Collected by Gary Gross
26801 Ortega Hwy, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675, USA
The Spanish mission at San Juan Capistrano is a beautifully preserved monument to the courage and conviction of Fr. Junipero Serra and his followers, who founded 21 missions in California. The great stone church partially collapsed in an 1812...
30806 Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651, USA
One of the benefits of having a rocky coastline (like the one in Laguna Beach) is that you get some amazing tide pool formations which offer the opportunity to view sea anemones and starfish (and various other saltwater critters) up close. The...
Victoria Beach, Laguna Beach, CA 92651, USA
If you want to get away from the madness of Main Beach, Victoria Beach offers a quieter experience. It's a little harder to get to, but the extra effort is worth it. From Pacific Coast Highway, turn into Nyes Place to find a parking spot, walk...
8471 N Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651, USA
The day started early, with fog covering most of the beach in a soft, eerie haze and muffling the sounds of people's voices and birds congregating around and among the rock pools. I had driven the short hour down to the beach from Los Angeles, and...
375 Cliff Dr, Laguna Beach, CA 92651, USA
Just north of Main Beach is Heisler Park, which offers a beautiful view of the beach. If you get there early enough, you can grab a picnic table and fire up some burgers on the grill. On Friday evenings during the month of September the park...
Main Beach, California 92651, USA
One of the main attractions of Laguna Beach is, well, the beach. The Main Beach lifeguard tower is probably the town's most recognizable landmark (it was built in 1929, and was originally part of a gas station located across the street). During...
28373 Alicia Pkwy, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656, USA
A short, none-to-strenuous hike to the park at the Top of the World yields a view of one of the most spectacular sunsets imaginable. On a clear day, it's possible to see all the way to Catalina Island. Bring snacks for a romantic sunset picnic :)
1289 South Coast Highway, 4th Floor, Laguna Beach, CA 92651, USA
Located at the top of the La Casa Del Camino Hotel, The Rooftop Lounge is the perfect place to take in a stunning view of the Pacific Ocean. To accompany your sunset view, The Rooftop Lounge has a long cocktail and wine list, though they’re best...
550 N El Camino Real, San Clemente, CA 92672, USA
My taco crawl down the coast of California culminated in San Clemente, not far from where I grew up. Famous for their fish tacos, and potato, bean, and cheese burritos, Pedro’s is a hometown favorite of mine. Fortunately, my return to Pedro’s...
3313 Hyland Ave, Costa Mesa, CA 92626, USA
Portola Coffee Lab takes making a cup of coffee to a new level. But you don't have to take my word for it—it was recently voted the best coffee in Orange County by the OC Weekly. If you're interested in the artistry involved in roasting and...
2319 S El Camino Real, San Clemente, CA 92672, USA
There are a couple of sugar shacks in California, one in Huntington Beach and Rose's in San Clemente. Both cater to surfers, offer views of the ocean and spectacular food at California prices. I have a weakness for omelettes of any description and...
2937 Bristol St A102, Costa Mesa, CA 92626, USA
Tucked away by the Wine Bar at the Lab in Costa Mesa, Old Vine Cafe is one of those hidden gems in the Orange County dining circuit, with both tasting and a la carte menus. The service was excellent and our waiter's vast knowledge of wine was...
3222 East Coast Hwy, Corona Del Mar, CA 92625, USA
It’s thoroughly impressive how much this cafe has to offer. You walk in to find farmhouse decor amongst indoor and outdoor seating, a small bakery section, a boutique, meals to go, freshly prepared pastas, and an additional menu to order from....
234 E 17th St, Costa Mesa, CA 92627, USA
Green Leaf is one of my favorite discoveries in Costa Mesa. The menu options are a little overwhelming, but everything I've tried so far has been delicious. My favorite are the steak, mango, and thai chile lettuce cups with lemongrass lychee...
34664 Pacific Coast Hwy, Dana Point, CA 92624, USA
Looking for authentic, Mexican, homemade food, that is right next to the pacific ocean? Well Olamendi's is just that and more! They serve some of the best food I have ever had. The picture above doesn't do the restaurant justice. All the colors...
Balboa Island, Newport Beach, CA 92662, USA
We recently took a trip to the quaint, always sunny, and charming Balboa Island, in Newport Beach, California where I spent many of my formative years. A visit to the island, accessible over a very short bridge or ferry, is must if you are touring...
3333 Bristol St, Costa Mesa, CA 92626, USA
Seasons 52 allows you to leave your calorie counter at the door with a seasonal menu that has a ceiling of 475 calories for every item. Serving contemporary American cuisine, Seasons 52 prides itself on using only the freshest produce, and feature...
2981 Bristol St B-2, Costa Mesa, CA 92626, USA
What's more quintessentially American than a good 'ole hamburger? Another California chain that has been creating waves when it comes to this American staple is Umami Burger. After practically placing my beloved In-N-Out on a pedestal, I always...
204 Washington St, Newport Beach, CA 92661, USA
Bike cruisers are the local, eco-friendly mode of transportation along the lengthy and packed Balboa Peninsula. Park your car, rent or bring a bike, and cruise along the sunny beachside. Or take the Balboa Ferry across to Balboa Island for a...
3333 Bristol St SUITE #1870, Costa Mesa, CA 92626, USA
If you ever find yourself in southern California, you must visit the shopping haven that is South Coast Plaza! It is the THE mall of Orange County and offers an eclectic range of shops to fit every wallet size. There are low-end clothing stores...
2937 Bristol St, Costa Mesa, CA 92626, USA
Who ever said juice boxes aren't for adults, too? Walk on up to the shopfront, order your freshly made juice, and you're on your way in no time. Spicy Greens is a unique collection of flavors while the Cinnamon Coconut Mylk is ideal for...
E 17th St, Costa Mesa, CA 92627, USA
What used to be a derelict street stacked with your typical fast food joints has now become a mecca for boutique-style fitness, health, and artisan shops. Welcome to 17th Street. You'll find everything here from juice shops and breakfast spots in...
2937 Bristol St B103-B100, Costa Mesa, CA 92626, USA
The 'Gelato Flight' of five small 'shots' is a clever and fun way to taste test the homemade gelato, including playful flavors like Honey Lavender. The combined indoor/outdoor space is ideal for sitting back with your freshly-made Piadina...
13681 Newport Ave #14, Tustin, CA 92780, USA
Independent coffeeshops in Orange County are few and far between. But of course, if you're looking for Starbucks, you can always find your fix within a 2-mile radius no matter which way you turn. If you're in Orange County, specifically in Tustin...
San Clemente Pier, San Clemente, CA 92672, USA
There's no better way to end a day of work or sightseeing than to sip a beverage and munch on snacks at the Fisherman's bar on the San Clemente pier. Watch the surfers, then stay until the sun sets over the Pacific. Come back during the day and...
13011 Newport Ave, Tustin, CA 92780, USA
The Lost Bean is one of those rare finds in the greater Orange County area. For some reason, there's a dearth of independent coffeeshops in Orange County, but when you do find one, it almost always compensates for the lack of establishments. The...
2043 Westcliff Dr #100, Newport Beach, CA 92660, USA
This is serious coffee for the serious coffee lover. Roasted on the spot, your cafe of choice is worth the wait here, even if the line is out the door. Stay a while and enjoy your latte with its intricately designed foam decoration in a large...
Newport Beach, CA, USA
I will probably be persona non grata around my hometown Newport Beach after this highlight. We have plenty of spots where you can get a $15 hibiscus mimosa or a $26 fennel salmon benedict, but good "greasy spoon" breakfasts are more rare. The...
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