In the 1980s, a group of activists worked to preserve a greenbelt of land around the coastal community of Laguna Beach. The result of their efforts, a swath of undeveloped canyons bordering the town, combined with the area’s artistic and bohemian roots set it apart from the often-undifferentiated freeway-and-shopping-mall sprawl of surrounding Orange County.
Laguna Beach's seven miles of picturesque, cove-dotted coastline and cliffside shops, restaurants and hotels have a Mediterranean feel. At the same time, the scruffy suntanned surfers, the steady parade of luxury convertibles along the Coast Highway, and the perpetual beach volleyball games on the sand infuse this enclave with a distinctly Southern California flavor.
Eleven miles north, the tony seaside city of Newport Beach surrounds a 21-square mile harbor housing thousands of recreational fishing craft, sailboats and luxury yachts. In addition to harborside strolling, the area's inviting beaches are a big summertime draw, and a number of first-rate golf courses, including the Oak Creek Golf Club, lie within easy reach.