5 Secrets About Living in Orange County You Have to Hear

From the magic of Disneyland to the chill vibes of Huntington Beach, Orange County is home to a lot of popular tourist destinations. But what people who are new to the area wouldn’t know is that Orange County is also full of a lot of other hidden gems. Check out these five secrets about living in Orange County that only locals would know!
 

1. It’s not always how it looks on tv

Orange County is known as the infamous backdrop to popular shows like Laguna Beach, The Hills, and The O.C. These shows often depict beautiful stars having the time of their lives as they cruise along the traffic-free coast in their Mercedes or frolic down the empty beaches in Newport. While these portrayals may have some truth behind them, others are pure exaggerations for the sake of entertainment. In reality, some of these shows weren’t even filmed in Orange County. So no, locals don’t actually call Orange County “The O.C.” and not everyone drives a Mercedes, but there are so many reasons why the reality of Orange County is even better than how it appears on television. Good food? Check. Awesome people? You bet. Fun adventures? Of course. Orange County really does have it all and television shows just don’t do this extraordinary place justice.
 

2. Traffic is no joke

…but there are ways to get around it! If you’ve ever been to Orange County, you’ve probably heard people referring to the 5, the 22, the 55, and the 405. These seemingly random numbers are actually names of freeways and talking about the best way to navigate the roads is like another language to Orange County residents. Orange County natives have mastered the art of the sometimes hectic freeways and you can too by following these tips. First, avoid rush hour. Although it varies depending on the freeway and your direction of travel, the weekday morning commute is generally from 7:30am to 9am, while the after-work commute typically lasts from 4pm to 6:30pm. Fridays, however, are a whole different story with the after-work commute starting as early as 1pm. If you’re traveling on the weekend, it’s best to start early or after dinner to avoid the potential traffic from people heading off to their next adventure. Another helpful tip is to download Google Maps or Waze. Unlike some other GPS systems, these apps offer alternative routes and route changes to help you get to your destination as quickly as possible. Since Orange County has so many exciting things to do and something for everyone in each city, the freeways can get a bit crazy, but the priceless memories you’ll make from your day trip to the beach or the many laughs you’ll have during your amusement park adventure will make the commute more than worth it!
 

3. The best day to go to the beach is Wednesday

…or any weekday really. It’s no secret that Orange County is home to some of the best beaches along the West Coast. There’s the infamous Newport Beach, tourist favorite Laguna Beach, and the holy grail of surfing, Huntington Beach, just to name a few! But with the wildly popular beaches comes the huge crowds and parking nightmare. So when’s the best time to go to your favorite beach without all the hassle? Well, from our experience living in Orange County, we found that the middle of the week is the best time to escape the crowds that tend to populate every Saturday and Sunday. If you are going on a weekend, however, try to beat the rush and head to the beach in the early morning. Nothing sounds better than a peaceful morning relaxing on the beach followed by a delicious brunch along the water. Another beach tip is to avoid the peak of summer if possible. Autumn is an ideal time to visit the beach and it’s Southern California so the weather is always perfect regardless of the time of year!
 

4. Orange County is home to a lot of foodies

From the octopus ceviche at Javier’s in Newport Beach to the soup dumplings at Din Tai Fung in Costa Mesa, Orange County hosts a wide variety of cuisine. Every city has their specialties, so almost every type of food is accessible as long as you know where to go. Want to find the best food without taking all the time and effort to do the research? Check out some of our past blogs to find the best dessert spots , top brunch destinations, and more!
 

5. Orange County really is the best place to live!

Orange County has more than just gorgeous beaches and yummy grub. The fantastic sights, relaxing vibes, and plethora of things to do are giving locals so much to love about their hometowns. Comprised of 34 cities with over three million residents, Orange County is much more diverse than television may lead people to believe. Looking for a quiet place where you can walk around the farmer’s’ market or browse antique stores? Old towne Orange is the perfect place for you. Maybe you want something with a bit more nightlife? Check out Fullerton and everything the city has to offer. In Orange County, there truly is something for everyone!
 
Interested in moving to Orange County? Let us know and we’d be more than happy to help!

5 Ideas for a Ladies Day in Orange County

With the kids back in school there’s plenty of time to take a day to yourself! Grab the girls and treat yourselves to a ladies day. Here are a few of our favorite activities to do with the girls on a free day!

1. Shopping and Lunch at Fashion Island

Known as one of the nicest outdoor shopping malls in southern California, Fashion Island has numerous boutiques, four major department stores- including Macy’s, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdale’s, many delicious restaurants and even some great dessert spots! A popular lunch spot at Fashion Island is a cafeteria-style dining spot called Lemonade. It’s the perfect way to mix a healthy lunch with some fun shopping.

2. Nails and Juice Bowls

Nothing like a manicure and pedicure to treat yourself and your girlfriends! Sitting in the massage chairs is the perfect way to relax and spend time talking. There’s plenty of great nail spots all over Orange County but some of the most popular spots are Pardon My French Nail Bar in Tustin and Lollipop Nail Studio in Costa Mesa. There are plenty of dining options around these nail spots but acai bowls seem to be a popular option lately!

3. Wine Tasting

Maybe not the best weekday activity if you have to pick the kids up from school, but wine tasting on the weekends is a great activity to invite the girls to! There’s plenty of wineries across Orange County but one of our favorites is the Laguna Canyon Winery!  

4. Spa Day at Monarch Beach

Although it’s a little bit of an expense, a spa day is a great way to relax and reboot. Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point has a beautiful Miraval Spa that focuses on a “Life in Balance” mentality. After your treatments at the spa there are restaurants to choose from at the resort, and you also gain access to the stunning pool area that overlooks the Pacific Ocean. It is not hard to spend a whole day at Monarch Beach Resort. One of our favorite treatments offered is called the Endless Wave Experience, and can be great for anyone with sun-damaged skin. But, if Monarch Beach is not the place for you, there are plenty more spas and resorts across Orange County that offer top notch treatments and massages.

5. Brunch and Mimosas

Another great weekend activity with the girls is brunch! Although it seems cliche, it can be a great way to catch up and enjoy a tasty meal as well. Some of our favorite places to brunch on the weekends are at Pelican Hill in Newport Beach, or Cafe Mimosa in San Clemente. Both menus offer incredibly delicious choices and mimosas as well!
If you’re interested in more tips, advice and information on Orange County then take a look at some of out other blog posts! We’d love to answer any questions you might have or provide more information on the area and specific cities.

Things to do this Memorial Day Weekend in Orange County

Planning to heat up those grills and take a dip in the pool this May 29th? Instead of having your average Memorial Day Weekend celebration, take advantage of the warm weather and family-friendly events happening around Orange County. Celebrate the service of our active and veteran military members this Memorial Day, while the whole family partakes in a fun-filled weekend with one of these exciting Memorial Day Weekend events.
Laguna Hills Memorial Day Run
No matter how much you work out, the Laguna Hills Memorial Day Run has a fun, active event for everyone. Whether it’s the famous half marathon, 10k, 5k, or Kid’s Run (1/2 mile), the whole family can run through the streets of Laguna Hills together to celebrate our service men and women while working off the inevitable barbecue of the afternoon.
Memorial Day Program in Anaheim
Rain or shine, those honoring the veterans of the El Toro Memorial Park, Santa Ana, and Anaheim cemeteries will gather at the Anaheim Cemetery on Memorial Day at 11 a.m. The program will include inspirational guest speakers, the beautiful presentation of wreaths, and a respectful honor guard firing salute. This is the perfect event for the whole family to attend to appreciate and honor the incredible service of our veterans this Memorial Day.
Newport Beach Wine Festival
In the weekend days prior to Memorial Day, spend the afternoon wining and dining at the 14th annual Newport Beach Wine Festival. Take in the beautiful sights of Newport Bay as you sip fine wines, taste gourmet entrees, and learn from the festival’s interactive classes! This annual event offers a winemaker dinner, afternoon wine tasting, and a refreshing Sunday morning brunch complete with sparkling wines and fresh seafood. Spoil yourself by spending date night tasting some of California’s finest wines!
Military Days at Knott’s Berry Farm
This Memorial Day Weekend, take the whole family out for an afternoon of dips, dives, thrills, and shrills at the rides of Knott’s Berry Farm. U.S. Military Personnel receive free admission for themselves, as well as discounted admission for up to 6 guests of their choosing. Enjoy a piece of boysenberry pie or a trip through Camp Snoopy, all at an excitingly discounted price.
Local Farmers’ Markets
Browse through some of the freshest produce California farmers have to offer at one of the dozens of farmers’ markets open over Memorial Day Weekend. Stop by the Orange County Market Place, the Yorba Linda Farmers’ Market, or the SOCO Farmer’s Market in Costa Mesa on Saturday for farm-fresh produce. For any Sunday-goers, the Downtown Santa Ana Farmers’ Market or the Certified Farmers’ Market offer fresh fruits and veggies that are perfect for your Memorial Day Weekend cookout.
Brunch
For brunch lovers, Memorial Day Weekend is the perfect time to get your brunch on. Get excited for the bottomless brunch offered at the Gypsy Den in Santa Ana. Enjoy endless mimosas, delicious entrees, and the sweet tunes of Apollo Bebop, a local, well-known experimental jazz/hip hop group. Or, for brunch with an unbeatable view, reserve your seat now at the Hornblower Cruises’ Memorial Day Weekend brunch cruise. Appreciate the scenic harbor views as you sip on champagne at your private table and enjoy the gourmet brunch buffet on the 2-hour long cruise.
So, instead of your annual Memorial Day cookout, adventure out to one of these local spots to see what Orange County has to offer this Memorial Day Weekend. From an exciting family run to a popular wine festival, there is something for the whole family to enjoy. Throughout the weekend, don’t forget to thank a veteran for their service. While the weekend marks the beginning of summer, it is most importantly a time for us to reflect and appreciate the freedom we have been given!
For more questions about year-round events in Orange County, give Stacy & Nicole a call today!

Top Brunch Destinations for Your Easter Sunday

Easter came late this year so there’s still time to find the perfect place to brunch on that Sunday with the family! Amongst the variety of amazing restaurants in Orange County there are a few that go the extra mile on Easter! We know it can be overwhelming trying to find the perfect place, so we have laid out a few options for you to choose from! Check out these great spots for good food, gorgeous views and a great time!

The Coliseum Bar and Grill at Pelican Hill

If you are an Orange County native, you know you can never go wrong with Pelican Hill. As if the breathtaking views of the serene coastal line and enormous infinity pool weren’t enough to send you over the edge, the food at The Coliseum is divine. The outdoor seating allows couples and families to look out over the bright green golf course and Pacific Ocean, and is the perfect place for a sunny Easter Sunday. The brunch is buffet style with all the classics like waffles, eggs and sausage as well as a few extra items! You can even lounge around all day after brunch and stay for the Easter dinner they serve. This restaurant fills up quick for lunch so make sure to call soon if you’re looking to make reservations!

The Ramos House Café

Nestled in the heart of San Juan Capistrano, The Ramos House Café can be the perfect place to take the family for Easter brunch if you’re looking for something more casual. This restaurant is down-to-earth and the outdoor seating has a warm feel to it. The price of brunch is $40 per person and from there you are able to choose between drinks and an assortment of southern takes on basic brunch items. Many of the crowd favorites are the Smoked Bacon Scramble w/ Wilted Rocket & Apple Fried Potatoes, as well as the Duck Confit Wild Mushroom Mac N’ Cheese. The Apple Cinnamon Beignets also pair great with a fresh mimosa!

Sapphire Laguna

Looking for a spot that’s a little more upscale? Head to Sapphire Laguna for a beautiful and sophisticated brunch with your Easter Sunday crew. The outdoor seating has great views of the ocean, and the bright orange umbrellas protect you from getting too warm. The Easter Sunday menu is a three course set menu priced at $65 per person. The first course, which is a Swiss Muesli Parfait with bananas, goji berries, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, local honey and toasted almonds, sets the tone for the decadent food that Chef Azmin Ghahreman whips up! Your mouth will be watering just looking at the menu.

Back Bay Bistro

Talk about an assortment of food… Back Bay Bistro in Newport Beach offers a variety of “stations” at their Easter brunch so no one can leave hungry! The different options include an omelet, pancake, smoked fish, seafood, crab cake, carving and dessert station! In addition to that, the brunch also offers a variety of foods from the grill. The Back Bay Bistro is a great place to take the family on Easter Sunday because not only to they offer a wide range of kid and adult foods, but they also offer a separate price for children and adults. To brunch until you’re stuffed at the Back Bay Bistro costs $79 for adults and $38 for children. There’s a few more bonuses… the all-inclusive price for adults also includes bottomless champagne and mimosas for the whole morning! The Easter Bunny is also set to make an appearance, so while the adults are enjoying the drinks, the kids are amused too! The Back Bay Bistro is a great place to check out for the ultimate Easter Sunday brunch.

The Phoenix Club

Want to try something different for Easter? Bring everyone to the Ostermarkt Easter Bazaar hosted by The Phoenix Club! Although it’s not your typical sit-down brunch, this festival will have German food, imported desserts, a German bakery, German beer live music and crafts! The Easter Bunny is also said to make a special appearance at this fun festival! There’s no cost to attend the festival and it lasts from 11 a.m to 4 p.m. If Bratwurst, potato pancakes and split pea soup sounds good for Easter Sunday then stop by the Ostermarkt Easter Bazaar!

Social

If the cocktails are a vital part of the perfect Easter brunch for your party of people, then Social in Costa Mesa is the place to go! Although it’s not a traditional, classy Easter brunch, it’s delicious and signature drinks are to die for! Brunch goers can choose from a wide range of menu items. The food ranges anywhere from something as light as market fruits to a hefty plate of chicken and waffles. The food is not where most eyes wander though when there’s such a fantastic menu of cocktails to browse! A crowd favorite at brunch is the “Magic Carpet Ride” which is a mix of vodka, Sauvignon Blanc, jasmine and grapefruit. The atmosphere inside is fun and intimate which is why Social is a popular destination for friend groups on an Easter Sunday! Take a look at their sinful menu of delicious food and drinks today!
Still having a tough time choosing where you want to brunch for Easter? Here’s a short checklist you can use to narrow down your options:

  • How far will you have to drive?
  • Do you want a view?
  • Do you care if there’s outdoor seating?
  • Is there a set menu?
  • Is it family-friendly?
  • How expensive is it per person?

 
Hopefully now you have the tools to book the perfect Easter Sunday!