Orange County is centrally located between Los Angeles and San Diego, offering many restaurants, events, and activities for you to enjoy. Listed below are links to a few of our favorite ideas for ways that you can turn this conference into a vacation getaway.
Portola Coffee Lab
Where: Half a mile
For coffee lovers, this is a “must try.” Making coffee is truly a science here. But do not go if you are in a hurry…you cannot rush this experience! Not an inexpensive cup of coffee, but definitely a unique one.
The OC Mart Mix
3313 Hyland Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92626
85°C Bakery Cafe
Where: 6 miles
A Taiwanese bakery that usually has a line of followers out the door all waiting to taste the amazingly fresh breads and pastries. My family loves the brioche bread and the milk pudding pastry. Don’t let the line scare you…it moves very fast. Reasonably priced.
Diamond Jamboree Plaza (a multicultural shopping center with lots of great restaurants, including Pho Saigon Pearl for Vietnamese noodle soup)
2700 Alton Pkwy, Ste 123, Irvine, CA 92606
Where: 5 miles
One of my favorite go-to restaurants that I have been a fan of for years. I recommend the caesar salad (with extra anchovies!), the veggie burger (although my husband prefers the hickory burger), the French dip, and the ribs. You just can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. And, if you have room, you should order a warm apple walnut cobbler to share. A little pricier, but the quality of the food is worth it.
2991 Michelson Dr., Irvine, CA 92612
The Pageant of the Masters during Laguna Beach’s Festival of Arts
What: Performance (unlike you’ve ever seen)
Where: 16 miles
The Pageant of the Masters is often described as “where art comes to life,” and that is quite literally true. Take a look at this video clip, although it does not do the experience justice. It is a lovely way to spend a summer evening in Laguna Beach.
To order tickets (I already have mine!) click here
650 Laguna Canyon Rd, Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Where: 12 miles
Set right on the sand, this is a charming converted cottage in gorgeous Crystal Cove State Park. A bit pricey, but the unbeatable view is worth every penny! It also has a bar if you just want to relax with a drink. Reservations recommended.
15 Crystal Cove, Newport Beach, CA 92657
White House in Laguna Beach
Where: 17 miles
One of the oldest restaurants in Laguna Beach, just across from Main Beach on Pacific Coast Highway. Excellent place to enjoy live music and people watching, and you can sit inside or outside on the patio. Great and affordable breakfast menu, and wonderful Sunday brunch.
340 S. Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Las Brisas in Laguna Beach
Where: 16 miles
If you want great Mexican food and the best view in town, Las Brisas is for you! Great outdoor seating, incredible view on a hill overlooking the ocean, and fabulous margaritas.
361 Cliff Dr., Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Surfas Culinary District
What: A foodie fantasy land
Where: 0.7 miles
Gourmet market, chef and baking supplies, cafe, cheese / charcuteria / wine tasting, happiness! Check out the OC Mart Mix across the parking lot.
3309 Hyland Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Fashion Island Shopping and People Watching
Where: 8 miles
Where dogs are royalty and people go to be seen. Outdoor mall with ample enticements for the entire family. There is a storefront for luxury electric cars (Tesla), the best Wholefoods Market, boutiques, specialty shops, high end department / chain stores, fun fountains and lounge chairs throughout.
401 Newport Ctr. Dr.
Newport Beach, CA 92660
Where: 17 miles
A great place to experience an eclectic mix of beach, tidepools, art galleries, surf shops, restaurants, boutiques, and local charm. Beautiful vistas, great walking town, fun for the whole family.
Laguna Beach, CA
Where: 9 miles
Delicious on so many levels. Not too fancy, but probably not for young children. Order lots of small plates and share — you won’t be disappointed! Reservations recommended.
800 W. Coast Hwy., Newport Beach, CA 92663
Dana Point Harbor
What: Marina and Restaurants
Where: 26 miles
A visit to Dana Point Harbor offers something for everyone, and is a wonderful place for a walk, shopping, people watching, and dining. A walking deck all around the marina allows you to stroll and enjoy the view, and there are a number of seats where you can sit if you are tired. Many restaurants, cafes, and shops are open all day and have a fabulous view. The Ocean Institute is a great place to visit with children.
Dana Point, CA
South Coast Plaza Shopping Center
Where: 2 miles
South Coast Plaza is the ultimate shopping experience. One of the largest malls anywhere, it offers endless stores and places to eat. You could spend hours here! They have everything from the affordable to the extravagant, including many high-end shops that are fun for window-shopping, and a carousel for the little ones. South Coast Plaza is within walking distance of the conference hotel.
3333 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Ruby’s on the Pier – Huntington Beach
What: Diner on the Pier
Where: 8 miles
The diner-style restaurant makes you feel as if you’re dining in the middle of the ocean. Grab a window seat and you’re likely to spot dolphins cutting through the ocean waves and pelicans and sea gulls flying by. Great spot for kids, too. Fantastic burgers and shakes. Park in any of the municipal lots in Huntington Beach and walk all the way out on the pier — you can’t miss Ruby’s at the end.
1 Main Street, Huntington Beach, CA 92648
Where: 3 miles and 8 miles
You can’t come to California and not try one of our famous Baja Fish Tacos — and Wahoo’s is famous for them! Of course, they have more than just fish tacos, too. There are several locations close to Whittier Law School’s campus.
3000 Bristol Street, Costa Mesa, CA 92626
120 Main Street, Huntington Beach, CA 92648
Aquarium of the Pacific
Where: 25 miles
A great aquarium for families, with touching tanks, penguins, otters, seals and seal lions, sharks, lorikeets, and the usual fish. Look for discount coupons or use your AAA card for a discount. Parker’s Lighthouse and the Yardhouse are restaurants near the aquarium with nice views of the harbor and Queen Mary. Although it is a chain, the Yardhouse (in Shoreline Village) is a nice establishment with its large patio for dining al fresco, big menu, and a huge selection of beers on tap. It also has a solid kids’ menu, including a frozen fruit bar! Parker’s Lighthouse is a nicer seafood restaurant, with plenty of windows to enjoy the views.
100 Aquarium Way, Long Beach, CA 90802
Grab a coffee or stay for breakfast at the Rose Café and walk down to the famous Venice Beach boardwalk to soak up the sun and enjoy the local color. Take a stroll down Abbot Kinney Boulevard lined with quirky shops and restaurants.
Or, head north on the boardwalk or bike path to Santa Monica beach where you can rent a bike or Segway or take part in carnival games and rides on the Santa Monica pier. There are plenty of shops and restaurants on Main Street, Ocean Boulevard, Third Street Promenade, and Montana Avenue, known for its boutique shops and cafes.
Venice Beach and Santa Monica, CA
Visit the iconic Griffith Park Observatory located on the southern slope of Mount Hollywood in Griffith Park, just above the Los Feliz neighborhood. The Observatory is open Wednesday through Sunday. Check the website for planetarium show times. (Note, children under 5 are admitted only to the first show time in the morning.)
If you are up for it, hike from the observatory’s parking lot to Mount Hollywood and enjoy the sweeping views of the L.A. basin. There are 53 miles of hiking trails, bridle paths, and fire roads throughout Griffith Park.
Observatory: 2800 East Observatory Road, Los Angeles, CA 9002
Griffith Park: 4730 Crystal Springs Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90027
Crystal Cove State Park
What: Beach/State Park
Where: 12 miles
This unique state park has an undeveloped, scenic beach with numerous tide pools at low tide. On the inland side of the park, hiking and biking trails allow you to climb the mountains for beautiful views of the coast. Parking is $15.00. Park in the last parking lot to access the beach and inland sides of the park.
Where: 1 mile
For fresh and reasonably priced sushi, you are in luck. The sushi is always excellent and makes up for the sterile ambiance. Service can be slow when Maru gets busy, so be patient.
1500 Adams Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Surf City Nights at the Huntington Beach Street Fair
What: Street Fair
Where: 9 miles
A weekly event that closes Main Street between Pacific Coast Highway and Orange for a fun evening with musical acts, dancers, street performers, bounce houses, and food. Admission and entertainment are free! Tuesday nights 5-9 pm, for those of you who arrive early or stay after the conference.
Surf City Downtown Shuttle: Park at Huntington Beach Civic Center located on Main St. and Yorktown and take the shuttle downtown to the drop off location on Main St. and Orange Ave. Hours of operation: 5:30-10:00 for Surf City Nights.
Main Street, Downtown Huntington Beach, between PCH and Orange
Laguna Beach Tide Pools
What: Marine Reserve/Beach
Where: 17 miles
The Heisler Park Reserve is a natural marine reserve that is the home to numerous small sea life that is very easy to access and see up close. The tide pools are only accessible during the low tides so check the surf report before you go. After a few hours at the beach, stroll downtown Laguna to one of the many great restaurants in the village.
Heisler Park Reserve, Rockpile Beach, Laguna Beach, CA
More Things to Do
For baseball fans:
Los Angeles Angels: 14 miles
Los Angeles Dodgers: 39 miles