My Favorite Things to do in Laguna Beach

Sarah McMahon
5 min readApr 24

[Listen to an audio version of this blog here.]

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…

Sarah McMahon

Blogger | Poet | Freelancer | Ultra Runner IG: @mcmountain email: