Tips for visiting Laguna Beach with kids and plan a perfect family beach getaway in this stunning California coastal town.
Laguna Beach is a wonderful coastal town in Orange County, Southern California.
It is located on a stunning stretch of coastline, where small coves and sandy beaches meet the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean and it is a beautiful town with an upscale and arty feel.
I first decided to visit Laguna with the kids on the base of beautiful images of its beaches and the whimsical photos of the Laguna Pirate tower and when I hear the town was also known for its art scene, the decision was made!
Our family visit to Laguna Beach was a success.
The town has plenty to offer to kids and adults alike and it is very easy to reach and enjoy even if you only have a short time here, such an afternoon or a weekend.
At the end of this article, I hope you agree with us: Laguna Beach is perfect for a family beach getaway!
Why visit Laguna Beach with kids
There are many reasons why Laguna Beach is great for families.
First of all, the town is beautiful and offers all you can ask from a California family vacation.
In terms of weather, Laguna is in Southern California so you know you are almost guaranteed perfect vacation weather made of sun and sea breeze.
You can come to Laguna almost all year round and be able to dine outdoor, walk on the beach and wear those lighter clothes we so miss during the winter!
In terms of family facilities, Laguna is very well equipped with family hotels, restaurants and entertainment options so if you want to come here for a relaxing weekend where the needs of all members of the family are met, you won’t be short of options.
Last but not least, Laguna and its coastline are simply stunning.
The beauty of the area alone is enough to justify the trip here no matter how far you come from and the easy connection with other California locations and transport inside the town make your visit a breeze.
Laguna combines beauty, convenience and kids’ entertainment wonderfully and this is why it gets my vote as one of the best beach vacation destinations for families in the US!
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Things to do in Laguna Beach with kids
This is a selection of the best kid friendly activities in Laguna Beach.
Go to Laguna kid-friendly beaches
Laguna is a resort town so my list of things to do in Laguna with kids can only start with the recommendation of enjoying one (or more) of Laguna’s family-friendly beaches.
The area has many however, beaches in Laguna are very different from each other and not all suitable for little swimmers.
Good family friendly beaches in Laguna are:
Picnic beach – a place called Picnic Beach has to be family friendly and indeed, it is! Picnic beach is a lovely, kid-friendly beach in Laguna that is a favorite for families thanks to its accessibility (there is a ramp), facilities (restrooms, showers) and proximity to Heisler Park, another family favorite in Laguna.
Picnic beach has lovely sand and cliffs and the swell can be strong here so it is most suited to sandcastle buildings, splashing close to the shore and, of course, a family picnic!
The south end of the beach has nice tide pools – bring water shoes and remind your kids of the ‘take only memories’ principle: laguna is a marine preserve so removing the animals and plants is prohibited.
Diver’s Cove – nice, kid-friendly beach in Laguna protected from big swells by its natural position, this is a good all-around beach good for swimming, bodyboarding, and exploring tide pools.
As the name suggests, this beach is also good for divers and for snorkeling, fun for more adventurous swimmers!
The beach is also dog-friendly so if you are here with a furry friend, you can bring him!
Main Beach – as the name suggests, Main Beach is the main beach of Laguna, a large stretch of beautiful sand and ocean that matches all you may expect from a California beach!
Main Beach Laguna has lots for families with kids of all ages, including teenagers.
Here you have a boardwalk, sports pitches, options to swim and go bodyboarding under the watchful eye of the lifeguards (yes, there are the lifeguard stations like in the movies – if, like us, you come here from Europe, they are always fun to see!) and small kids can also play at the beach playground.
Restrooms, showers, and shops renting water sports equipment are all on the beach. The only downside is the crowds, which can get pretty intense here.
If you love SUP with kids, Laguna offers good spots. The best ones for beginners are listed here
Visit Laguna’s Pirate Tower
The first photo I ever saw of Laguna was of a tower on a beach that looked out of a fairy tale and indeed, the tower is real and looks exactly like Rapunzel’s tower, except it is on the beach!
The pirate tower of Laguna is not an ancient nor magical structure but just a scenic way to protect a staircase connecting a private home to the beach, but it is fun to visit with kids.
It is perched on a small, secluded beach overlooked by wealthy houses and it is easy to spot and fun to photograph.
The beach has pretty strong waves and we didn’t deem it safe for small children to swim however, it is lovely for a picnic and playing on the sand and a lovely place to spend an afternoon in Laguna with the kids!
Go whale watching
Laguna Beach is a marine reserve and a favorite feeding area for marine mammals which you can spot with a marine life tour.
Whale watching tours depart from Newport Harbour and Dana Point and, depending on the season, you may spot whales (several types), dolphins, sea lions or sharks!
Several providers offer tours, some to check out are:
2.5h Whale watching tour from Newport Beach – children under 2 go free (but must be booked in advance for safety/headcount)
2h Whale watching tour from Dana Point (stroller accessible)
Whale and Dolphin watching eco safari from Dana Point (with underwater viewing pods)
Adventurous families and families with older kids have another fun way to explore the Laguna Beach Marine reserve: taking a kayak!
Guided Kayaking tours such as >>> this one <<< can be a wonderful way to spot marine wildlife with the expert guidance of a local and can be exciting for adventurous kids who like active pursuits.
Visit Laguna’s Pacific Marine Mammal Center
If you want to see marine mammals in Laguna without having to be on a boat, then you can go to the family-friendly Pacific Marine Mammal Center.
The center is open to visitors (reservation only) and works as a research and education center devoted to reaching sea lions and marine mammals.
The center is wonderful for kids who can even get a passport as ‘Marine Mammal Masters’! This is one of the best places in Laguna Beach for kids – find all the info >>> here <<<
Take a food tour
Laguna has gorgeous restaurant and eateries and a wonderful, child-friendly way to discover the best of them is by joining a Laguna Beach food tour like >>> this one <<<.
Stroller accessible, this tour can be a great thing to do with the kids on your first day in Laguna so you can familiarize yourself with the lay of the land in terms of eating out with family.
Ice cream and chocolate are on the tasting list!
Take an art walk
Laguna Beach is famous for being a city that loves art and a great way for curious families to tap into this aspect of the city is to take a city art and history walk like >>> this one <<<
This walking tour shows you Laguna town center, Laguna’s Street art, Heisler Park and will also lead you to a local art gallery with a cafe.
This is a walking tour but there are several breaks so it is suitable for most ages.
Take an e-bike tour with your teens (15+)
Families with teens can also enjoy Laguna by e-bikes! This is a guided tour open to people age 15 and up and it is a fun way to see areas of Laguna you may not immediately reach on foot.
The tour lasts 2 hours, age and height restrictions apply, read >>> here<<<
Go for a family hike in Laguna Coast Wilderness park
Laguna Coast Wilderness Park is a beautiful natural area to explore the unique coastal canyons of California.
You have several trails here, some suitable for kids, and you can also come for some biking (with your own bike), on your own or by joining a cycling tour.
The Nix Nature Center is a getaway point and has interactive exhibits, scavenger hunts for families and more.
You can find all info and what to expect on their >>> official site <<<
Enjoy Crystal Cover Park
Another wonderful place to enjoy in Laguna Beach with kids is Crystal Cove Park. This is a beautiful California state park with hiking trails, a beach (medium waves), tide pools and camping facilities.
Enjoy Laguna Beach family-friendly parks and playgrounds
If you are looking for an affordable and family-friendly place to spend a day at the park with the kids in Laguna Beach, you will be happy to hear the town has many beautiful parks with playgrounds to suit all tastes.
Nice parks in Laguna beach for families are
Alta Laguna Park – with playground and stunning views
Bluebird Park – with a super fun slide
Moulton Meadow Park -with playground and picnic areas
Main Beach Park – climbing frames on the already mentioned Main Beach
Where to stay in Laguna Beach with kids: Laguna Family Hotels
Laguna Beach has wonderful family accommodation options mostly at the upper end of the spectrum in terms of budget.
This is a selection of family hotels and rentals in Laguna Beach at different price points:
Arabella Cottage – family-friendly accommodation in delightful cottages with lovely patio and kitchen. Find info and prices >>> here <<<
The Tides, Laguna Beach Inn – affordable Lagoon Beach Inn with rooms for up to 4 guests (2 double beds), saltwater pool, close to the beach. You can find rooms and prices >>> here <<<
Montage Resort – elegant, stunning family-friendly resort in Laguna Beach with all amenities including family rooms (ask for those with a private balcony), 2 swimming pools, oceanfront terrace, stroller rental, kids club, activities on request (cooking classes, walking tours, bike tour etc), restaurant onsite, etc. Check prices and packages >>> here <<<
How to get to Laguna Beach with kids, how to get around
The easiest way to get to Laguna Beach is by Car. Laguna is on scenic Highway 1, about 45 miles south of Los Angeles and 60 miles north of San Diego.
The closest airport is Orange County John Wayne Airport or you can rent a car at the airport in LA or San Diego.
If you drive here, consider accommodation with free parking as parking in Laguna is not always easy (if you are here for the day, bring coins for on-street parking).
If you prefer to come by train, the closest Amtrak station is in San Juan Capistrano – we took the surf liner train when we were in Carlsbad and it’s an excellent way to discover Southern California with kids!
Once you are in Laguna, you can easily explore downtown on foot or you can use the free city trolley which is super convenient and fun!
What to pack for visiting Laguna Beach with kids
We love Laguna Beach for a family beach getaway so we recommend all you need to enjoy the beach plus your walking shoes if you want to hit the trails and some nice clothes to fit into this elegant town!
You have a full family beach vacation packing list you can use to make sure you don’t miss anything!
If traveling with very small kids, an all-terrain stroller can be a good idea for maximum freedom.
I hope you enjoyed this quick family guide to visiting Laguna Beach with kids. Safe travel planning!