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People & Places

  • Best Radio Personality

    Bubba Jackson

    Utterly amiable and vastly knowledgeable, Bubba Jackson handles the crucial weekday 6-to-9-a.m. slot for listener-supported KKJZ-FM 88.1, where he plays excellent jazz and blues cuts from the 20th and 21st centuries. Now, many radio jocks can do the same thing, but no professional on-air personality possesses more genuine enthusiasm for the music he's spinning than Jackson. No, not even Henry… More >>
  • Best Radio Station

    KUCI-FM 88.9

    God bless college radio. Without it, we'd be stuck in the morass of Top 40 tyranny, slaves to the electronic DJ programmed by corporate suits halfway across the country (Indie 103.1, you are exempt . . . for the time being). And God bless KUCI for being one of the more interesting college radio stations in the country. Boasting an… More >>
  • Best Charity

    School on Wheels

    If children are the future and history repeats itself, then homeless children are very likely to repeat their parents' mistakes and end up on the streets themselves. In an attempt to break this sad cycle, School on Wheels, a non-government-funded charity founded in 1993, sends volunteer tutors to homeless shelters, motels, group homes and the streets to mentor students and… More >>
  • Best Parking Structure

    Mickey & Friends Parking Structure at Disneyland

    Yes, it's the happiest parking structure on Earth. Built in 2000 to hold more than 10,000 vehicles, this monster of a parking lot is not only the most magical place to park your car, but also the most efficient in all of Orange County. In a time when other parking lots, like those at the Irvine Spectrum, take cars on… More >>
  • Best Cool, Affordable Hotel Near Disneyland

    Hotel Menage

    We always get this question from out-of-town guests: What's a decent, affordable place to stay near Disneyland? There is only one right answer: Hotel Menage. Several years ago, three young men bought a crappy old hotel on the location, tore everything out and refurbished it in style. The rooms aren't necessarily large, but they come with eye-soothing mahogany-wood beds, comfy… More >>
  • Best Anachronistic Water Crossing

    Balboa Island Ferry

    Okay, so it's not that far of a drive from Balboa Island to Balboa Peninsula, but the ferry's fun to take anyway—and it'll save you about five miles per car trip. The ferries have been making the quarter-mile (just less than 1,000 feet!) scenic ride since 1919, traveling at a mind-boggling, lightning-fast speed of 4 mph. Eighty-nine years ago, the… More >>
  • Best Political Coup

    John Moorlach and the Appointment of Sandra Hutchens

    Remember how the U.S. Olympic hockey team emerged from certain defeat and beat the Russians in 1980? Well, almost as exciting was this year's Hall of Administration miracle pulled off by John Moorlach, the Christian, conservative chairman of Orange County's Board of Supervisors. Less than 24 hours before the June 3 board vote to name a replacement for indicted ex-Sheriff… More >>
  • Best Park

    Huntington Beach Central Park

    This expanse may not have the acreage or wildlife population to compete with some of Orange County's larger rural parks, but for a suburban oasis, it has no competitors. Sure, you could make the drive out to some of the county's unspoiled wildernesses to feel like you're away from the grind, but what if you've only got a couple of… More >>
  • Best Politician

    Debbie Cook

    Rambunctious real-estate developers and their stooges in the local Orange County media love to celebrate massive, publicly subsidized but privately owned developments and to attack critics as unreasonable leftists. But the poster face for reasonable, responsible development—especially ones that don't rob the public of parks and other valuable open space—belongs to Debbie Cook, the popular mayor of Huntington Beach. A… More >>
  • Best Park for Kids

    Portola Park and the Children's Museum at La Habra

    The odd-shaped park next to decommissioned train cars, the La Habra Depot Theater and working-class neighborhoods boasts three baseball diamonds, basketball courts, an impressive tennis center with several lighted courts, and open space with strategically placed shade trees, picnic benches and barbecues. That should be enough to take care of the older kids. Now let's talk rugrats. Within the park… More >>
  • Best Candidate Names

    Rod Todd, Duane Stiff, Bob Bliss and Michael Beverage

    Rod Todd, Duane Stiff, Bob Bliss and Michael Beverage.… More >>
  • Best Beach

    Treasure Island Beach and Blufftop Park

    Everyone hates vacation resorts popping up in their back yard, but when Montage Resort & Spa appeared, it brought the Treasure Island Blufftop Park (and an underground public parking structure!) with it. While the actual beach isn't too easy to get to—hiking across rocks during high tide isn't much fun—there's now at least a path that leads down to the… More >>
  • Best Porn Names

    Rod Todd, Duane Stiff, Bob Bliss and Michael Beverage

    Rod Todd, Duane Stiff, Bob Bliss and Michael Beverage.… More >>
  • Best Place to Go for a Run

    Mile Square Park

    While most of us go out of our way to not run, there is a select segment of our society that actually seeks out this kind of physical activity. For those strange, strange people, Fountain Valley's Mile Square Park provides a lovely opportunity to work the cardiovascular system and keep good track of your distance. Aptly named, Mile Square Park… More >>
  • Best Judge

    David O. Carter

    Of the dozens of judges in Orange County, Carter stands in a class by himself. Perhaps that's why the former U.S. Marine (battle-tested against communist Vietnamese forces in Khe Sanh), prosecutor, municipal judge and Superior Court judge now serves as a federal judge sitting in the Ronald Reagan Courthouse in Santa Ana. There really isn't any other judge like Carter.… More >>
  • Best Nature Trail

    Holy Jim Canyon

    Finding a cool natural pool and serene waterfalls in the middle of a deep, hot canyon after hiking along a wooded trail dotted by a few rustic, self-powered wooded cabins and giant oaks is Holy Jim's reward. Getting to the trailhead can be a little bumpy because the road leading to the trail is unmaintained and full of potholes. But… More >>
  • Best Police Chief

    Andrew E. Hall, Westminster

    Thanks to a continual supply of shady police officers—especially in high ranks of certain departments—Orange County's law enforcement has suffered a bruised reputation in recent years. However, we've also got cops like Andy Hall, chief at the Westminster Police Department. Things haven't always gone perfectly in the department. (We still cringe at the thought of one officer shooting, running over… More >>
  • Best Picnic Spot

    Hilltop Park

    On most days, you'll see nothing here but smog—Los Angeles, after all. But Hilltop Park, at the tiptop of Signal Hill, has the very best views in the county. On a clear day, which, sorry to say, isn't all too often these days, you'll be able to see right out to the ocean, Catalina and Los Angeles County. Best of… More >>
  • Best Gay Activist

    Jeff LeTourneau

    We're not exactly sure why areas dominated by conservatives have such colorful homosexual tales, but we do know you can't talk about OC gay history without mentioning Jeff LeTourneau any more than you could exclude Mission Viejo Olympian Greg Louganis or the annual fund-raiser Splash-O-Rama in Laguna Beach. The 1980s were a time when local homophobes proudly stuck "Kill Foggots"… More >>
  • Best Rustic Campsite

    El Moro Canyon

    Don't make the mistake of showing up at this Crystal Cove State Park campsite expecting to pitch a tent on the beach, a few hundred yards from your car. The beauty of El Moro Canyon, the friskier and rarely explored side of Crystal Cove, is that you have to work (about a 3-mile climb up from the beach with all… More >>
  • Best Quote

    Michael S. Carona

    "I've had a life that's been absolutely blessed. . . . I've met millionaires, billionaires, I've traveled on personal airplanes, and I never shook anybody down for any shit, so . . . Not that I haven't, you know, drank some great wine and had great booze and . . . got some, you know, phenomenal pussy along the way… More >>
  • Best Beach Camping

    San Clemente State Beach

    If you're craving something not too crowded, slightly hidden and right up against the beach, head to San Clemente State Beach for camping and skip that other, busier beach-camping spot. There are 160 spots to choose from, all close to the sleepy 1-mile stretch of beach that is home to both surfers and lobster-skin divers. If you're in the mood… More >>
  • Best Father

    Mark Dornan

    You can say a lot about Mark Dornan: son of a legendary Orange County Republican politician, close relative to a Wizard of Oz actor, onetime candidate for Congress, respected high-school teacher, perennial pain in Dana Rohrabacher's rear. Now add to the list: great dad. At the 2007 Garden Grove Strawberry Festival, Dornan discovered a man surreptitiously taking pictures of his… More >>
  • Best Environmentalist

    Joel Robinson

    You can easily spot Joel Robinson and his work anywhere he might be—he's the happy chap with a scruffy beard and a floppy hat bicycling around town when he's not leading nature hikes throughout Orange County in his capacity as a park naturalist for the city of Santa Ana or via his Naturalist for You nonprofit. Dozens of groups ask… More >>
  • Best Way to See the True Wealth of Newport Beach

    Newport Back Bay Loop Trail

    If it weren't for the sight of the occasional modern housing development, the 10.5-mile Newport Back Bay loop would be almost like unspoiled backcountry. Curving around Upper Newport Bay, where flora and fauna spring up around the bay's salt-and-freshwater mix, the trail is quiet enough, serene enough and green enough to qualify as one of the best natural outing sites… More >>
  • Best Community Muckraker

    'Fullerton Observer'

    The bi-weekly (except in summer), all-volunteer newspaper, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, is one of the few completely independent publications in Southern California. As we can look down our ink-stained noses at the occasional poorly written or accuracy-challenged Observer piece, we must also acknowledge the paper keeps Fullerton's schools, city hall and police department honest. Recent editions probed… More >>
  • Best Place to Ogle Coots Ogling Coots

    Bolsa Chica Wetlands Preserve

    We have come not to watch avocets, mallards or eared grebes, but to observe the creatures who observe our feathered friends. First, point your binoculars at the American coot (Fulica americana) lazily floating in the marsh. Now pan across and lock in on a different coot, the American Bird Watcher (aves peeper americana). A distant cousin of the more ornery… More >>
  • Best Protest

    Anti-Credit-Card Gas-Fee Rally

    Mitch Goldstone's idea wasn't exactly radical: The one thing just about everyone agrees on is that gas costs too much. His approach is what puts it at the top of our list. On July 3, Goldstone, an Irvine businessman who doubles as a consumer activist, led a rally at the intersection of Jamboree and Barranca Parkway against hidden credit-card gas… More >>
  • Central Bark

    Best Dog Park

    Central Bark

    Rave about our wonderful dog beaches at Huntington Beach and Belmont Shore, and we'll certainly join you. Trouble is, a beach is a beach, which means typical beach hassles—for you, that means gunking yourself up with SPF-50, dealing with overcrowded parking lots, and rolling your eyes at tourists who think sporting cheap T-shirts that say, "I'VE BEEN TO THE REAL… More >>
  • Best Counterprotest

    The Merchants of Main Street

    Fed up with weekly anti-communist protesters who demanded a boycott of Garden Grove-based Vietnamese-language newspaper Viet Weekly, local merchants on historic Main Street took matters into their own hands this spring. Just as protesters began their ritual of blaring martial music and chanting patriotic songs celebrating the defunct Republic of South Vietnam, the merchants started blasting "The Star-Spangled Banner" and… More >>
  • Best Angels Player

    Francisco Rodriguez

    Damn you, Cliff Lee! This season's Cy Young winners won't be announced for several more weeks, but the award for the American League's best pitcher is almost certainly going to Lee, the Cleveland Indians starter who won his 20th game when he had a scant two losses. If it weren't for Lee, though, the Angels' Francisco "K-Rod" Rodriguez would be… More >>
  • Josh Booty\'s Booking at Orange County Jail

    Best Use of Non-Lethal Force

    Josh Booty's Booking at Orange County Jail

    Fox Sports broadcaster Josh Booty is a former Louisiana State University quarterback, dual NFL/Major League Baseball draftee and older brother of the former USC starting QB John David Booty. But he vaulted off the sports page and into the crime blotter this past February when he was arrested on suspicion of DUI by the Highway Patrol and taken to Orange… More >>
  • Best Hunk of Manflesh in Spikes

    Jon Garland

    Let's face it, watching baseball can be pretty dull. But throw a sexy man on the field, and things suddenly get interesting. Take the Angels' Jon Garland, for example. One word can describe this heartthrob: meow. The starting pitcher always heats up the infield with his winsome, crooked smile and tall, rugged good looks. And he's not too shabby at… More >>
  • Best Improvement to OC Media

    'Orange Coast'

    Sadly, there was a time when, month after month, Orange Coast carried no meaningful content. You'd see it on the newsstand, sigh in disappointment and grab a nearby Vanity Fair. No more. Under new ownership (Emmis Communications, the folks who produce the weighty Texas Monthly) and new leadership (Martin J. Smith, veteran journalist/author/professor), the magazine finally deserves subscriptions for its… More >>
  • Best Ducks Player

    Chris Pronger

    Without team captain Chris Pronger, obtained from Edmonton in a sweet 2006 trade, Anaheim would not have won their first and, so far, only Stanley Cup in '07. After being drafted in the second round by Hartford in 1993, the 6-foot-6, 213-pound bruiser was labeled impatient, immature and hot-tempered during two seasons that would feature Whalers' fans showering Pronger with… More >>
  • Best Fired Journalist

    Hao-Nhien Vu

    Journalism is a tough trade. You serve long hours, take home crappy pay, encounter morons with little or no reading-comprehension skills, and often work for ungrateful management. (Not here, of course. Hi, Ted!) Until recently, such was the fate of Hao-Nhien Vu, longtime managing editor of the nation's largest daily Vietnamese newspaper, Little Saigon-based Nguoi Viet. But earlier this year,… More >>
  • Raiders Boosters of Orange County

    Best Proponents of Silver and Black Behind the Orange Curtain

    Raiders Boosters of Orange County

    This season marks the 25th anniversary of the Raiders Boosters of Orange County. (The Oakland Raiders are the only NFL franchise that formally authorizes such groups.) The Boosters organize trips for Raiders fanatics in OC to Napa for preseason festivities, Oakland for certain home games and, once a year, an away game. Otherwise, Larry's Pizza in Fullerton becomes the haunt—with… More >>
  • Best News Anchor

    Pat Haslam

    We could also have called this one "Best News Anchor to Make Up for Previous Broadcasting Embarrassments." From 1990 to 1998, Haslam was Dr. Drive, the wacky morning weather-and-traffic reporter on the late, not-so-great Orange County NewsChannel. After that station's demise, he moved over to do the dreaded overnight traffic reporting on all-news radio station KNX 1070, where he got… More >>
  • Best Coach

    John Speraw, UC Irvine Men's Volleyball

    This year, Speraw gets our nod for many reasons. For starters, he's got two things that, say, Mike Scioscia (a perennial favorite in this category) doesn't. First, there's the NCAA Championship, which Speraw's setters, spikers and liberos (don't ask, it's complicated) won in 2007. Second, an Olympic gold medal. Speraw was an assistant coach on the Team USA squad that… More >>
  • Best Sportscaster

    Mark Gubicza

    The former hard-throwing Kansas City Royals righthander pitched only one, inglorious 1997 season for the Angels, but he represents our greatest hope for a better team. No, not the Halos' baseball team, but rather the Halos' broadcasting team. Last season, "Gubi" was teamed with Jose Mota (the Weekly's Best Sportscaster in '07) for 50 televised games on Fox Sports West… More >>
  • Best College Player

    Scott Cutley, Cal State Fullerton Basketball

    Ah, the Titans-Eaters rivalry. Last year, it was all about the horsehide, with UC Irvine's nine breaking through Fullerton's long diamond dominance on their way to the semifinals of the College World Series. (Which pissed off Titans AD Brian Quinn so bad that he went out and hired away UCI head coach Dave Serrano.) This year, neither baseball squad made… More >>
  • Best Weathercaster

    David Lynch, Indie FM 103.1

    Thought for the day: Weak radio signal equals static reception.… More >>
  • Mr. Toad\'s Wild Ride

    Best Ride at Disneyland

    Mr. Toad's Wild Ride

    Located in Fantasyland (long derided by cool people as a haven for toddlers/hippie-flippers only), Mr Toad's Wild Ride doesn't have the technological wonders of Star Tours or the thrill-ride rush of Indiana Jones or Space Mountain. What elevates it above these other rides, however, is its completely subversive theme. Allowing the rider to adopt the persona of gonzo aristocrat Mr.… More >>
  • Best Fake Website

    Not the Los Angeles Times

    This Onion-esque satirical poke at the steadily declining real LA Times is the creation of ex-Times OC staffer Roy Rivenburg. Don't check the site every day, as stuff tends to sit there a while, but Rivenburg claims more regular updates will appear soon. Our favorite headline so far: "Let's Use Hillbillies to Find More Oil, Bush Says." Except for the… More >>
  • Best Surf Spot

    Lowers

    Don't just take the word of us kneeboarders at the Weekly about Lower Trestles. Within the past year, the Los Angeles "By God" Times dubbed it the best surfing spot in Southern California. An Orange County Register blog post also tagged it as best—on the mainland U.S. And countless surf mags plop "world-class" in front of Lowers. But disclaimers accompany… More >>
  • Best TV Station

    KDOC/Channel 56

    Before the sugar flows, we must squeeze some lemons. First, KDOC shows too many goddamn infomercials, the revenues from which obviously aren't trickling down to original programming such as DayBreak OC. What's the deal with the set for this show? Looks like a wood-paneled, suburban-den wall circa 1972. Okay, enough of that. Let's exhale the bad air so we can… More >>
  • Best Golf Course

    San Clemente Golf Club

    Green fees at this 18-hole, Billy Bell-designed municipal golf course equal what you'd tip the bag boys at private or overpriced public clubs. And even the links for the upper-snothead set that hug the coast can't beat the "Pride of the Pacific" when it comes to stunningly beautiful ocean views. Set on land San Clemente founder Ole Hanson donated to… More >>
  • Best Blog

    A Bubbling Cauldron

    While the county's major political blogs (OC Blog, the Liberal OC and Orange Juice!) rely on a stable of contributors for their hell-raising, the only writer for A Bubbling Cauldron is Geoff West, who (of course) calls himself the Pot Stirrer. Apart from clichés, that's what he's done with Costa Mesa and Newport Beach politics for the past two years,… More >>
  • Best Arcade

    Nickel! Nickel! - CLOSED

    What could be better than spending an afternoon eating cheap pizza and playing video games? Spending an afternoon eating cheap pizza and playing video games for only 5 cents apiece. For $3.50 regular admission ($1 on Tuesdays), OC residents can spend an afternoon in the cool air conditioning of several independently operated Nickel! Nickel!s playing their favorite arcade games for,… More >>
  • Best Conscience of OC Conservatives

    Steven Greenhut

    If there's anything we can't stand, it's Democrats and Republicans shilling for their elected officials who've been proven crooks and liars. Thankfully, Orange County's mainstream media have a consistent, principled voice in politics: Steven Greenhut, a veteran commentary editor at The Orange County Register. There was a time when Republicans could count on the paper's opinion-page folks to cover up… More >>
  • Extreme Boot Camp

    Best Gym

    Extreme Boot Camp

    Gyms in Orange County range from hole-in-the-wall to ridiculously plush. But is the setting all that important when you're truly serious about getting into shape? That's what we thought. So why pussyfoot around? Enlist in Sofee Beer's Extreme Boot Camp, based in Laguna Niguel. There, you'll transform your body during sessions that span one hour per day, five days a… More >>
  • Best Adult Ad

    Josie, from the pages of 'OC Weekly'

    "Liquor in the front. Poker in the rear. I'll let you go all in."… More >>
  • Best Place to Let the Kids Bounce Off the Walls

    Hullabaloos Clubhouse

    Need a place to let the kids run wild when it's too hot, too rainy, too whatever? Searching for a "bribe spot" that doesn't involve singing vermin? Since 2005, parents have been singing praises to Hullabaloos Clubhouse. There's a rock-climbing wall; an inflatable obstacle course; a giant clubhouse structure with a long, twisty tube slide; a puppet-show theater; air hockey… More >>
  • Best Blow Job

    Great Park Balloon

    Inactivity. Cronyism. Money pitness. Toxicity. Larry Agran. There are many reasons to be wary of Irvine's Great Park, but one thing is undeniable: It is pretty cool being 400 feet up in the air in a tethered balloon that gives a 360-degree view of the old El Toro Marine Corps Air Station and, depending on the thickness of the fog… More >>
  • Best Radio Show Introduction

    'The OC Show'

    Some folks are blessed with many talents. Consider Irvine resident Cameron Jackson. He's a well-respected private detective. A political junkie. A bicycle enthusiast. With his wife, Nancy—a veteran public defender—the proud parent of two youngsters. And on Friday mornings, he's the host of KUCI's feisty, libertarian-bent public-affairs broadcast, The OC Show. Jackson insists he's still learning the host gig, but… More >>
  • Best Driving Range

    The Islands Golf Center

    Imagine hitting golf balls over a placid sea while aiming for lush green islands that peek through crystal-blue water. Imagine the splash of the water when the island is missed—and the feeling of accomplishment you'd get when that friendly plunk was absent. Such a place would be a regular golfers' paradise. Now, you may be thinking that this place sounds… More >>
  • Best Batting Cages

    Home Run Park

    Every now and again, people need to release their frustrations. Punching others in the face is one option, although it can sometimes lead to hefty medical bills and possible jail time. This, and the need for sporting practice, is why batting cages were created. And Home Run Park in Anaheim is the best darn ball-smacking establishment around for those interested… More >>
  • Best Celebrity

    Rick Warren

    Following the death of actor John Wayne, OC's biggest celebrities have tended to be political nut cases such as Fullerton Congressman William Edwin Dannemeyer, who once graphically described sex acts during an anti-gay tirade in the House of Representatives. For a time, our big celebrity was the Crystal Cathedral's Robert H. Schuller. But his image unraveled after a puzzling tiff… More >>
  • Best Day Trip

    Tijuana

    As Southern Californians, we enjoy a close proximity to Mexico, our scruffy neighbor to the south. With so much hysterical attention being paid to the influx of Mexican immigrants into our country, it's important to remember that we can cross their border, too. Never more than a few hours away from anywhere in Orange County, Tijuana is the obvious day-trip… More >>
  • Best Weekend Getaway

    San Luis Obispo

    Orange County getting you down? Can you afford a few tanks of gas? Well, how about if you get someone to go with you and chip in? Okay, then San Luis Obispo is where you want to be. Located about a four-and-a-half-hour drive north of the county line, it's a beautiful slice of Central California living. Located just far away… More >>
  • The Campus Drive Ghost Jogger

    Best Urban Legend

    The Campus Drive Ghost Jogger

    UC Irvine kids leap at any opportunity to get the hell out of Irvine. Many late-night drives back to the dorms will take you down a stretch of Campus Drive right past the wildlife preserve. There are absolutely no lights, other than the occasional car going the opposite direction, and patches of thick fog tend to envelop the road. Legend… More >>
  • Best Place to Pick Up Modeling Tips

    Goat Hill Junction at Fairview Park

    Every third weekend of the month since 1989, the Orange County Model Engineers host free train rides on 1.5-, 2.5- and 3.5-scale equipment. It's like riding on Grandpa's old train set! Wind through wildflowers, past the Costa Mesa golf course and the occasional birthday party in the park, and over a wooden bridge, all in less than 15 minutes! The… More >>
  • Best Place to Get Stuck in Traffic (No, Really)

    PCH & Highway 133, Laguna Beach

    If you're going to get stuck in dismal OC traffic, pray it's on southbound Highway 133 where it meets Pacific Coast Highway in Laguna Beach. Unlike so many congested spots, at least here you're not forced to stare at ugly, concrete sound walls or at the rear-end-bumper lights of backed-up traffic for as far as the eye can see. This… More >>
  • Best Place to Go Fishing

    Irvine Lake

    Okay, so it's not a real lake. But almost. The big blue body o' water formerly known as the Santiago Reservoir was formed by the Santiago Dam (built by none other than, you guessed, the Irvine Co.) in 1931 and was opened to all for fishing fun 10 years later. The Santiago Creek still feeds the 750-acre lake, which sits… More >>
  • Best Place to Get Run Over by a Bentley

    St. Regis Hotel Monarch Beach

    Fancy hotel. Fancy resort. Fancy buffet. And a perpetual line of Bentleys, Porsches, Ferraris and other cars that cost more than your kid's entire collegiate career are parked out front. Ogle and stare as the new rich abound. It's obnoxious in the way that only Orange County can be—but obnoxious in a good way. If there is such a thing.… More >>
  • Aquarium of the Pacific

    Best Place to Lose a Finger

    Aquarium of the Pacific

    Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, the Aquarium of the Pacific has helped to make Long Beach a tourist destination for families from Southern California and beyond. Many, however, aren't aware of the fun tours it offers that many other aquariums—we're looking at you, Monterey!—don't. For $90, you can sign up for a behind-the-scenes Animal Encounter tour. You've got three… More >>
  • Best Place to Get Towed

    Irvine

    A certain few people we (and probably you) know have received tickets and been towed just for leaving their cars out for a day or two at a time. A certain person we know, however, also bribed a tow-truck driver $60 in exchange for getting his Honda back. So. Staying with a friend in Irvine? Be sure to keep some… More >>
  • Best Place to Mountain Bike

    Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park

    "Woods" features an extensive network of trails offering various types of terrain for all skill levels. There are so many ride options, legal and otherwise, that even the strongest ironman cannot possibly pedal everything in a day. This is why folks return, early and often—and why it can get mighty crowded on weekends. "Lower Wood" canyon is a wide, beginner,… More >>
  • Best Place to See More Than Three Stars

    Trail Behind Bonita Canyon Elementary, Irvine

    If there's one advantage to Irvine being run by a giant company, it's that they've carefully planned its development (so far), leaving large swaths of land within the city limits untouched. At night, from the city's various hilltops, you can actually see the stars. One high-altitude gazing location is at the end of a path stretching through Bonita Canyon Elementary… More >>
  • Best Place to Spot a Local Celebrity or Frank Mickadeit

    Gulfstream

    Where do Orange County's corporate, judicial, trust-fund celebrities like to gather? Gulfstream, near Fashion Island in Newport Beach. Here, you can order a dozen oysters for $26 (double the price of certain inland restaurants), sip on $16 glasses of white wine and whale-watch. Of course, by whales, we respectfully mean heavyweights—you know, power brokers, fellas driving black Hummers and looking… More >>
  • Best Place to Do Mushrooms

    Top of the World Park

    While under the influence of hallucinogenics, one can find a supreme calm in being among nature. Viewing the swaying of leaves in the breeze can dazzle the eye, while the lapping ocean waves can simply knock your friggin' socks off. Unfortunately, society doesn't take too kindly to large-pupiled, laugh-aholics running amok on the city streets, so the few, proud trippers… More >>
  • Best Hotel

    Capri Inn Laguna

    Located on the beach side of Coast Highway just a few blocks south of Avila's El Ranchito, the Capri Inn is an aging multistructure hotel that spills down the bluff to one of the most beautiful beaches between Big Sur and Baja California. It's also pretty much the cheapest place to stay on the sand in Laguna Beach. But what… More >>
  • Stand-Up Paddle Boarding

    Best Cheap Thrill

    Stand-Up Paddle Boarding

    Wake up on a Saturday morning and tell your girlfriend you're going to Ku Ku Hoe, and she won't necessarily scream. If she's hip to the latest hot sport in SoCal, she'll know the Hawaiian term for stand-up paddle boarding has nothing to do with the ladies in the back pages of the Weekly. The board is longer and thicker… More >>
  • Best Not-So-Cheap Thrill

    BiPlane Fun

    Westminster-based BiPlane Fun provides scenic rides along the coast in a restored 1943 World War II Stearman Biplane. You can request as many loops, rolls and spins as your stomach can take, as each flight is personally customized to the lone passenger. But this is no inexpensive ride. The cost is $295 for half an hour of air time, $395… More >>
  • Best Place to Put On Your Thinking Cap

    Beckman Center

    In April, the first International Cystinosis Research Symposium drew 40 researchers of the childhood disease to this facility owned and operated by the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering and located on seven acres of the UC Irvine campus. The 48,000-square-foot center has also rocked out to spacey music—as in the time an egghead related the algorithmic approaches to composition… More >>
  • Best Really, Really Expensive Thrill

    Space Trip

    Why buy a third Ferrari with the extra $200,000 you've got sitting around when you now have the opportunity to do something really special? Yes, we're talking space travel here. We're not kidding. Microsoft billionaire Richard Allen and Richard Branson, the inventive celebrity/billionaire/balloonist and founder of Virgin Atlantic Airlines, are building the SpaceShipTwo, a craft that will take rich folks… More >>
  • Best Place for a First Date

    On Target Indoor Shooting Range

    Nothing will reassure your date more than finding out you can shoot to kill. Share a shooting lane and show your date how well you handle that gorgeous .45 from On Target's vast arsenal of rental firearms. Nestled in a dreary industrial park between train tracks and Interstate 5, the place doesn't look like much. It's been in the same… More >>
  • Best Place to Have an Orgy While Your Wife Is on Vacation

    Henry Nicholas' Secret Sex Bunker

    Back in the heady days of the late-1990s dot-com explosion, then-Broadcom CEO Henry Nicholas was a billionaire businessman with a reputation as a high-energy visionary. Now he faces prison time, charged with, among other things, using company cash to finance drug-fueled sex orgies at his sprawling Laguna Niguel mansion. Ever the family man, Nicholas also allegedly celebrated his 20th wedding… More >>
  • Best City in Which to Live

    Seal Beach

    Stepping out of a front door in Seal Beach is like walking into a small 1950s beach town. Kids leave their bikes (unlocked and everything!) on the front yard of their quaint one-story houses, neighbors say hello as you stroll by, the air smells of the beach as a crisp ocean breeze wafts by—complete with the sound of ship horns… More >>
  • Best Downtown

    Orange

    It's a national joke that Southern California considers a building historical if it has survived at least one presidential administration, but downtown Orange boasts quite a few buildings that have been around much longer and would legitimately be considered historic to all but the most stringent observer. This, in addition to its charming traffic circle, delicious restaurants (don't miss the… More >>
  • Best View

    Newport Coast Drive South

    Got a recently frozen or drenched East Coast visitor who wants to feel the cool sensation of arriving in coastal Orange County? From the 73 toll road, exit at Newport Coast Drive (fork over the $1.75 toll first, of course) and go south. On both sides of the road, they'll see the handiwork of Don Bren, the richest man in… More >>
  • Best Advice Overheard at the Orange County Fair

    'Do not touch the bottom of your shoes, Elaine!'

    "Do not touch the bottom of your shoes, Elaine!"… More >>
  • Día de los Muertos in Santa Ana

    Best Festival

    Día de los Muertos in Santa Ana

    Started in the mid-1990s in the living rooms of Mexican consulate workers who wanted their pocho kids to experience Mexico's annual counterpoint to Halloween, Santa Ana's Día de los Muertos celebration is now one of the biggest in the Southland. Run by the chingón Chicano store Calacas, the fiesta takes up an entire parking lot in downtown Santa Ana and… More >>
  • Best Tourist Trap

    Huntington Beach Pier

    It's crowded, usually sun-drenched (except during the May Gray and June Gloom, of course—but let's not tell the tourists about those), fun for folks of all ages and about as California Baywatch cliché as you can get. But that's what the tourists come for, so that's what the Huntington Beach Pier delivers. Cluttered stands selling doodads line the pier and… More >>
  • Best Place for People-Watching

    John Wayne Airport Security Line

    Every combination of humanoid passes through the Terminal A security line. Tweakers, hillbillies, yuppie scum, uptight moms, screaming kids and bros in backward ballcaps—lots and lots of bros in backward ballcaps. No matter how excited these and other frequent flyers are to be leaving Orange County, they wear the most bored looks until reaching the promised land: the end of… More >>
  • Best Building

    Twist-Basler House

    The Twist-Basler House is a Santa Ana historical treasure: The two-story Tudor Revival manse is on the city's list of historical properties. You'd think city officials would do everything possible to preserve it, but instead, they looked the other way while mega-developer Michael Harrah chopped the house into four pieces and let it rot for more than a year, protected… More >>
  • Best Suburban Neighborhood(s)

    The Eichler Tracts of Orange

    Walking into a home built in the early 1960s by architect Joseph Eichler, you're overcome by a desire to dress up like a Mad Men cast member, break out your phonographs and spark up a Chesterfield King. Eichler used cement, large redwood beams and wall-sized glass panes to revolutionize residential architecture. But that's not all that was revolutionary. Where California… More >>
  • Best Urban Neighborhood

    Downtown Santa Ana

    Ten years ago, maybe not so hot. But these days, bustling downtown Santa Ana is part quaint Mexican pueblito and part artsy urban "village" for the young and creative-minded. The lofts sitting above restaurants and galleries mean that those who live in downtown Santa Ana emerge daily to consume its goods—whether they be botanical supplies or a burger from Memphis.… More >>
  • Los Rios Historic District

    Best Historic Neighborhood

    Los Rios Historic District

    As surprising as it may seem given that much of Orange County is obscenely planned and not that old, the oldest neighborhood in all of California sits in the heart of South County. Tiny streets and venerable homes—even the adobe houses in which the builders of the Mission San Juan Capistrano lived—all line the historic Los Rios District, just across… More >>
  • Best Disharmonic Convergence

    The Walk to Trestles

    Once you get over the disturbing fact you're hiking to the beach with a surfboard, ice chest, umbrella, playpen and plasma TV in tow, descending the path to Trestles becomes quite pleasant as the soothing sounds of nature—chirping birds, rustling leaves, scampering critters—fill your left ear. Sadly, it is but a brief respite from civilization because in no time at… More >>
  • Best Reason to Live in OC

    You will eventually, inevitably, be on a reality-TV show

    You will eventually, inevitably, be on a reality-TV show.… More >>
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