Best Watering Holes to Mingle with Friendly Locals
Laguna Beach has gained quite the reputation thanks (or no thanks) to MTV reality programming (actually, does MTV do anything else?). Contrary to popular opinion, the citizens of Laguna are not comprised solely of spoiled rich kids looking to gain fame amongst the hollywood elite. In actual reality Laguna Beach is home to an artsy (in a non irritating way) and eclectic bunch of laid back, well-to-do beach bums. Within this group you are sure to meet some interesting people that would be more than happy to show you around town and if lucky, you may find yourself unofficially adopted into one of the breathtaking cliff side mansion guest rooms. The last scenario is highly unlikely but you may be allowed over for dinner as long as you clean up after yourself.
213 Ocean Avenue
The exterior of this establishment speaks to you in a deep irish drawl beckoning you to come in. The dark wood interior plus the warm and rosey cheeked (from Guinness) faces within reach out like a big all encompassing hug whispering "Welcome friend". Its so darn "old world" cozy that you could fall asleep with a big smile on your face here at Hennessey's if you weren't in fact having so much fun mixing it up with the regulars that frequent this place on a daily, or hourly basis. Some places were put here on earth solely to bring people together. Hennessey's is one of those shining examples.
446 South Coast Highway
The name and even exterior lend to visions of front doors swinging open as you stumble out with another whiskey odored hooligan in tow for a 12 O'Clock Noon showdown on the unlikely setting of South Coast Highway. Instead, you will most likely find yourself stumbling out of the same doors of this close quartered stand up bar with another whiskey odored hooligan, arms on each others shoulders, singing in unison the last song of the night and making claims of finding your new best friend for life. You won't remember in the morning but you can always go back the next night and meet the same friend/s for the first time...again.
Marine Room Tavern
214 Ocean Avenue
The Marine Room Tavern is owned and operated by a local Laguna Beach Councilperson, so you can be sure that other locals will show up with intentions of airing their city grievances in a casual forum only to forget all about that pothole on Laguna Canyon Road after being greeted with a nice cold and foamy draft.
The large stuffed marine life adorning the wooden walls of this dim lit establishment all but guarantees you will hear plenty of "You think that one's big? I once caught a fish....". You'll also hear plenty of stories from the old leathered surf crews that pretty much tell the same story "I once caught a wave...". You get the idea.
The Marine Room Tavern definitely packs in an older crowd but we can't think of a better place to get some straight-shooting conversation with straight-up drinks in hand.
Sandpiper Lounge (aka "Dirty Bird")
1183 South Coast Highway
Sandpiper Lounge or "Dirty Bird", as its affectionately nicknamed by the local contingent has been around since the 1940's pretty much making it an official landmark along South Coast Highway. We're not sure how "she" got the nickname exactly but we bet the multi-generational locals that still frequent this funky old establishment would share many a story with you over great tunes (from rock to reggae to punk) and a pint or two...or three.
The Whitehouse Restaurant & Nightclub
340 South Coast Highway
It seems like we're always saying something like "this place has been around since blah blah blah..." but in this case we have uncovered the oldest standing (why do they always say "standing"? Does anyone actually count the ones that have been demolished?) restaurant in Laguna Beach. Whitehouse Restaurant & Nightclub was first established in 1918. They win. When a place has been in business for this long you know that it must have a seriously devoted local following. Plus they feature live music 7 days a week which is a rarity in today's nightlife scene. Live music on regular rotation gives people plenty to mix and mingle about. Check out the music line up when you know you will be in the area and come on by.