One of Orange County’s best kept secrets sits tucked away alongside South Coast Highway in the gorgeous area of Laguna Beach. This amazing little area spans only 7 blocks, specifically from Thalia Street to Bluebird Canyon, and yet it’s home to 24 restaurants and cafés, 40 retail and specialty shops, 30 service establishments, 20 art galleries, and 5 incredible hotels and inns. Known as the HIP District, standing for Historic and Interesting Places, this now thriving business district once played home to a simple and small business neighborhood before transforming into what it is today. A seaside stroll through this enchanting area will have you discovering some of Laguna Beach’s earliest buildings including the Hotel La Casa del Camino, The Old Pottery Place, and The English Garden.
Live like a local and enjoy all the many quaint shops that make their home at Laguna Beach’s HIP District. It’s the perfect place for art aficionados, food lovers, coffee fanatics, and everyone in between, to set out and explore! With so many shops to wander into, you may want to allow your feet some time to rest. And where better than at one of the six beaches located at the end of every street spanning the length of the district. These beaches include Thalia Street Beach, Anita Street Beach, Oak Street Beach, Brooks Street Beach, Cress Street Beach and Mountain Road Beach – each hosting its own unique charm.
And for book lovers, like myself, you can’t miss out on stopping in at Laguna Beach Books. This community bookstore possesses all the charm that you’d expect an old school bookstore to have. It’s the perfect place to find your new favorite novel for all that relaxing beach reading. There are also florists and jewelry stores scattered throughout the district to pamper yourself – or that someone special you adore! In the mood for a new home, design project? Well, you’re in the right place for finding plenty of unique home decor items. One of my favorite places to find contemporary pieces to add to my place is Vertigo Home. They also carry plenty of modern and quirky pieces that make wonderful gifts!
Even though Laguna Beach’s HIP District offers an incredible amount of shops to explore, it isn’t just another hub for frivolous shopping, it also plays host to an event known as the First Thursdays Art Walk. Pablo Picasso once said that “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” I’ve always believed that if you want to feel new again, go to an art gallery, paint something, write something, just take the time to be creative and appreciate what art can do to your life. This monthly educational experience is free to the public and held on the first Thursday of every month from 6 pm – 9 pm.
If the HIP District seems like a place you’d love to check out, there are plenty of ways to get there. The Mainline “Blue Shuttle Bus” Service operates six days a week, Monday through Friday from 6:30 am to 6:30 pm, and Saturday from 9:20 am to 6:30 pm. Unfortunately, there is no service on Sundays and major holidays, such as New Year’s, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving or Christmas. The shuttles run approximately every hour and bus schedules are posted at all stops. Please note that The Red route is the one that services the HIP District. Adults are only $0.75, seniors (65 and older or disabled) only pay $0.30 and children under 7 are FREE but must be accompanied by paying adult. There is also a free troll service you can read more about here. And for those of you who prefer using your means of transportation, metered parking is available along South Coast Highway and Glenneyre St. as well as all cross streets throughout the HIP District.