A charming collection of shops on the water, Lido Marina Village would seem of another time, were it not for its completely modern mix of design boutiques and eateries. Built in the 1970s, the outdoor shopping center was revitalized in 2017, attracting a prestigious lineup of Southern California brands—Jenni Kayne’s breezy-chic clothing, the bold leather goods of Clare Vivier, and Broken English’s evocative jewelry—along with Le Labo fragrance apothecary, home goods shop Serena & Lily, and even destination restaurant Nobu. Wooden boardwalks are strung with bistro lights, hand-painted signs direct patrons from shop to shop, and a relaxed savoir faire pervades the village. It’s not all shopping either: Coffee at Zinque, Curl Fitness’s yoga classes, and blowouts at TReSs Apothecary + Salon make it a locals’ hangout too. It’s the kind of place people linger, especially on Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, when a local musician plays on the main deck. Even more fun: Arrive by boat, into one of the 47 marina slips.
A game-changer for Newport Beach when it opened in 1976, this boutique is still Orange County’s arbiter of style. Owned by a trio of sisters—their pioneering mother launched the store to give women a place to buy simple yet elegant designer pieces—the boutique is usually the first to stock labels that are winning acclaim in Europe, but haven’t yet won notice in the United States. Buying trips in Milan, Paris, New York, and occasionally L.A. beget an eclectic array of clothes and accessories that are at once glamorous and accessible. The owners cultivate relationships with their designers—including Peter Cohen, Denis Colomb, Daniela Gregis, The Row, and Sofie D’Hoore—and also host special meet-the-designer events for customers. There’s a homey familiarity every time a patron steps into the spacious shop, with high arching windows revealing yachts outside and glass portholes looking down to the Pacific. Locals’ tip: For a one-on-one styling session, book a private appointment with the sisters on a Sunday.
Starting in 2014, this collection of historic buildings was reinvented as a gastronomic hub—helping to revitalize the city’s downtown in the process. An early 20th-century citrus packing warehouse became the Anaheim Packing House, a virtual United Nations of food: Walking through the 42,000-square-foot hall, you’ll find citrusy ceviche at Urbana, fried chicken sandwiches at Sweetbird, garden-fresh hot pot at Rolling Boil, organic curry at ADYA, and matcha shaved snow at I Am. Craft beer—quickly becoming a signature of Southern California—is in no short supply, thanks to bars like Anaheim Brewery, housed inside a 1925 Mission Revival building. A circa 1917 marmalade factory became the MAKE Building, where you can linger over a flight of California reds at Pali Wine Co. or a plate of pulled pork at Jav’s Barbecue. The compact district is distinctly Californian, from the succulents and air plants inside to the palm trees and olive groves of Farmers Park outside—a grassy knoll where, at any given time, you might happen upon a free yoga class, a gardening demo, or a live acoustic band playing under the sun.
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Whether it’s manicured beach towns or celebrated theme parks, all framed by oceanfront towns and luxury yachts, “The OC” stands out as one of the state’s most iconic destinations. The always-amazing Disneyland Resort, roughly a 1-hour drive south of L.A. and 2 hours north of San Diego, continues to be one of the best-loved theme parks in the world, while Knott’s Berry Farms and other OC attractions amp up the fun meter.
“Surfing is like golf. . . it keeps knocking you down. But when you stay with it and catch that wave. . . magic.” — actor Dennis Quaid
Shop at spectacular South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, or get the surfer look in Huntington Beach, aka Surf City, USA.
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