Escape the desert heat and head to Orange County

California Dreaming Orange County

Escape the desert heat and head to Orange County.

By Nadine Bubeck

It doesn’t take much to persuade an Arizonan to surrender the sweaty summer heat for a refreshing escape, but before you hop a plane somewhere far-far away, consider a getaway to paradise: the OC.

We’ve all heard of Orange County—the place even had a TV show dedicated to the area. However, there’s more to the hot spot than the cliché perception.

The 42 miles of breathtaking beaches, luxurious resorts, A-list shopping, oceanfront golf courses, and delectable cuisine options are enough to make any mouth water; in the OC, it’s forever summer.

Forget the hustle and bustle of busy Los Angeles proper; Orange County is Southern California at its finest. Sure, there’s paddle boarding and surfing galore, but there’s also adventurous activities unique to the area.

Dana Point is a quiet gem of the OC, featuring whale watching year round. Here’s some oceanography 101: the migration season for the magnificent gray whales typically lasts through April, but onlookers can often get a whale view via Dana Wharf. That’s where visitors can board an excursion at sea to view an array of marine life. Our recommendation is the Dana Pride, the impeccably classic flagship vessel and two-hour tour often accompanied by dolphins.

But if you prefer land to sea and something a little savvier, head to Dana Point’s neighboring community of Laguna Beach.

The quaint, walkable downtown is lined with over 100 art galleries and more than 80 restaurants. The free open-air trolley makes getting around a breeze, considering you’ll want to dip your feet in the sand of the area’s 30+ coves and beaches. And there’s nearly 20,000 acres of wilderness for hiking and biking.

Need a place to stay? Choose from more beachfront hotels than any other city in California—you can’t go wrong with the Laguna Beach House or Inn at Laguna Beach.

In short, the Laguna Beach House offers chic coastal décor just steps from the beach, and The Inn at Laguna Beach flaunts unsurpassed views of the Pacific Ocean. (Oh, and they just so happen to be the sister property of the Arizona Grand Resort & Spa.)

To eat, taste-test Broadway by Amar Santana, a contestant of this season’s Top Chef: 13. The restaurant’s name is quite fitting, as it boasts an atmosphere where the food becomes the main show.

The interior reflects an industrial New York look with an open kitchen taking center stage. Tip: remember to reserve your spot for the six coveted seats at the chef’s table.

Grazing the menu will leave your taste buds begging for more; some notable dishes include: Sautéed Mary’s Farm Chicken Livers, Roasted Wagyu Beef Cheek, and Herb Roasted Mediterranean Branzino. And that’s not to mention side dishes or dessert.

If shopping is your sport of choice, head to South Coast Plaza, the highest grossing retail center in the United States. This 250-store array of retailers competes with Rodeo Drive, Paris, New York, and Hong Kong as a top-notch shopping destination.

Looking for a little culture? The OC has you covered. Costa Mesa is known as the City of the Arts, where visitors can experience live theater at the South Coast Repertory or symphonic performances at the renowned Segerstrom Center of the Arts. Buena Park has an abundance of entertainment options the whole family will enjoy, being located around Knott’s Berry Farm. The OC is also home to Anaheim’s Disneyland and California Adventure Park—we could all use a little Mickey in our lives. Moral of the story: there’s plenty to do if the beach isn’t your forte.

Orange County welcomes upward of 45 million tourists every year, and the average temperature is 70 degrees, obviously tempting for Phoenicians wanting to beat the heat. And if you don’t want to road trip, you can easily fly into John Wayne Airport conveniently located 35 miles south of Los Angeles.

Consider the OC laidback luxury. There’s something for everyone, A-list all the way. Clearly, it doesn’t take convincing. Now book your trip.

 

 

OC Highlights

 

ACCOMODATIONS

 

Laguna Beach House

thelagunabeachhouse.com

(800) 297-0007

475 N. Pacific Coast Hwy.

Laguna Beach, CA 92651

 

The Inn at Laguna Beach

innatlagunabeach.com

(800) 544-4479

211 N. Pacific Coast Hwy.

Laguna Beach, CA 92651

 

DINING

 

Broadway by Amar Santana

broadwaybyamarsantana.com

(949) 715-8234

328 Glenneyre St.

Laguna Beach, CA 92651

 

SHOPPING

 

South Coast Plaza

southcoastplaza.com

(800) 782-8888

3333 Bristol St.

Costa Mesa, CA 92626

 

CULTURE

 

Segerstrom Center for the Arts

scfta.org

(714) 556-2787

600 Town Center Dr.

Costa Mesa, CA 92626

 

SPORT FISHING & WHALE WATCHING

 

Dana Wharf

Danawharf.com

(888) 224-0603

Learn more about Orange County: visittheoc.com

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