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Laguna Beach: An Arts Community

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Laguna Beach: An Arts Community
© Lavender Dreamer
Laguna Beach is a south county city characterized by its thriving arts community, lush coastal landscape, rolling hills, deep canyons and sea-etched coves. The city started as a collection of struggling farmsteads, and eventually Laguna Beach, became an artists colony, coastal resort town and a tourist destination.

A Brief History:

Settled shortly after the Civil War, Laguna Beach began as a small collection of farmsteads and is one of the oldest cities in Orange County. When LA and Orange County became separate counties, Laguna was hit with economic hardship. That is until impressionist painter Norman St. Claire decided to make the developing seaside enclave his home and other artists soon followed suit. The influx of artists was a boon for the struggling community, and spurred a number of artistic institutions. In 1918 the Laguna Art Museum held its first exhibit, followed shortly by the opening of the Laguna Playhouse. And thus began the city's revitalization as an artist colony. The famed Festival of the Arts/Pageant of the Masters, the oldest festival in Laguna Beach, began in the 1930s. In the 60s, the Sawdust Festival was born from the frustration of a new generation of local artists who felt excluded by the older establishment. While the Pageant of the Masters welcomes artists from all over the world, the Sawdust Festival is for locals only.

Lay of the Land:

Laguna Beach is a tiny coastal town of approximately nine square-miles, just north of Dana Point and south of Newport Beach. It is bordered to the northeast by Laguna Niguel and Alisa Viejo and to the west by the Pacific Ocean.

Housing & Real Estate:

With average home prices valued at over $1 million, its safe to say that Laguna Beach has come a long way from its humble roots. The city offers a variety of beach proximate housing options, ranging from quaint cottages and Monterey style homes, to more modern condos and townhouses. Laguna Canyon is perhaps the most affordable, while North Laguna perhaps provides the best coastal views, and South Laguna offers a downtown beach city atmosphere.
Median house or condo value: $1,062,500
Media rent: $1,700

Laguna Beach Schools:

The Laguna Beach School District is appropriately small and only includes four schools -- Top of the World and El Morro Elementary schools, Thurston Middle School and Laguna Beach High School -- none of which are particularly outstanding, but do benefit from being located in an affluent community. True to the city's artistic roots, the Laguna College of Art & Design was established in 1961 and has become known for its combination of liberal arts education and practical preparation for the business of being an artist.

Shopping & Entertainment:

As it should be in artist communities, Laguna Beach is the art connoisseur's dream, with plenty of galleries and art studios to explore. While Laguna Beach has become a tourist destination and resort town, the city has managed to maintain its village charm. The area near Main Beach Park is especially walkable and provides options for shopping at local boutiques, specialty shops and both casual and gourmet dining. On Saturdays, a farmer’s market featuring local produce and other artisan goods is held in the parking lot of Laguna Beach Lumberyard Shopping center.

Attractions & Annual Events:

In many ways, the art is the biggest attraction in Laguna Beach. The city is famous for its Summer arts festivals: The Pageant of the Masters, the Sawdust Festival and the Art-A-Fair. Other attractions include the Laguna Art Museum, the Laguna Playhouse and the Pacific Marine Mammal Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and release of marine mammals stranded along the O.C. coast.

Laguna Beach by the Numbers:

Population: 22,723
Media Age: 45
Median Income: $163,416
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