Laguna Beach/Aliso Viejo/Dana Point

The coastal town of Laguna Beach has long been a sought after destination on the Orange coast since stars of the silver screen used to hole up at the art deco Hotel Laguna to conduct affairs away from the glare of Hollywood.

Prices for homes in this locale, often with views overlooking the glittering Pacific, have skyrocketed (as have foreclosures over the recent period of economic depression) but despite this, Laguna Beach manages to blend a liberal arts community in with its high-flying conservative class. The town also feels vibrant, but not overrun (except maybe at the very height of the summer), and after a short stay here you can understand why people are willing to pay such a high price for residency.

Dana Point (named after ocean going author, Richard Henry Dana), just south of Laguna Beach, is a more tranquil, diffuse community spread over a wider area. Central to Dana Point is its peaceful bay, where yachts navigate slowly past paddle surfers and fishermen coexist harmoniously with the pelicans that roost along the breakwater. Get the best view of the bay (and probably the best meal in Dana Point) at Cannon's.

Adjacent to these areas are the suburbs of Laguna Niguel and Laguna Hills, as well as Aliso Viejo, the latter most notable for its nature reserve: great for hiking, popular with mountain bikers, and endowed with spectacular views all the way from the coast to Saddleback mountain in the east.
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