Summer-Rama!

39 of the best things about the next 104 days

BEST SUMMER SPEED TRAPS You know that stretch of Sunset Beach, heading north on PCH, right after you pass Daimon's Sushi and before you hit the bridge? Traffic has let up because there are no more stoplights, and the speed limit's a little higher? Plus, you've got wetlands on both sides to make you feel like you're in the country and there's that curve in the road to add to your driving performance? That place? Do not speed! You will get a ticket. Since the speed limit is 50, keep it under 60 miles per hour. Okay? May we also not recommend: Laguna Canyon Road, where the local coppers will pull you over at the precise spot where the speed drops from 55 to 40.

BEST DADA BEER HOUSE Portraits of Al Capone, "Long" John Dillinger and Machine Gun Kelly; wooden pelicans; and barred windows aren't threatening. But the uniformed, rifle-wielding mannequin in a guard's tower and the Dada model of the Golden Gate bridge? In bad lighting, that kind of stuff could scare you incontinent. That and the prices. But the Birdman Brown (pint, $3.75), an English-style ale, is worth springing for; it's a one-way ticket to Stupidsville, aggressively hopped and heavy enough for stout lovers but light enough for pale riders who appreciate its sweet malty bruise. Just keep your back against the wall and never bend over to pick up the soap. Alcatraz Brewing Company, the Block at Orange, 20 City Blvd. W., Ste. R-1, Orange, (714) 939-8686.

BEST WAY TO RELIVE THAT PEACEFUL, EASY FEELING OF SOCAL IN THE 1970S Check out Mother's Bar in Sunset Beach, an itsy-bitsy roadhouse on PCH. It's full of ugly bikers, and some of their B.O. can knock you down. It's crammed floor-to-ceiling with endless bits of detritus, and Neil Young's "Only Love Can Break Your Heart" is on the box. I saw a young woman, dragged in by her friends, order a glass of wine in there once. The bartender, who felt very sorry for her, explained that all their wine came in boxes. Perhaps she would like a beer? Yes, thank you. 16701 Coast Hwy., Sunset Beach, (562) 992-2381.

BEST PLACE TO HEAR TRAINS WHILE SIPPING MARGARITAS Oh, yeah. It's Tuesday. You're tired. You've been working really hard as an office manager or whatever the hell it is you do. You want a happy hour! With oysters! And you want to hear trains while you're at it! Go ahead. You've got your choice of a couple of restaurants on the San Clemente Pier, without any ugly oil derricks to mar your view. But good luck getting enough chairs for your party. I've seen fistfights break out.

BEST PLACE TO SEE THE SUNSET NOT AT THE BEACH You could pay and head up to the fabulous Orange Hill Restaurant and drink too much and eat rich food and blow a week's salary by the end of the evening, or you could climb Santiago Peak (5,700 feet) for free, though we don't recommend doing so at sunset because the temperature drops to something approaching the inside of your automatic icemaker and the wind picks up, so forget we mentioned it and stick with the Orange Hill Restaurant. 6410 E. Chapman Ave., Orange, (714) 997-2910. Don't believe us about Santiago? Talk to the experts at REI, 1411 Village Way, McFadden Place Center, Santa Ana, (714) 543-4142; or Adventure 16, 1959 Harbor Blvd., Costa Mesa, (949) 650-3301.

BEST SURFING POLITICIAN Eightysomething Sally Alexander challenged "Surfin' Congressman" Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) to a wave-catching contest when she ran against him two years ago. He chickened out and failed to show, but Alexander caught four waves on her boogie board. Recently, at the Orange County Democratic Convention, Alexander (after receiving a garland of flowers) cackled that she'd been lei'd.

BEST PLACE TO WATCH GAY VOLLEYBALL Mmmm, gay volleyball! Main Beach, Laguna Beach. Don't pretend you don't know how to find the place. Unless you're a tourist. In which case, call us and we'll tell you all about it.

BEST GIRLS' SURF SHOP After the demise of On Edge Surf Shop, Girl in the Curl stands strong as Orange County's female connection to the surf world. The shop stocks boards, clothing, wet suits, Hawaiiana, sea-inspired decorative toilet seats, and anything else a surfer girl's heart desires—and in-house professionals who cater to female-specific needs without condescension. 74116 Pacific Coast Hwy., Dana Point, (949) 661-4475.

BEST PLACE TO SEE THE MOON DURING YOUR MORNING COMMUTE While zipping along PCH at 8 a.m., I always slow down near Golden West Street for the show: crowds of surfers dropping trou to wriggle in and out of their wet suits beside their cars, trying desperately (or not trying at all) to keep a towel wrapped around them. I've seen so much ass on that stretch of PCH that I feel as if I get some every morning. It's better than coffee.

BEST BURGERS IN SUMMERTIME ORANGE COUNTY You'd think a great, cheap hamburger would be available everywhere, but it ain't. Sure, we're drowning in drive-throughs, but (and let's be honest) they suck. Anyone over the age of 12 who gets excited by a trip to McDonald's needs foster parents. Who wants a tasteless meatwich fried by a computer?

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