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
International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Local

De Blasio, Bratton defend city's efforts after Eric…

Mayor Bill de Blasio justified the city's response to the death of Eric Garner, a Staten Island man who died while in police custody earlier this month.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

MLB

Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.