Visitors strolling along the red-brick sidewalk into Laguna Village Arts and Flowers will encounter a myriad of sights, sounds and smells. Designed to preserve Laguna's natural openness, this outdoor mall, situated on a 60-foot bluff, features four arts gazebos with windows and doors left yawning for airy, unfettered shopping. The works include pottery, glass-blown art and jewelry, an air-brushed clothing line, goldsmithing, watercolors and sculptures.
Shoppers wandering through the village can hear the tap-tapping of the jeweler's hammer on his anvil. A classical guitarist strums a quiet Sunday morning serenade. A glass-blower twists and turns sand into fire-lit life forms. And then there's Motzie, better known as Michael J. Lavery of Save-the-Canyon fame, whose evening and weekend performances while he creates an oil canvas entertain anyone willing to listen.
There is a flavor of friendship and family among the 14 artists, most of whom have made the village their business home since its opening in 1982. So, if you see something in the pottery shop that you simply must have and no one is around to take your money, just ask Sarkis the Jeweler or Rodney the Sculptor or Linda of Laguna or Rudy the Seashell Man for assistance. They will be more than happy to oblige.
The Laguna Village Cafe commands one of the most sweeping ocean views in the city and might well be the place from which the term dining alfresco originated. The restaurant serves an eclectic menu of daily specials, salads, sandwiches and fresh-fish entrees. Beverages include everything from sparkling apple cider to white zinfandel.
A plush lawn, a free-standing wooden counter with several attached seatings-for-two and park benches complete with footstools entice the weary traveler to rest. Two cliff-side seating areas offer a panoramic view of Dana Point, Catalina Island, Main Beach and all of the dolphins, pelicans, surfers and sun-worshipers in between.
A small gazebo and lawn area can be rented for weddings and private parties, and the village nursery, Weeds, stocks a bountiful array of freshly cut flowers for such special occasions. Also, the restaurant will cater these events. With its ocean breezes and the sound of pounding surf, a more romantic oceanside wedding location would be hard to find.
As the sun begins its descent behind Catalina, the artists break away from their paints to gather for a cup of cappuccino or a glass of wine. People stroll in from evening walks to enjoy dinner, conversation, the view. Year-round, Laguna Village Arts and Flowers lets everyone enjoy the Bohemian life style.
Hours: 8:30 a.m. to around 10 p.m. weeknights and no later than midnight on the weekends.
Address: 577 S. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach