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Hansen: Offbeat Laguna walking tour

April 05, 2012|By David Hansen
  • An eerie ghost-like face can be seen in a second-floor window above Envy, a woman’s clothing store on Forest Avenue.
An eerie ghost-like face can be seen in a second-floor… (David Hansen )

Living in Laguna Beach means you have to play tour guide when people come to visit, which usually means milling around downtown, buying overpriced ice cream cones and trying not to look like a tourist.

Not anymore.

Determined to break the cycle, I've developed an alternative walking tour to keep things interesting. With all due respect to the official tours, I wanted something, well, a little different.

I usually begin at the Wells Fargo building, 260 Ocean Ave., because I like grand entrances. What better than the amazing marble spiral staircase? I always like to take people up to the free art exhibits on the second and third floors in the elevator, then walk down the staircase as if I own the bank.

After that, I go over to Broadway. There are a couple very odd, very cool things to see.

Of course there's Coast Hardware, 240 Broadway, where I like to show people the amazing collection of salt and pepper shakers. I know that sounds borderline "Hoarders," but don't judge until you've seen them.

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After the hardware store, I take visitors to the Laguna Travel Service, 260 Broadway. I don't actually go in but instead just stand on the sidewalk, stare at the store and imagine it's 1967.

It's not hard. Trust me.

If you continue up the street, you will come to Modern Studio Furnishings, 290 Broadway. Go in and introduce yourself to the friendly owner, Mike Embury. Have him show you "the rug."

You have to see it or, more accurately, feel it. Sprawl on it like you're in front of a fire. He won't mind.

It's a shag rug, but this is not your cheesy uncle's shag rug. It's a beguiling, hand-woven polyester marvel that would look good with candlelight and imagination.

OK, maybe the rug thing is just me, but for some reason I'm drawn to it, and hey, this is my tour.

Right next door is a very mysterious building with an amazing, intricate door. According to the Laguna Beach Historical Society, it used to be the post office way back when. Now, it has covered windows and high-tech security cameras.

Allegedly, it's owned by a Howard Hughes-type guy who deals in fancy art. We don't know.

But it's a cool building.

The last spot is Hi De Ho Comics, 350 Broadway. Even if you're not into comics, it's worth checking out. If nothing else, talk to the workers because — um, how can I say this? — they're a little twisted. In a good, indie way.

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