It's always tourist season in Laguna Beach, especially in the summer. Stroll along Main Beach's boardwalk, and in addition to the usual day trippers, you'll hear people speaking German, Russian, Japanese, French and Italian, which is only cool until you hear Lauren Conrad's name mixed in with all the accents. Yes, the 10-year-old MTV show of which no local dares speak its name is still much-hated here, except maybe by the Chamber of Commerce or the Visitor's Bureau. Ka-CHING!
Summer in Laguna Beach is also about the city's big events: the Pageant of the Masters (www.foapom.com; July 9- Aug. 30) and its in-house Festival of Arts (July 6-Aug. 30), as well as the two arts fests across the street, the Sawdust Festival (sawdustartfestival.org) and the Art-a-Fair (art-a-fair.com), both of which run June 27 to Aug. 31.
But there's much to do in Laguna that isn't so tourist-heavy. For locals, summer means avoiding those spots (unless your artist bestie has a booth or your dad is posing semi-nude in a Da Vinci re-creation at the Pageant), instead partaking in the kind of don't-tell-anyone-else stuff that Lagunans prefer keeping all to themselves. There's the extremely popular Music In the Park concert series in Bluebird Park (798 Bluebird Canyon Dr.) on Sundays, usually starting mid-July and running through the end of August. To many in Laguna, this is the definition of summer. Show up early, grab a spot on the grass, groove to the live tunes, and maybe catch a real rock star—people still talk about the time two years ago when Laguna Beach High alum and Foo Fighter Taylor Hawkins showed up to drum in a Police tribute band. This year's lineup hasn't yet been announced, but keep checking at lagunabeachcity.net.
The Brooks Street Surfing Classic bills itself as the oldest continuing surf contest in the world—held since 1955!—and part of its allure is that nobody knows when, or even if, it'll happen each year, since the staging always depends on notoriously unpredictable swell conditions. There was a four-year gap until 2013, and things look good for another run this year. You can stay updated by clicking on the contest's Facebook page (www.facebook.com/brooksstreetclassic). And when it does go off, it's the best early-morning party around.
The Fete de la Musique (lagunabeachsistercitiesassociation.com) returns June 21, a fun, free party put together by the Laguna Beach Sister Cities Association in which some 20 musicians scatter throughout the city's downtown village and just start playing, busker-style, for whoever may be ambling past. There's a terrific range of styles, too, from cabaret singers to teenage rockers to barbershop quartets to fiddle players to singer/songwriters to the always-amazing cigar-box blues of the Budrows.
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No friends? Then make some new ones, such as Blair McManus, the Laguna Beach Frisbee king, who can usually be found at Main Beach, spinning and twirling and playing catch with himself, and Michael Minutoli, the latest in a long line of Laguna Beach greeters, waving to passersby at the corner of Coast Highway and Brooks Street. They're both colorful cast members in the ever-evolving real Laguna Beach reality show.