The Comprehensive Insider's Guide to Orange County
Collected by Kathryn Romeyn , AFAR Contributor
30801 S Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651, USA
This five-star beachfront hotel toes the line between being a hub of activity and a luxurious, only-in-Southern-California hideaway. For restoration, head to the sprawling spa for a customized wellness-oriented treatment or a meditation class....
307 Cliff Dr, Laguna Beach, CA 92651, USA
Laguna Beach’s deep connection to the arts goes back to 1918, when 150 local creative residents started the Laguna Beach Art Association (the city’s population was only 300 then). That association went on to launch what’s now the...
2241 West Coast Hwy, Newport Beach, CA 92663, USA
A game-changer for Newport Beach when it opened in 1976, this boutique is still Orange County’s arbiter of style. Owned by a trio of sisters—their pioneering mother launched the store to give women a place to buy simple yet elegant...
1257 S Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651, USA
If anything’s endemic to Orange County it’s surfing—there are 40 miles of coastline here, after all. It’s not hard to find passionate practitioners of the sport, but doing is one thing and teaching is very much another. For...
7862 Pacific Coast Hwy, Newport Beach, CA 92657, USA
It’s not an overstatement to say chef Florent Marneau has spent more than half his life perfecting his coq au vin. Enrolled in cooking school in his native France at age 13, and classically trained for years, he then brought his talents to...
1600 Disneyland Dr, Anaheim, CA 92802, USA
The first Disney resort built inside one of its theme parks, the Grand Californian puts you in the epicenter of the happiest place on Earth. And being on the inside has its benefits: Hotel guests get extra time at Disneyland before normal visiting...
One Ritz Carlton Dr, Dana Point, CA 92629, USA
Total immersion is the draw of the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, which sits on a bluff 150 feet above the Pacific’s craggy coastline. The hotel delivers Ritz-Carlton’s trademark luxury—two pools with bucolic garden views, beach...
440 S Anaheim Blvd, Anaheim, CA 92805, USA
The Blind Rabbit’s name is a wink to the Prohibition era, when some venues operated as theaters, doling out adult beverages alongside a “show” consisting of a real animal or statue. But actually, the hidden-away Anaheim bar is a...
1 Monarch Beach Resort N, Dana Point, CA 92629, USA
The Monarch Beach Resort feels like one massive beach house, a place that’s mastered California’s particular brand of laid-back luxury. A tram connects the hillside hotel with its private beach club and restaurant, Monarch Bay Club,...
202 W 4th St, Santa Ana, CA 92701, USA
When local chefs start frequenting a spot, you know it’s onto something. And that’s in part what helped propel Hopper & Burr from a pop-up coffee shop to a permanent fixture in downtown Santa Ana. Run by Truman Severson, a veteran...
440 S Anaheim Blvd, Anaheim, CA 92805, USA
Starting in 2014, this collection of historic buildings was reinvented as a gastronomic hub—helping to revitalize the city’s downtown in the process. An early 20th-century citrus packing warehouse became the Anaheim Packing House, a...
619 Sleepy Hollow Ln, Laguna Beach, CA 92651, USA
This casual, open-air restaurant sits above an untouched stretch of Laguna Beach—and capitalizes on that beautifully. Floor-to-ceiling windows encircle the dining room so it appears to be floating above the ocean, all the better to watch the...
3300 Newport Blvd, Newport Beach, CA 92663, USA
Location, location, location—it’s an adage that holds true at Lido House. Opened in 2018, the boutique hotel took over Newport Beach’s former city hall complex—putting it in the center of town and, most notably, right down...
21500 Pacific Coast Hwy, Huntington Beach, CA 92648, USA
You know you’re in Southern California when you have your own “beach bonfire concierge” who brings you warm drinks, blankets, and fresh marshmallows under the stars. Distinctive and without pretense, the Hyatt Regency Huntington...
21016 Pacific Coast Hwy d200, Huntington Beach, CA 92648, USA
An unmarked door in Huntington Beach’s Bluegold restaurant reveals crumbling backlit lathe and plaster walls. Shelves hold vintage trinkets for a cabinet of curiosities effect, while hip-hop pumps into the moody space through invisible...
3434 Via Lido, Newport Beach, CA 92663, USA
A charming collection of shops on the water, Lido Marina Village would seem of another time, were it not for its completely modern mix of design boutiques and eateries. Built in the 1970s, the outdoor shopping center was revitalized in 2017,...
138 W Commonwealth Ave, Fullerton, CA 92832, USA
Son of a Beach blonde ale. Stout at the Devil Russian imperial stout. Approachable Bastard session IPA. The names may be cheeky, but this Fullerton’s SoCo district spot run by Evans Brewing Co. takes craft beer very seriously. Exposed brick,...
695 Town Center Dr, Costa Mesa, CA 92626, USA
It’s not that vegetarians aren’t welcome at Costa Mesa restaurant Vaca. It’s that they may not feel the same unbridled excitement as those who enjoy expertly prepared meat and seafood. The innovative lunch and dinner hot spot...
1313 S Disneyland Dr, Anaheim, CA 92802, USA
It’s safe to say the most exclusive, intimate VIP experience you can possibly have at Disneyland is within the magical walls of a 2,200-square-foot private residence in New Orleans Square, above the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. Just...
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