Location: Laguna Beach: Off Cliff Drive
Hours: Sunrise to dusk
Cost: Free, but parking is metered
For ages: All
This park, with its stunning ocean view along the bluffs on Cliff Drive from Aster Street to Diver’s Cove, presents numerous Kodak moments along its scenic terrain. In fact, if you visit on a Saturday, you’re likely to see numerous cameras flashing: It’s one of the most popular wedding spots in Orange County, and you might see one of the many brides and grooms who marry at the Heisler Park gazebo.
The park’s meandering trails, which wind from the top of the cliff down to the ocean, lead to various lookout areas, natural-plant gardens and public art, offering beautiful ocean views.
Additional steep pathways lead down the cliff toward Main Beach, as well as the marine refuge and tide pools. Older kids will love climbing over the rocks and exploring the ocean life in the tide pools. (Remind kids they can’t bring any plant life or ocean life back with them – ask them to leave it for the next child to enjoy.)
Part of the afternoon can be spent exploring Main Beach, where sunbathers and sand volleyball always make things lively. Or saunter into downtown Laguna Beach and let your kids sample some of the area’s great ice cream. There is also great public art in the area, and you can easily spend an afternoon just looking at Laguna’s renowned outdoor art pieces. (Great way to introduce your kids to art!)
Where to park: Parking is a little difficult here, especially in the summer months. If you can, find a meter on North Coast Highway and walk toward the ocean to the park.
What to bring: Coins for parking meters, water bottles, sunscreen, jackets in all but summer months — it gets chilly near the ocean here. Strollers okay. You can bring a picnic lunch but be prepared to haul it from wherever you park. Older kids may not be able to resist going down to the ocean, so bring towels and an extra change of clothes. Ice cream shops are an easy stroll, so snack money might be in order.
Best time to go: Spring and fall are best to avoid crowds. Summer is beautiful, but so crowded you can rarely find a parking space. Saturdays tend to be especially crowded with weddings.
Are you a Heisler Park fan? What’s your favorite part of this seaside park?