While in the car over in Anaheim Hills after our drive back from Palm Springs this morning, we decided to double back to Laguna Beach before heading up to Santa Barbara and Montecito. This will give us a chance to rest, walk around the downtown area of the city since we both liked it so much more than we expected, and really get to know it better than we did the first time we drove through on our way to down to La Jolla and then back up to Temecula wine country.
[mainbodyad]We made a phone call and had someone book the nearest, easiest hotel relative to the downtown area around the Laguna Beach shops. We wanted to be able to walk out to the water and around the retailers, restaurants, and art galleries. They secured a spot for us at the Holiday Inn right across from the ocean. It’s an older hotel but so convenient I imagine it generates a lot of business during the busy seasons at rates disproportional to the room size and quality (typically $250 to $350 per night). I’d love to get my hands on the financial statements and value it.
It has so few rooms I can’t imagine the return on capital is very high given the incredible value of the land on which it stands, though it may appear to be given the historical cost of the property on the balance sheet of the owner if it’s been in his or her hands for a long time. This might be a side project of mine to satisfy the curiosity. Looks like I’ll be pulling property records when back home.
As always, the pictures enlarge if you want to see them in more detail.
We stayed at a Holiday Inn one block from the ocean, across the street from a grocery store, and a couple blocks from the heart of downtown Laguna Beach.
I liked the brand placement. I imagine the management of IHG plc would be proud as money is generated here in the United States to be shipped back to Great Britain in the form of the revenue share on the franchise agreement.
It’s built around an interior courtyard with an old-school deep end. You don’t see those in the Midwest hardly anymore. I like them better, personally.
If we do end up picking Southern California as the new base from which we live, my landscaping budget is going to balloon out of control. I can already tell … this sort of thing is like art to us. Who doesn’t want to walk around surrounded by it?
I am not sure what plant this is, specifically, but there are a lot of them around Orange County.
The Orange Inn, which was catty-corner from the hotel, boasted the best coffee in Laguna Beach. I’ll try them in the morning to test this assertion.
When we left the hotel and went towards the center of town, we were walking down to the main shops and passed a little side alley. We went down it and it was magical. There was a sign over a chocolatier shop dubbing the street “La Rue du Chocolat”, and next to it was a highly rated gelato shop. To the right was a covered outside eating area for a restaurant. This reminds me of Princeton, New Jersey so much … the fragrance is amazing.
When we emerged from the alley, we turned left and walked back down to the corner we would have been on had we not taken the pleasant detour …
From there, we turned right and made our way to the main exchange in Laguna Beach where you can go to the ocean on the left, or shops on the right …
When you look to the right, you see countless little stores and restaurants … it goes up quite a ways with side streets and other areas that have banks, architects, and offices …
There was an old fashion candy store called Candy Baron. What’s with these retro confectionary shops in California? It must be that the median age of the state is so much higher than the United States as whole due to the cost of living making it prohibitive for a lot of young couples and families. If you get an older demographic, a lot of them will want products they enjoy, including some from their youth. This same thing was happening in Rancho Mirage, Palm Springs, etc. I hadn’t seen so many old candy brands in years.
Walking up to more of the shops in Laguna Beach … the sunlight is gorgeous here.
We loved the trees outside of this Wells Fargo & Company office. It’s funny that I’ve never even seen this branch until recently, yet it’s partly what is generating the dividends my family gets to enjoy … there’s something about the idea that makes me happy.
We made our way back down to the ocean …
… then turned left to see more of Laguna Beach and cross at the main intersection up ahead.
After a bit more exploring, we went to sit on the benches near the water …
Looking back behind us, I can’t get over the clarity of the sunlight and the trees. It’s like high definition technicolor.
In front of us, the waves were crashing into the shore …
When we walked up to the railing and looked to the left, it was more blue water …
Back on the bench, suddenly, these two birds above us began having a very loud, spirited, back-and-forth conversation …
… when I zoomed in on them, they were quiet, as if I had caught them doing something wrong. They sat there for awhile, watching everything intently.
We walked back up to the street and went into the restaurant to the right of this picture, which overlooks the ocean.
Just another view down the coast …
The zoom on this camera let us look up into the hills to see the houses overlooking the ocean. We could get even closer to the point of seeing in the individual rooms but I felt weird in case someone was walking to their bathtub nude or something. I don’t like all this technology invading privacy …
The Greeter’s Corner sits right on the main beach. It’s a total wasted opportunity for the owners, who are squandering one of the best locations in town. There is a TripAdvisor review that sums it up perfectly. “Not the best bet in Laguna Beach. We frequently go to the Laguna Beach area simply because it is conveniently close to where we live, and there are a lot of good eateries there. This spot is not the best. It is not that clean, service is so so, and the people who operate this place are not very friendly. But most of all, the food is just OK on a good day. Now you know.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.
This shows you how close to the water, volleyball, and benches the restaurant is … total tragedy. This place could print money if it got its act together.
After a plane flight, four days at Disneyland walking 40+ miles during a heatwave that went as high as 105 degrees Fahrenheit, and 600 miles of traveling around Southern California touring city after city, I was exhausted. Aaron apparently caught me resting my hands on my face like a kid. This is the moment I realized he was about to snap the picture before I went to stop him. It’s for Aunt Donna. She wants more pictures of me on the blog, which I rarely do. All I wanted, even more than the beach, at this particular window in time, was to go back to the room and play a game of Civilization while I relaxed. It didn’t help I had only slept three hours the night before … I couldn’t sleep in Palm Springs. It didn’t feel right.
The shopping is so niche in Laguna Beach, there are even places to buy dresses for your dog … I couldn’t help but crack up at this. To each his own, I suppose …
We started walking back to the hotel to get some work done, maybe I could get in a game of Civilization, when suddenly there was a hidden alley on our right.
We looked down it and saw a lookout point to the ocean so we decided to take another detour.
When we reached the end, the view was wonderful. This was looking up the coast to our left …
… and here’s the view to the right as the sun began to set. It was so bright, we could hardly make out the image when we took this.
Aaron stopped for a picture at the lookout point by the ocean.
We made our way back up the alley to the street and went a couple of blocks to the room.
Success! Back in the room, I kicked off my shoes, turned on the MacBook, and started a game as Ethiopia …
Aaron went out at night, as I played Civilization, to take pictures of the flowers and pool in the courtyard … we were going to walk down to the ocean at night but the city was suddenly abandoned except for a few homeless people, who, to be fair, were right there during the daytime, too. We had no idea whether the area was safe so we turned back before we strayed too far in the dark. It’s weird seeing people live on the streets, especially amongst all this luxury and wealth. You can tell that, in most cases, it’s not due to economic problems but mental illness. I can’t tell you the last time I saw a homeless person before this trip – easily years, maybe a decade.
Part of me wouldn’t mind owning this hotel … maybe when I’m older and retired, I’ll do something like that.
My dad, who grew up in California, always said it got cold here at night. The ocean breeze makes it feel like you’re in a refrigerator. We had to put pants and windbreakers on to go outside any time the sun had set. It’s such a difference from the way heat is transferred in the Midwestern humidity, where it stays warm even after dark.
I’m going to try and get this posted but the so-called “high speed Internet” here is a joke. You may not see this for several days. I’ll finish editing it once we get to Montecito and all of the images have had a chance to upload and sync. We’re leaving in the morning and, on the drive, should see Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Huntington Beach, Seal Beach, Long Beach, Ranchos Palos Verdes, Palos Verdes Estates, Rendondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, Santa Monica, Malibu, Oxnard, Ventura, and finally, Montecito, Santa Barbara, Goleta, etc. It’s going to be a long day but the drive should be pretty.