When we PCS’ed to Camp Pendleton the first time around, I was younger, childless, and job searching. So I had a lot of free time on my hands. It’s a little embarassing to admit, but I was so excited about getting to live in California, I set out to watch every show I could about the west coast life… we’re talking Beverly Hills 90210, The Hills, Laguna Beach, etc. At some point I realized that Laguna Beach was actually just a few miles north of Camp Pendleton (this was before Google Maps was really a big thing, so I didn’t have a great sense of exactly where everything was). I remember being so excited to drive up PCH and arrive in Laguna Beach and see some of the places where the show was filmed. I fell in love with Laguna Beach quickly – it’s got an artsy, laid back beach town feel, there are a LOT of different beaches, and some of those beaches feel totally private because they are sort of coves that sit in between cliffs. It’s not like the bigger beaches at Camp Pendleton, Oceanside and San Clemente where there’s just a big stretch of sand for as far as you can see.
Well, fast forward almost a decade later, and I still had one Laguna Beach beach on my bucket list. For whatever reason, I had just assumed that it was so amazing that it would be impossible to find or get to. But I was determined, people. So I threw two kids in the minivan on a whim one weekday and headed up PCH, telling myself that it didn’t matter how bad parking was or how rocky the walk was to get there, I was absolutely positively going to see Victoria Beach that day.
You’ve probably seen pictures of Victoria Beach before and not known where it was or the name. It’s got this picturesque man-made pool and a tower that appears to be carved out of the cliffs.
Parking was NOT as horrible as I thought. I was able to find a spot on the side of the road (Victoria Drive) just a minute walk from the stairs down to the beach. The stairs, also, were not as difficult to find as I expected, and were clearly marked by two different signs (how cute is that Snoopy sign?).
We went a few hours after low tide, so it was not a treacherous walk at all. Although I did wear hiking boots, and made my walking child wear good sneakers. I’d suggest you do the same if you go to any of the beaches in Laguna where there are tidepools and cliffs. The ground can be very rocky and tough on your feet. There are also lots of stairs to get down to Victoria Beach, so kids will need to be carried, worn, or walk. This is NOT stroller or wagon friendly at all. Pack what you need in a backpack.
Go check out pictures of Victoria Beach because what we captured with our camera on a really gray and dark day does not do this beach justice. Although going on a gray day meant that there weren’t too many people and we got a close parking spot! MilMomAdventure Tip: There’s a Ruby’s just south on PCH, so if your little ones get hungry on the way home, you might want to stop for a shake or for dinner and check out their vintage cars.
Happy Exploring, friends!