What? Go to Orange County, home of Disneyland, without the kids? Yep! And here’s why you need to go with the fellow grown-up of your choice (and what you need to do):
Orange County without the kids:
Spend a day in San Juan Capistrano and Laguna Beach:
Located on the southern end of Orange County, San Juan Capistrano lies adjacent to the beach towns of Dana Point and Laguna Beach, but offers something different than sand and sun. One of the oldest communities on the west coast, visiting San Juan Capistrano adds a layer of history and old-world beauty to your Southern California vacation. Start at the Mission San Juan Capistrano, and try to time your visit to coincide with one of their tours. The powers that be currently at the mission are taking great care with preservation and history, and provide excellent tours for just a nominal fee over the entry fee.
From the mission, peruse the shops adjacent, then cross the railroad trips to the neighborhood of Los Rios. This oldest neighborhood in California is tucked away amid an almost garden-like network of quiet streets, and the cafes, boutiques, and clothing stores here are all run by owners who live on premises.
Enjoy at spa day in Huntington Beach:
Treat yourselves to a spa day a the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach. There are many spas in Orange County, but I recommend this one because of the value proposition: with a spa treatment, you can stay at the property all day, enjoying not only the spa amenities but the pools. Valet parking is included, room service can be brought to the spa, and the Watertable, the Hyatt Regency’s on-site dining venue, is a perfect compliment. And if you crave some beach time, it’s right across the street via pedestrian bridge.
Experience world-class theater in Costa Mesa:
The Segerstrom Center for the Arts, located in Costa Mesa, offers all full line-up of theater productions. Whereas I might have assumed I’d need to travel to Los Angeles for quality theater, the Segerstrom impressed. Begin your night with the fixed price menu at Silver Trumpet, located directly across the street from the theater. Try one of their craft cocktails or ask for the impressive wine list.
Wine and dine:
Speaking of good food, if you explore only one Orange County dining and shopping mixed-use space, make it the Packing House, located in the Packing District of Anaheim. Just minutes from Disneyland, the Packing House is located on the site of an orange packing plant, now converted to two stories of fun, funky, and locally-sourced food, art, and handmade items.
Outside the Packing House in the greater Packing District, take your pick between breweries with plenty of outdoor seating and live music, and a selection of wine bars.
Similar to the Packing House, OC Mix is located nearby in Costa Mesa, with more craft and handmade items, plus a smattering of unique home decor and design offerings. An outdoor space with Adirondack chairs and other seating is a good place to chill with a tea or coffee, and two wine bars, including LCA Wines, with unique offerings from around the world for excellent prices, offer tastings.
In nearby Irvine, Andrei’s Conscious Cuisine is tucked away in a largely corporate-looking business district, but has a hopping happy hour, as well as truly spectacular cuisine. Start with one of the artisan cocktails, then pursue the extensive wine list (two days a week, Monday and Tuesday, there are no corkage fees if you want to bring bottle of your own). The best thing about Andrei’s: 100% of its profits goes toward retinal eye disease research, in honor of Andrei Olenicoff, the owners’ son and brother. Yes, 100%.
Treat yourselves to a truly sleek, new hotel with a beautiful lounge and excellent fully-catered breakfast, right in the heart of Irvine. The Marriott AC Hotel Irvine is a business-leisure hybrid with a second-floor outdoor pool and lounge area, a full bar and lounge indoors, and an upscale breakfast buffet (not complimentary) that serves two additional made-to-order offerings per morning as well.