Exploring Laguna Beach Like I Did As A Kid

We moved to Southern California just before I turned nine years old and not long after that Laguna Beach became a family spot. While I continue to love exploring this town from its coves to its galleries, my favorite memories are still the days spent with my family.

And do you know what? I think almost every trip was identical from the age of 9 to 20. So here for you is my perfect Southern California beach day.

Laguna Beach CaliforniaA Lazy Morning on the Beach

We would normally arrive around ten in the morning and find a spot on the north side of main beach, pretty close to the tide pools. This provided the perfect spot for us kids to explore the rock and creatures and a long beach south of us for my mother to enjoy a walk down the sand.

We’d play in the waves, which included anything from too much kelp, being stung by jelly fish, to shark sightings, but on most days clear, just big enough waves to enjoy.

The Diner for Lunch

Then lunch would roll around and one of my parents would make a run to Johnny Rockets. Now I know this is a nation chain but for me this was the first place I experienced it and there is something about a tuna melt and fries on the beach that I can’t help but enjoy. We’d all dive into the bags and do our best to avoid getting sand in our food.

Afterwards, we’d stay on the beach until the sun started to cool off. For my family spending six hours on the sand was just a starter, we could easily spend ten. If you can’t imagine that I recommend taking a day, now don’t forget an umbrella and some sunblock, but to just relax on the beach and not do much else.

Wandering Around Town

Laguna Beach ShoppingWe would pack up our bags, wash off the sand and then throw everything back in the car. Walk right into downtown and put our name down on the waiting list at B.J.’s Restaurant. Yes, another chain, but it’s one of the originals and is a far cry from the ones you find around most of the state. It’s a tiny hole in the wall and while the menu has since expanded it used to only include a few pizzas, pastas and salads.

For our table of four or five the wait would always be at least an hour but that gave us the perfect amount of time to explore downtown. There are cute shops for everyone from the kids to teens to mom. The galleries have great local artists. My favorite being Wyland for his beautiful ability to capture everything I want to see in the ocean.

(If you walk up PCH a little you can find a few blocks up from down town his main gallery which he has an apartment above, which means if you’re lucky you get a chance to say hello. And the view from the deck is beautiful.)

A Pizookie!Laguna Beach Snow Man

Finally, it’s time to be seated and we order up some pizza and pasta (and now a days some beer to go with it). Once that’s all wrapped up, since there are always leftovers, we order a pizookie.

Yes! I said it. If you haven’t had one it’s a mostly baked, but still a little gooey, cookie in a personal sized pizza plan. There are imitations out there but none that I’ve come across are as good as B.J.’s. My favorite is still the classic chocolate chip.

A Great Day and Great Memories

At the end of the day once we’ve been tanned and stuffed to the brim we pack back in the car and make the drive back east.

Those day trips with my family are some of my favorite memories. Where did your family take day trips to growing up? Where do you take them with your family

About Megan

Megan MacNee is the founder of Traveling Nine to Fiver. From nine to five she works in the non-profit world in California. She focuses on exploring the world from her own backyard to across the globe. You'll find her sharing about explorations through food, books, travel, and more.