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Laguna Beach is Southern California's premier seaside destination, midway between Los Angeles and San Diego. A year-round retreat for art lovers, nature enthusiasts and beach goers, Laguna Beach features seven miles of soft sand and surf.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Win a 2 night Stay-cation in Laguna Beach

French 75 Bistro & Champagne Bar and The Retreat in Laguna join together to bring you an incredible sweepstakes for a stay-cation in Laguna Beach. Win a 2 night stay in a luxury villa and dinner for two at French 75.

The Retreat In Laguna features eight ultra-luxurious vacation rental villas in a Tuscany-inspired village environment. With panoramic ocean views just steps from the shore, each vacation villa features a fully equipped gourmet kitchen with stainless steel appliances and granite countertops. The Laguna Beach artwork enhances the Venetian plaster wall surfaces done in decorator tones with details like crown moldings, designer tile work, and fine wood cabinetry in deep rich tones. The unique art collections in each villa are from local galleries and bring a touch of creative interest.

French 75 Bistro & Champagne Bar is a French American bistro  that resides in a 60 year old country cottage where style and romance are deliciously combined. The decor is rich, intimate and romantic. The menu offers contemporary renderings of classic bistro dishes.  The quaint champagne bar features an extensive selection of champagnes by the glass as well as champagne cocktails, martinis, wine and beer. Most notable is the ceiling mural in the bar, depicting a 'champagne war' between cherubs and monkeys holding bottles of champagne. A fireplace lit covered patio offers the perfect destination for outdoor dining beneath antique chandeliers.

Don't miss you opportunity for your stay-cation. Enter the sweepstakes now!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Laguna Beach Shopping

Forget about the stress of crowded malls during the holiday season and  come to Laguna Beach to find unique and one-of-a-kind gifts for everyone on your list. Make it an event and enjoy browsing the downtown in the afternoon, watch the unrivaled sunset from Heisler Park, and then refuel at one of the 70+ restaurants in Laguna Beach.

207 Ocean Ave.
Open daily, 10am to 7pm

Since 1992, Areo has been providing its customers with an eclectic selection of gifts and home accents. From books to one-of-a-kind jewelry and a wide selection of soy candles to glassware and home accents, there is truly something for everyone. 

The rustic and welcoming feel of the store keeps you browsing as you come across a new treasure around each corner. Many of the most unique items in the store are pieces that the owner has personally collected during his travels around the world. If you need a one-stop shop for your holiday list, Areo is the place to go. They even offer free gift wrapping!

903 South Coast Highway
Open daily, 10am to 6pm

Established in 2001, Thalia Surf Shop prides itself as an independent surf and skate shop that specializes in retro surfboards, unique clothing, shoes and art.  The store’s walls and ceiling are lined with the owner’s collection of vintage surfboards and skateboards. Local beachcomber, Jim Olarte, found and brought driftwood and palm leaves that represent the laidback authentic Southern California feel into the store. With clothing by California designers, t-shirts by local artists, and even limited edition Thalia-designed Vans shoes, this is a place that locals and visitors can come to find a piece of the local culture. 

Thalia Surf Shop also hosts a gallery exhibit every other month, as well as monthly concerts with local bands at the Marine Room. Check their blog for additional information. Thalia will be where I find gifts for my out-of-town guests that desire a piece of the Southern California beach lifestyle.

445 South Coast Hwy (inside Hotel Laguna)
Open Monday – Friday, 10am to 6pm
Saturday, 9am to 8pm
Sunday, 10am to 5pm

For over 10 years, Bubbles of Laguna has brought the world of fine bath and body products to Laguna Beach. From lotions and bath salts from Italy, France, Hawaii, Ireland and Sweden, to aroma therapy products made right here in the USA. I especially enjoyed the “Self-Serve Bar” of baths salts, lotions, bubble bath and bath tea herbs. 

It’s a creative way to make a personalized gift for the person on your list that is in need of some R&R. You will also find novel gifts, soy candles and toys.

278 Forest Ave.
Open Monday-Saturday, 11am to 7pm
Sunday, 11am to 5pm

LF Laguna, is the place for all the fashionistas on your list. This is where trends are unearthed. With an edgy sense of fashion and out-of-the-box styling, the girls at LF will help you find the perfect ensemble that portrays your personal sense of style. “Be yourself” is their motto and there are plenty of ways to find your self expression. 

Personally, my closet is full of items from this innovative fashion boutique and I love shopping here for the perfect accessory that best shows off the personalities of my best friends. (Shhh, don’t tell them, but they are each getting something from LF this year!)

Ken’s Jewelry Store
326 Forest Ave

Housed in the oldest commercial building in Laguna Beach, Ken’s Jewelry Store is a piece of our town’s history. As you spend some time in the store you’ll begin to notice both paintings and historical photos on the Koa wood walls. Paintings by plein air artists Roy Ropp (a founding father of the Festival of Arts) and Robert Wood line the walls. Historic Laguna photos of Ken’s Jewelry Store location are also displayed. Ken Lauher started out as a jewelry artist during the Arts and Crafts Movement in the ‘70s. In the 1980s, after the purchase of his current location, he built on and expanded the building to what it is now, a Swiss two-story Chalet. Downstairs is the show room, and the work room and offices are housed upstairs. Lauher told us that 75% of what you will find in his store are actually his own designs…beautiful settings that truly are one-of-a-kind. They also specialize in the mounting and re-mounting of precious stones, cut ‘rocks’ or semi-precious stones, and jewelry repair.

An interesting collection that Ken makes are mounted gold-in-quartz. Ken works with a Sierra Nevada goldmine (one of the few mines left still mining gold!) out of the Sierra’s. These are unique and beautiful pieces that you won’t find anywhere else. Ken’s Jewelry Store is a full-service; ultrasound and steam cleaning, repair and custom design, with many long-term loyal customers. Fun Fact: Ken creates a custom storefront, themed window each month that has become a must-see site in Laguna Beach.

Read our other stories about places to shop in Laguna Beach:

By Anne-Marie S.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Laguna Beach Becomes First to Partner Citywide with Clean the World

Now 22 hotels and lodging properties know that recycling soap to save lives is something they can all agree on.
The Laguna Beach Visitors & Conference Bureau (LBVCB) announced today that all of the hospitality industry lodging properties with 20 rooms or more in this picturesque, coastal Orange County city have partnered with Clean the World Global LLC, a social enterprise committed to saving lives and protecting our planet. Hospitality partners here will collect and recycle hotel soaps, shampoos, conditioners, lotions and gels to help fight the global spread of preventable diseases.

Laguna Beach has 18 hotel and lodging properties with 20 rooms or more and four properties with less than 20 rooms that have joined the Clean the World hospitality partnership program. These properties include Aliso Creek Inn, Art Hotel Laguna Beach, Best Western Plus Laguna Brisas Spa Hotel, Capri Laguna, Carriage House, Casa Laguna Inn, Crescent Bay Inn, Holiday Inn Laguna Beach, Hotel Laguna, Inn at Laguna Beach, La Casa del Camino, Laguna Beach Inn, Laguna Cliffs Inn, Laguna Riviera, Montage Laguna Beach, Pacific Edge Hotel, Seacliff Laguna Inn, Sunset Cove Villas, Surf & Sand Resort and Spa, The Tides Laguna Beach, The Retreat, and Travelodge Laguna Beach. The properties represent more than 1,200 guest rooms in Laguna Beach.

Clean the World has hospitality partnerships with more than 1,200 hotel properties throughout North America, including 143 partners in California. Clean the World’s California hospitality partners have contributed 70,329 lbs. of soap and 67,844 lbs. of bottled amenities since the organization’s founding in 2009. That equates to 375,088 bars (3 oz. apiece), which is enough to provide 75,018 children with enough soap for an entire month.

This program symbolizes the LBVCB’s hospitality partners ongoing commitment to sustainable and environmental programs, the reduction of hotel waste in local landfills, and the benefits of recycling hotel soaps and bottled amenities (shampoos, conditioners, lotions and gels) as hygiene products to benefit children and families in need.

Clean the World is the largest global recycler of hotel amenities, and in just two years of operation has distributed more than 9 million bars of soap to children and families in the United States, Canada and more than 45 countries worldwide, while also fulfilling a valuable environmental mission by diverting an estimated 600 tons of hotel waste from polluting landfills in the United States and Canada.

“We’re impressed by the efforts of Clean the World and wanted to show our support in a unique way by becoming the first citywide program to embrace its lifesaving mission,” says Judy Bijlani, President/CEO of the Laguna Beach Visitors & Conference Bureau. “Our seaside village is an inviting retreat for art lovers, environmentalists and beach enthusiasts, and the idea of recycling soaps and protecting our planet is something we wholeheartedly support.”

Each day 9,000 children around the world die from diseases such as acute respiratory illness and diarrheal diseases that can be prevented by washing with bar soap. Clean the World has a mission to put soap in the hands of people who need it most to improve hygiene and sanitation conditions to lessen the impact of disease and promote better hygiene and living conditions worldwide.

“Laguna Beach is Southern California’s premier seaside destination, and a city deserving of praise for its promotion of sustainability and social responsibility,” says Shawn Seipler, CEO and co-founder of Clean the World. “Our hotel partners in Laguna Beach should be applauded for their collaboration on this unique partnership and its distinction of being our first municipality to embrace Clean the World’s mission to recycle soap and save lives. I hope the efforts of the LBVCB will inspire other communities, municipalities and cities to do the same.”

About Clean the World Global LLC Clean the World Global LLC is a social enterprise committed to saving lives and protecting our planet. It offers sustainable, socially responsible, and charitable programs and services to the international hospitality community. Clean the World Foundation Inc. is the 501 (c) (3) charitable arm of Clean the World Inc. As a private foundation Clean the World Foundation Inc. executes its mission of saving millions of lives around the globe by leading a global hygiene revolution to distribute recycled soap and hygiene products to children and families suffering from high death rates due to the top two killers of children worldwide – acute respiratory infection (pneumonia) and diarrheal diseases (cholera). For more information visit: Text CLEAN to 20222 to donate $10 to help Clean the World.

For more information about LBVCB and members working toward sustainability and socially responsible programs, please visit:

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Royal Hawaiian

Slow down this weekend and head to the historic Royal Hawaiian for brunch inspired by the laid-back island way of life.

On a gorgeous and clear Southern California morning, my husband and I headed south on PCH to North Laguna for brunch at one of Laguna’s most historic restaurants. After a complete renovation which included an expanded dining room, bar and menu, Royal Hawaiian recently started serving brunch. It’s a casual dining ambiance with a mix of locals and visitors that makes for a pleasant experience.

The menu has classic brunch items, with an added island twist and a few unexpected combinations that may spark your curiosity. I decided on the Gazebo Pancakes and my husband, the Kalua Pork Scramble.

Gazebo Pancakes: Macadamia nut, bananas, bacon and coconut syrup.
The pancakes were light and fluffy and layered with bananas and sprinkled with macadamia nuts. The coconut syrup added a light, sweet taste that was well-balanced by the savory bacon.

Kalua Pork Scramble: Swiss cheese, green onions, peppers and breakfast potatoes.

The scramble is one of their house specialties…and we can see why! It has that ‘Mama’s-home-cooked’ goodness, yet with a Hawaiian flare.

We have both heard our friends rave about the excellent cocktails they mix up at Royal Hawaiian and we didn’t want to miss out!

Royal Hawaiian

331 N. Coast Hwy

Phone: (949) 494-8001

Monday to Friday Bar open at 4pm

Dining starts at 5pm

Brunch served Saturday and Sunday at 11am

Enjoy nightly entertainment and/or live music

Large flat screen TV’s for sporting events

By Anne-Marie S.