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1. Announce your arrival on Instagram with an establishing shot in Heisler Park.
It's basically a lush, iconic waterfront park in Laguna Beach where lots of locals hang out. It's situated on the cliffs overlooking a long stretch of coastline — meaning you get sweet panoramic views. And there lots of entrances to the beach below along the way.
2. Fall in love with west coast hiking in Crystal Cove State Park.
Located in Laguna Beach, Crystal Cove State Park is known for its miles and miles of gorgeous scenic hiking trails, both coastal and wooded. You can even camp there.
3. And also in Laguna Coast Wilderness Park.
Same thing: Tons of fresh, gorgeous waterfront hiking views. If you want to really hike like an OC-er, hit up Dartmoor Trail — it's a local favorite.
4. Go back in time and spend a night in these retro Crystal Cove Beach Cottages.
There are a bunch of oldschool beach cottages right in the middle of Crystal Cove State Park that have been around since the 1930s and 40s. Since then, they've been renovated, but the original historic, low-maintenance beach vibe charm is definitely still there. Reserve a night here, but be warned: Spots go quickly, so it's best to book way in advance.
5. Die and go to fresh-fish heaven at Bear Flag Fish Co.
6. Watch and 'gram the sunset at Huntington Beach Pier.
This is an iconic spot in Huntington Beach. And for good reason: Just LOOK how the sun shines through the pier! Done and done.
7. Go surfing — or, you know, just oogle at the hot surfers — around Huntington Beach Pier.
8. Take yourself to the land of Arrested Development on the ferry to Balboa Island.
9. Be an honorary Bluth and eat a frozen banana from Dad's on Balboa Island.
THERE'S ALWAYS MONEY IN THE BANANA STAND.
10. Marvel at the OC's incredible tide pool situation.
The OC is famous for its tide pools, especially the ones in Laguna Beach. In fact, there is even a show completely devoted to tide pools. Bonus points if you stick your finger in a sea anemone while you're wandering (don't worry, it's safe and it won't hurt).
11. Wonder where the fresh mimosas at Las Brisas have been all your life.
Seriously though, WHERE HAVE THEY BEEN?! Las Brisas is a very well-known OC establishment, known for their fresh and upscale Mexican food — especially their Monday-through-Saturday breakfast buffet, and Sunday brunch. There's always an omelet man, and you can also get dishes like Mexican lasagna and Crepes de Laguna (filled with scallops and served with scrambled eggs).
Plus margs later on. Always margs.
12. Feel sorry for the In-N-Out diehards who do not know about the delicious burgers at Crystal Cove Ruby's Shake Shack.
13. Shop like a local at Fashion Island.
14. Watch all of the OC people doing their OC thing at The Rooftop Lounge.
Situated on the rooftop of La Casa del Camino hotel in Laguna Beach, Rooftop Lounge is a place to see and ... see other people. Also, they have a great happy hour (half off mojitos and all beer, wine and well drinks from 3 to 5), and fresh eats, like crab and shrimp ceviche, and Hawaiian ahi poke.
15. Feel all ~cultured~ and watch the Pageant of the Masters.
Also! The Pageant is part of the Festival of Arts, Laguna's fine arts show. Most of the paintings are way expensive, but it's definitely nice to look.
16. Get in with the OC hippies at the Sawdust Art Festival.
Right across the street from the Pageant and the Festival of Art is the Sawdust Festival, a local art festival that was originally started by Laguna hippies in 1965. Held every summer since then, the festival is not as fancy as its neighbor: It hosts local Etsy-ish vendors, who sell their paintings, sculptures, jewelry, and more. The best part: They cover the entire festival ground with sawdust, which really adds to the hippied-out ~vibe~ of the place.
17. Have #drinkswithaview at The Deck on Laguna Beach.
This place is RIGHT on the beach. Any questions?
18. Pretend you're totally loaded and can actually afford to buy one of the boats in Dana Point Harbor.
Dana Point Harbor is not only one of the largest recreational harbors on the west coast — but also in the world. It's got tons of shops and bars and restaurants, all with sweet views.
19. Live like Summer Roberts and Seth Cohen for at least one hour by having a cocktail at the Lobby Lounge at Montage Laguna Beach.
20. Drink a terrible hangover's worth of whiskey and see a live show at Marine Room Tavern.
The thing about Marine Room Tavern in the heart of downtown Laguna Beach is that you can't NOT drink a lot there. It's an incredibly dive-y whiskey bar slash live music venue that gets into your bones and makes you want to have a good time no matter what. The well-known rock musician Ty Segall, who grew up in Laguna, has played there in the past — which gives the place major street cred.