The Retreat in Laguna is tucked along the cliffs of an artist haven and resort town in south Orange County California. The city of Laguna Beach resides along seven miles of pristine coastline where high hills meets sandy shores and rocky coves. The Ute-Azteca Indians called the region “Lagonas,”for the lakes found along the San Joaquin Hills. When the Spanish arrived at this scenic area, they call it “La Caňada de las Lagunas.” The town was informally known as “Lagoona” until it was incorporated by Orange County as Laguna Beach in 1927. The same San Joaquin Hills acted as a natural barrier, keeping the city relatively isolated from the rest of the inhabited Orange County valley. Finally, a road was built through the Laguna Canyon, linking the city to the farmers in the inland valleys and beyond. To this day there are still only two major roads, Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) and Laguna Canyon Road (now CA-133), leading into Laguna Beach.
The opening of the Laguna Canyon Road, located just north of The Retreat in Laguna, brought new prosperity to the the five homesteading families who owned property around the town. The first hostel went up in Arch Beach and the homesteaders rented out tents along their beaches to farmers from the inland areas such as Irvine, Santa Ana and Riverside. Eager to beat the summer heat, inland residents flocked to the seaside. The town grew and the tradition of tourism and summer vacations established themselves as the cornerstones of the current tourist based economy.
News of this picturesque seaside resort reached artists and landscape painters began to descended on the village to lay the foundations of the current renowned art community. The first exhibition was organized by a Edgar A. Payne and group of artists in 1918. Today the city continues to support and promote art and California crafts year round. There are galleries on practically every corner, and each summer, Laguna Beach is host to several renowned art festival like Pageant of the Masters, Sawdust Art Festival and Art-A-Fair.
A century later, Laguna Beach is again thrust into the national spotlight when MTV premiered a reality TV show, Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County. In 2004, the show followed around a group of teenagers for several seasons. The city, its beaches and scenic hills were featured in shots of life in this affluent town. It has a successful first couple of seasons and spun-off a still successful Los Angeles version, The Hills.
Laguna Beach retains its “village” like appeal despite the population boom and spread of commercialism. As one of the most diversified well-off neighborhoods in Orange County, its residents never loose sight of their focus on arts and environmentalism so they and their descendants might continue to enjoy the open vistas and views of the Pacific Ocean.