Orange County was always on my “to do”list, but it was a trip to Disneyland that brought the Bugs there for the first time. I mean some of our favourite t.v. shows were based there (The O.C., Laguna Beach, and the Real Housewives) so it had to be worth a visit, right? We realized very quickly that this would be a place that we would continue to visit regularly, and we do.
Like L.A., Orange County covers a lot of area so here are some sections not to be missed:
Home to Disneyland (the original park), us Bugs being the Disney fanatics that we are just could not pass up a trip to experience “Walt’s Park (and compare it to Disney World). Much to our surprise, we loved it and now we actually prefer Disneyland to Disney World– but more on that later…
Tucked between Newport Beach and Laguna Beach, this state park (right along the Pacific Coast Highway) is 3.2 miles of pure bliss. The Lucky Bugs came across this place of “heaven on earth” by accident, we had stopped by Ruby’s Shake Shack for lunch and while enjoying the view, we looked down. Not only was there miles of gorgeous beach but several little cottages that were just steps from the ocean. Of course Mama Bug being the researcher that she is, did what she does best (trip planning, of course), and much to our delight discovered that these little cottages were for rent. Our excitement level escalated when we learned that because the state of California had purchased and restored these cottages – the price to rent one was really quite reasonable. As you can probably guess, this makes getting one next to impossible. Well, anyone that knows Mama Bug knows that when she gets her heart set on something, it’s not a matter of if it will happen, it’s a matter of when, so after more than a year of trying – we got one!!!
where it all started… this is the view when you look down from Ruby’s Shake Shack on PCH, you can see a small corner of the roof of “our” cottage in the bottom left of the picture.
Home Sweet Home, this tiny #40 cottage could not have been more perfect – it only slept 3, so was the ideal size for 2 Lucky Bugs, and did I mention, no t.v. or wifi ? Only the sound of the waves to entertain us…and a visit from some playful dolphins.
Just a few cottages down from us was the “Beaches” cottage. This is the cottage from the Beaches movie with Bette Middler (another fave movie of the Lucky Bugs), this is where Barbara Hershey spends her last days. I had always wondered if it was a real place or just a movie set, so now we know
When you think of a perfect town, what do you think of? Maybe great shops & restaurants, maybe friendly people, maybe there’s a gorgeous beach smack dab in the middle of it? Laguna Beach checks off all of these. Located approx. 55 miles from LAX airport, Laguna is our favourite of the beach towns. Other than just enjoying all this place has to offer, here are some more ideas:
Pacific Marine Mammal Center – this wonderful place is a real non profit marine mammal hospital/rescue centre, they are located at 20612 Laguna Canyon Rd. Open to the public so stop in for a visit and see the great work that they do. A couple of summers ago, the Bugs were in the area for an extended stay and Mama Bug found Camp Pinniped (a hands on , week long camp for kids). This was the highlight of Baby Bug’s trip. She has always had a love of the ocean, so this was right up her alley. All week long she learned how the sea lions are rehabilitated. She also did fun activities like preparing “fish smoothies,” and cleaning pens for the patients. The experience was a little like the movie, A Dolphin’s Tale.
The highlight of the week was the release of two sea lions back home to the ocean after being rehabilitated for the previous 6 weeks. The campers (and families) were invited to watch (wish I had videoed it!)
Sawdust Art Festival – great little art festival that runs throughout the summer. Laguna residents exhibit and sell all kinds of handicrafts (jewellery, ceramics, photography, etc.) Snacks and light lunch items can be purchased, music is played – great “artsy” atmosphere.
Dana Point – another nice oceanside city, just keep driving the Pacific Coast Highway (south) about 15 or 20 minutes past Laguna. The Bugs have been whale watching before but we had never been on a dolphin safari – what fun! Dolphins everywhere (and even a couple of whales). There were hundreds jumping and following the boat, check it out:
“Don’t Wanna Miss a Things:”
- Ruby’s Shake Shack – a great place to stop for a burger or shake, great food but amazing views! Right along the Pacific Highway in Crystal Cove (just before you get to Laguna). Not a lot of parking but if you’re patient it’s worth the wait (there will probably be a line up of cars), and if you’re really lucky you might get a dolphin sighting
- Fashion Island – fantastic indoor/outdoor shopping mall with everything you could imagine and more (Cheesecake Factory, Macys, etc.) You could easily spend a lot of time here (and a lot of money!)