Lagonas (meaning lakes for the two fresh water lagoons that decorated the canyon), is the original name given to Laguna Beach by the Ute-Aztecas (later the Shoshones) Indians over 2000 years ago. The Ute-Azetacs Indians recognized that Lagonas was a unique location for its temperate weather and rich coastal strip. The Indians occupied the canyons just east of Main Beach.
The Spaniards named the village Canada de las Lagunas (Canyon of the Lakes). And, finally, in 1904 the name was officially changed from Lagonas to Laguna Beach.
In the late 1800's, more and more people came to the seaside settlement. In 1903, Norman St. Claire (the first important artist) came from San Francisco by train and stage to paint the surf, the hillsides and the lagoons surrounding this seaside village. His artist friends were so impressed with his paintings and reports of a balmy year-round climate that they followed to Laguna Beach.
Following the artists came the Hollywood film makers who found Laguna Beach to be every bit as appealing on the silver screen as it was painted on canvas. Many of Hollywood's famous stars like Bette Davis, Mary Pickford, Mary Miles Minter, Victor Mature, Judy Garland, Rudolph Valentino, Charlie Chaplin and Mickey Rooney maintained homes in Laguna Beach. These early Hollywood stars founded the Laguna Playhouse in 1920. The Laguna Playhouse is the oldest continously operating theatre company on the west coast.
Over the decades, the stars continued to flock to Laguna Beach as did dignitaries like President Franklin D. Roosevelt and writers like John Steinbeck, who wrote Tortilla Flats while living at 504 Park Avenue. They traveled to Laguna for inspiration and relaxation, frequenting landmarks like the White House and the Cabrillo Ballroom.
If you have ever had the pleasure of visiting Laguna Beach, then you understand the charm and allure. There are 30 some coves and beached packed within 9.1 square miles, as well as deluxe resorts, intimate inns, bed & breakfast hideways, seaside cottages and much more. The tree-lined streets of the Downtown Village area are lined with quaint shops, sidewalk cafés, gay nightclubs and espresso bars. Laguna Beach is recognized as an artist colony boasting nearly 100 galleries. The gay community is diverse and socially active. You will feel welcome with the many gay and gay friendly businesses, restaurants, nightclubs, and lodging.
Laguna's universal allure is best
expressed on a famous gate built in 1935, which still stands on the
corner of Forest and Park Avenues. It reads: "This gate hangs well and
hinders none, refresh and rest, then travel on."