Ocean Avenue, the Sandpiper, the White House, Hennessey’s Royal
Hawaiian, the Marine Room, Vertical Wine Bar, Woody’s and the Boom what
do they share besides being in Laguna Beach? They all share the common
denominator -- fun.
Each bar has its own personality and is as unique as the people it
draws. Some have a certain crowd or age group while others attract an
eclectic mix. What kind of local flavor are you in the mood for?
Do you want live music, dancing, live music and dancing, techno,
trance and house or rock ‘n’ roll and blues? Do you want some place with
an outdoor patio, do you want to go to a gay club, hang with a younger
crowd, pick up people, sit and socialize, or are you looking for
something more mellow.
It’s all here in Laguna Beach. Nearly any type of entertainment can be
had in myriad ways in myriad places when it comes to Laguna nightlife.
Many of the bars in Laguna are close together either downtown or further
south near Mountain Street. Either way it takes less than 20 minutes to
walk from the Royal Hawaiian to the Boom, which is the furthest distance
between two of the previously listed bars.
On Friday nights a group of friends that live in north Laguna does
their own bar version of the art walk. They start at the Royal Hawaiian
for their infamous Lapu-Lapu’s, an original cocktail concoction that
can’t be duplicated and has plenty of rum. Friday night is the Hawaiian’s
“The bewitching hour is 9 p.m. We use the most rum in Orange County
that’s for sure,” said manager J.R. Caban.
Royal Hawaiian still has its original owners from since 1947 and
remains in its retro beach hut style.
From there the group’s journey brings them to Ocean Avenue Brewery,
which is one of the best bars in Laguna and the locals love it. On Friday
nights it’s packed with people both inside and on the patio. Inside the
place is decorated like an art gallery with great colors and paintings
that rotate to feature different artists. The crowd at Ocean are mostly
in their 20s and 30s on Friday. It’s a place where everyone seems to know
“Friday night is perfect. My friends and I all gathered there for my
birthday last year,” said Laguna local Crystal McAlexander.
Friday has a DJ spinning alternative dance music. Depending on the
night, it caters to all different tastes with live music on Wednesday,
Thursday and Saturday nights. But it is known as a bar that always
delivers when it comes to nightlife.
Another stop on the same side of Ocean Avenue just a few places down
is Hennessey’s. Now that place can get a little wild. On the weekend it
draws a mixed crowd depending on the band but mostly people in their 20s
and 30s. The place is huge with an area upstairs that has bands blaring
their music. And sometimes there is a band downstairs as well. There is
also a large outside patio, which is pretty much always packed with
people swilling and smoking. It also has the sports bar element so it’s a
combo platter of tastes.
Across the same street is the Marine Room, which seemingly has the
most loyal crowd -- well maybe the Sandpiper and the Marine Room are in a
tie. That’s a tough call.
People who have lived in Laguna Beach talk about growing up with the
members in the local bands that play there. Missiles of October is a
popular local staple comprised of Laguna musicians.
The crowd likes their live music and the dark setting. Harley’s can be
seen lined up in front especially on Sundays.
Also in the downtown area there is another hot spot a block over on
Forest Avenue, the Vertical Wine Bar. This spot however is not part of
the regular bar shuffle rather it attracts a much different crowd than
the other places. It is slower paced and a great place to enjoy a
conversation while sipping wine. It’s more expensive and also attracts an
older crowd, mostly 40 plus.
Still downtown but on Coast Highway is the White House, which is
practically a landmark with the building about as old as Laguna itself.
This place has dancing, DJ’s and live bands. It’s a popular place that
also draws a large Newport crowd. People like to get dressed up and be
Up further south on Coast Highway is The Sandpiper a.k.a. the dirty
bird. At the Piper the staff is like family. It’s most likely the locals
favorite overall. Everyone knows the owners.
“Ocean Avenue is good for a good martini but lately I have been going
to the Piper. The bartenders are awesome and the music is really good,”
said Laguna local Antonette Lee.
The Piper is known for its live music every night of the week and
their tasty cocktails.
On the corner of Cress is Woody’s, a fun gay bar where everyone knows
everyone. They have the best outdoor area in Laguna. The bartenders and
the customers are on first name basis.
The gay place to dance is the Boom Boom Room. It has good DJ’s
especially Ali who is one of the best DJ’s in town. The boom is 99% men.
But it is a really fun place to go and dance and get wild.
On Wednesday night it has a drag show, which is quite entertaining.
And the weekend has great DJ’s. There’s also pool and a few levels to the
bar, which makes it interesting.
This is just the beginning of the night life scene in Laguna. It’s a
good reason to stay local when you go out.