Best Things To Do This Holiday Weekend in Laguna
Story and Photos by Diane Armitage 

Each week, I do a “Fab 5” email to my subscribers with recommendations for the upcoming weekend and week ahead. This week, though, I’m sharing what my own game plan is over these next four holiday days. (They are, after all, my best picks because I’m doing them!)

Friday, Aug 30

AM – Early in the morning, before the happy mobs descend on our holiday weekend, I’m trotting down my beach to the Lost Pier for my favorite view with my favorite breakfast burrito (it’s stuffed with big chunks of hickory bacon). Owned and operated by the folks at The Ranch Laguna Beach, this is great “beach shack” food with waves lapping at your feet and one of the best cups of coffee you’ll find in all the land.

Best things Lost Pier

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Lost Pier’s breakfast burrito served oceanside

PM – It’s the second-to-the-last day of the Festival of the Arts and they’re pulling out all the stops with the return of Terry Steele in concert. I first wrote about him performing at the Festival on July 9 (a Luther Vandross tribute); he brought down the house. The concert’s free with Festival admission (Laguna residents always get in free). You can find more details in the Calendar on my website below. 

Saturday, Aug 31

AM – Out the door early, I’m off to my favorite trail, stair and beach run at the Dana Point Headlands and Strands Beach. Blue skies and blue ocean are lovely distractions and there’s plenty of good surfer watching as you pound your way down the Strands boardwalk.

PM – The Laguna locals are beginning their “End of Summer” parties where we all finally re-emerge from our summer’s underground barrens, blinking in the bright light of day. I’m heading to my favorite party – I think this is the 25th year in a row for the party and my 16th in attendance. Absolutely no way am I giving away this location. You can try to peek through the fence all you want, but good luck finding it.

Sunday, Sept 1

Early AM – A tradition of mine for a long time running, I regularly get down to The Ranch’s Harvest Restaurant on early Sunday mornings to sit with my cappuccino, write a few plans for the upcoming week, and watch the day wake up on our beautiful canyon golf course. What a gift Mark Christy has given us – and the breakfasts are great fare, too. (I don’t care if it’s a holiday – I am NOT going near that delicious bacon-striddled giant cinnamon roll.) 

Best Things The Ranch Harvest

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The early morning view from my favorite seat at Harvest

Mid-Morning – BEACH DAY! It’s supposed to be 84 degrees and sunny. There’s no excuse. Normally, I’m the Virgo who takes business books or spreadsheets down to the beach with me. Holiday weekends, though – it’s pure fiction, thanks to my BFF, Lisa, always finding me something at her treasure trove, Laguna Beach Books.

PM – I have this weird tradition of always riding the Laguna Beach trolley on its last day of summer service. Call it my somewhat melancholy ode to summer’s close. The trolley is the coolest thing, even though you’re still crawling along at the same pace as all those other cars. I love gawking at all the stuff I never see when I’m driving my own car.

So, ‘round about 1:30, I’m heading to my trolley stop and boot-scooting all the way to North Laguna for my now-favorite music afternoon, Aloha Sunday at Royal Hawaiian. Fabulous live music and vibe, and I’ll be saving up all weekend for their equally-as-fabulous RH Burger (with a slice of grilled pineapple).

Best Things RH Hamburger

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Royal Hawaiian’s burger with optional grilled pineapple  

Sunday, Sept 2

AM – Yet another giant locals’ party, this one is certainly willing to take in unsuspecting passerby – it’s our Annual Laguna City Police & Firefighters’ Pancake Breakfast. They’re setting up as early as 6 a.m. and serve breakfast from 7 to 11 a.m. Get out, offer a few handshakes for all they do for us, and swap stories with fellow locals on life in your underground barren all summer long.   

PM – OK, you’ve had your breakfast burrito, your burger, your tiki cocktail and your pancake breakfast. 

You can’t say “goodbye” to Labor Day weekend, however, without a margarita. That would be… illegal or something. I have favorites at Carmelita’s, South of Nick’s, and South Laguna’s La Sirena. But, fortunately, some of the very finest margarita makers in town are within yards of my home at the SoLag ‘hood hangout, Coyote Grill. While many restaurants are closed on Labor Day, Coyote will be operating regular hours. Shoulder your way in, say howdy to your hosts Desirée and Steve, and toast a goodbye to summer with a mob of Laguna friendlies. 

Best things Des and Steve

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Coyote part owner Desirée and longtime bartender Steve are happy to serve up a frosty margarita

Enjoy your Labor Day weekend. Be safe. Don’t drink and drive. Be kind to pedestrians, even if they’re jaywalking. Our summer season will be over before you know it.

The best-selling author and blogger on The Best of Laguna Beach, Diane Armitage is on an endless quest for the most imaginative adventures in Laguna’s restaurants, events, and lifestyle. Check out chef interviews, retail and restaurant news, and favorite events at