Viewing posts with tag: laguna-beach

November 26, 2018

Laguna Beach 2018 Holiday Events!


Laguna Beach is a destination for many families and couples for the amazing holiday celebrations available in this fair city. We've got a great shortlist for you of amazing Holiday Events in Laguna Beach this year! If you know of any that aren’t listed, please let us know!

❄️ Sawdust Winter Fantasy: 5 Weekends 11/17 - 12/17 Admission price: Adults $8.00; Seniors $6.00; Kids (6-12) $4.00. Season Passes: $12.00

❄️ LCV Tree Lighting Ceremony at The Hive: 11/30 2:00 - 8:00 PM Admission price: FREE

❄️Cystal Cove Beach Tree Lighting: 12/1 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM Admission price: FREE & Parking $5 per hour or for a maximum of $15

❄️ ANNUAL SURFBOARD MENORAH CELEBRATION at Main Beach: 12/2 2:00 PM Admission price: FREE

WILD & WACKY MENORAH WORKSHOP at The Chabad Jewish Center of Laguna Beach: 12/4 4:30 PM Admission price: $7

❄️Hospitality Night: 12/7 5:00 - 10:00 PM Admission price: FREE


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October 22, 2018

Laguna Beach: Home to the Stars


When movie stars needed a place to get some peace and quiet away from the fishbowl of Hollywood, many chose to visit and some lived in Laguna Beach. With its proximity to the ocean, natural beauty and safe distance from inquisitive Hollywood reporters, Laguna Beach was the perfect place to get away from it all. Let's take a look at some of the notorious stars that have fallen in love with Laguna Beach...

In 1931, author John Steinbeck and his wife, Carol, rented a room in Laguna Beach at 504 Park Avenue. The shingled cottage was built in 1912 for volunteer fire department worker George Garbarino. Steinbeck, who was still unknown at the time, rented the room from Garbarino from 1931 to 1932 for $15 per month.

Steinbeck wrote a great deal of his second novel, “The Pastures of Heaven” at the Park Avenue house. Released in 1932, the book wasn’t as successful as his later work, and the Steinbecks weren’t well-off financially during this period.

The publication of “Tortilla Flat” in 1935 would bring Steinbeck recognition and financial success. He went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for “The Grapes of Wrath” in 1939. Today, the house at Park Ave. is something of a landmark. It’s the place where a great author spent time honing his craft before being recognized as one of the most important American authors.

Before he became a renowned playwright and screenwriter, Tennessee Williams was known by his given name of Tom. In 1939, while working at a job plucking pigeons at a ranch in Hawthorne, California, Williams and his friend, clarinet player Jim Parrot, decided to ride bikes down to Tijuana and Agua Caliente, Mexico.

On their way back from Mexico, the duo found themselves in Laguna Beach. Pedaling along Bootleg Canyon (now Canyon Acres), they came upon a chicken ranch. The elderly couple who ran the ranch offered them use of a small cabin on the property in exchange for looking after the chickens.

“I don’t know why I was so committed to occupations involving poultry in those days,” Williams wrote. “No analyst has ever explained that to me.”

The pair also took part-time jobs as pin-setters at a Laguna bowling alley, partook in the night life, and lounged around the local beaches. Williams wrote:

In the thirties, [Laguna Beach] was a fine place to pass the summer days. There was constant volleyball, there was surfing and surfers, there was an artist colony … and all of it was delightful. It seems to me that the best part of all was riding our bikes up the canyon at first dark, in those days when the sky was still a poem.

Williams later referred to that summer as “the happiest and healthiest and most radiant time of my life.” Williams and Parrott stayed in Laguna until August 1939.

The Balboa Inn and the Hotel Laguna were both popular with Hollywood celebrities and stars during the 1930s and 1940s. The Hotel Laguna was rebuilt in 1930 after the original wood-frame building was torn down. The mission-style hotel was host to many denizens of Tinseltown, including John Barrymore, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, Errol Flynn, Joan Fontaine, Dick Powell and Rosalind Russell.

Actor Ozzie Nelson’s love for the ocean drew him and his wife, Harriet, to Laguna Beach, where they bought a weekend home on Camel Point in the late 1940s. They sold it and built a beach house in 1954 in the community of Lagunita.

Harriet Nelson told a story of the time in 1954 when the Nelsons were eating dinner, looked up, and saw a family peering at them through the sliding glass door. “They were staring at us like in a department store window. I said, ‘Can I help you?’ They said, ‘We just heard the Nelsons lived here.’”

Ozzie Nelson took a half-mile swim in the Pacific twice a day. Three years after Ozzie’s death in 1975, Harriet Nelson decided to live in Laguna Beach full-time. She eventually moved to a smaller home in Laguna, where she lived until her death in 1994. Their son, Rick Nelson had a condominium at Blue Lagoon in the late 1960s.

Former Laguna Beach resident Harrison Ford received his big show business break while living in the city. He moved to California with his wife, Mary Marquardt, where he landed a role in a 1965 Laguna Playhouse production of “John Brown’s Body.” This led to a contract with Columbia Pictures for the princely sum of $150 a week. “I was so naïve, I thought I had to pay them the $150,” said Ford. An auto accident in Laguna Canyon left Ford with the scar on his chin.

In 2004, Ford returned to Laguna Beach for a Laguna Playhouse fundraising dinner. He was quoted in a Los Angeles Times article as saying, “The people here were pivotal to the good fortune I've had.”

In the late 1980s, singer and actress Bette Midler bought a home in Laguna Beach on a bluff overlooking Victoria Beach. When the house went up for sale in 1998, it was described as:

Built on a 5,000-square-foot lot, the Laguna home features a French Norman tower, which has stairs circling down to the beach. It has four bedrooms and three fireplaces, including one in the master bedroom, plus a large brick entry courtyard. It's historic too by local standards, dating to 1925.

The property included the landmark 60-foot “Pirate Tower,” which was built in 1926 by then-owner California State Senator William E. Brown to provide access between the beach and his house atop the cliff.

During the time Midler lived in Laguna, she was occasionally spotted around town. While working out at the Laguna Health Club, a procession of cars crawled by the club’s picture window for weeks, the drivers hoping to get a glimpse of the star.

“It used to make us furious,” said Robert Unger, the club’s co-owner. “The phones were ringing off the hook. They’d call up [and ask], ‘Is Bette there?’”

Actor Robert Englund, who played Freddy Krueger in the "Nightmare on Elm Street" films, moved from Los Angeles to Laguna Beach in 1989, where he still lives today. He was often spotted surfing with local residents. Originally from Glendale, Englund spent summers in Laguna Beach as a child. His grandfather owned an apartment off Coast Highway.

When asked what his neighbors thought about having the infamous horror movie star living in the neighborhood, Englund quipped: “I think they’re just happy Robert Englund keeps his leaves raked.”

Other luminaries who have called Laguna Beach home throughout the years include astronaut Buzz Aldrin; and actors Robert Armstrong, Mike Connors, Lorne Greene, Sterling Holloway, Rock Hudson, Tab Hunter, Elmo Lincoln, Frederick March, Victor Mature, Polly Moran, Mickey Rooney, Slim Summerville and Claire Trevor.

September 23, 2018

When the Most Dangerous Man in America Lived in Laguna Beach


Throughout its long history, Laguna Beach has been known for many things. It’s stunning coastline and wonderful Mediterranean climate have consistently made the city a popular place to live, work and vacation. At the turn of the 20th century, it was the home of Southern California plein air painting. In the decades that followed, it was a playground for the rich and famous, including many Hollywood stars. And in the 1960s, it became the coolest place south of San Francisco for America’s burgeoning psychedelic culture. Hippies, artists and bohemians flocked to the city by the thousands. And for a brief time in 1967-68, it was home to Timothy Leary, whom Richard Nixon called “the most dangerous man in America.”

The 1960s were a time of civil unrest, student protests against the Vietnam War, and an unraveling of the cultural fabric of America. There was the psychedelic music of popular bands such as the Beatles, the Byrds and Pink Floyd. Even the Beach Boys were experimenting with music influenced by hallucinogens.

The psychedelic experience included partaking in marijuana and drugs such as LSD and psilocybin mushrooms. These were seen by some as tools to expand their consciousness and discover cosmic truths. Others saw drugs as harmful and illegal substances that could cause mental illnesses, or even lead to death.

In the search for enlightenment, Timothy Leary was the high priest and LSD the sacrament. Leary, a former Harvard lecturer who held a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, became an evangelist for the use of LSD. In late 1967, he moved to Laguna Beach to spend time with The Brotherhood of Eternal Love, a group of counterculture hippies who lived together in the Woodland Drive area (known by the police as “Dodge City”) and manufactured LSD nicknamed Orange Sunshine.

At this time, the Laguna Beach police were largely unaware of the scope of the Brotherhood’s massive manufacturing and distribution operation. Police officer Neil Purcell recalled: "The BEL [Brotherhood of Eternal Love] still appeared to be just an unorthodox, goofy location operation, a pain ... but no hippie mafia."

When Leary arrived in Laguna Beach and moved into a home on Gaviota Drive, he’d already been arrested on drug charges. A lightning rod for controversy, he brought the unwanted attention of police to the Brotherhood’s illegal LSD production. On December 26, 1968, the same day Leary announced he was running for governor of California against incumbent Ronald Reagan, Officer Purcell noticed a car parked illegally in the middle of Woodland Drive, blocking traffic. He was incredulous when he realized that one of the vehicle’s occupants was none other than Timothy Leary.

After noticing the car smelled of marijuana, Purcell called for backup and searched the vehicle. The search yielded two roaches found in the ashtray, a pound of marijuana, two ounces of hashish and some tabs of LSD. Leary claimed the drugs were planted by the police.

Leary was sentenced on January 21, 1970. He received a 10-year sentence for the Laguna Beach offense, and another 10 years was later added for his 1965 arrest. When he arrived in prison, he was given a battery of psychological tests designed to determine the appropriate work detail. Since Leary designed some of the tests himself, during his time as a clinical psychologist, he answered them in a way that resulted in his being assigned to a low-security prison, where he worked as a gardener.

Leary escaped by climbing over the prison wall. He was met by a pickup truck that had been arranged by the Weathermen, who had received a $250,000 payment from the Brotherhood. Leary became a fugitive from the law. After traveling to Algeria, Switzerland and Vienna, he was apprehended at the airport in Beirut. After spending time in Folsom Prison, he was eventually released from prison on April 21, 1976 by California Governor Jerry Brown. Leary died from prostate cancer on May 31, 1996, at age 75.

Leary may have attracted some people to Laguna Beach, but it was already home to a large number of artists, idealists, hippies and those seeking alternative lifestyles. Laguna Beach was still a sleepy little town, but it had an active arts scene. And it was still an affordable place to live for artists and other creative people, who earned a living by selling their wares from their front yards, the Pottery Shack, local art galleries or the Sawdust Art Festival.

Since the hippy heyday of the 1960s and ‘70s, each generation of Laguna Beach residents has contributed to and nurtured the arts that are so valued in the city. It’s home to the Laguna College of Art and Design as well as more than 100 art studios and galleries, some of which are featured in the monthly First Thursdays Art Walk. You can see it alive in public art installations and annual events such as the Sawdust Art Festival, Art-A-Fair, Festival of the Arts and Pageant of the Masters.

Even if you don’t live in Laguna Beach, a visit of any length may inspire your creativity. In addition to festivals and galleries, there are many art classes and workshops to enjoy, offered by professional artists through the Sawdust Festival organization, LOCA Arts Education and others. Or you can purchase an original piece of art to remember your visit to Laguna.

Today, Timothy Leary is a footnote in the history of Laguna Beach, but every once in a while, you may find yourself wondering if that was the really the scent of sandalwood incense you just smelled.

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July 9, 2018

Creative Tourism in Laguna Beach


For years, destinations like Laguna Beach have been a paradise for tourists looking for a beachfront getaway, a place to dine out, retreat, relax, and enjoy the beauty of the Pacific Ocean in a charming creative community that is like no other. Laguna has flourished under these premises for more than forty years. However, in the last ten years, the tourists are changing, and the activities, services and businesses they need and want are changing too. These changes are quick and quiet, and without paying proper attention to the evolving needs of contemporary tourism for areas like this, Laguna Beach businesses struggle, close, and diminish the overall popularity of Laguna Beach as a destination.

Demand is slowly gearing toward the desire for unique experiences based on originality, design, authenticity, and cultural connections. Consequently, the definition of luxury has evolved, as it is no longer solely about opulence and wealth, as the traditional understanding of luxury suggests, but is instead about experiencing a diverse and innovative environment, enhanced by a sense of belonging and style. Through an ongoing series of stimulating stories and articles, Visit Laguna Beach will be exploring the fascinating moments in our local history and community where tourism, history, art, and life intersect.

The concept of Creative Tourism appeared in the 2000s and was defined by Crispin Raymond and Greg Richards as a specific type of tourism that offered visitors the opportunity to develop their potential through active participation in courses and learning experiences, which are characteristic of the destination itself. This new generation of tourism involves the tourists themselves and the locals in the co-creation of the tourist products – the experiences.

The creative tourism concept, of course, may be a recent term, but the idea is not new. Creatives, artists, musicians, actors and beach lovers have been flocking to Laguna Beach since the 1880s. In 1903, a small group of artists began to settle here, eventually forming the Laguna Beach Art Association. Since then, Laguna has consistently welcomed visitors to the area, striving to offer unique and interesting experiences and attractions to its guests. In 1913, Laguna started offering campsites to its many admirers and visitors for 30 cents a night. In 1915, the Laguna Beach Gate, inviting visitors to enjoy the city, was hung and remains today at Forest and Coast Highway stating, “This gate hangs well and hinders none, refresh and rest, then travel on.”

In 1932, in the thrust of the Great Depression, the first Festival of Arts took place on the heels of the Olympic Games in Los Angeles, in the hopes that visitors would likely venture south to Laguna Beach for some relaxation and culture after the riveting games in LA. It became a community effort as the entire town helped to transform Laguna Beach into one seamless art event for the weeklong happening. This energy and community effort remains ever-present in this town, as a constant source for inspiration and admiration in the creative city of Laguna Beach.

It is the art and artists that contribute the most to the city’s economic and social fabric by building community, bolstering neighborhood identity, and spurring innovation and economic development. There have been many studies that have proven this, but looking back to the history of this creative and unique place shows us far more than any study. According to a recent study, over 20 percent of all Laguna Beach tourists are coming to Laguna Beach to attend a special event, art venue or festival, and whether they are day-trippers, overnighters or vacationers, on average, each travel party is spending over $100 per day. The people who come to visit Laguna Beach are participants in the culture, contributors to the local businesses, and their experiences here matter.

As history has shown us, Laguna Beach prides itself on offering authentic and fascinating experiences for visitors and residents alike. As a community is it important to support and help businesses that are unique and intriguing come to Laguna Beach. We all were at one-point visitors to this fair town, attracted to its distinctive offerings.

Keeping options for affordable storefronts for local businesses, a variety of lodging and housing options for its residents and visitors, various types of cuisine, entertainment and activities – these are all vital to the creative balance that Laguna Beach offers us all. With over six million visitors per year, and over 23,000 residents, keeping a balanced creative ecosystem is very important to our longevity as a creative city for visitors as well as residents. After all, as the Laguna Beach Gate reminds us, this city is meant to hinder none, offer refreshment and rest, and the opportunity to continue on or to stay a while, like we all have.!

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June 6, 2018

Laguna Beach's Creative Ecosystem


“One’s destination is never a place but a new way of seeing things…” – Henry Miller

Our current culture is no longer defined by industry and production, but instead, by creativity and technological innovation. The target population to contribute to our society and help keep it moving forward is that of creatives and creative-supporters. The entire system that creative activity emerges can be explained as a creative ecosystem. This ecosystem helps to cultivate creative thought, people and distinct creative places, encouraging the creative class to visit and participate in said places and activities at those places. For any creative destination, it is important to acknowledge and care for all components in the creative ecosystem, in order for the ecosystem to grow and thrive.

The term creative ecosystem has been in circulation since 2000 when it first appeared in BusinessWeek. Defining a form of infrastructure, this system that creative activity emerges from includes a few core components: The creative person, the creative project and the creative environment, and well as the functional relationships that connect them.

In this specific day and age, creative economies must be aware of how creativity, innovation and culture are important factors for the competitiveness of not only companies, but also for nations, cities and regions, particularly as we move from goods and service economies to “experience” economies. Ragnar Siil, a specialist with the European Union - EaP Culture and Creativity Programme, commented on the need to develop cultural and creative ecosystems in creative destinations, “Based on individual and collective creativity, skill and talent, the creative ecosystem is capable of improving well-being and contributing to the creation of new jobs in the city,” he stated.

Since the early 2000s, many nations, cities and regions have been paying close attention to the needs of the growing creative class and the health and well being of creative destinations as a part of our global culture. Without proper care and thoughtfulness toward maintaining a healthy creative ecosystem, many creative destinations will die out, and force residents and visitors to look elsewhere for jobs, homes, culture, and experiences. Like Henry Miller said, the destination is predominantly a new way of seeing things, and that is even more true in today’s society. The creative class includes the upcoming generations that will carry our culture into the future, and this particular group of people is concerned with experience, adventure, and authenticity.

Jane Jacobs, who, decades ago, noted the ability of cities to attract creative people and by doing so spurred economic growth, predominantly developed the human capital theory. The human capital theory establishes that creative people are the driving force in regional economic growth. Approaching this notion from a creative capital perspective, the human capital idea can be thought of as a stock or endowment; but, does evoke the question: Why do creative people cluster in certain places? Richard Florida has conducted years of research on this topic, including focus groups and interviews and was able to discover that people consider economic and lifestyle components and the combination of both of those things when considering where to live. People were not making the career decisions or geographic moves that the previous standard theories stated, but instead, educated and creative individuals were drawn to places that were inclusive and diverse. This creative capital perspective identifies a specific type of human capital, creative people, as being key to economic growth; and, it identifies the underlying factors that shape the location decisions of the creatives, instead of assuming that regions are blessed with certain endowments.

The creative class of people engages in work whose function is primarily to create meaningful new ideas and forms. This class of people includes scientists, engineers, university professors, poets and novelists, artists, entertainers, actors, designers, architects, as well as innovative thinkers and communicators like journalists, editors, cultural figures, think-tank researchers, analysts, and influencers, according to urban theorist and public speaker Richard Florida. The creative supporters are also involved in this—professionals who engage in problem solving, in health, science, tech, legal and financial industries. Florida estimates, according to his research, that the creative class includes 38.3 million Americans now, which does not discredit others from being creative, but merely looks at the individuals that are paid for their creativity in their professional work. That number is up by 10 percent at the turn of the 20th century.

The creative areas that these people are drawn to and contribute to are not thriving because of any traditional economic reasons like natural resources or transportation routes, but because the creative people want to live there. “The companies follow the people—or, in many cases, are started by them,” Florida says. “Creative centers provide the integrated ecosystem or habitat where all forms of creativity—artistic and cultural, technological and economic—can take root and flourish.” What attracts this demographic to specific areas is high-quality experiences, an openness to diversity of all kinds, and the opportunity to validate their identities as creative individuals. Laguna Beach is one of those places that people are inclined to flock to, but is on the cusp of losing this creative place attraction. It is pertinent that as a community, Laguna Beach maintains and helps to make sure that it continues to offer ample diversity of experiences, people, economics, technology and places.

“The nature and function of the city is changing in ways and dimensions we could scarcely have expected even a decade or two ago,” Florida stated. Although constant research on this area of interest is being done, there are basic that communities can pay attention to, in order to tailor these theories to their own space, place, and interests—diversity is at the very core of every version of this.

An important new study by economists Quamrul Ashraf of Williams College and Oded Galor of Brown University should help shed some light on this topic. "Cultural Diversity, Geographical Isolation and the Origin of the Wealth of Nations," recently released as a working paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research charts the role of geographic isolation, proximity and cultural diversity on economic development from pre-industrial times to the modern era. It finds that "the interplay between cultural assimilation and cultural diffusion have played a significant role in giving rise to differential patterns of economic development across the globe." To put it in plainly: diversity spurs economic development and homogeneity slows it down. This means that in a community, it is important to attract and keep diversity of industry, diversity of culture and diversity of people as an important foundation for success and growth.

Laguna Beach has had an extensive history in supporting and perpetuating diversity of people and experiences. Other cities in Orange County are catching up to the success of the creative center of Laguna Beach, long known for its history as an arts colony and an artistic epicenter in OC, by offering more affordable housing options, more diverse cultural offerings, encouraging bilingual and cultural businesses and centers, and creating unique and distinctive spaces and experiences that become signature offerings to those cities.