off-handedly, that I live in L.A. To an outsider, Southern California can look and feel the same. I've never lived in Los Angeles proper, and have never even visited most of its neighborhoods. When I go to L.A., I may as well be a tourist from another state; a visitor with one-day, prepaid parking and a sincere desire to not stay.

I live in Laguna Beach, in a nice apartment I rent with my boyfriend on a street called Cedar, a few blocks from downtown. I am not poor, but I am many millions away from being able to buy a house here. Last I checked, a fancy South Laguna mobile home costs no less than half a million, plus a $4,000 monthly land lease that is subject to a yearly increase. We live in a four-plex near the busyness of downtown, and we love it. There is simply, very little not to love. My favorite time of day is the early morning, before most people have hit the road, when the beach is quiet and empty and the trails smell like sage and sound like birdsong and silence. My favorite time of year is October, when the summer heat has subsided and the tourists have all gone home. If you come to visit, I might have an extra room. And if you're just passing through, there are a few things you should definitely do.

Trails: I'm more of a land animal than a water animal, so the beaches weren't what initially caught my interest. Laguna is home to miles of hilly, coastal trails that I run on nearly every day. The Laguna Bowl trail starts near the Pageant of the Masters, as you enter Laguna from the 133. You can hike this beginner friendly loop, or hike to the "Top of the World" via Canyon Acres. Both trails are near downtown and offer a steep hike with a rewarding view. If you're in South Laguna, Aliso Peak via Valido trail is a short, beautiful hike to a bench with a stunning view as well.

Coffee: Everyone loves a great cup of coffee, and no matter your preference, Laguna has you covered. Avoid the long lines at Urth and hit up Succulent for a smooth latte, Laguna Beach Coffee Company for coffee and food that all the locals love, or Zinc if you're planning on breakfast or brunch. Zinc serves their coffee in giant, bowl-sized mugs that feel especially indulgent on a chilly weekend morning. If you're looking for a laid back coffee shop to do some work or to relax with a friend, the Koffee Klatch is open daily from 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. with plenty of seating and wifi.

Beaches: The beaches in Laguna are packed on summer weekends, and for good reason. With dozens of beaches and coves, there is room for everyone, if you can find parking. I love Shaw's Cove, a popular spot for divers and where you can explore tide pools during low tide. Fisherman's Cove has a cool cave (again, during low tide), and Moss Cove is your best bet for the least crowded beach. Table Rock is a South Laguna favorite, and Thousand Steps (really 218) is iconic, if not a bit hard to get to if stairs are an issue. If you're at Thousand Steps during low tide, you can access Totouva beach, which is very secluded because it has no public access from town.

Restaurants: There are a ton of restaurant options, so I'll only recommend places I've been. Nicks/South of Nicks are good, always packed, and honestly great for people watching. If you're vegan, your best bet is The Stand, Bonzai Bowls, or Active Culture. If you're looking for tacos, try La Sirena, The Taco Stand, or Rasta Taco. There are about ninety taco places to choose from though, and they're all probably pretty good. For a nice night out, try Broadway, 230 Forest Avenue, The Ranch, or Brussels Bistro (which turns into a nightclub after 10:30 Friday and Saturday nights).

Bars: If you're looking for a nice, expensive drink, you don't have to look far. Marine Room has live music, good whiskey, and a pool table that's always occupied. It's been around since the 30's and has a cool, Hemingway vibe. If you're looking for a dive bar, the Sandpiper is the only place worth going. Hotel Laguna has a great outdoor patio for happy hour, as does The Rooftop (but you'll want a reservation). Finally, you can't go wrong with Mozambique (they have giant parrots) or Skyloft.

Fun Things: You never know what you'll find in the Laguna Exchange, a fun little thrift store not far from Main Beach. Laguna Beach Books is my favorite place to find the hottest new fiction, books from local authors, or a thoughtful gift. If you're looking for a surf or SUP rental or lessons, look no further than CA Surf N Paddle. Dolce Gelato has the best assortment (including vegan options) of gelato in town, and if you're here in the summer, you have to check out Sawdust and/or Pageant of the Masters. Sawdust also opens in December for a holiday edition, with fake snow, Santa, live music, and plenty of artsy gifts for sale. As far as shopping goes, I don't, but I did buy my nephew a cute onesie at the Little Bohemian, and the owner was extremely kind and wonderful. Finally, there are a million art galleries here, and you could spend an entire day visiting all of them.


Sarah Rose

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Keeping The Promises You Make to Yourself

[Listen to an audio version of this blog here.] “Speak clearly, if you speak at all; carve every word before you let it fall.” -Oliver Wendell Holmes Today I'm writing about confidence, the polar opposite of desperation and wise older sibling to cockiness. If you close your eyes right now, I'm sure you can picture someone you know who is cocky and doesn't that just irk you? Confidence is something to be earned while cockiness is a symptom. One is showy, the other is self-assured. One is overstated and inauthentic and the other is poised. I believe that the best way to increase confidence is to consistently keep the promises you make to yourself. You can't grow self-assured about anything until you have proven your own competency to yourself, and you can't grow competent until you show up. I've known many people who make promises they never keep. Whether it's a friend making a plan they never intend to follow through on, a business not returning your phone call, or a workplace not fulfilling their end of a compensation plan, we all know what it's like to encounter flakey, inconsistent people. You probably don't like or respect them very much, right? It's hard to trust someone who doesn't show that they're trustworthy, which is why confidence comes from trusting yourself. When I was in school, I got straight A's, and not because I was that smart. I studied hard and told myself that I would do the absolute best that I could. Once I understood that I could achieve straight A's, that was the standard I held myself to. Once I knew what I was capable of, anything less was unacceptable. It's important to point out that nobody else would have been disappointed with a B. Nobody can ever be as disappointed with me as I can be because nobody else cares as much. If you let other people dictate what success means, you'll always end up disappointed. When I'm training for a race (my next race is the Kodiak 100, in Big Bear, CA), I have to put in a lot of miles and a fair amount of time in the gym. Some mornings, the last thing I want to do is wake up and go for a run, and hit the snooze button more than once. Some days, I don't feel the least bit inspired to train, but I do anyway. I don't know much but I do know that putting in consistent work is one of the best ways to see positive results. You'll beat out many people simply by not quitting, by paying attention, and adjusting when things don't quite work. The worst thing you can do though, is bite off more than you can chew. Start with something small, even if it's setting an alarm earlier than you're used to (and not hitting snooze). Your promise to yourself could be as small as making your bed every morning to something as large as reaching out to five new people every day to build a business. Stephanie Barros from Igniting Your Spark outlines the following ways to keep the promises you make to you: 1. Make reasonable promises to yourself. If you've fallen short of a particular goal in the past, adjust it to make it more manageable, then build from there. 2. Put your promises on paper. Thoughts aren't solid, and they're easier to ignore than something you've written down and look at every day. Nothing is as solid as words on a page. 3. Do you mean it? The reason many promises fall through is that we never meant them in the first place. I personally don't see the point in making a promise you don't intend to keep, so be brutally honest with yourself about whether or not you plan to even try to keep them. 4. Change how you think about you. It seems universally true that we're nicer to others than we are to ourselves, and we're more afraid to let others down than we are to let ourselves down. It should be just as unacceptable to let yourself down as it is to let down other people. 5. Accept discomfort. Change is uncomfortable, no matter how big or small, and keeping the promises you make to yourself might seem uncomfortable, too. Nobody ever succeeded by sitting quietly in their comfort, after all. "A dream is a vision, a goal is a promise. You can keep your promises to yourself by remaining flexible, focused, and committed." `~ Denis Waitley xoxo Sarah Rose.

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