See an Unsung City: Westminster
Westminster is on the radar of an out of town visitor if said person loves any aspect of Vietnamese culture. With a ethnic Vietnamese population of over 40%, Westminster is home to the biggest concentration of people of Vietnamese heritage. Litlle Saigon is a kind of district of everything Vietnamese within Westminster. If you enjoy Vietnamese food and drink, you'll be more than satisfied with the number of restaurants and markets from which to choose. Plenty of "pho" food stops are here and popular among ethnic Viet people and others alike. Events to not miss here include Tet (Vietnamese New Year) festivities, which are held in February.
The city, founded as a very strict Presbyterian area, is characterized particularly with Buddist temples, as well as Christian churches of general American influence, as well as Korean and other nationalities.
Westminster as a city is not the most asthetically pleasing city, aside from admiring a few Tutor style buildings in the city (influenced by the name of town), However, it is a major cultural institution and is relatively affordable for accommodations if you're visiting and if planning to make a home in Orange county, it is generally less expensive to rent or buy a home. Westminster include Huntington Beach and Seal Beach.
Pronounce the city like it should be so, "West- men- stir". For some reason, many people pronouce it with an extra syllable- "West-minis-ter". Even locals who should know better say it incorrectly!
See a sung city: Garden Grove
Well, call her either a sung or unsung city. The Southern California rock group, Sublime, has a song called "Garden Grove". Singers who have lived at least at one point, include the lead singer of Offspring, Dexter Holland and of Save Ferris, Monique Powell. Moreover, famous athletes, Troy Polamalu (NFL-Pittsburgh Steelers) and Lenny Dykstra (former player of the MLB's Philadelphia Phillies) have called Garden Grove home.
The highlight of this town by FAR is the Crystal Cathedral (now called " Christ Cathedral", many pictures in my OrangeTravelogues),lead by famous spiritual leader, Robert H. Schuller. A visitor should come here for a spiritual or an architectural experience! Aside from this, G.G. is a good alternative place to stay when in the Disneyland area. There is a "hotel row" which is in a convenient area, between the theme park and The Block at Orange! Otherwise, GG is quite on the modest side. Some neighborhoods have their share of criminal concerns but then others are great places to be and prove to be highlights of good, less expensive real estate in Orange county.
- Business Travel
Stay in a "Safest City": Mission Viejo
M.V. is a place to Be- or "N.V." (Envy)
Home to 96,000+ residents, Mission Viejo is quintessential Orange county. For the most part, it is a fine, rich and safe city for visiting and staying. In fact, in 2013, it has been named the U.S."safest city", as far as being safe from dangerous crimes such as assaults and murders. M.V. has consistently been in the top 10 for "safest cities" for several years since 2006.
The town, born just in 1988, can be easily characterized as "sleepy", "quiet" and "peaceful". A nice hangout and interesting landmark here is the Kaledioscope, which is visible off the 5 freeway when in town. Also, the Shops at Mission Viejo may just be the "grandest little luxury" mall and somewhat of a secret shopping mecca within the county. More info on shopping tips to come! One great highlight here is the lake with her namesake, which covers a good part of town. Mission Viejo is about a 25 min drive away south from the city of Orange and Anaheim area down the 5 freeway.
- Road Trip
- Luxury Travel
See an unsung city: Tustin
Here's a friendly town to stay and experience normal Orange county life without the major grandiose fluff for which this region is known (sterotypcially). As one of the more older towns in O.C. , Tustin has indeed established an identity, yet not so much to dedicate many pages here on VT. Tustin makes for a good place to stay for accommodations, as there are several comfortable hotels and motels. Close to Tustin are attractions in the city of Orange, Santa Ana (Bowers Museums, Taco Bell Discovery Center, zoo), Irvine (Irvine Spectrum, concert venues) and in Anaheim (Disneyland, Edison Field, The Block at Orange).
Tustin has a little old town area (tiny) but if one likes the charm of strolling down old cobblestone sidewalks along narrow streets, it's worth a look here. For commercial shopping, there are 3 major destinations: The District, Larwin Square, and the Tustin Marketplace. Out of these, the former and latter are somewhat upscale. Larwin is more mundane and less defined, but is the original heart of the city.
- Road Trip
- Family Travel
See an unsung city: Placentia
Ah, Placentia! This little, very unassuming town has some potential with a growing population, mostly family households. Its name derives from "pleasant" and rightly so, it is a kind of Pleasantville in overall atmosphere. Being close to Anaheim may make it get on some tourist viewing map. There are generally less crowded and afforadablehotels for lodging if town for Disneyland or other North O.C attraction.
Towards the east, the town is considerably upscale with the breathtaking Alta Vista Golf Course and dreamy million dollar homes off Rose Dr and Alta Vista St!
- Family Travel
- Road Trip
See an unsung city: Fountain Valley
Fountain Valley is a very amicable place to live. The biggest highlight of all here is local favorite, Mile Square Park (pictured), a giant recreational area perfect for sports and for a stroll that would give one a great work out. FV is yet another suburban community of Orange county that is fairly diverse in population (though with a very strong presence of Vietnamese and other south Asian cultures). Ride down Euclid St or Brookhurst St (off th 405 Fwy) to get a good glimpse of town.
- Family Travel
With the largest concentration of Vietnamese living outside Vietman, the area designated as Little Saigon in Orange County is a well-trafficked spot by the locals. And while a popular destination for some Asian ethnic groups, Little Saigon remains "off-the beaten" for the most part.
Located southwest of Disneyland between Hwy 22 and I-405, the main focus of Little Saigon is Bolsa Ave., which runs through the city of Westminster. Considered at the heart of Little Saigon is Asia Garden Mall and Little Saigon Plaza. While plenty of the commercial activity takes place in Westminster, the Vietnamese & Vietnamese/Chinese community is wide-spread, not only spanning several cities in the O.C., i.e., Westminster, Stanton, Garden Grove, Santa Ana, and Fountain Valley, but also in Los Angeles County, specifically the San Gabriel Valley region.
Having been assigned to an internship in Westminster, after work, I'd usually drive over to my favorite Vietnamese restaurant and order pho (Vietnamese beef noodle soup) for take-out since mom and bro loved it so much. Good stuff, especially in the cold.
Hart Park is the oldest and largest park in Orange covering roughly 45 acres. It is located near Glassell Ave. and the 22 Freeway. It is also accessible from the Orange Circle by going west on Glassell till you see the park on the left hand side.
Hart Park boasts a wide array of facilities including picnic areas, barbeque pits, tennis courts, swimming pool, baseball/softball fields, soccer fields, and sand volleyball courts.
There is also a band stage where local performers play in the summer series of "Concerts in the Park".
Address: 701 S. Glassell Ave.
- Family Travel
Eisenhower Park is partially hidden by trees and various foliage from the main streets that borders the park. Because of this, the park goes largely unnoticed throughout the year by all except the local residents.
Eisenhower Park, named after the former US president, covers an area of approximately 21 acres. The park includes picnic areas, barbeque pits, a gentle running creek, a large lake, and many trees. Eisenhower Park is also a local favorite among newlyweds taking wedding photos.
Address: 2894 Tustin Ave. (near the intersection of Tustin and Lincoln)
- Family Travel
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