Best Of Sports & Recreation

  • Best Gun Range

    Orange County Indoor Shooting Range

    It's not often you use the words bullets and Brea in the same sentence. But within this relatively sleepy suburb is the most bangin' firing range around. Orange County Indoor Shooting Range is a fully renovated and top-of-the-line establishment for all your firing needs, whether you're a beginner or Dirty...

  • Best Casino

    Hawaiian Gardens Casino

    Its mystique, ungodly smells and tiny Asian waitresses with boobs so inflated they should be falling into their drink trays make Hawaiian Gardens Casino special—in all the best ways. Also, there's pai gow poker, which yields greater odds of winning than traditional poker. Just keep an eye on your rearview...

  • Best Picnic Spot

    Laguna Lake Park

    Though it's not quite considered the boonies, this beloved patch of nature in the northern hills of Fullerton feels far away from the rush of cars, traffic and people—enough to plop down for lunch with the aid of a blanket. As the sun shines onto the shimmering lake, watch as...

  • Best Surf School

    M&M Surfing School

    This is about as close as you can get to the way surfing started—and in a less bro-tastic world—in OC. Located in a parking lot just to the north of the Seal Beach pier, M&M Surfing School isn't much more than a trailer parked in front of the sand, with...

  • Best Morning Walk Path

    Santiago Creek Bike Trail

    Get up early and devote a little more than an hour to walk from Hart Park to Grijalva Park. Round trip, it's 4.6 miles—the path is longer than that, but this is our favorite section—and you'll work up a sweat, get your daily exercise, and start your day amid the...

  • Best Miniature Golf Course

    Camelot Golfland

    In Orange County, there are basically two choices for miniature golf: Boomers (in Irvine and Fountain Valley) or Camelot Golfland. But Camelot has won more accolades from the Weekly and others simply because it is more awesome. The largest miniature course in the country offers three different themed courses, with...

  • Best Waste of Taxpayer Money

    Orange County Board of Supervisors

    Analyze this: The Orange County Board of Supervisors decided in June to spend nearly $780,000 to educate religious leaders in various ethnic communities "about behavioral health." The government program's goal is to hold seminars for 60 different leaders each year for three years, with a windfall of about $4,330 per...

  • Best Dog Park

    Orange Dog Park

    Split into two areas for dogs big and small, unleash your furry babies to run around at will in this wide expanse of grass at the corner of Yorba Street and Chapman Avenue. There are community toys and water bowls, with plenty of shaded areas to sit and watch, as...

  • Best Golf Course

    Strawberry Farms Golf Club

    You started playing as a kid, and during that stretch early in your career when you worked days and weekends, you were able to have golf courses all to yourself as you got your handicap down to the 80s. Then your work shift changed, family obligations piled up, and, late...

  • Best Beach

    Sunset/Surfside

    This 3-mile stretch of beach is not Orange County's most scenic or natural, but what Sunset and Surfside have going for them is everything you want for a day at the beach—all within walking distance. There's free parking, unoccupied sand (it's among the widest SoCal beaches), and generally clean water...

  • Best Coach

    Master Rafael Cordeiro

    In the fighting world, OC is known much more as a hotbed for jiu-jitsu than mixed martial arts (MMA). Not only are two of the biggest grappling tournaments in the world located in the area, but there are also world-class jiu-jitsu academies sprinkled throughout the county. That's only part of...

  • Best Fighter

    Fabricio Werdum

    Although Fabricio Werdum, who trains out of Kings MMA in Huntington Beach, won the interim UFC Heavyweight championship title last year when he knocked out Mark Hunt, there were still many people who didn't believe he would be able to beat then-champion Cain Velasquez in his return from knee surgery...

  • Best Gym

    Kings MMA

    There's only one gym in the world right now that has two UFC champions, and that's Kings MMA in Huntington Beach. Aside from heavyweight boss Fabricio Werdum and lightweight champeen Rafael dos Anjos (as well as Invicta FC featherweight crownholder Cristiane "Cyborg" Justino), Kings also hosts mixed martial arts legends...

  • Best Sports Comeback Story

    Tito Ortiz

    At the beginning of 2014, things looked pretty bleak for the Huntington Beach Bad Boy. He'd been released from the UFC after dropping six of seven fights, gone through a legendarily messy breakup with porn star Jenna Jameson, and been charged with a DUI. But the former UFC champion soon...

  • Best Surfing Spot

    The Wedge

    Sure, there are times when the swells at the Wedge are pretty unremarkable, but its inconsistencies are part of what makes it so legendary. When the waves line up perfectly, there's no more exhilarating place to catch a wave than here, as the thousands of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter shoutouts...

  • Best Spot to Go Streaking

    Old Towne Orange

    Requirements for a perfect streaking spot include: 1. The crowd needs to contain enough old conservative people to really offend someone, but still have pockets of other young possible streakers to high-five you and cheer you on. 2. You need a clear landmark or two for Instagram purposes, as well...

  • Best Skate Park

    Fullerton Skatepark

    Aside from being a pleasant combination of modern and vintage, Fullerton Skatepark (inside of Independence Park) is also not quite as young as some of OC's other skateparks. There will still be plenty of kids and teenagers, but you probably won't feel too out of place if you want to...

  • Best Pub Trivia

    Alex's Bar

    Much like that girl who just rolls her eyes at any of your advances, the hardest challenges in life are always the most rewarding. That's why Alex's Bar's legendary weekly trivia is consistently the best pub trivia in all the land. Oh, and the fact you're playing for bona fide...

  • Best Place for a Second Date

    Crystal Cove State Park

    It's too formal for a first date, but a stroll through the sand at Crystal Cove State Park ensures that the person you're courting knows you're serious about a relationship, as well as that you don't just want to make whoopee on the beach (that's what the coves of Laguna...

  • Best Bathroom

    Kitsch Bar

    Two words, ladies: David Beckham. The little girls' room at Kitsch Bar in Costa Mesa features floor-to-ceiling wallpaper of Mr. Golden Balls himself. The British soccer star is half-naked in many of the photos, and since this is a single-occupancy restroom, you get him all to yourself. This is your...

  • Best Nature Trail

    Laguna Coast Wilderness Park

    Imagine the world is still. There are no automobile engines to overshadow the sound of nature's breeze. Buildings are nowhere in sight. Instead, there's only the occasional brush sound of the grass and singing of the birds. This is what life looks like at Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, a hiking...

  • Best Martial Arts Studio

    Art of Jiu Jitsu

    Considering OC is known as one of the jiu-jitsu capitals of the world (particularly outside Brazil), it's hard to pick one among all the greats out there—but that's why we get the small bucks! The Costa Mesa dojo run by Brazilian jiu-jitsu legends Rafael and Guilherme Mendes is the kind...

  • Best Arboretum

    Fullerton Arboretum

    Cal State Fullerton's arboretum was named in our 2014 Best Of issue, and until someone builds another, it will probably win every year. It's hard to compete with the 26-acre botanical garden that hugs the university (sorry, UC Irvine). It's more than a glorified park with informative plaques—it has vegetable...

  • Best Dog Park Name

    Bark Park

    The name alone guarantees the win: Bark Park! But this Costa Mesa institution is more than just its cute moniker. Its 2 acres have fields for big, small, elderly, even disabled pooches. While the city owns the expanse, it's operated by the nonprofit Costa Mesa Bark Park Foundation (that name...

  • Best Place to Feel Old

    Burgerama

    This could apply to music festivals in general, but Burgerama takes the cake for making anyone beyond 21 feel old. We don't know what they're feeding kids these days, but 18-year-olds look SO MUCH YOUNGER than we did at 18, making the fact they're all wearing '90s throwback clothes even...

  • Best Roller Derby Team

    Slice Girls

    You have never met a more badass group of kids. OC Roller Girls' junior derby team, the Slice Girls, have been tearing up the banked and flat tracks, as well as their opponents, since 2012. As a spectator at one of their bouts, you'll watch girls from 8 to 17...

  • Best Ride at Disneyland

    Space Mountain

    Okay, you jerks: The Readers’ Choice winner is Space Mountain—it’s always Space Mountain. Between Sept. 11 and Nov. 1, Disneyland is ass-deep in Halloween mode. This means that if you were to jump on Space Mountain during the autumn months, you would be a rider on the seasonal overlay, Space...

  • Best Place to Watch the Disneyland Fireworks

    Paul Revere Park

    Actually, the best place to watch the Disneyland fireworks is in the working-class barrios that ring the Happiest Place On Earth—you know, the places that have to deal with the smoke and the light and the booms and the barking dogs and detritus of the damn fireworks nightly. But don't...

  • Best Place to Hook Up With a Stranger

    Neptune's Lagoon

    There's something naughty and raunchy about hooking up with a total stranger—and that's not a bad thing! In fact, it can be quite exciting, but that's partially dependent on where the hook-up takes place. Roadside motels and dark nightclubs usually suffice for the deed, but even better is Neptune's Lagoon...

  • Best Place to Be High

    Bowers Museum

    Unless you're a seasoned stoner, interacting with humans and keeping your eyes from staring at the same spot for more than 20 seconds can be a challenge. In a museum, however, you'll deal with no such unpleasantries. It could be seen as rude to speak animatedly with other guests! And...

  • Best College Sports Team

    Titans Women's Soccer

    Finishing first last season in Big West regular-season play and going undefeated in the tournament sets up the team for another excellent season. Eight starting players return, including 2014 Offensive Player of the Year Rebecca Wilson. No doubt the Cal State Fullerton teammates are inspired by alum Karen Bardsley, who...

  • Best Park With an Ocean View

    Pines Park

    Tall pines tower above this palisades park that has white-water-and-sand views of Capo Beach directly below and plenty of open water. You can also see Doheny Beach and all the comings and goings at the mouth of Dana Point Harbor. Benches are everywhere for sunset viewing or sitting in shade...

  • Best Neighborhood Park

    Pearson Park

    Tennis courts, a historical baseball park and amphitheater, lakes, a Works Progress Administration-era statue of Helena Modjeska, a cactus collection, and a Huell Howser profile can't be wrong. Now, if only the city would open the swimming pool. . . ...

  • Best Place to People Watch

    The Fling

    A bar that only closes for the legal minimum of time (from 3 to 6 a.m.) is bound to attract a wide variety of people throughout the day. Younger folks can peer into the looking glass of what life will be like after their second and third divorce. Older folks...

  • Best Day Trip

    Pop-up Sound Bath at the Integratron

    No water is involved; no one will touch you. Just swirling vibrations and overtones resonating throughout your body while you recline under the wood dome of the Integratron. The structure's mysteries are a mix of science, art and alien inspiration, as if the Museum of Jurassic Technology had a spa...

  • Best College Player

    Thomas Eshelman

    An umpire shouting, "Ball four!" to Cal State Fullerton starting pitcher Thomas Eshelman happened only on the rarest of occasions. Throughout three seasons with the Titans, he walked batters just 17 times—yes, you read that right. As a freshman, Eshelman powered through 63 1/3 flawless innings before giving up his...

  • Best Sportscaster

    Terry Smith

    The Ducks have nothing like a Bob Miller (voice of the Los Angeles Kings) in their TV or radio booths, and even David Vassegh, the energetic bunny who reports on the Dodgers on their flagship station, AM 570, is more interesting than those tongue-tied, sharp-as-a-hammer color analysts Tweedledum and Tweedledumber...

  • Best Bowling

    Round One Entertainment

    The bowling-alley portion of the complex is relatively small, but it's well-designed with plush seating, color-coded bowling balls marked for weight and finger size, and giant projector screens that play sports and network TV. There's even an automated shoe-rental system—a shoe vending machine, if you will. Finally, it has a...

  • Best Yoga

    Triad Yoga and Pilates

    This studio manages to shine in a county so full of yoga studios that you can't do warrior pose without kicking one. It's mostly due to Triad Yoga and Pilates' wholly unpretentious vibe. There's no section full of overpriced yoga merchandise, just a reception desk run by the instructors themselves...

  • Best Pole Fitness

    Rhiannan Nichole's Premier Pole

    Truth be told, you'll likely enjoy yourself at any of the county's handful of pole-fitness studios. After all, you're shedding (literally) your inhibitions in rooms so dim that any lack of rhythm or dance flub is forgiven. Why choose Rhiannan Nichole's Premier Pole, then? Because the instructors won't quit until...

  • Best Secret Hiking Spot

    Dripping Cave Trail

    This is easily the dumbest category on this list because, obviously, if we tell you about it, IT WON'T BE A SECRET. So maybe you know about this one, maybe you don't, but it's not long, it's very easy, and the really secret hikes are where we grow our ganja,...

  • Best High School Athletics

    Mater Dei High School

    We hate saying this because, sheesh, it's that school, but the private Catholic bastion in the heart of Santa Ana—which is one of the largest (with 2,100 students), wealthiest (tuition is $13.2K per year for Catholics, $14.6K for heretics) and insufferably full-of-itself schools in the county—is an absolute powerhouse when...

  • Best Angels/Ducks Story

    Johnny Giavatolla

    This kid's a throwback. First, there's Johnny Giavatolla's size. At 5-foot-8 in high heels, he doesn't exactly cause an opposing pitcher's sphincter to clench. But when you consider such baseball legends as Yogi Berra, Roy Campanella, Mel Ott, Pee Wee Reese (duh) and "Wee" Willie Keeler (double duh) were that...

  • Best Angels Player

    Albert Pujols

    Angels slugger Albert Pujols seemed destined for powerless plate appearances after another sluggish start. Fans sighed, sportswriters eulogized his prime, but manager Mike Scioscia didn't panic. He saw something different in his player's swing, even if the stats didn't back it up. Suddenly, whimpering whiffs in April turned into thunderous...

  • Best Boot Camp

    No Limit Boot Camp

    It seems masochistic to pay money to experience the pain of a hardcore workout. But once you've made it through a 45-minute session at No Limit Boot Camp, you realize the feeling of finishing it is worth every penny. Rope-waving and kettle-bell-wielding action await you at this top-notch facility in...

  • Best Arcade

    Nickel! Nickel!

    This place is truly the last of the dinosaurs when it comes to the old-school arcade experience. Nowhere else can you play classic games such as X-Men, Frogger and Centipede for dirt-cheap (and even for free) while experiencing the age-old joy of toggling joysticks, shooting the screen with plastic guns...

  • Best Sunday Funday

    Mutt Lynch's

    Heading to this loud, packed Newport hangout is a classic way to achieve one last buzz to cap off your weekend. If you can, get there early in the morning for a breakfast burrito or a heaping portion of huevos rancheros, or just come with the rowdy bar crowd in...

  • Best Secret About Mile Square Park

    Archery Range

    People yap about Mile Square Park's 62 acres of undeniable beauty. That is why it's a popular spot for walking, jogging, golfing, basketball, softball, baseball, soccer, Frisbee tossing, kiting and picnicking. At a recent gun show, a pair of middle-aged white men told us they were stockpiling weapons and ammo...

  • Best Ducks Player

    Corey Perry

    Oh, there you are, Corey Perry. Everybody not wearing something with an Anaheim logo hates our beloved right winger, but they're just jealous: With 33 regular-season goals for a shooting percentage of 17.10, nobody wants to face him on the ice. And after crawling off the ice following a wicked...

  • Best Place to Hear an Accent

    Katella Deli

    It isn't kosher—dairy and meat issue forth from Katella Deli's enormous kitchen one after another. It's more like Canter's than the Carnegie. But a lot of the servers are still rocking the overcoiffed hair and sensible shoes of diner waitresses all over the East Coast, and their accents are straight...

  • Best Place to Play Pool

    Danny K's Billiards & Sports Bar

    It isn't located near anything of note, but Danny K's Billiards & Sports Bar doesn't have to be; people come to it. It's a pool hall, but it's all things to all people. If you're a pool shark, you come for the tournaments. If you're a newbie, you come because...

  • Best Beach Parking

    Avenida Calafia, San Clemente

    The serpentine road leading to San Clemente's Calafia Beach, Avenida Calafia, operates on the same payment system as concert amphitheaters. As with front-row seats, a tiny beach-facing parking lot exists for the moneyed, charging between $1 and $2 per hour. As you go up the road, paid meters eventually give...

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