On Costa Mesa's West Side, there sits a half-developed/half-unspoiled park in which old white guys fly model aircraft and BMXers seek dirt paths and hills. This unassuming spot also happens to be a fantastic place to run. Situated near a deep ravine, Fairview Park offers a spectacular view (on a clear day) of the San Gabriel Mountains to the north and Huntington Beach's suburban splendor to the west. Running here, you can (if you filter out the planes' mechanical whine) get in touch with your inner early hominid, whose best means of transport were his legs. Just mind Fairview's rattlesnake habitat. (DS) Fairview Park, along Placentia Avenue between Adams Avenue and Victoria Street, Costa Mesa.

Pleasures don't get much simpler than free water in the heat of summer, and the walk-through fountain at Lemon Park in Fullerton delivers it in the best way. Oh, sure, you've seen walk-through spouts at nouveau gimmick malls before, but those don't compare to this champ, which features multiple levels of sprinklers and gets you so drenched that bathing suits are required before entering. The low mesh fence around the perimeter makes the thing look like a UFC octagon, and in the dog days of August, you'll gladly submit to it. (LYT) Lemon Park, 701 S. Lemon St., Fullerton, (714) 738-6575. The water runs June 16-Sept. 1, noon-5 p.m.

School's out, which means you can go to any university or research library in Orange County; not bother with annoying, overcaffeinated undergrads; lounge in air-conditioned bliss; and access the types of treasures Google can only dream of—archives, microfilms and specialty databases. UC Irvine's Langson Library is the biggest, while Cal State Fullerton's Pollack Library has one of the largest collections of interviews with Orange County pioneers in the county (don't bother with Chapman's Leatherby Library; while the prettiest, its holdings are just a step above Stanton's). But the county's best research library is in the Sherman in Corona del Mar. Focusing on the West, the small, quiet library also has an extensive Orange County collection and helpful, non-snooty docents. Better yet, once you've nerded yourself out, stroll around the Sherman's legendary gardens. (GA) Sherman Library and Gardens, 2647 E. Pacific Coast Hwy., Corona del Mar, (949) 673-2261;

Black-capped, fork-tailed Forster's terns zipping right past your face as you cross the footbridge across Inner Bolsa Bay. Stolid surf scoters disappearing under the wind-swept blue-green water, then popping up 20 feet away. Long-winged black skimmers streaking across the surface of the tidal basin, dipping their red, outsize lower bills into the water as they fly.

Has the novelty worn off for you, yet? Yeah, us neither. The Bolsa Chica Wetlands (part of them, anyway) are back, with the second anniversary of their rebirth coming in August. The marshes aren't quite as chock-full of feathered friends in the summertime as they are in the winter, when all those illegal-alien migratory birds swoop down from the north. (When, oh, when will we get that really, really high border fence between Washington State and British Columbia? Those damn birds are already citizens of the North American Union! Bird flu! Leprosy! Save us, Lou Dobbs, save us!) But there's still plenty of avian eye candy for anyone up for a breezy stroll, run, or bike ride along the wetland's dirt paths. It is breeding season, after all. (Wocka-chicka wocka-chicka . . .) Keep your eyes peeled for those scoters paddling around, stilts and phalaropes poking their long bills into the wet sand, and plenty of terns (including the endangered least tern) dive-bombing their fishy prey.

You'll have to wait until next summer for the new pedestrian footbridge at Warner between the interpretive center and the Mesa Trail (ground should be broken this fall), so be careful when hopping that darn guardrail. And don't be intimidated by all the hardcore bird photogs with zoom lenses as long as your arm. At Bolsa Chica, you don't even need a point-and-shoot to look a Western grebe right in its bright-red eye. (TBK) Bolsa Chica Conservancy, 3842 Warner Ave., Huntington Beach, (714) 846-1114;

Next time you're not in the mood to rent another movie, or if you're trying to dazzle your date, do something wild—spend the evening with some sharks. The Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach will stay open until 10 p.m. every Sunday this summer in celebration of their 10th anniversary. The best part is, if you get there after 5 p.m., you can hang with the sharks and turtles for half the price of regular admission. Tiny sharks in shallow lagoon pools will be made available for petting, and the more massive ones (with a lot more teeth) will watch you from the big tanks in the outdoor Shark Lagoon area. (DJA) Aquarium of the Pacific, 100 Aquarium Way, Long Beach, (562) 590-3100; Summer Sundays, June 22-Aug. 31, except Aug. 18.

Bonfires along the golden beaches of this fair county provide an idyllic backdrop for rediscovering the romance and charm of summer. Play your favorite music on a portable boombox as the sun yawns at the horizon. Sip something sweet from a paper cup while far-off laughter serenades you. Do these things, yes, but also, please don't forget to not be an idiot. Huntington Beach Marine Safety Chief Kyle Lindo says there's an assortment of stupid things people do during a bonfire. Don't leave broken glass and straightened coat hangers about for innocent bare feet to step on. Arrive early, or all the fire pits will be gone. Keep the fires reasonable (no, burning 30 pallets stacked atop one another is not reasonable). Don't pile sand on your fire to put it out; it's safer to let it burn—sand only makes it harder to clean the pit. Don't have fires on top of the sand—it stays hot for hours and could burn the skin right off a foot. And absolutely no bongo drums . . . well, all right, bongo drums. (DO) Fire pits available at Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Corona del Mar, Dana Point, San Clemente and several other OC beaches; visit

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