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Laguna beach, ca.

With temperatures hovering around 800 most days, September in Laguna Beach is definitely still summer--but hotel rooms are cheaper and easier to find. After Labor Day, the mood also changes from frenetic and touristy to calmly serene. Laguna Beach, on the Orange County coast just south of splendid Crystal Cove State Park, between Newport Beach and Dana Point, is separated from Interstate Shy a rugged canyon and state park land, helping make the town feel less like a part of the SoCal sprawl. The town has long been an artists' enclave, and downtown comes alive during the First Thursdays Art Walk, when galleries stay open and the Laguna Art Museum offers free admission.

BEST SWIMMING

Treasure Island, a secluded beach known for its soft sand and crystal blue water, sits just north of Aliso Beach Park. It can be accessed from the ramp at the southwestern.comer of the Montage Laguna Beach resort. laguna beachinfo.com.

BEST SEAFOOD

Cafe Zoolu serves quasi-Polynesian fare with a focus on fresh, wild seafood. The swordfish sampler plate is a favorite. $$; cafezoolu.com.

BEST NEW RESTAURANT

Opened in June in the former home of longtime character actor Slim Summerville, Driftwood Kitchen has coastal-inspired dishes like buttermilk fried soft-shell crab. Slim's onetime library is now a whiskey bar called the Stateroom. $$$$; driftwood kitchen, com.

BEST SURF SHOP

South of downtown, Thalia Surf Shop features wetsuits and surf gear from small independent brands like Matuse, Deus Ex Machina, and Poler. thaliasurf.com.

BEST BED & BREAKFAST

The historic Casa Laguna Inn & Spa has the best breakfast in Laguna Beach. Each morning guests pick from a menu offering dishes like California-style shrimp and grits, or decadent vanilla bean-flecked waffles with strawberries. From $259; 2-night weekend min.; casa laguna.com.

BEST SHOPPING Everything you need to create the perfect coastal escape, from reclaimed-wood coffee tables to jute rugs, can be found at Tuvalu Home Environment. tuvaluhome. wordpress.com.

BEST BEACH-SIDE LODGING All guest rooms at the Surf & Sand Resort have balconies that jut out over the Pacific Ocean so you can watch the waves. From $500; surfand sandresort.com.

BEST LOCAL SECRET

On top of Hotel La Casa del Camino, The Rooftop Lounge offers incredible views and hand-muddled lime-and-mint mojitos. rooftop lagunabeach.com.

BEST AUTUMN EVENT Drum circle on September 9: If you're lucky enough to be in Laguna during a full moon, join in the free drum circle at Aliso Beach Park. 7-10 p.m.; lavidalaguna.com/ things-we-dig.

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Title Annotation:Travel; California description
Author:Hatfield-Chiotti, Casey
Publication:Sunset
Geographic Code:1U9CA
Date:Aug 28, 2014
Words:412
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