Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade - Things to Do in Orange County 43

Every year in Orange County, the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade kicks off the Holiday season for us.  My favorite thing to do is to start off at the Balboa Peninsula, then move on towards to the Balboa Island to watch the Christmas Boat Parade.  

I usually arrive at the Balboa Peninsula a bit early to get parking at the pier.  Pier parking is free after 6PM.  As I arrive at the Balboa Peninsula, I first prepare myself before the parade by getting myself a nice, freshly fried corn dog at the Balboa Fun Zone.  Combine the corn dog with some freshly made lemonade, you are in heaven!

After my snack, I then board the ferry for a $1 to get over to the Balboa Island.  Once you get off, the houses around Balboa Island will have beautiful Christmas lights on it.  You can walk around the area to enjoy some of the best Christmas lights in OC.

As you enjoy the walk around the Balboa Island, the Christmas Boat Parade will start if you time it right.  I usually get to the Peninsula at around 5:30PM, cross over to the Balboa Island at around 6PM, then the parade will start around 6:30PM.  It’s a very nice way to spend the evening since you get to enjoy three things in one night!

While the boat parade is progress, one of the coolest things you can do is to ride the ferry back to the Balboa Peninsula.  The ferry will actually start to join the parade, crisscrossing its way through the ongoing boat parade.  You’ll have the best seat in the house, and also will make you feel like you’re actually in the parade for a brief time.  It’s a very nice moment for only $1 a person.

From the corn dog on the Fun Zone to the beautiful Christmas lights, hanging out at the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade is truly a spectacular holiday event in Orange County.  Be sure you don’t miss out on it!
Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade
12/17~12/21 in 2008

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Santa Monica Seafood - Things to Do in Orange County 42

Santa Monica Seafood

Santa Monica Seafood is one of the best seafood joints in Orange County. It is located on the trendy 17th Street in Costa Mesa.

They are famous for carrying "sashimi-quality" seafood at the store. You'll practically find almost any kind of fish or crustation that you are looking for at the Santa Monica Seafood. Each fillet of fish is nice and cleaned so that you can go home and cook it right away.

Compared to your local Ralph's or Albertson's the prices may be a little higher. Its probably because they carry the freshest seafood around in Orange County.

When we've visited, there were customer after customer coming in to buy their sashimi-quality fish. I think it's also good for the health conscious customers around town.

Aside from the fresh seafood, Santa Monica Seafood also has within it, a nice little cafe. Since I love Clam Chowder, I had to get a cup here ($2.95). And of course, once I order, I need to get just a little more, so I decided to get the Fisherman's Platter ($8.95) and the Grilled Fish Sandwich ($8.95).

Since this year, Santa Monica Seafood is included in the Orange County version of the Entertainment Book, we got all this food for under $15.

The clam chowder that I got was the New England style, but they also offer the Manhattan style here as well. I heard from a friend of mine that the Fish Soup is also very good.

Anyway, my clam chowder was filled with flavor, and just loved the fresh clams in it. Since it is getting a bit chilly these days, a nice hot cup of clam chowder is a big treat to warm me up. The cup that the chowder was served in was also very cute.

The Fisherman's Platter was a combination of Fish & Chips with some Fried Shrimps. Add a little Cole Slaw and tartar sauce, you're in fish heaven. I loved how it was nice and crispy.

The Grilled Fish Sandwich is cool because you can pick your own fish for it. I decided to go with the Halibut since it was the most expensive on the menu if ordered it in itself. (Grilled Fish Sandwich is the same price regardless of what type of fish you choose.) The Halibut is a white fish and had a nice fresh flavor to it. Next time I go, I may want to try the salmon or the tuna.

Well, if you're ever craving for fresh seafood in Orange County, Santa Monica Seafood is definitely the place to visit!

Santa Monica Seafood
154 E. 17th St.
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
Mon-Sat 9AM - 7PM
Sun 10AM -7PM

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Ritz – Things to Do in Orange County 42

Super Elegant Restaurant: The Ritz

One of the most elegant and classy restaurants in Orange County that I’ve visited has to be The Ritz.

Located right near Fashion Island, this restaurant has been around for years for special occasions and billion dollar meetings. It has toned down a bit in terms of dress code than in the past, but you still should wear something a bit nice to fit in with the crowd dining here.

The interior of the restaurant will remind you of an old-world, high-class restaurant that you see in movies. There are a lot of beautiful flower arrangements, dining sets, and chandeliers to make your dining experience just superb. It’ll definitely make you feel like a royalty dining in a beautiful castle.

I was fortunate enough to visit The Ritz during restaurant week. I had the salmon for my main dish. It was cooked perfectly with a very tasty sauce. The side potatoes were also cooked perfectly. My counterpart had the steak, and it was also beautifully done. The steak was tender and the sauce again was perfect.

The Ritz is surely a place that won’t disappoint with its great looks and awesome food. Everything was absolutely perfect here. And lastly the desert. I got the Crème Brulee. I think the Crème Brulee was one of the best I’ve had in my life!! It was really good.

Dinner will range from $30-$60 per person for food. It’s a great place for that special occasion or if you want to impress someone.

I forgot to mention the bar, but the bar was also very nice. I was only able to get a glance at it though. Hopefully, I get the chance to sip a cocktail here one day!

The Ritz Restaurant and Garden
880 Newport Center Drive
Newport Beach, CA 92660

Reservations - (949) 720-1800 
(Reservation Recommended)

Hours of Operation

Lunch Monday- Friday 11:30~3PM

Monday-Thursday 5:30~10PM
Friday 5:30~11PM
Saturday 5~11PM
Sunday 5~9PM

Valet Parking in front of the Restaurant

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Papa Z's - Things to Do in Orange County 41

Papa Z's

This is one of my favorite restaurant/diner around town! If you're looking for an old fashioned local American Diner, look no further.

At Papa Z's you can find everything from great diner food to classic burgers at great prices with some of the most friendly staffs serving it to you. The diner is only open for breakfast and lunch - from 7AM to 3PM - but it sure is a joint that locals love!

The prices here are very cheap for all the food that they'll feed you with. Papa Z's will load your burger with a ton of fries, onion rings, or fried zucchinis, with plenty of ranch dressing to enjoy it all. Awesome!

I usually go with the Bacon Cheeseburger combo or the Avocado Bacon Cheeseburger when I get here. I like to get it "to go" so that I can go home, crack open a bottle of beer, and enjoy a great meal at home. They also have Today's Special that run from $5-$7 a meal.

Like any diner joint, once you order, they'll give you a number plate that you bring over to your table. You can then chat around with your buddies or other fellow diners at this always busy joint. Since they do cook everything fresh, it may take a little bit more than fast food, but it sure is worth the wait!

When my food came, the Bacon Cheeseburger came nice and juicy with plenty of lettuce, tomato, and onions. And my onion rings were nice and crispy. Perfect! The fried zucchinis here are also one of my favorites around town. They'll give you a ranch dressing to go with it, and you can enjoy a nice hot batch of them once it comes to your table.

I've never personally had breakfast here, but its always packed with locals enjoying their meals. Weekends are especially packed with people here for breakfast.

If you do decide to come here on a weekend, you can roll on down to the Huntington Beach Pier to enjoy some sun after a nice old fashioned diner food. Can't miss this awesome diner! Hope you can check it out soon too!

Papa Z's
9121 Garfield Ave
Fountain Valley, CA 92708
Phone: (714) 962-8887
Open Daily 7AM - 3PM

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Montage Resort and Spa - Things to Do in Orange County 40

Enjoy the Ultimate Resort Experience in Orange County – Montage Resort & Spa

As residents or visitors of Orange County, we are blessed with many of the beautiful places that OC has to offer. In the City of Laguna Beach, you can go visit a world class resort, the Montage Resort and Spa. The Montage is one of the up-and-coming hotel resorts in Orange County and even in the world!

The Montage is located off Pacific Coast Highway in Laguna Beach, but it is a bit hard to find because they try to be secluded from everything.

You don’t have to be a hotel guest to visit the Montage Resort. You can visit the resort to eat at their highly popular restaurants or enjoy a relaxing day at their spa facility. You can also visit the Montage to enjoy some of their unique cocktails in the lounge area. Or you can visit the resort simply because it’s such a beautiful place.

The Montage has three critically acclaimed restaurants, with “Studio” being one of my personal favorites. “Studio” is like a little beach house facing the ocean where you can enjoy great food that some of the top chefs in Orange County has prepared for you. It is highly recommended for that special day with that special person!

There is a beautiful walkway between the hotel and the beach where you can enjoy one of the best walks in Orange County. You’ll see the Pacific Ocean right in front of you with spectacular views of the cliff and rocks in the area. It’s one of those perfect walks you can have on a perfect day.

The pool is open for hotel guests only, and it offers a private bungalow where you can relax with friends and family.

Spa Montage is also a very popular destination for the locals and visitors that frequent the Montage. Ocean themed treatments like the water therapy and the hydro therapy are very popular here. They also offer group therapy for parties of up to six people as well as therapy for couples. It is one of the ultimate spas in Orange County today.

If you feel like enjoy a surreal day filled with beautiful things and great pleasures, Montage Resort & Spa is the place to be!

Montage Resort & Spa Laguna Beach
30801 Coast Hwy
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
(949) 715-6000

Valet Parking
Visitor: $10 a day
Hotel Guests: $30 a night

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Batting Cages @ Boomer's - Things to Do in Orange County 40

Stressed Out?? Go Visit a Batting Cage to Smack Around a Softball!

In Orange County, you’ll find batting cages around town. One of my personal favorites when it comes to batting cages is the one at Boomers. The place has a nice casual atmosphere, and you can go there with friends, family, or even solo.

Once you arrive, the first thing you’ll need to do is to get your helmet and bat at the counter. You’ll need to pick if you’re going to swing at a softball or baseball since they have different bats for them. Just let the Boomer’s guy know what you want, and they’ll let you borrow it free of charge. You are also welcomed to bring in your own personal gear if you have one.

After you get your gear, you’ll then need to exchange your money into Boomer’s tokens to go swinging. At the Fountain Valley Boomer’s, it cost 2 tokens ($2) for 30 pitches. Each location has different rates, but be willing to spend a few bucks to get rid of your stress! :)

At Boomer’s, you’ll need to choose how fast you want your pitches to be. You can choose from “Very Fast,” “Fast,” “Medium,” or “Slow” for a baseball. The “Very Fast” pitches are about 70mph, so they are actually very fast indeed. For softball, you’ll need to chose between the slow pitch or the fast pitch.

Once you decide what cage to challenge yourself on, put your helmet on, insert a couple tokens, and you’re ready to go swinging!

Aside from all the people trying to relieve their stress at the batting cages, you’ll frequently see little leaguers here practicing their swings. You’ll be amazed how good some of these kids are.

Boomer’s also has Go Karts, miniature golf, arcade, and a restaurant area. They are great for kids, dates, and at times, when you’re stressed to just go and have fun. Go visit your nearest Boomer’s today to have some fun!


Boomer’s in Irvine
Web Site

Boomer’s in Fountain Valley
Web Site
16800 Magnolia Street, Fountain Valley, CA 92708

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Mission Inn - Things to Do in Orange County 39

Historic Hotel & Magical Event: Festival of Lights at the Mission Inn

About an hour away North East from Orange County, the Mission Inn stands tall in the City of Riverside. The Mission Inn is a historic hotel where celebrities and royalties have stayed.

Mission Inn opened its doors in the year 1876. With so much history, its courtyard, clock tower, and other architectural buildings in the hotel are now deemed California’s historic architecture. Inside the Mission Inn is like a maze where you can walk around to discover its beauty. The hotel will make you feel like you are in a European castle.

The courtyard in the hotel is an absolute beauty with well maintained flowers. The furniture and the stained glass are all antique-like and you can’t help but to appreciate it. You will feel like a royalty when visiting this hotel.

Some of the famous people who have been at the Mission Inn are President Nixon who had his wedding ceremony here, and President Regan who stayed at the Mission Inn for his honeymoon. There are about ten other Presidents of the United States who have stayed at the Mission Inn as well. Other famous people who stayed here include Albert Einstein, Helen Keller, Henry Ford, as well as Kings and Queens from other countries.

The Mission Inn is famous for its annual tradition during Thanksgiving Weekend where they hold the Festival of Lights event. On the opening day of the event, people line up to see the Mission Inn get lit up with thousands of Christmas lights. There are fireworks that come up, and it’s a whole festival with people celebrating everywhere. It’s a true gem to see the entire hotel light up all at once.

When staying at the Mission Inn, make it one of your priority to explore the entire hotel. Just walking around and exploring the courtyard, the floors, and the rooftop is a fun activity. If you have kids, they will surely enjoy the magic the Mission Inn creates. Even if you do not have reservations, there is a hotel tour that is conducted occasionally for you to explore the hotel.

The best time to visit the Mission Inn is during the Thanksgiving Weekend through Christmas. If you have the opportunity, the Festival of Lights event is highly recommended!

Aside from the hotel, there are restaurants and antique stores near the hotel, and you can enjoy its relaxing atmosphere by the Mission Inn. The Mission Inn is a very nice, mini vacation you can take out of Orange County!

Mission Inn 
3649 Mission Inn Ave.
Riverside, CA 92501
(909) 784- 0300

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Royal Caribbean - Things to Do in Orange County 38

Go on a Luxury Cruise from OC to Mexico!

From Orange County, you can enjoy a luxury cruise very easily. With only about a half an hour drive from OC, you can get to the port of San Pedro where you can board a luxury cruise line every week. The most popular cruise is the 3 night 4 day cruise that departs on Friday evening and arrives back at the port on Monday morning. You can also set sail on a 4 night 5 day cruise that departs every Monday, or the 7 day cruise that depart every Sunday.

Cruises can be awfully cheap when you go during the off season. On some of the cheapest months, it’s not rare to find a cruise that goes for only $199 per person for an interior room. Even during the peak season, cruises can go for $300 per person as long as you book ahead of time. It’s usually recommended to reserve your room 3-6 months before the cruise. Considering that the fare includes your stay, travel, and all-you-can-eat food, it’s a pretty good deal. You can bring in your own alcohol if you want to save even more too. Only thing not included in the fare are the optional excursion tours, tip, alcohol, and tax.

The cool thing about a cruise is that most activities on the ship are free. There are some activities, such as the wine tasting event, where you need to pay to participate. You just need to pick up a copy of the activity schedule, and go to the area of the ship to participate in it. They are always very fun. And of course, all meals on cruises are free. It’s a pretty amazing concept, but you eat as much as you want, whenever you want on a cruise. It’s no wonder that after a cruise, many of us come back 5-10 lbs., overweight.

On the cruise, you’ll see a lot of newlyweds, couples, families, and retirees enjoying their well earned vacation. You can meet and mingle with all sorts of people on a cruise ship.

On the destinations that you arrive at, you have the option to participate in an excursion tour where you can explore cool areas of Ensenada, Cabo, San Diego, or Catalina Island. The tours are optional, and there is a fee to participate in one. You can choose to do your own tour or hang out by the cruise ship to just relax and enjoy the atmosphere. There’s always something to do on a cruise.

Cruise ships are well equipped with its own casino, theater, shops, restaurant, bar, pool, spa, basketball court, gym, and many other things. It is a truly amazing place. I recommend you try out a cruise for your next vacation in Orange County. It’s definitely going to be an experience you’ll never forget! Highly recommended!

Royal Caribbean Home Page

4 Nights, 5 Days
Depart at 5PM on Monday from San Pedro > San Diego > Catalina Island > Mexico (Ensenada) > Arrive at 7AM on Friday

3 Nights, 4 Days
Depart on 5PM on Friday from San Pedro > Mexico (Ensanada) > Day in the Sea > Arrive at 7AM on Monday << For Reservations

Monday, March 24, 2008

Star Vu Drive-In - Things to Do in Orange County 37

Movies in your Car! Enjoy the Drive-In Theater at the OC Fair & Event Center!

At the OC Fair & Event Center, you can snuggle in your car and watch a move at a Drive-In theater. The seats (or parking spaces) are first-come-first-serve basis, so if you want a good seat in the front, be sure to get to the Drive-In early. You’ll need to wait in line in your car by the gate until the people there let you in. Once you get the ok to go in, you’ll move forward to the ticket sales area then to the parking space. Just follow orders, and you should be good to go. For those of you who drive around in a big trucks or SUV, depending on the number of audience, you may need to park in the back so the others can see.

Once you are in the Drive-In, you can park forward or backward. Whichever way you prefer is okay with the Drive-In. If you have a car with a hatch back or a pickup truck, you may want to consider parking backward to watch the move from the back of the car. That’s exactly what we did, and we relaxed in the back part of the car, made ourselves a little bed, and enjoyed the movie. Others who had a truck had a mattress in the back to watch it from there. Whatever you decide to do, watching a movie from your car has a special feeling, and it’s really fun!

You’ll need to use your FM Radio in the car for the movie. They use a radio frequency to broadcast the movie here. I was worried about the battery because you need to shut off your engine, but everything was fine when the movie ended. If you’re worried about your batteries of your car, you may want to bring a portable radio so that you can listen to the movie there.

They say you aren’t allowed to bring any food or drinks into the Drive-In, but they rarely check for it. We brought our own snacks and drinks that we got from Walgreens before the movie. I love watching movies with my Raisinets! Of course you can buy hot dogs, popcorn, and drinks at the Drive-In, if you aren’t a cheapskate like me. :)

This is a once in a lifetime kind of experience, and you need to go check it out with your family, friends, or loved ones. It sure is a lot of fun!

*Update: It looks like Star Vu is closed for a few months. Come back and check out the website in a few weeks to see its status!

Star Vu Drive-In

88 Fair Drive
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Adult: $8.50
Children: $5
Children 5 and Under: Free

Open: Wednesday – Sunday Nights

Catalina Island - Things to Do in Orange County 36

Enjoy the Nature or an Activity Filled Day at the Catalina Island!

A popular resort destination for Orange County residents is the Catalina Island. Because of its popularity during the weekend or summer, it can be difficult to get hotel or ferry reservations to the Catalina Island during its peak season. Marilyn Monroe has actually visited the Catalina Island as part of her honeymoon as well!

Using the ferry that departs out of Newport Beach, it will take a little over an hour to get to the Catalina Island.
The Catalina Island is protected to preserve its natural beauty. So you’ll find beautiful views and scenery when you arrive here.

On the Catalina Island, you won’t see a single car. All of the residents drive around in a little golf cart to get around the city. A visitor can easily rent a cart as well. Since it isn’t a big island, the cart should get you to where ever you want to go on the island. I guess it’s all part of the nature preserving efforts.

If you are an athlete, you can also try getting around on a bicycle as well.

The Catalina Island is filled with things you can do. You can take part in a rafting tour, go snorkeling, ride on a kayak, go parasailing, or even go sky diving on the island. The Catalina Island will always keep you busy with all the things you can do here.

You’ll find gift shops and restaurants around the coast of the Catalina Island. When the tourists are not visiting, the Catalina Island is a nice quiet town. The hotels are all relatively small in size, and they all resemble something of a Bed & Breakfast Inn. It’s a great place to come and relax.
The symbolic Casino of Catalina Island is now a museum and you’ll need to pay an admission fee to get in.

The Catalina Island is a great place for Orange County Residents to come and relax!

Access to Catalina Island from Orange County:

・Ferry Departing out of Newport Beach
Catalina Flyer
Adult Roundtrip Fare $61
Approximately 1 hour 15 minutes

・Ferry Departing from Dana Point
Catalina Express
Adult Roundtrip Fare $61

Catalina Island

San Onofre State Beach - Things to Do in Orange County 35

A Surf Mecca– San Onofre State Beach

On the very Southern border of Orange County is a little beach called San Onofre State Beach. Next to the beach is world famous Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. You can also see the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station from the San Onofre State Beach.

San Onofre Beach is a Mecca for surfers. Surfers of any level whether just starting out or have been surfing for a long time can enjoy this great beach. Its waves are considered one of the best in Orange County, and even in the world.

The beach is a small walk after you park in the parking lot. You’ll need to cross a railroad track to get to the beach. The view is wonderful and to walk to the beach is just fantastic. Walking across the rail road track makes you feel good for some reason. It’s a cool feeling. The track is actually a working railroad track, and you’ll see Amtrak trains passing by at least a few times a day.

The Trestles is a collection of surf spots famous to surfers at the San Onofre State Beach. The Trestles include Uppers, Lowers, Old Man's, Churches, and Cotton's surf spots. Lower Trestles is the standout and the waves here are considered by surfers to be one of best in the world. Their long steady waves make it easy for a beginner and good for a novice to enjoy a long ride.
Because of this great condition, you’ll find a bunch of surfers here all year long!

You can also set up your gear and enjoy a day of camp here on the San Mateo Campgrounds.
And lastly, it’s been told that there is actually a nude beach on the very Southern edge of the San Onofre State Beach. I’ve never seen it myself, but it’s one of those great myths of Orange County! Maybe you can go check it out for yourself to see if it really exists.

San Onofre Beach or often called the “Tresltes” is a surfing Mecca for surfers from around the world!

San Onofre State Beach
San Clemente, CA 92672
Exit I-5 at Basilone Road
Parking: $10 per day

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Sherman Library & Garden - Things to Do in Orange County 34

Enjoy a Lovely Garden and Terrace at the Sherman Library & Garden

At the Sherman Library & Garden in Corona Del Mar, you can relax to enjoy their beautifully landscaped garden on a nice sunny day. This lovely garden in South Orange County is where locals go to hang out and relax.
The Sherman Library & Garden used to be a personal residence, but since 1966 it has been accessible to the public.

The garden isn’t that big compared to the Huntington Library. It has got a greenhouse, a rose garden, and a cactus garden on it. There is also a gift shop at the Sherman Library and Garden where you can pick up a small gift. Around the fountain, you’ll see beautiful flowers blooming, and you can sit and relax, staring at the flowers all day long. :)

The Sherman Library & Garden is only open on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday only. And the Library only includes books from the South Pacific.

You can also enjoy lunch here at the Café Jardin. Reservation is recommended here at the café to ensure you a seat when you get there. All of the seats face the garden, so the view that you can enjoy with your meal is excellent! Enjoy your afternoon here with great conversations, excellent food, and a beautiful garden.

Sherman Library & Garden is located in the city of Corona del Mar in South Orange County. Hope you have a chance to visit soon!

Sherman Library & Garden
2647 East Pacific Coast Highway
Corona del Mar, CA 92625

Admission: $3

Hours: 10:30 a.m.- 4:00 p.m. daily
Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's day.

Library - Tues., Wed., & Thurs.9:00 a.m.- 4:30 p.m.

Parking: Free

Cafe Jardin
Monday - Friday, 11:30 a.m.- 2:30 p.m.
Sunday Brunch: 10:30 a.m.- 2:00 p.m.
For Reservations (949) 673-0033

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Huntington Beach - Things to Do in Orange County 33

Shopping, Dining, Sports, and the Beach – The Surf City, Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach is the Surf City of Orange County. During the summer, tourists and surfers from all over the globe come here to compete in the annual surfing competition. It is always a popular destination for locals and tourists alike, and there are events going on all the time. Huntington Beach offers a wide variety of other beaches including a Dog Beach and a RV Park for camping by the beach.

On Main Street, you’ll find all sorts of surf brand shops, restaurants, bars, and cafés. Huntington Surf and Sport (HSS) by the pier is the icon of Huntington Beach. The HSS logo T-shirts are one of the locals’ favorites. Jack’s across the street is also another popular surf shop.

The Huntington Beach Pier is one of the most modern piers in OC. It is a great place to hang out to watch the surfers catch some waves. There is a Ruby’s at the end of the pier where you can enjoy fine burgers and great shakes with an awesome view. There are dolphins swimming around the pier at times and the endless miles of the ocean view is stunning. The kite store along the way is also a sight to see on the Huntington Beach Pier.

When you are visiting the pier, a great time to visit for a dramatic experience is to go around sunset. To see the sun setting into the ocean from the pier is very romantic and beautiful. It is amazing to see how the color of the clouds change as the sun sets.

To the South of the pier, there is a section of the beach where you can enjoy a bonfire. So during the summer, you’ll see a lot of people enjoying a barbeque and roasting marshmallows at this section. With the bonfire, you can enjoy hanging out at the beach until the curfew at 10PM.
Lately, Huntington Beach is become a hot tourist destination, and Hyatt has recently built a beautiful resort off its coast. The Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa is a personal favorite of mine with great restaurants and an awesome view.

Surf City Huntington Beach is the next big spot in Orange County!

Huntington Beach

Parking: $0.25 every 10 minutes. Public parking available on Main Street and by the coast

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Seal Beach - Things to Do in Orange County 32

Hang Out by the Longest Pier in Orange County – Seal Beach

Seal Beach is the last city in Orange County before it turns into LA. It is located on the most Northwestern corner of Orange County. The neighboring city, Belmont Shore is already in Los Angeles County.

A notable thing in Seal Beach is that the U.S. Navy’s Naval Weapons Station is located here. However, for the most part, Seal Beach is in well known around OC locals for having Leisure World, the gated senior community. The city has a relaxed atmosphere with a small town feel compared to other cities in Orange County.

A place to go in Seal Beach is the Main Street. On Main Street of Seal Beach, you can find all sorts of restaurants, gift shops, accessory shops, and ice cream parlors there. The movie American Pie 2 was actually filmed here. The place has got this “All American” kind of feel to it.
As you walk or drive through the Main Street, you’ll end by hitting the Seal Beach Pier. The Seal Beach Pier is the longest pier in Orange County. It is made out of wood, and it does take some time to walk all the way across it. There’s a Ruby’s on the end of the pier, but it looks tiny from the start of the pier. That’s how long the pier is!

Unlike Huntington Beach or Newport Beach where it’s always crowded with locals and tourists, Seal Beach has a more relaxed atmosphere. It’s great for people that want to enjoy a nice quiet afternoon by the beach. A lot of people come here for walks and enjoy the restaurants on Main Street.

The beach usually has more body boarders than surfers. And that usually means it’s family friendly too. On a nice sunny day, you can see the beautiful view of the port in Long Beach.
Seal Beach is a nice relaxing beach in Orange County. I hope you can check it out soon for a nice Sunday afternoon walk!

Seal Beach

Parking: Free Street Parking and Meter Parking

Santa Barbara - Things to Do in Orange County 31

Beaches, Mountains, and Full of Greens – A Beautiful Mini Trip Destination, Santa Barbara

About a two hour drive Northwest of Orange County is a nice little tourist destination, Santa Barbara.

With a lot of tourist that visit this city each year, Santa Barbara is well maintained and public transportation is abundant here. You can get around Santa Barbara on a trolley that costs $0.25 a ride, or you can buy a one day pass to the red tour buses that ride along the most popular destinations. The tour buses are a great way to get around because they allow unlimited rides all day long.

One of the destinations that you must visit when visiting Santa Barbara is the Stearns Wharf right off the coast. The Stearns Wharf is California's oldest working wharf, and it is the most popular destination with good reasons. There are many places to eat at the wharf and the atmosphere here is just excellent. It‘s a great place to walk around and enjoy the sun with whomever you are travelling with. Stearns Wharf is definitely a great place to hang out!

State Street is also another destination you must visit while you are in Santa Barbara. There are a lot of cute accessory stores along this street that you will surely enjoy. If you get tired, you can grab a bite to eat at some of the most fashionable cafes along State Street.

A destination that I personally recommend is The Historic Courthouse on 1100 Anacapa Street. There is an observatory at the courthouse, where you can climb up for free to take a look at the beautiful Santa Barbara landscape. All of the buildings in Santa Barbara have reddish, Spanish influenced roof tops, and when you see that with the view of the ocean, it is a nice little moment for you to enjoy.

Mission Santa Barbara on 2201 Laguna Street is also another popular tourist destination. Here you can revisit Santa Barbara’s rich history and its culture.

Santa Barbara is also known for its wineries too. Actually, my favorite wine is from the Santa Barbara Winery, and that was the reason I went to Santa Barbara. Their Zinfandel is always excellent!

With a lot of green, the ocean, and the mountains around you, Santa Barbara is a perfect place to relax for a quick weekend mini trip. You will sure love the great architecture that surrounds this historic city. Only a 2 hour drive from OC, and you can even take the Amtrak there. Hope you get to visit this great destination for a relaxing weekend or some wine tasting soon!

Santa Barbara

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The CAMP - Things to Do in Orange County 30

Yoga, Vegan, & Zen: Health Conscious and Trendy – The CAMP

Right across from The LAB in Orange County is a trendy, health conscious shopping mall, The CAMP.

You know this place is all about health, fitness, and eco-friendliness when you first park your car. There is a health related quote on each of the parking spots at The CAMP. Makes you think about your own health and fitness when you read each one.

All of the stores at The CAMP are health or fitness conscious, with an emphasis on active lifestyle. It includes stores like:

・Native Foods
・Old Vine Café
・Cycle Works
・Liburdi's Scuba
・Bikram Yoga

The architecture here is very unique, and it looks like it was designed after a desert oasis. There are benches throughout the mall to sit and listen to the frogs. It does make you feel as though you stepped into nature when you come here.

Some of my favorite stores here are Patagonia and the Old Vine Café. There is also a bicycle shop, a sporting goods store, and other trendy clothing stores. And if you are a vegan or want to try vegan food Native Foods is a good place to go.

The Bikram Yoga studio here at The CAMP is a special kind of yoga that’s difficult to experience elsewhere. It’s also called “hot yoga” and they perform yoga in a room that is 105°F (40.5°C) with a humidity of 40%. This yoga has been made popular by movie stars who claim to practice it.

Other than yoga, you can even take scuba diving classes here as well!

There are quite a lot of things to do and places to eat at The CAMP. If you are a health conscious individual or want to experience something hip and trendy in OC, this is definitely a place you should visit! Located right next to The LAB in Costa Mesa, CA!

2937 Bristol Street
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
(714) 444-4267

Orange County Fair - Things to Do in Orange County 29

Summer Fun OC Style – Orange County Fair

One of the big summer events in Orange County is our Orange County Fair. Children and adults can equally enjoys this big summer festival each year. The Orange County Fair is held at the OC Fairgrounds from July to early August.

One of the first things you see as you enter the OC Fair is the barn. You’ll find all sorts of barn animals living there. You can find anything from horses, cows, to goats. One of the big hit each year are the piglets at the barn. There is always the mommy pig with her 5-8 piglets running around. It is one of the cutest things you can see at the fair. Pigs are a huge star at the OC Fair, and there is even a pig race where people cheer on for the fastest pig of them all.

When you get to the OC Fair, one thing you can’t miss is the food. You’ll find rows and rows of awesome “Fair food” at the event. It’s always so difficult to figure out what you will have at the fair. They all look too good. There are the traditional, funnel cakes, turkey leg, and barbeque ribs there. There are of course the crazy foods like the deep fried Oreo or the Twinkie. One of those things where you got to try it at least once in your life… My personal favorite is the battered potato at the fair. Pair that with a big glass of beer, and we are talking about a party!

Favorite thing for kids to do at the fair are the rides. And you’d be surprised to see the number of rides available at the fair. To get on, you will need to purchase the tokens at the booth first. You’ll exchange the tokens with the attendant on the ride to get on. You can find some scary roller coaster rides to a Ferris wheel at the fair. I always like to get on the Ferris wheel because the view is amazing up there, especially at night.

Orange County Fair is definitely the hottest summer event in Orange County! Combine all the activities at the fair with a concert by top notch performers every night, it sure is an awesome event to go to. Don’t miss the OC Fair this year at the OC Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa!

Orange County Fair

OC Fair & Event Center
88 Fair Drive
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Admission: ADULT (13-59) $9,
SENIOR (60+) $7,
YOUTH (6-12) $5,

Hours:Tuesday - Friday: Noon - Midnight
Saturday - Sunday: 10 a.m. - midnight

Parking: $5 per car

Monday, February 25, 2008

Old Towne Orange - Things to Do in Orange County 28

Spend an Entire Day to Look for your Favorite Antique – Old Towne Orange

When you enter Old Towne Orange, you’ll get the feeling that you went back in time.

There is a circular intersection on the corner of Glassell Street and Chapman Ave, and that is the heart of the Old Town Orange. On the four streets that cross the circular intersection are antique shops, restaurants, and cafes, all of which are extremely cute!

Old Towne Orange is known for its antique shops in Orange County. There are so many antique stores here, that it’ll usually take an entire day if you want to see it all. There are locals and people from around the globe that actually come here to purchase antiques!

In order for you to shop till you drop, I recommend getting to Old Towne Orange early in the morning since most of the stores close at 5-6PM.

Other than the antiques available at the Old Towne Orange, there are also stores that carry products that are actually new, but with a retro design. So if antiques aren’t your cup of tea, this maybe a good way to go. And even if you aren’t looking to buy anything, simply window shopping at the Old Towne Orange is fun because it feels like you are walking through a museum!

There were a lot of cute little items here that tickled my shop-a-holic heart. Although I’m not much of an antique person, when I saw the Fire King glassware here, I just couldn’t resist it. They are just so cute!

For lunch we ate at the Blue Frog Bakery. The bakery is a casual café, and they have great sandwiches and desserts. There are also other famous OC restaurants at the Old Towne, one notable being the PJ’s Abbey. This restaurant is truly unique as they renovated a Gothic style Victorian Baptist Church built in 1891, and turned it into a fine dining restaurant. The unique atmosphere makes it a great place for a date or as a formal get together. The Sunday Brunch is excellent here as well!

There is also a Cuban food restaurant that I love to go to.

Old Towne Orange is filled with cute stores including a retro barber and a children’s clothing store. You can spend your entire day seeing all of the antiques here at the Old Towne Orange. Highly recommended place in Orange County!

Old Towne Orange

Parking: Free 2 Hour Street Parking

Mission San Juan Capistrano - Things to Do in Orange County 27

The Oldest Church & Chapel in Orange County – Mission San Juan Capistrano

During the last 18th Century, the Spanish missionaries arrived in Orange County via Mexico. One of the great missions that they built was the Mission San Juan Capistrano. It is the oldest mission in Orange County.
There are over twenty missions in California, but the Mission San Juan Capistrano is considered a jewel among them all, and it is a very beautiful mission.

At the Mission San Juan Capistrano, when you walk in, you will be welcomed by the garden that is well maintained with a lot of flowers, plants, and cactus. It is best if you can visit the Mission San Juan Capistrano on a nice sunny day to get the most out of the trip. During the weekends, the mission frequently conducts a mini concert for its guest.

One of the “must see” at the mission is its stone made church. Unfortunately, the church was destroyed by the earthquake in the year 1812, but the remaining portion is still a sight to see. The church is massive, and you can feel its rich history and culture just by standing inside it!

The Mission San Juan Capistrano also has the oldest chapel in California. The mission also has an exhibition of how the missionaries interacted and lived with the locals when they first arrived in the area. It is interesting to learn about some of the early history of the OC when you visit here.

Lastly, the gold altar brought in from Spain is also a sight to see at the Mission San Juan Capistrano.

Mission San Juan Capistrano is located in the city of Sun Juan Capistrano. You can get here by car, or by train, as the Amtrak station is walking distance away from the mission. Visit the Mission San Juan Capistrano to experience the history and culture of Orange County!

Mission San Juan Capistrano
26801 Ortega Hwy
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
(949) 234-1300

Hours: 8AM-5PM
Admission: $9 for Adult, $5 for Children
Parking: Free Parking on Street or Public Parking Area

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Queen Mary - Things to Do in Orange County 26

Romantic Evening or a Night of Terror on a Luxury Cruise Ship - The Queen Mary

Docked on the port of Long Beach is the Queen Mary. The Queen Mary was in service from 1934 to 1957 as a luxury cruise liner, and was used as a cargo carrier during World War II.

Today, the Queen Mary sits proudly at the port of Long Beach as the city’s icon. Inside the Queen Mary is an experience of its own, where you can stay at its cabin hotel, dine at its fine restaurants, enjoy an evening at its luxurious bar, or party on at its boiler room. The Queen Mary is about a 25 minute drive from Orange County.

During the day, the Queen Mary conducts tours that are popular to tourists. The prices of admission are $22.95 for adults, and $11.95 for children (5-11 years old).

In the evening, the night view of the city is the main reason you should visit the Queen Mary. It is stunning.

To enter the Queen Mary, you will need to purchase a ticket, or have a hotel or restaurant reservation for the evening. I was able to sneak in by telling the bouncers at the door that I’m going in to visit the bar. I’m not sure how lenient they are on admission, but this technique worked for me.

At the bar, you can enjoy the beautiful night view of the city with your favorite cocktail. This place is perfect for a romantic date.

The Queen Mary is also known for its “Ghosts and Legends.” During Halloween they have an annual Halloween Terror Fest where it turns haunted for a few weeks. Anybody courageous enough should definitely try it out.

You can enjoy the Queen Mary as a romantic night out, or as a night of terror. Whichever you choose, you will definitely enjoy the history and the atmosphere at the Queen Mary!  Just about a 20 minute drive from OC.

The Queen Mary
1126 Queen's Highway
Long Beach, Ca. 90802
(562) 435-3511

0 to 30 minutes: FREE
31 minutes to 1 hour: $3.00
1 hour to 24 hours: $10.00


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