Whether it’s manicured beach towns or celebrated theme parks, all framed by oceanfront towns and luxury yachts, “The OC” stands out as one of the state’s most iconic destinations. The always-amazing Disneyland Resort, roughly a 1-hour drive south of L.A. and 2 hours north of San Diego, continues to be one of the best-loved theme parks in the world. (Source: VisitCalifornia)
LAGUNA BEACH – Post Up and Kick It during our Celebration
Visit a picture-perfect beach town
Here’s another one of those places where you look around wondering, “How do I get to live here?” Bright sun warms the hillsides, where cheerful cottages—some fancified, some not—tumble down the steep cliffs to the jumble of downtown streets, all ending at the edge of a sparkling blue sea. This is a grownup play land, a place with romantic hideaways dripping with bougainvillea, rooftop restaurants perfect for toasting the sunset, and a coastline dotted with protected crescents of sand—some attracting the local surfer crowd, some family favorites, and some perfect for a peaceful escape.
Laguna Beach was first settled as an artist’s colony, and it still has a generous sprinkling of quality galleries in town. Painters often perch their easels along the bluffs, and its fun to watch them create a pretty seascape before your eyes. When you need a break from the sun, dip into the hushed galleries of the Laguna Art Museum, with an excellent collection of contemporary works by California artists, such as Wayne Thiebaud and David Gilhooly. Laguna Beach is also home to summertime’s remarkable Pageant of the Masters, a one-of-a-kind event when classic artworks are recreated using brilliantly painted tableaux, all populated by real people done up to exactly resemble figures in the original paintings. The festival is wildly popular and performances always sell out, so get tickets well in advance.
Just saying the name sets a child’s face glowing. The undisputed granddaddy of theme parks has been leading the way since 1955, inviting visitors to spend the day in the ultimate land of make-believe. Read More
If there was ever a reason to rent a convertible, this road trip is it. This ultimate cruise along California’s sunniest strip of coast-hugging roadway, locally known simply as “PCH,” lets you visit sand-and-surf beach towns (maybe even snag a surf lesson), artists’ enclaves, shopping meccas, and iconic theme parks, The San Diego Zoo and LEGOLAND California. The route described here starts in romantic Santa Barbara, nicknamed “the American Riviera,” Pass through LA, Newport Beach, post up in Laguna Beach and continue south to San Diego. Read More
Discover boutique brands and bargains
Shopping in The O.C. is almost as legendary as surfing, and this town, just inland from the coast, has the mega-shopping destinations of them all: South Coast Plaza, California’s largest luxury shopping complex. You can easily spend a day here perusing boutiques for luxury brands such as Hermes, Chanel, and Prada. The massive complex also includes more than 40 places to eat, from quick bites and specialty foods to splurge-worthy fine dining—consider seasonally inspired dishes served at sleek and polished Marche Moderne, or the gourmet fusion fare served at Anqi by Crustacean.
For a twist on big-box shopping, visit Costa Mesa’s relaxing The LAB Anti-mall, focusing on appealing independent shops. At The ARTery, see quality handcrafts and artwork displayed in tricked-up shipping containers. At South Coast Collection (SOCO), browse at home decor and culinary stores surrounded by handsome landscaping.
If you like your shopping with a dose of entertainment and amusement-park fun, visit Irvine’s Spectrum Center, where a soaring Ferris wheel, plus a carousel and kiddie train for the little ones, give you a unique way to take a break between boutiques. Late nights are lively here too, with movie theaters, Irvine Improv Comedy Club, and quality restaurants.
Now put the credit cards away and head for one of California’s prettiest stretches of coastline, just south at Crystal Cove State Park.
CRYSTAL COVE STATE PARK
Stroll a perfect beach with an intriguing past
In 1912, an early Laguna Beach artist described finding a rugged coastline “with cove after cove and headland after headland, golden cliffs and deep blue and purple ocean and clear emerald pools, lazy sea and pounding surf.” More than 100 years later, that’s the world that you can still experience at this 2,400-acre/971-hectare coastal parkland. Head inland and upland on foot or mountain bike to explore trails winding into the foothills (especially pretty after winter rains encourage annual grasses). Walk along the park’s 3 miles/5 kilometers of coastline to find your own perfect sandy crescent with family-friendly waves (also popular with surf-casting fishermen). Another find here: Crystal Cove State Park Historic District, order an ahi tuna burger at The Beachcomber at Crystal Cove, or pick up a creamy shake from Ruby’s Shake Shack to take back to your beach blanket. There is also a charming collection of vintage beachfront cottages, rustically restored and available for overnight stays. (Note: reserving one of the 21 extremely popular cabins takes patience and perseverance; check the website for details.)
Drive a few miles south to the posh enclave of Laguna Beach for galleries, beachfront dining, and romantic inns and resort hotels.
Beyond the radiant sun, sand and surf, discover the sophisticated charm of Newport Beach California. A place so intoxicating, one taste of the perfect life will keep you coming back for more.
From sunset cruises to surf lessons, wine tastings to harbor-front promenades, in Newport Beach CA we offer more things to do and more ways to spend your stay. We invite you to relax, unwind and enjoy picturesque views of California’s sunrise and sunsets – paradise is what we call it. Learn More
Shop at spectacular Fashion Island in Newport Beach.
California Dreamers, Endless Coastline & Sunshine
End your trip with at this sunny, waterfront city. Downtown, shop at Horton Plaza, or catch a baseball game at Petco Park. See the giant pandas at the San Diego Zoo. Next, explore one of the city’s diverse neighborhoods, Little Italy, North Park, South Park, East Village—pedestrian-friendly enclaves are the epicenter of San Diego’s burgeoning culinary movement, progressive art scene, and craft beer boom. Start your own sampling in North Park, the neighborhood bordering Balboa Park’s northeast side. Along 30th Street and University Avenue, enjoy farm-to-table cuisine and boutique wines at Urban Solace, or wing it at local favorite Carnitas’ Snack Shop (the menu changes daily depending on fresh produce and other ingredients available that day). Work off lunch by heading down to San Diego’s sparkling Mission Bay to rent stand-up paddleboards or kayaks. Finish with dining and dancing after dark in the lively Gaslamp Quarter. Splurge on a night at one of California’s iconic lodgings, the Hotel del Coronado, on idyllic Coronado Island, connected to the city by an arcing bridge that makes you feel like you’re a million miles away.
Whatever you decide to do, we look forward to you being a part of our big day while being able to enjoy everything So Cal has to offer!