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

Heisler Park - Things to Do in Orange County 25

Enjoy a View that’s “Priceless” at the Heisler Park!

Laguna Beach is a city filled with European influences, and it is known by the locals as a place to relax and enjoy art. Laguna Beach is not well known to tourists, so it’s a great little place visit in Orange County.

The main beach in Laguna Beach is always a lively place, but there’s actually another park called the Heisler Park a bit up the hills. And this is a secret little place only locals know about. The view from the Heisler Park is absolutely one of the best in Orange County. Heisler Park can be accessed by going North on PCH then making a left on Cliff Drive. You should see the park on the left hand side.

For some reason the beach that you can see from Heisler Park seems more “blue” compared to other beaches in OC. The waves will come crashing into the shore to splash up in emerald green colors.

You can enjoy a barbeque or a picnic at the park, and has great facilities on the premise. The view is excellent, and you can also get to the shore by using the stairway down. I recommend that you go down to see the beach from the shore as well.

There are a lot of sea shells down on the shore, and I even found some very pretty blue mussel shells. There are other marine animals that live down in the beach too. Just be careful not to bring them with you because you’re not allowed to take any of the marine animals from the beach.

And as I was leaving I came across a herd of pelicans. They were huge!!

Next to the Heisler Park is one of Orange County’s best Sunday Brunch place called Las Brisas. It is one of the best fresh Mexican food restaurants around, and if you’re going to visit Laguna Beach, this place is a “must go.”

Enjoy the priceless view and maybe a picnic at Heisler Park in Laguna Beach soon!

Heisler Park
375 Cliff Drive
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Parking Meter: $0.25 for 15 minutes.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

San Diego Sea World - Things to Do in Orange County 24

Visit Shamu at the San Diego Sea World!

About an hour drive, south of Orange County is the city of San Diego. San Diego is home to the world famous amusement park, one of them being the San Diego Sea World! At the Sea World, you will be in admiration to see performances by some of the smartest sea creatures in the world. The most popular shows are performed by dolphins, seals, and the iconic Shamu here at the Sea World.

Once you enter Sea World, the first thing you should do is get a map of the park. On the back of the map, you’ll find the schedule of the shows that the sea creatures will be performing today. Make it a priority to setup your own schedule in order for you to see as many shows as you’d like at Sea World.

The Shamu Show is by far the most popular here, and you’ll see why once you see the show. I was so stunned to see this huge killer whale move so quickly and jump so high out of the water during the show. They were amazing!

The show has regular seating and for those that are more adventurous, there’s also the Soak Area seating. Keep in mind that the Soak Zone is named so because you’ll get soaking wet if you sit there. If you got little ones that are interested in having some extra fun, you may want to advise them to sit in that area. They’ll probably have a time of their life!

In addition to the Shamu show, I also loved the dolphin show. The seal & otter show was also great as they pack in a lot of humor in to the show! The Shamu, dolphin, and seal & otter are the three shows that you must see when you come to Sea World!

In between shows, you can interact with dolphins and sting rays, and make friends with sea creatures that live at the park. You’ll also be able to see sharks, penguins, and polar bears at the park. Sea World is a huge amusement park, so be sure you wear comfortable shoes and bring your sun block to enjoy the entire day there!

The San Diego Sea World awaits you only an hour away from OC!

SeaWorld San Diego
500 SeaWorld Drive
San Diego, CA 92109
(800) 25-SHAMU (1-800-257-4268)

Admission: $59 Adults (10 and over), $49 (3-9 years old)
$5 Discount with the AAA Card
Parking $10

Festival of Arts & The Pageant of the Masters - Things to Do in Orange County 23

The Annual Festival of Arts & Pageant of Masters in Laguna Beach is a Must See for all Artists

The art capital of Orange County is the beautiful city of Laguna Beach. In Laguna Beach, you’ll find many art galleries near the coast, and many of Orange County’s best artists live in the area. It is one of the most, culture rich cities in OC.

Every year, Laguna Beach hosts the Festival of Arts, and last year it was their 75th Anniversary. This is an art festival where you can enjoy the finest artwork from over 140 artists locally in Southern California. It is the best summer art festival hosted in Orange County! The Festival of Arts is held from early July to the end of August every year.

The Festival of Arts is divided into several sections, and each of the sections showcases great many pieces of artwork. At the Festival of Arts, you’ll find paintings, sculptures, ceramic, and other handmade accessories which are all very inspiring. It is always interesting and delightful to see all the different pieces of high quality art made by local artists at this festival.

One of the biggest attractions at the Festival of Arts is the Pageant of the Masters. This is truly a unique show where on stage, actual people imitate famous paintings and sculpture to make it look like the real thing. It’s a bit difficult to explain in words, so it’s best to see the picture on this post. You’ll see that the two real women are disguising themselves to be the actual painting. It’s a unique balance of color, lighting, and the actor’s patience that perfect the live artwork!

The Pageant of the Masters is an extremely popular event, so I would recommend you buy tickets well in advance to be able to experience this unique event. I would also suggest you bring a pair of binocular so that you can experience the live paintings in front of your very own eyes. It does become a bit difficult to see when you are sitting in the back.

The Festival of Arts and the Pageant of the Masters is a premier summer art event in Orange County. It’s fun to browse through some of the best artworks made by local artists. I’m looking forward to getting a front row seat to this year’s Pageant of the Masters!! I hope you get a chance to visit Orange County’s best summer art festival this year too!

Festival of Arts
650 Laguna Canyon Road
Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Admission: Adult $7, Students & Seniors $4
Parking on Laguna Canyon Road

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Pechanga Resort and Casino - Things to Do in Orange County 22

Experience Las Vegas like Atmosphere in an Hour– Pechanga Resort and Casino

If you like to gamble or like all of what Las Vegas has got to offer, I got some great news for you! With only a one hour drive from Orange County, you can experience Las Vegas like atmosphere at one of the best Indian Casinos, Pechanga Resort and Casino.

Pechanga Resort and Casino offers gambling, resort like atmosphere, and most importantly, an excellent all-you-can-eat gourmet buffet at its resort. Although I am not a big time gambler, I just love to go and visit Pechanga for everything else that they have to offer. Their spa is one of the best ways you can treat yourself for a nice relaxing vacation.

The Pechanga is located only about an hour away from OC in the city of Temecula. It’s a fast freeway ride to get out of the city to relax at a resort hotel. The rooms are beautiful, and even better, the prices are very reasonable as well. On most nights you can stay for $120-$150 for a resort room here. Considering its quality, and what the resort has got to offer, that is a wonderful deal!

Pechanga has a huge casino, spa, pool, bar, numerous restaurants, comedy club, and even a concert hall! The buffet here is one of my personal favorites!

Temecula is also known for its winery in the area. If you get to Temecula early or have an extra day, you can reserve a winery tour in the morning departing from the resort. You can go out for a day of wine tasting in a very scenic route along the Temecula hills. One more thing Temecula is famous for is the hot air balloon ride that you can reserve. I’ve never been on it myself, but it seems like a ride of your life to go on it. If you have the chance, I recommend you to look into riding the hot air balloon for some extra fun!

Here’s a tentative schedule for your trip:

Morning > Hot Air Balloon
Afternoon > Winery
Night > Casino, Buffet, and a Show

That will be an excellent Temecula vacation!

Pechanga Casino & Resort is a Las Vegas like resort with all of the benefits. It is only one hour away from Orange County, so for your next vacation, this is a great spot for you to enjoy!

Pechanga Casino & Resort
45000 Pechanga ParkwayFormerly Pala Road
Temecula, CA 92592
Phone: (951) 693-1819
Fax: (951) 695-7410

The Block at Orange - Things to Do in Orange County 21

Skateboard Park, Movies, Shopping: A Hot Spot for the Orange County Youth – The Block at Orange!

The Block at Orange or simply the “Block” is a shopping mall and entertainment center near Disneyland and Anaheim Stadium. Many of OC’s youth like to come and visit the Block because of its emphasis on youth culture.

The retail shops and entertainment is geared toward the youth market, where you’ll see stores like the Virgin Megastore, Hollister, and American Eagle here.

Inside The Block, there is also Van’s Skateboard Park. One of the few public skateboard parks in Orange County. You can challenge yourself to a tough skateboard or roller blade ride here, or bring your kids for them to enjoy. The Van’s Skateboard Park does rent out helmets and other gear to keep you safe. Of course, you are free to visit and just watch some of the crazy skateboarder go at it inside the skate park. Some of them are really good.

Aside from shopping and the skateboard park, there is also a bowling center, a Borders, and a Dave & Buster’s to spend a night of entertainment. There is also a huge movie theater here, the AMC 30, so you’ll always expect to see a crowd at The Block.

The Block is great for all occasions whether it be families, friends, and casual dates.
Some of the stores I love at The Block are the Hawaiian, Hilo Hattie where you can buy all sorts of Hawaiian clothes and gifts. And I also like the Saks Fifth Avenue Outlet store here as well.

A bit outside the mall, you’ll find a TGIF and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts. And how can anyone forgo a fresh glazed doughnut from Krispy Kreme on any given day? They are to die for! :)

The Block at Orange is a youth oriented mega-entertainment and shopping center in Orange County! I hope you have the chance to visit soon!

The Block at Orange
20 City Boulevard West
Orange, CA 92868

Monday, February 18, 2008

Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel - Things to Do in Orange County 20

A Royal Treatment at the Best Hotel in Orange County – Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel

World famous for its service and dining, the Ritz Carlton in Laguna Niguel will not disappoint you with its reputation. Considered by many to be the absolute best hotel in Orange County, the Ritz Carton stands tall in the city of Dana Point overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean.

Its dining area has one of the most spectacular views in Orange County. With its huge windows, the sun shines right through with the full view of the ocean while you enjoy dishes that have been perfectly prepared. The beach is conveniently located right next to the hotel, and it is literally only steps away from it.

Looking to stay a night here? Be ready to spend at least $450 a night for a room. It’s been said that the rich and famous come here over the weekend from around the world to enjoy the atmosphere at the best hotel in OC.

For people like me that can’t afford to dish out that much for a hotel room, I just enjoy visiting the hotel and walking around in it. Maybe even have a cocktail. :) Even a short 1-2 hour visit will make you feel like a royalty when you visit the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel.

You can visit the hotel and walk around or make lunch or dinner reservations to enjoy the dishes that they perfectly prepared. The Sunday Brunch at the Ritz Carton ($75 per person) is probably the most famous brunch in Orange County. Although it is a bit pricy, it is really worth every penny, and you should consider it for your next anniversary or that special date.
The first time I went, I visited with a good friend of mine to have lunch. The lunch was wonderful and the view was priceless. And the service? It was absolutely perfect!

You can have your wedding here, or enjoy recreation like surfing, spa, or golf.

I’m really hoping one of these days, I can have the chance to stay at the beautiful Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel, the best hotel in Orange County!

The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel
One Ritz-Carlton Drive
Dana Point, California 92629
Phone: 949-240-2000
Fax: 949-240-0829

Parking: Valet Parking, or parking meter across the street

San Clemente Pier and Del Mar Avenue - Things to Do in Orange County 19

Relax and Enjoy the Day at the San Clemente Pier and Del Mar Avenue!

Located on the Southern edge of Orange County is the city of San Clemente. Once you go down to South OC you tend to see scenery a lot different from Northern Orange County or Los Angeles.

San Clemente Pier is a smaller pier compared to the other piers in Orange County, but its atmosphere here is truly one of the best. When you’re relaxing on the pier, it feels like time is slowing passing by as it is so pleasant. The ocean, the sun, and all the people around make it so that you can appreciate life at that moment. On the pier, you’ll also find The Fisherman’s Restaurant, which is a romantic little place where you can have breakfast, lunch, or dinner with the beautiful ocean view.

Aside from the pier, you’ll find surfers on the beach enjoying the surf all day long. And on the coast there is a railroad track for the Amtrak to ride right on through. You can also take a walk near the sand as there is a walkway for you to enjoy the beach even more.

The Del Mar Avenue, close to the pier is also a gem. In the past, Del Mar Avenue used to be the main street of this area. To this day, you’ll see Spanish Colonial style buildings to help you recognize its rich history and culture in the area.

The Del Mar Avenue is now filled with cute little retail shops and restaurants. I particularly loved the accessory store where you can find charming little accessories here. I purchased a adorable heart shaped key holder here that I still use to this day.

San Clemente Pier and Del Mar Avenue is truly one of Orange County’s most laid back places. Be sure to visit one of Orange County’s chill spot soon!

Fishermans Restaurant & Bar
611 Avenida Victoria
San Clemente, CA 92672
Phone: 949-498-6390

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Hi-Time Wine Cellars - Things to Do in Orange County 18

Never Seen So Many Wine Bottles in One Place! A Huge Wine Cellar in Orange County – Hi-Time

If you like to drink, and drink especially wine, I’ve found an awesome store in Orange County that you cannot afford to miss. This store offers a one-of-a-kind experience. Once you enter the store, you’ll walk down the stairs, and into their huge walk-in wine cellar. There, you will be delighted to see thousands and thousands, and rows and rows of wines from all over the world!!

I have never seen this many bottles of wine at a single place.

Inside the wine cellar, wines are organized by region and types. Prices ranged from $7 a bottle to over $500 a bottle! Even if you are a wine enthusiast, you will likely find the wine you love here at Hi-Time.

I am not very knowledgeable about wine, so I picked up a few bottles of staff picks. They were reasonably priced and many of them were French wines. All of them were very good, I must also add.

In addition to wine, there is also a huge beer section. There’s another big walk-in refrigerator in the beer section where you can choose from a huge variety of beer as well. I personally enjoyed this section very much!

Basically at Hi-Time, you can find anything from all kinds of hard liquor and liqueur, cheeses, chocolates, and glassware. You can also walk into a huge humidor where you can pick out some of your most favorite cigars or pipe tobacco as well. It’s a great place to buy a gift for anybody, including yourself!

Hi-Time also has a wine tasting area to sample some of the store favorites at the time. If you love wine, this is definitely a place you must visit. And be sure to let me know if you find any great wines here!

Hi-Time, OC’s largest liquor store!

Hi-Time Wine Cellars
250 Ogle Street
Costa Mesa, CA 92627

Store Hours: Sunday 10am -7pm
Mon-Wed 9am-8pm
Thurs-Sat 9am-9pm

The Huntington Library - Things to Do in Orange County 17

Enjoy a Gorgeous Garden Outside of Orange County – The Huntington Library

Henry Edwards Huntington (February 27, 1850–May 23, 1927) was a railroad magnate and business leader. What he left behind for us to enjoy is The Huntington Library Art Collections and Botanical Gardens, an educational and research institution known for its gorgeous gardens. This gem is located outside of Orange County in the city of San Marino. You will be able to see art collections and beautiful gardens at The Huntington Library.

The Huntington Library is one of my personal favorites, and it is a must see! It’s one of the most gorgeous places I have seen in my life. I would recommend you budget an entire day to walk around and see all of what The Huntington Library has to offer. This place is huge, but if you get tired, you can always relax alongside some of the most beautiful scenery that The Huntington has got to offer.

There are varieties of fun gardens that you can see at The Huntington Library. There’s the cactus garden, the rose garden, and the Japanese garden, all which have been landscaped magnificently. I particularly loved the rose garden because it had so many different varieties of roses for you to see.

If you can plan ahead of time, you should also make a reservation at the Tea Room for an afternoon tea at The Huntington Library. Since it’s a popular place, you’ll need to book ahead of time for you to enjoy your afternoon tea there. At the afternoon tea, they will amuse you with fresh-made scones, tea of the day, sandwiches, and dessert, all for only $15 per person. The clotted cream with my scones were so good! To reserve, call (626) 683-8131.

This is a wonderful place is great to go on a date, or with your family. It is a place where anybody can go to enjoy and appreciate its beauty. The Huntington Library is about an hour away from OC with no traffic. I hope you have the chance to go and visit soon!

Tune in tomorrow for more fun things to do in Orange County!

Huntington Library
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, CA 91108
(626) 405-2100

Adult: $15 Weekdays, $20 Weekends
Students: $10
Seniors: $12 Weekdays, $15 Weekends
Children: $6

Park Hours:
Tuesday-Friday: 12PM-4:30PM
Saturday & Sunday: 10:30AM-4:30PM

Parking is free at The Huntington

Golden West College Swap Meet - Things to Do in Orange County 16

Find Anything from Junk to Vegetable to Treasure Here at the Golden West College Swap Meet!

As mentioned previously, Orange County frequently uses the parking lots of its Community Colleges to conduct swap meets over the weekend. The swap meet that is held every Saturday and Sunday at Golden West College is one of the largest ones out here in OC.

I personally like to come to the Golden West College Swap Meet to buy some fresh vegetables here. You’ll be delighted to see super fresh vegetables here that taste very good! They are priced so low that it becomes hard to go into Ralph’s to buy your vegetable once you get used to buying here. Aside from the vegetables, the cut flowers here are very economical here as well. And if you’re looking for an experience, you can usually find a vendor that sells coconuts for you to enjoy the coconut milk from. Only a $1 each!

The characteristic that I notice when I come to the Golden West College Swap Meet compared to others is that it feels like there are a lot of, for the lack of better words, junk items here. You tend to see a lot of vendors out here selling used household goods, and I always wonder to myself, “hmm… I wonder who buys them…” :) But this is what makes this swap meet a very interesting one to come to.

I’m sure you’d be amazed at some of the items for sale here, and if you have the eye for it, you can probably dig up some treasure or antique for pennies on the dollar here as well!

At the swap meet, you can also find brand new toys, clothes, shoes, and perfumes. You can also fin used furniture, electronics, tools, and clothes, as you can practically find anything you need at this swap meet.

Many of the vendors and patrons at the Golden West College Swap Meet tend to be Latinos, so you’ll be delighted to see the energy that they bring. And because little Saigon and Korea Town is close enough, the swap meet always has an international twist to it.
Enjoy the international flavored Orange County Swap Meet every Saturday and Sunday at the Golden West College! It’s an experience you can’t miss!

Golden West College Swap Meet
15744 Golden West Street
Huntington Beach CA 92646

Admission: Free

Open Saturdays & Sundays 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., rain or shine.

Irvine Regional Park - Things to Do in Orange County 15

Enjoy the OC Zoo and a Little Train Ride at the Nature Filled Irvine Regional Park

If you drive North on Jamboree Road, you will drive through the mountain and come across the Irvine Regional Park in the city of Orange.

Irvine Regional Park is a huge park in Orange County where you can enjoy a picnic, BBQ, ride on a pony, or cruise along on the mini-train that goes around the park. With a lot of nature surrounded by ponds and trees, the park is a great place to relax with your loved one, or enjoy with your entire family.

Inside the Irvine Regional Park, you’ll also find the Orange County Zoo. Admission to the zoo is $2 for children and adults over 3 years old, and free for children 3 and under. You’d be surprised to see that there’s a big grizzly bear inside the zoo. You’ll also see other animals such as an eagle, fox, goat, and coyote, amongst many others. Since it’s a zoo without too many visitors, you can enjoy the nice, quiet atmosphere there.

After leaving the zoo, there is a nice little trail filled with nature that you can follow. With all the daily hustle and bustle, I’m sure the trail and the nature will help you to refresh a bit. It’s a great feeling go out to get some fresh air out in the park!

There are other activities at the Irvine Regional Park. Some of the fun ones are renting a boat to float across the lake or renting a bicycle to explore the park even more. With so many activities that you can enjoy at the Irvine Regional Park, you can fill your whole day here. Enjoy a day of soothing relaxation with a beach blanket and a book here, or you can bring your whole family along for a BBQ party!

It’s a great park in OC, and I hope you can enjoy the Irvine Regional Park soon!

Irvine Regional Park
1 Irvine Park Road
Orange, CA 92862
(714)973-6835 or (714)973-3173

Parking: $3 weekdays, $5 weekends
Open: Nov. 1 - March 31, 7:00am to 6:00pm.
Open: April 1 - Oct. 31, 7:00am to 9:00pm.
Office Hours: Mon. - Fri., 7:30am to 3:30pm.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Crystal Cove State Beach - Things to Do in Orange County 14

A Beautiful, but Quiet Orange County Beach – Crystal Cove State Park

For this post, I went to go visit the Crystal Cove State Beach, located in between Newport Beach and Laguna Beach. The Crystal Cove is one of the most beautiful beaches in Orange County, and it is extremely quiet given how beautiful it is. Getting to the Crystal Cove is a sheer pleasure as you’ll need to drive down a very scenic route down the Pacific Coast Highway to get to the beach.

Crystal Cove has been the talk of the community for several years on whether or not to develop this natural sanctuary. In recent years, there have been numerous developments around Crystal Cove, and it now houses a shopping center and million dollar luxury homes in the area. Fortunately, the state beach and the park area have been untouched, and it is still filled with nature for you to enjoy.

Parking at the Crystal Cove State Park is $10 per day or $125 annually. It may be a bit pricy, but the cool thing about this parking pass is that you are able to park at other state parks using this permit. I’m not sure how many people are willing to go to three or four different beaches and state parks in a given day, but it sure is available if you have the urge to do so!

After you park your car at the Crystal Cove State Park, you’ll go on a 15 minute trail walk to reach the beach. The trail has a few scenic areas where you can sit down, so I decided to bring a picnic here to enjoy. Eating out in the sun with a beautiful beach in front of you is truly a luxury that we Orange County residents can enjoy! :) And after the trail, you’ll find one of the most beautiful beaches of OC.

When visiting the Crystal Cove State Beach, remember to bring your beach gear – hats, sunglasses, and beach umbrella. Also, since Crystal Cove does not have any food stands, be sure to bring your own food and drinks to enjoy your time there! This beach is surely one of the best around in Orange County, so I truly hope you have the chance to visit here!

Crystal Cove State Park
The park is located off Pacific Coast Highway between Corona del Mar and Laguna Beach, California with easy access from I-5, 405 and 73.

Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre - Things to Do in Orange County 13

A OC Picnic Concert under the Stars at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater!

In Orange County, the premier venue for music is the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater located in Irvine. At the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, you can enjoy all types of concerts ranging from Gwen Stefani, The Who, to classical music from the Pacific Symphony.

During the summer, one of their fun events is the Picnic Concert under the Stars. Richard Kaufman or Carl St. Clair will conduct through an evening of great classical or pop music for you. The seats at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater are designed so that you can get an actual seat, but better yet, for this concert you can setup and enjoy a picnic while you listen to live music on the lawn seats.

The Verizon Wireless Amphitheater permits you to bring in your own wine and food to the picnic concert, so that means a lot of fun! Bring along your friends, family, or loved ones for a nice little evening in OC. I personally recommend you setting up 2 hours before the concert if you have a reserved seat or half hour to an hour before if you are going to sit in the lawn area to enjoy the picnic while listening to music.

The picnic concert does get a bit cold at night, so I always bring a blanket with me. You may also want to bring another blanket for you to sit on since the grass does get a bit cold. Be sure to bring a bottle of wine and some good food, and you’re in for a very memorable night.

Of course, the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater has other great concerts all year long, so be sure to visit their website for more information. It is truly Orange County’s premier outdoor music venue!

Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
8808 Irvine Center Drive
Irvine CA 92618

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The LAB - Things to Do in Orange County 12

Enjoy a Hip OC Afternoon at the Anti-Mall – The LAB

The LAB is Orange County’s one of most hip places with its trendy restaurants and retail stores. When it first opened, Urban Outfitters was one of its anchor tenants that brought in hip people around town to the Anti-Mall.

The LAB has expanded since then and now it has even more hip shops and restaurants than in the past.
The LAB has record stores, clothing boutique, beauty salons, and several restaurants. Some of the shops are a bit too hip for me, so I’ve never actually been able to go inside… But the restaurants and cafes there are casual enough so I’ve eaten there several times.

The Gypsy Den next to the Urban Outfitters is a very casual coffee shop with great little sandwiches. The Gypsy Den has an interesting interior decoration and a gallery. The café can be casually romantic, so it’s a good little spot for a casual date. The coffee and desserts are excellent there.

In addition to the Gypsy Den, The LAB also has a Cuban Food Restaurant called Habana. This restaurant is extremely romantic with live Flamenco players on selected nights. There is also a trendy sushi restaurant called ZIPANGU. You can enjoy great sushi here while enjoying the very contemporary décor.

So if you’re feeling hip or want to impress somebody in OC, this is definitely a place to check out for you!

2930 Bristol Street
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Ph: 714-966-6660

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim - Things to Do in Orange County 11

Major League Baseball in Orange County! Become a fan of The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim!

It is almost the start of the baseball season! And in Orange County, that means going out to watch the Angels baseball game in Anaheim.
As you may know a few years ago, the Anaheim Angels changed its name to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. It’s a bit weird since they’re in Orange County. But that is what it is now. I personally don’t like the name…

The Angels Stadium is conveniently located right off the 57 freeway. It will likely be about a 15-20 minute drive from most areas of Orange County. Next to the Angels Stadium, you’ll find the Anaheim Pond where the Anaheim Ducks play. Disneyland is also very close by to the Anaheim Stadium as well.

Some of the cheapest tickets that you can buy at the Anaheim Stadium will cost only about $7-9 a seat. And if it’s not a popular Angel’s game, you will most likely be able to buy the tickets at the door. The door ticket price will save you a few bucks on service fees that ticket agencies usually charge. Of course, if it is a popular game or if you want good seats, you may need to buy it ahead of time or use services like StubHub or RazorGator to buy it off a season ticket holder. Craigslist is also a good place to look as well. I’ve seen people sell tickets dirt cheap here because the game is tomorrow and they can’t make it.

There are some days that the Angels will give out a free hat, accessory, or a commemorative mug, so be sure to check out some of these games on their website to get a little freebie. We went on a day last year when there was a fireworks show, and that combined with some hot dog and beer was great!!

The parking was $10 last time I went. But they do change the prices around quite frequently. If you want to save some money, you can dine at a nearby restaurant prior to the Angel’s game and walk to the stadium. I did this before, and it was about a 10 minute walk. The car wasn’t towed either.

So I hope I got you excited enough to go check out an Angels game this year. Get a hot dog, a beer, and watch the game. Yes, the American pastime! It’s always fun to sing “Take me out to the ball game” at the 7th Inning too.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

RazorGator - Buy Hard-to-Get Tickets

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Irvine Spectrum Center - Things to Do in Orange County 10

Dining, Shopping, Movies – The Entertainment Mecca of OC, Irvine Spectrum!

Massive Entertainment Center – That is the best description for the Irvine Spectrum, located on the south east edge of the city of Irvine.

Irvine Spectrum is the landmark entertainment center for the local South Orange County residents. The architecture of the mall is based on the Alhambra in Granada, Spain, and it is very inspiring to walk around because of it. Inside the Irvine Spectrum, you will find movie theaters, retail shops, restaurants, arcade, and department stores amongst other things. The Irvine Spectrum is great for those who is tired of the regular malls because it has a different feel from others due to its massiveness and choices of retailers at the location.

The 21-Screen Movie Theater was the largest in the United States when it was first built in 1995, and includes the 3D IMAX theaters as well. There are also four huge screen theaters where you can watch movies on a gigantic theater. I recommend you watch your next action movie here on the giant theater screens to get all of your money’s worth!

The dining experience here is also great where you can pick anything from fast food, sushi, or a yard of beer. It’s always difficult to decide what to eat here with so many choices. After dinner, or even for dinner, you can visit Dave & Buster’s to enjoy the food and the games here. Hang out with your friends or with your family at D&B for a night of fun!

The Irvine Spectrum seems to expand each year with different stores and concepts. Be sure to visit this Entertainment Mecca of Orange County soon!

Irvine Spectrum Center
71 Fortune Drive
Irvine, CA 92618

Sun-Thur: 10am-9pm
Fri & Sat: 10am-10pm

Restaurant & Entertainment
Sun-Thur: 11am-9pm
Fri & Sat: 11am-11pm

Crystal Cathedral - Things to Do in Orange County 9

Beautiful Church with a $2 Million Pipe Organ - Crystal Cathedral

In North Orange County, there’s a tall shiny tower next to The Block in Orange. Has anyone ever wondered what this was?

It’s the Crystal Cathedral! A Protestant, Christian megachurch in the city of Garden Grove!

The church is one of the largest in Orange County, and it has been around since 1955. Inside the shiny tower, there is a crystal piece with Jesus Christ inside of it. It is a stunning piece of work and one that draws a lot of crowd.

Next to the tower is an all glass building, and this is the church. The church is about the equivalent of a 12 story building, so it is massive. It can house 3,000 worshippers, and used over 10,000 rectangular panes of glass to build it.

Inside the church is a very exquisite architecture, and you will be amazed at the sheer magnificent of the church. One of the most talked about item at this church is their pipe organ. A loyal worshipper named Hazel Wright donated the pipe organ worth approximately $2 million at the time of donation. The pipe organ is rightly named the Hazel Wright Pipe Organ, and there are over 16,000 pipes that play together to produce its stunning sound.

Every Sunday, during the worship they use the pipe organ, so that would be a good time to visit should you want to listen to it. The Crystal Cathedral is free to visit, and be sure to visit their website for events and information.

Crystal Cathedral Ministries
12141 Lewis Street
Garden Grove, CA 92840


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...