Do the O.C.: Explore California’s coastal communities

The sun sets behind Catalina in Dana Point, Calif. Credit: George Rose/Getty Images
The sun sets behind Catalina in Dana Point, Calif. Credit: George Rose/Getty Images

The Hollywood sign, perched on the hills above, may guide tourists to the Sunset Strip and movie-making studios, but there is more to the Los Angeles area than star tours and celebrity sightings. Located south of La La Land is The O.C. — Orange County. Whether you have one, two or three days to spend, the communities hugging the scenic Pacific Coast Highway have their own stories to tell.

Sweat and sand
It’s easy to see why Huntington Beach is known as Surf City USA. Wet suit-clad pedestrians — surfboards tucked under their arms — are as common a site as shopping bags and Starbucks coffee cups. A four-block radius located on the PCH and Main Street sets the scene for this city, but there are 8.5 miles of sand to play in.  Start your day with breakfast at Michelle’s Sugar Shack Cafe on Main Street, before heading to the International Surfing Museum. It opens according to surf time. That’s 11 a.m. or noon, unless wave conditions are too good to ignore. If it’s closed, you can still check out the names of those honored along the Surfing Walk of Fame at Main and the PCH, including musician Dick Dale for adding to board culture.  Spend your afternoon playing beach volleyball or catching waves along the beach. Stroll along the historic Huntington Beach pier that juts into the Pacific. At its end is Ruby’s Diner, a 1950s-inspired local restaurant chain. Before nightfall, stake out one of the fire pits located on the beach for an evening spent sitting on the sand and listening to the surf break on the shore.

Shop and sip
Located south of Huntington along the PCH are tony Newport Beach and artsy Laguna Beach. While Fashion Island is home to big brand stores, Laguna’s downtown features a number of smaller shops, showcasing local artists and handcrafted goods, all set against a backdrop of green hills.  No afternoon is complete without sipping a cool cocktail at The Cliff . Offering a 180-degree view of the ocean, you can sit on the patio watch sunning locals on the beach below or scan the big blue for passing whales. You can also grab a treat at Gelato Paradiso  in Peppertree Lane and take a stroll in Heisler Park located high on the bluffs above the Pacific.  The popular Las Brisas, with its beckoning margaritas menu, offers a fusion of Californian and traditional Mexican cuisine, with fresh seafood offered each day. The building the restaurant is located in started life as the Victor Hugo Inn in the 1930s, before being converted in the late 1970s.

Sea and sanctuary
Located at the southern end of the O.C., Dana Point is a nature-lovers paradise. With a number of migration routes passing by, whale watching is in order. Dana Wharf has a fleet of 12 vessels that often encounter sea lions, blue and gray whales or even the occasional mega-pod of a few thousand dolphins swimming and playing in the wake of  boats.  Exhausted after a day at sea? Pamper yourself at The Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel. The hotel is located 150 feet above Salt Creek Beach and offers stunning coastal views. You can take them in while sipping wine on the 180blu patio — a perfect sunset spot — or enjoying a yummy meal at Raya, with its Latin-inspired menu of sustainable seafood, local produce and organic meat created by chef Richard Sandoval. Spend an afternoon walking through the grounds of the hotel and feeding the rabbits that hop around the property. Use the Ritz’s beach butler service to be carted down in a buggy from the resort to the beach below. They will set up chairs and umbrellas, provide recreational equipment and even build you a sandcastle to enjoy.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Mayor announces public housing improvements

Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke at the Lincoln Houses in East Harlem on Wednesday, calling for the scaffolding to come down at NYCHA complexes across…

National

Peter Theo Curtis: American released by Syrian militants…

An American writer freed this week from two years in the captivity of insurgents in Syria spoke briefly outside his family's Cambridge home Wednesday of…

Local

Bratton defends 'broken windows' work as NYPD support…

Sixty percent of those polled said they support the "broken windows" theory approach popularized by Commissioner Bratton since his first term in the 1990s.

Local

Transit changes for Labor Day weekend

The MTA is adding additional service Friday for New Yorkers getting out of the city for the long weekend. On Friday, Aug. 29, 27 additional…

Television

'Full House' might be relaunched with some of…

A new "Full House" might be in the works.

Movies

Review: 'The Congress' is a crazy, unwieldy sci-fi…

Robin Wright is the center of gravity in "The Congress," which turns from a live-action Hollywood satire into an animated spectacular on a downer future.

Movies

Review: 'The Last of Robin Hood' is a…

Dakota Fanning plays Errol Flynn's (Kevin Kline) teenage gal pal in "The Last of Robin Hood," which takes a scandal and makes it dully empathetic.

Movies

Review: The uneven 'Life of Crime' mostly gets…

Elmore Leonard's "The Switch" becomes the new indie crime dramedy "Life of Crime," with Jennifer Aniston as a kidnapped woman whose husband won't pay up.

College

When are 2014 college football playoffs? (Schedule, date,…

When and where are 2014 college football playoffs? A look at the schedule, date, TV, time for the semi-finals at championship game.

NFL

Dimitri Patterson suspended only for rest of preseason…

Dimitri Patterson ended up getting just a slap on the wrist.

Sports

Eugenie Bouchard excited for 'rowdy' fans at US…

Eugenie Bouchard is sure to endear herself to New York's tennis faithful as she tries to win her first grand slam title across the next two weeks.

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: Angels and A's still at…

MLB Power Rankings: Angels and A's still at top, Nationals climb

Home

Labor Day essentials

Whether you’re soaking up the sun on the beach or barbecuing in the park here are some must-haves for your end-of-summer bash.

Education

Does the school day start too early?

As thousands of high schoolers get ready to head back to class, health experts say it may be time to push back the start of…

Style

Fall 2014 trend: lilac

Push those gray and black sweaters aside and make room for blush and lilac.

Career

Stop eating lunch at your desk

What are you doing for lunch today? If you are like most workers, you'll be eating at your desk - which isn't much of a…