In the city of Orange, there are a good number of Lebanese restaurants, indicating a visible influence in the town. Some restaurants include Zena's (by the Village of Orange) and Byblos (in the old town district). Warning: Lebanese tends to be on the spicy side!!
2094 N. Tustin St., Orange
129 W Chapman Ave, Orange
1998 N Tustin St
The funny thing about O.C. street names!
Just a little note when driving in O.C. -be aware of the two major Chapman avenues!
Though far enough apart and parallel, the two Chapmans can throw off those new in the area. There is a Chapman Ave which runs west-east, mainly in the city of Fullerton. Off this Chapman is Cal State Fullerton. The other Chapman, a few streets south of Disneyland, also runs west-east, cutting across the cities of Stanton, Garden Grove and Orange. Unlikely, the two Chapmans are a separated couple and do not touch each other! One would just innocently think that government officials could be more imaginative with street names than this!
Plaza Lafayette, Tustin, Orange county
What a cute, way off the beaten path town center! Off Newport Ave and Old Irvine Blvd, Plaza Lafayette is a charming strip mall that captures a bit of the French countryside on the exterior. The finest of boutiques and cafes that Tustin has to offer are here. For those who enjoy to pamper themselves, there are a few day spas and nail salon. For dining, there are a few restaurants, the most elegant being Nieuport 17-perfect for a rendezvous!
Taking a tour of Orange county by car makes for a scenic ride through most of the area. Treelined streets are numerous here, including ones also with vine and/or floral covered walls and flowers planted by the sidewalks. Streets in some spots, especially in South County are just immaculate. Orange county is a quintessential example of the serene, spotless suburban look .
Stay along the major roads of P.C.H. (in Seal Beach, Huntington Beach, etc) which turns into Coast Highway in Newport Beach and then to El Camino Real (San Clemente, Dana Point),
In North O.C, go along smaller roads to see the beauty of the suburban areas. Such examples are Santiago Rd in Orange, Nohl Ranch Rd in Anaheim, Bastanchury Rd (in Fullerton, Brea and Placentia) and Lambert Rd (in La Habra but especially nice in Yorba Linda and Brea).
Here is a shot of Tustin, specifically along Tustin Ranch Rd.
Best of the Majors:
1. Irvine Spectrum- very vast and diverse shopping options; great restaurant and small eaterie options; goregous architecture; excellent diversion venues (big Edwards movie theaters with IMAX, The Improv, weekend concert performers; Dave and Busters)
2. The Block (Outlets) at Orange- nicely central location; great outlet shopping (Nordstrom Rack, Off Saks 5th Ave and other outlets from Neiman Marcus, Banana Republic,etc); diverse food court, AMC 20, Dave and Busters)
3. Fashion Island (Newport Beach)- superior luxury shopping; gorgeous exterior and interior in boutiques; exquisite restaurants; train trolley for leisure through venue; beach view in some parts
4. The District (Tustin)- great options for food and drink, excellent meeting place; includes best greater L.A. Whole Foods Market; AMC movie theater; upscale-ish bowling alley; not overly crowded so more of a local feel.
Best of the Mid-Sized:
1. Bella Terra (Huntington Beach)- scores great points for its exterior. Though not close to beach, it has ideal location along the 405 Freeway
2. Downtown Disney (Anaheim)- fun, entertaining spot with House of Blues and some good eateries like Naples
3. Gardenwalk (Anaheim)- newest outdoor area in OC with IMAX, live entertainment on weekends, Roy's Hawaii, Bubba Gump, McCormick and Schmidt
4. Aliso Viejo Town Center- hidden local treasure, Edwards movie theaters; trendy foodie spots; out of the way of O.C. beat
Savi Ranch (Yorba Linda)- very ordinary with generic stores here (Costco, BordersBest Buy, Michaels)
and TGI Fridays (bar/restaurant) but a major shopping point of interest in NE OC
OTHER SHOPPING AREAS
Best Old Town Center:
Old Town Orange - antique shopping galore, intimate cafes, charming old-fashioned exteriors of buildings, very suitable for strolls
Best of the Smalls:
Anti-Mall + The Lab (Costa Mesa) - this is the place for the young, hip and alternative crowd to shop. It features Urban Outfitters, a good number of eccletic shops and cafes
If you want to get movie times, scoops on upcoming concerts and performances or read local restaurant reviews, grab an OC weekly from one of the several street newspaper dispensers throughout the county and newstands. New editions come out on Thursdays.
In touristy parts like Disneyland area, copies of OC Weekly tend to go very fast. The key is to grab one early on Thursday and this way, one can plan for plan for the weekend.
There is a decidely liberal slant in the editorials and commentaries (yes, liberal even in conservatively leaning Orange county).I hardily know anyone who regularly grabs the weekly for its political stances and head straight to the entertainment listings and occasional coupons.
Best thing about the Weekly is that it is free. This of course means that the publication has to give into smut advertisement and hordes of marijuana related promotion- scantily clad girlie galore
Mall hopping of course!
So, here's my list of best traditional (mostly indoor) malls of Orange county*:
(* Based on my criteria : affordability, accessibility in OC, dining options, exterior quality, size, interior quality luxury, uniqueness and variety of shops)
1. South Coast Plaza (Costa Mesa) giant shopping mecca, overall excellent in each category! Has exclusive anchors of Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Macy's, Bloomingdale's and Sears. More on this mall in my Costa Mesa pages.
2. Brea Mall a wonderful selection for affordable and luxury. Nordstrom , JC Penney, Sears and Macy as major anchors.
3. Mainplace (Santa Ana) overall good central mall, offers nice variety
4. The Shops at Mission Viejo- a bit secluded but high points in uniqueness and luxury!
5. Laguna Hills Mall- conveniently off the 5 fwy in south county, good dining options, in and around
6. Westminster Mall- nice variety, could improve in dining options
7. Buena Park Mall- needs better anchor stores but has very nice outdoor renovation and less of a crowd which is advantageous for quick shopping especially during Christmas.
Judging outside O.C. impressions!
Orange County, California is the most well-known, examined and scrutinized "Orange county" in the U.S. This is largely, due to her own trumped up upscale, suburban image and organization of society. And how influential is O.C. Cali version? Chinese government has created an Orange county due way east in a Beijing community. Sprawl of tract homes and fancy townhomes make up this new community, in part to show western acceptance in China, especially for the Olympic games in 2008. Hmmm...maybe the democratic West and communist East aren't so different after all?
Travelling particularly in south county, one may feel as if in a charming, pristine Italian region. Many street names here fool people thinking as if we really were. Not that there are not regular "Main St" and the like here, however there is, for instance, Via Presa, along with the similar Via Pansa (via-street in Ital). Another is Via Iglesia, which conjures up Argentina, with the mix of Italian-Spanish in one (iglesia-church in Sp). Moreover, "via" is joined with "paseo" in south county. One major road is Paseo de Valencia in Laguna Hills, but surely, there must be this exact name somewhere in Spain.
So, those Italian or Spanish speaking could feel right at home in south county. California coast, like in Laguna particularly, has a Mediterrean feel (sans the freezing cold Pacific water). Though no noticeably strong community of Italians, I have personally heard on some occasion Italian being spoken in grocery stores and other shops-much to my surprise. I would not be surprised that European Spanish speakers were also present here, along with those of Mexican and Latin American. Also, I have noticed that native Europeans, including northerners (Birtish and others) are drawn to south county to live and travel.
OK, LA is more diverse in population overall , but OC has a makeup of various ethnicities. Go to Westminster and Garden Grove for Vietnamese and other SE Asian cultural spots, such as restaurants and temples. Westminster has "Little Saigon" section, which can be very well experienced while travelling along Westminster Blvd and 1st Street.
So, the city of Orange is actually pretty often used in hollywood pictures. Often enough, that in the two weeks I was here in 2003, there was a film crew here shooting a film called First Daughter
Here's a list of some of the movies I found on another site that have been done here:
Big Mama's House
That Thing You Do
The Man Who Wasn't There
Rocky & Bullwinkle
First Daughter (2004 release)
Surviving Christmas (2004 release)
Fondest memory: ...some of my students got dressed up and tried to get in the shots as extras but the crew had release forms from the real extras and knew who wasn't supposed to be there.
So, when in Little Orange, I love to take a walk in the Old Orange district. Especially early in the morning on the weekend, I feel as though am not in California . It feels more like a modest middle American town which I can especially appreciate considering that I have not traveled within the heartland of America that is the midwest.
Fondest memory: Talking about O.C. as a whole, what I miss when outside the county is the more breathable air and "relative" tranquility here (comparably to L.A., that is). Simply, things just tend to be less chaotic here than in L.A. -that wild, twisted sister!