People & Places

  • Best Coach

    Harry Welch

    Don't listen to the naysayers who say the Tartans' 43-game winning streak—longest in OC prep football history—is a result of the tiny St. Margaret's Episcopal High School beating up on inferior competition. It takes a great coach to continue the San Juan Capistrano school's legacy of success, and that's what Harry Welch did in 2007, coming down from Canyon Country… More >>
  • Best Ducks Player

    Jonas Hiller

    You can put a telephone book to guard the net whenever the Ducks play, and it'd become a star, so strong the hockey team's goalie tradition is, but the case of Hiller is particularly noteworthy. He came to the Ducks to replace Ilya Bryzgalov, a key component of the Ducks' 2007 Stanley Cup championship. And his potential is so strong… More >>
  • Best Angels Player

    Kendry Morales

    The Halos' front office gets scads of credit for its player development and acquisition strategies, and with some exceptions ([cough] Gary Matthews Jr. [cough]), such credit is deserved. But at the first-base position in 2009, they just plain got lucky. Yeah, give them their due for signing Morales in the first place after his much-ballyhooed defection from the Island of… More >>
  • Best Up-and-Coming Beach-Volleyball Player

    April Ross

    The coolest thing about the Association of Volleyball Professionals (AVP) is the accessibility of its players. Even the biggest names hang out with the crowd, talk to fans and sign autographs. And all you need when you head out to watch a tournament is sunglasses, sunscreen and flip-flops. You can leave the wallet at home because the tournaments in California… More >>
  • Best College Player

    Ryan Ammerman

    His nickname is "Ammo" and coaches at opposing colleges call him "a stud," but life on the volleyball court wasn't always easy for Ryan Ammerman. The 6-foot-9, UC Irvine social-sciences major struggled with inconsistent play as a junior on a team loaded with talent. But what the Colorado native accomplished this year was nothing short of phenomenal. In Utah this… More >>
  • Best Yoga Studio

    Huntington Beach Hot Yoga

    Hot yoga has become increasingly popular among fitness enthusiasts in recent years. The Bikram Method, designed for students of all ages and fitness levels, is a demanding series of 26 postures and two breathing exercises in a heated room (up to 110 degrees—if you have balls, expect to sweat them off). At Huntington Beach Hot Yoga, instructor Jason Wilkerson has… More >>
  • Best Gym

    Newport Beach Athletic Club

    With a plethora of gyms to choose from in OC, Newport Beach Athletic Club (NBAC) stands out because of its high-class amenities, reasonable prices, laid-back atmosphere and unique traditions developed since its 1971 opening. Unlike many other gyms, NBAC won't lock you into long-term memberships—they only do month-to-month. Everything is clean, simple, no-nonsense, utilitarian yet classy. The gym features separate… More >>
  • Best Cheap Thrill


    Orange County loves its pets; the tiny-sweater shops and artisanal treat bakeries prove it. But no one said you have to have pets to love them. Bored? Out of work? Alone? We recommend a trip to your nearest dog park, dog beach or pet shop to play with and ogle the unleashed doggies (with their owners' permission, of course). It's… More >>
  • Best Nature Trail

    El Moro Canyon

    El Moro Canyon is a 2,200-acre chaparral canyon that's so gorgeous you'll forget you're only a few miles away from home. Part of Crystal Cove State Park and with 18 miles of campgrounds and hiking, biking and horse trails, you can spot breathtaking views of the ocean and Catalina Island on one side and grassy hills on the other. Spring… More >>
  • Best Place to Mountain Bike

    Weir Canyon Trail

    This is a moderate-to-difficult mountain ride of cycle heaven. The double track cuts through Anaheim Hills, where Walnut Canyon Reservoir (sorry, no fishing), Anaheim Hills Golf Course and clusters of never-ending suburban sprawl suddenly become serene and tranquil. But don't stare too long: The dramatic, high-speed drops will test the most experienced rider. The track is wide enough for a… More >>
  • Best Place to Get Frostbite and Grass Burn at the Same Time

    Ice-Blocking at El Dorado Park

    Ice-blocking is the Orange County surrogate for actual seasons. Since the snow never falls here, but sliding down a hill is a universal joy, we make do with what we have—hills and ice. It's a stupid way to kill time with some friends, and it's a hell of a lot cheaper than driving to Big Bear and buying a lift… More >>
  • Best Park

    Bonita Canyon Sports Park and Arroyo Park

    Is it weird to give the same award to two separate parks? Yes, but no weirder than giving two separate parks the same name. Bonita Canyon Sports Park comprises both a larger area—which offers the baseball fields its name implies, along with an impeccably manicured (Newport Beach! Hello!), verdant stretch of lawn that screams to be picnicked upon and a… More >>
  • Best Dog Park

    Arbor Dog Park

    When it comes to play dates for your four-legged friends, good puppy mommies and daddies want to make sure their little ones can run free in a clean, safe environment. Arbor Dog Park provides these comforts and more with 2.5 acres of lush grass and shade trees, plus drinking fountains to hydrate two-legged park-goers as well as their furry companions.… More >>
  • Best Park for Kids

    William R. Mason Regional Park

    Originally part of the Rancho San Joaquin, this 345-acre park is as close as you can get to experiencing Orange County's presuburban, unspoiled beauty and still find yourself within the city limits of Irvine, which is ironic because this is the oldest completely manmade, preplanned park in Orange County's original preplanned model community. The park opened in 1973 thanks to… More >>
  • Best Beach In Orange County

    Newport Beach Municipal Beach

    According to a recent study by the Natural Resources Defense Council, Orange County has some of the cleanest beaches in the country, and none is cleaner than those in Newport Beach, all of which received five-star rankings. Hygiene counts, and it helps to explain why this year's winning stretch of sand is neither in Huntington Beach, the self-declared "Surf City,"… More >>
  • Best Beach As Brewery

    Table Rock

    Maybe it's the beach's relative seclusion, and maybe it's the fact that a cave sounds like a really sweet place to get wasted. Whatever the reason, this small patch of rocks, sand and cavern seems to attract the crowd for whom getting sun-baked goes along with getting sloshed and, well, baked. Keep in mind that if you partake, you tempt… More >>
  • Best Place to Play With Hundreds of Sea Anemones

    Crystal Cove State Park

    From the looming presence of hideous Newport Coast housing developments dripping with the worst of nouveau-riche decadence ("Mediterranean-style" homes, Italian street names, fooling no one), you wouldn't know that Crystal Cove and its magical tidal pools exist. But park your car, walk away from the faux-Tuscan monstrosities, and you'll soon be somewhere far, far away. The steep cliffs that enclose… More >>
  • Best Surf Spot

    The Wedge

    Whoever said surfing is all about actually getting in the water, riding a board, and risking life and limb in a quest to harness Mother Nature's mystical energy? That's bogus: The best part of the sport is spectating. Two words of advice come with this winner, which is a world-famous break located at the extreme southeast end of Balboa Peninsula.… More >>
  • Best Surf Forecasting Blog

    SoCal Surf Forecast

    Written by professional meteorologist and surf forecaster Adam Wright, the SoCal Surf Forecast is the clearest, most concise blog of its kind in these parts. Wright updates religiously, providing visitors with information about tides, swells, wind speed, water temperatures, wave heights and much more. Plus, he recently added a long-range forecast. For those who understand the scientific jargon, Wright uses… More >>
  • Best Picnic Spot

    Carbon Canyon Regional Park

    Sprawl is a four-letter word when you're stuck in traffic on the 57 freeway in North Orange County. But if you pull off at Lambert Road and head east, it will eventually turn into Carbon Canyon Road, and you'll enter another world entirely. Well, not entirely, as proven by the newer housing tract rising in the hills near the intersection… More >>
  • Best Free Picnic Spots Nearby

    Various locations on Carbon Canyon Road

    But who the hell can afford to pay $3 to $7 for parking in these cash-strapped days? Drive farther into the canyon on Carbon Canyon Road, past Carbon Canyon Regional Park, and you can find several fine spots for picnicking—IF you keep your eyes and mind open. Adjacent to a mobile-home park is Samsung Presbyterian Church. If the Korean-American house… More >>
  • Best View

    Orange Hill Restaurant

    Yes, the food here is expensive, and yes, the drive up is kind of steep. And no, you are not allowed to park your own car. But the view makes it worth the experience. Settled on a hill above the city of Orange, Orange Hill Restaurant offers one of the highest views of Orange County, and they know it, too.… More >>
  • Best City to Take Out-of-Towners To

    Laguna Beach

    Oh, hey, there's a gallery with Dr. Seuss paintings! Well, look at that: a dance competition on the boardwalk! Real, live volleyball players at main beach! Beautiful people! Reality celebs! A walkable downtown! Scenery and glitz and food and art everywhere. Overheard: "Is this really what your life is like?"… More >>
  • Best Ride at Disneyland

    Space Mountain

    If you've ever had the displeasure of getting stuck on the ride and subsequently having the unfortunate opportunity of seeing the Space Mountain track in the light, we offer our condolences. It does kind of ruin the mystery when you get a glimpse behind the proverbial curtain and see it's just a dinky, outdated, steel coaster. But in a way,… More >>
  • Best Golf Course

    Coyote Hills Golf Course

    Let's just get this out of the way: The place is pricey at $100 per round on weekdays. But there comes a time in every golfer's life when you must avoid the army of hacks on the munis, when you want to be pampered by an attentive clubhouse staff (as opposed to having cigar smoke blown in your face by… More >>
  • Best Place to Stay Cool Without Getting Sand In Your Ass

    Wild Rivers - CLOSED

    Sure, the Lazy River water-to-urine ratio probably inches dangerously to the undesirable side, but it's a great place to go during the summer if you're not in the mood to deal with seaweed, sand anywhere and everywhere, and the possibility of getting mauled by a seal. And yes, the lines can be a bit absurd, but there's nothing quite like… More >>
  • Best Cheap Bowling

    AMF Forest Lanes

    Bowling is the definition of a recreational sport. It consists entirely of hanging out with friends, sitting around in sweet clown shoes, often drinking, and occasionally throwing a ball and sitting back down. It's perfect. But with times being financially tight, it is key to find a good deal for such a timeless pastime. The AMF Forest Lanes offers "quarter… More >>
  • Best Day Trip


    Every few years, a tabloidesque SoCal television-news operation (looking at you, Fox LA) alarms parents with over-the-top "investigations" that conclude today's Tijuana is the center of sin, and if your teens go there, they will not come back. Such bullshit; TJ has always been that way. That's why it was the choice for several generations BEFORE the beheadings, increased Mexican… More >>
  • Best Weekend Getaway

    Lake Arrowhead

    Twenty million dollars can do a lot for a place. And it has done wonders for Lake Arrowhead. After being devastated by fires in 2003, the mountain community was in need of a reinvention; out of the ashes has sprung a beautiful mountain setting complete with boutique shops, outdoor recreation and spectacular views that set the scene for relaxation. Located… More >>
  • Best Weekend Thrill

    Zip Lines at Big Bear Lake

    When you go on vacation, you usually want to do something memorable, like zip lining— the sport in which you buckle yourself into a harness that attaches to thick metal cables, and then zip from point to point while dangling up to 100 feet above the ground with only your gloved hand to act as a brake. The beautiful views… More >>
  • Best Politician

    Joe Dunn

    Yes, we're aware the former Democratic state senator from Santa Ana no longer holds public office (until recently, he served as CEO of the California Medical Association), but the man remains Orange County's most laudable political figure. He took on Enron after the Texas company attempted to crash California's economy in a price-fixing scheme. Though a wealthy trial lawyer himself,… More >>
  • Best Twittering Politician

    Joel Bishop

    Irvine Assemblyman Chuck DeVore is Orange County's social-networking political poster boy, but what does he really do with his Twitter account? Repost articles, link to his Facebook and get into good-natured flame wars. It's a great start, but he could learn a little from a smaller fish in a smaller pond: Dana Point City Councilman Joel Bishop. Spend a few… More >>
  • Best Political Coup

    Mike Duvall's Takedown of Mike Duvall

    Until sources provided the Weekly with evidence of now-former Assemblyman Mike Duvall's hypocrisy, the self-styled "traditional values" state Assembly Republican sat as vice chairman of the powerful Utilities and Commerce committee. Along with our reporting partner, KCAL-TV in Los Angeles, we disclosed a sensational tape that recorded Duvall graphically bragging during a committee meeting that he was having a sexual… More >>
  • Best Quote

    'There's a difference in being a great character and having great character.'

    U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Guilford offered this observation in April while lecturing an unrepentant ex-Orange County sheriff- turned-convicted felon Mike Carona about how his corruption shamed the sheriff's department, law enforcement, the criminal-justice system and the county and was worthy of 66 months in a federal prison.… More >>
  • Best Political Pastor

    Michael Holland

    In terms of religious figures who poke their heads into politics, Orange County's cup runneth over with the likes of Howard Ahmanson Jr., Wiley Drake and Robert Schuller. But when it comes to counting clergy members who preach for some social cause instead of merely against the Republican bogeyman du jour—immigrants, gays, Barack Obama—we've got a pretty barren manger. There… More >>
  • Best Open-Air Preacher

    Ray Comfort

    Every Saturday, chart-toting preacher Ray Comfort (pseudonym?) sets up a video camera and a microphone at the Huntington Beach pier and challenges the sinful—mostly surfers—to question him about God and the Bible. Well, Ray (who occasionally uses actor Kirk Cameron as a sidekick) does most of the questioning: Do you think you're a good person? Have you ever lied? Have… More >>
  • Best Coming Out

    Lieutenant Dan Choi

    On March 22, Tustin native and Army National Guard Lieutenant Dan Choi went on the Rachel Maddow Show and said these words: "I am gay." On April 23, he received a letter: "This is to inform you that sufficient basis exists to initiate action for withdrawal of Federal Recognition in the Army National Guard for moral or professional dereliction. .… More >>
  • Best Celebrity


    Okay, so Nadya Suleman only became an OC resident after she—or, rather, her uterus—became famous, but she did graduate from Cal State Fullerton, and more important, she embodies everything that makes OC so uniquely self-centered and craven. Through her bold dedication to plastic surgery, unmatched accumulation of embryos and resource-draining production of future citizens, Octomom is a gloriously vapid example… More >>
  • Best Scholar

    Mike Nguyen

    It's a familiar OC story: Once upon a time, a Vietnamese family decided to leave their home behind and try for a new life in America. Mike Nguyen was only a small child when his family left Vietnam. They settled in Santa Ana; his dad worked as a line cook and his mother as a seamstress. As Nguyen grew up,… More >>
  • Best Newspaper Reporter

    Teri Sforza

    Few things get us excited more than a determined reporter hot on the trial of corruption. In the case of The Orange County Register's Teri Sforza, she gets extra credit for enduring a smear attack after exposing an unusual and secretive $5.4 million bonus arrangement taken by Professional Community Management (PCI), which runs senior-citizens-loaded Laguna Woods Village. With the aid… More >>
  • Best Undercover Register/Freedom Communications Snoop

    'davey threshie'

    Weeks before Irvine-based Freedom Communications, parent of The Orange County Register, officially confirmed in June that Scott Flanders would leave Freedom as CEO to assume the same position with Playboy Enterprises, "davey threshie" divulged that would happen on OC Weekly's Navel Gazing blog. "davey" is not a Weekly staff blogger, but one of the dozens of Freedom/Register insiders who routinely… More >>
  • Best Political Cartoons

    Mission Viejo Watchdogs Editorial Cartoons

    Founded in the late '90s and apparently avoiding a web redesign ever since, Mission Viejo Watchdogs serves as a dissent dispensary for the city's clique of citizen political agitators (the crowd whose most ambitious project to date is the attempted recall of Councilman Lance MacLean). But the uninitiated should skip the site's gossip roundups and go straight to each week's… More >>
  • Best TV STation


    This Huntington Beach-based station not only showcases the best of public programming (PBS, we love you!), but it also airs Real Orange—a news magazine examining substantive local issues that don't have anything to do with reality TV or Octomom. Imagine that.… More >>
  • Best Radio Station

    StarTree KOCI-FM 101.5

    Based in Costa Mesa, StarTree KOCI-FM 101.5 may be young, but it's also one of the few organizations trying to unite the music scene in Orange County by giving it a home. The FM radio station was started from scratch by Brian Helvey, who told the Weekly this year that his motivating force was necessity: "We have one of the… More >>
  • Best Blog

    Beyond the Blackboard

    Everyone generally agrees that the students in Capistrano Unified School District are good kids; it's the parents and politicians who shoot spitballs. The South County school district has spent half of this decade immersed in "adult-centered" turmoil, stirred up by the alleged misdeeds of superintendent James Fleming (who should be heading to trial any day now) and only made more… More >>
  • Best News Anchor

    Eric Leonard

    Arguably the best radio reporter in Southern California history, KFI-FM's Eric Leonard time and again scoops his rival journalists in radio, television, print and online. When it comes to law-enforcement and court coverage, nobody has developed better sources. Too often reporters trade their integrity to maintain those contacts, but not Leonard. He's consistently candid with his listeners and isn't afraid… More >>
  • Best Sportscaster

    John Ireland

    The rare sportsman who can offer good analysis as a reporter (for KCAL-TV) and hold his own as a yakker (for KSPN-AM 710, on the eminently listenable Mason & Ireland daily afternoon show), Ireland no longer lives in Orange County, but the Corona del Mar High alum is still crucial to the county's sports identity as one of the ringleaders… More >>
  • Best Weathercaster

    Elita Loresca

    We've been noticing some interesting trends in weather patterns from local network-news stations: a steep rise of puffy, cumulus formations in the upper chests of female forecasters. And Cal State Fullerton graduate Elita Loresca possesses this asset in spades. As a former weather girl covering hurricanes in Miami and current weathercaster of Today In LA and Midday Report on KNBC… More >>
  • Best Radio Personality

    Larry Mantle

    Some people have unparalleled patience. They are able to listen to rants and anger, arguments and fluff yet still derive a clear, concise meaning from all of the static. Larry Mantle, host of Southern California's longest continuously airing, daily talk program, KPCC's Air Talk, is one of those people. We are constantly surprised and impressed at the level to which… More >>
  • Best Radio Show for Book Junkies

    Weekly Signals

    Despite OC's reputation as a conservative bastion, it has two die-hard progressives: Mike Kaspar and Nathan Callahan, who created Weekly Signals on KUCI to entertain and educate their listeners about the latest nonfiction books. How successful is the Tuesday-morning show? It routinely offers interviews with the likes of Sidney Blumenthal, Vincent Bugliosi, Andrei Codrescu, John Dean, Karen Finley, Daniel Ellsberg,… More >>
  • Best Latino Commentator

    Adriana Maestas

    This UC Irvine grad and OC resident is the shot of heresy the Latino, political-chattering classes need. Adriana Maestas is a flaming liberal, but she throws her sharpest barbs at the Latino Democratic ruling class. Most of them target Representative Loretta Sanchez, whom she frequently derides as "Low-retta" for her coochy-coochy ways and for the congresswoman's failure to co-sponsor the… More >>
  • Best Obamaphobe

    Wiley Drake

    It's hard to pin down what it is about Barry Soetoro—a.k.a. Barack Hussein Obama II, a.k.a. The Usurper, a.k.a. The Big O'Bummer—that has sent conservatives into conniptions across the country. Most likely, it's the fact he was born in an exotic foreign land such as Quebec, Kenya or Hawaii (We can't even be sure which one it is! He hasn't… More >>
  • Best Viral Video Featuring OC Icon

    Orly Taitz's MSNBC Breakdown

    You have to admit they set her up. Before Orly Taitz was even beamed from Tel Aviv into liberal living rooms across the country, MSNBC anchors David Shuster and Tamron Hall had done their homework. First, a few minutes spent torching the forged Kenyan birth certificate Taitz had just filed in her case to prove Barack Obama is a foreigner.… More >>
  • Best Political Protest

    The One-Man Counterdemonstration At the Santa Ana Teabag Party

    One very brave hippie guy held up a sign reading, "Where Were U When Bush Was Spending?" He was quickly surrounded by a lot of angry patriots who accused him of being a socialist, which he said he'd rather be than a capitalist, given that they were responsible for running the world economy into the crapper. What made this April… More >>
  • Best Excuse EVER!

    Blaming Your Swiss Banker

    Billionaire Igor Olenicoff, who owns homes in Laguna Beach and Florida and operates his Olenicoff Properties Inc. out of a Newport Beach office, has pleaded guilty to various tax crimes and paid heavy fines since 2007. The 66-year-old admitted wrongdoing and took some responsibility, telling the Bloomberg news agency, "Once you do something wrong, you 'fess up and you pay… More >>
  • Best Charity

    Working Wardrobes

    After you've been laid off, you're cash-strapped, so it's great that Working Wardrobes is there to take your old work clothes in exchange for a tax write-off. The clothes then get donated to women, men and youths in need of their first suits for job interviews. Many of the recipients are domestic-abuse victims or have suffered some other kind of… More >>
  • Best Catholics

    Catholic Worker

    Those associated with this nationwide movement are secular saints, and not just because they share cramped living quarters in a giant Victorian located in a sketchy Santa Ana neighborhood with anyone who needs a roof over their head. Whether advocating for the county's homeless, organizing prayers and food drives, or all the other mandates that Christ demanded of his disciples,… More >>
  • Best Faculty-Break-Room Food Fights

    Chapman University School of Law

    Because its benefactor is George Argyros, its president is James Doti and its location is smack-dab in the middle of Orange County, Chapman University has a reputation for being a bastion of conservatism. That rep extends to the law school, where dean John C. Eastman has previously argued that illegal aliens are foreign nationals who are not protected by U.S.… More >>
  • Best Festival

    Irvine Global Village Festival

    No city is prouder of its multicultural reality than Irvine—as long as you've got the money to live in Don Bren's playground, you're fine. Such a celebration comes to a crescendo every fall, when the city hosts its Global Village Festival. Imagine your high school's International Day writ large: food booths, crafts, music and dance groups in the serene setting… More >>
  • Best Place to Meet an FBI Informant

    Your Local Mosque

    Look for the new guy wearing Middle Eastern garb who keeps asking total strangers how he can learn more about jihad.… More >>
  • Best Escape Route

    The New Virgin Terminal at John Wayne Airport

    Helllll, yeah, $45 one-way flights to San Francisco? Flights to New York for less than $300 roundtrip? We might not have Jet Blue yet (we're shaking our fists at you, Long Beach!), but Virgin is just as good—if not better. The crew leaves you alone, you get your own personal video screen complete with cable television, and the best part?… More >>
  • Best City In Which to Live

    San Clemente

    Sand, pier, surf, waves, breeze . . . Yeah, yeah, coastal OC is pretty great. But any inlander can list some downsides: It's pricey, packed and, often, pretentious. Not so much in San Clemente, though. Laid-back and relatively uncrowded, the town in some ways feels more Baja California than Southern California. There's an art scene, a surf scene and a… More >>
  • Best Non-Denominational Group Meditation Session

    Pranic Healing and Meditation With Daniel O'Hara

    It's nice to go to a quiet church and be able to give thanks to Buddha, Jesus and all other "sentient beings." It's nice to feel like no one religion is better than another, to sit around with a bunch of strangers and do a little laughing yoga before settling into a discursive meditation session. This is what Daniel O'Hara's… More >>
  • Best Place to Chat With Racists

    The Orange County Register's Reader-Comments Section

    It's fast and easy. First, go to the Register's website. Then look for any story about Mexico, Santa Ana or gangs—or any story written by an author with a Hispanic surname. Next, click on the readers' comments, and you're off and running. Just remember: no racial slurs allowed, so keep the racism on the polite side. Hint: Instead of using… More >>
  • Best Excuse for Racism

    Dean Grose's Don't-Blame-Me-I'm-Stupid Defense

    Former Los Alamitos mayor Dean Grose claims he doesn't understand why everyone got so upset when he sent a black colleague an e-mail featuring a picture of the Obama White House with a watermelon patch instead of a lawn. Watermelons have racist connotations as stereotypical slave food? Grose had no idea! Or so he said. If that's true, it means… More >>
  • Best Reminder of OC's Eternal Bilingualism

    Wilkommen/Welcome Sign In La Palma Park

    Let Barbara Coe and the rest of Orange County's vast Know Nothing nation rail against creeping bilingualism across our homeland, whether in Little Saigon or Little Arabia, Santa Ana or Garden Grove. Old-timers know and understand that communicating in two tongues is a hallmark of the Orange County way, and the friendliest reminder is a massive sign at the northwest… More >>
  • Best Historians

    Orange County Mexican-American Historical Society

    In their day jobs, members of the Orange County Mexican-American Historical Society embody what the official county narrative never bothered to point out: that the descendants of orange pickers now work for Fortune 500 companies, school districts, all the white-collar jobs once thought impossible for Mexicans to comprehend. In their spare time, the small group travels to schools and anywhere… More >>
  • Best Beauty-Pageant Boob Job

    Hermosa Y Protegida

    Carrie Prejean's tits have nothing on Frida Marin's or the dozen or so other OC beauties who strut their stuff every year for the coveted title of Miss Hermosa y Protegida (Miss Beautiful and Protected). The backstage drama and prep time at the Center OC's Miss Hermosa pageant is enough to put even the sassiest Miss USA contestant in her… More >>
  • Best Place to Give Birth

    South Coast Midwifery and Women's Health Care

    A visit to South Coast Midwifery makes it easy to see why women might choose to have their babies here instead of the hospital. At South Coast Midwifery, which this year became only the third birthing center in California to be accredited by the Commission for Accreditation of Birth Centers, it's okay to dim the lights, wander around at your… More >>
  • Best Tourist Trap

    Trinity Christian City International

    The creepy-ass white palatial building just off the 405 freeway is hard to miss, as they keep their grounds drenched in white Christmas lights year-round. Open to the public, the Trinity Broadcast Network's Trinity Christian City International offers tours, films and even a gift shop where you can pick up anything from Bible Scattergories to a "God Bless America" trailer-hitch… More >>
  • Best Hotel

    Hotel Laguna

    It's funky, and your walk is uneven in places. What do you expect from a "world famous" building that opened in 1888? But the fancy restaurant and fancier cocktails (Claes Restaurant boasts a menu just for vodkas) are killer, and there is no beating the view out the north-facing windows of Main Beach. Why? Because you're on the damn beach!… More >>
  • Best Historic Neighborhood

    French Park

    Sure, Floral Park, with its tree-shaded streets, abundant lawns and 600 vintage homes built in the 1920s through '50s, hogs up all the press. But another Santa Ana neighborhood that deserves equal billing is French Park, which was designated a local historic district in 1984 and put on the National Register of Historic Places 15 years after that. Within the… More >>
  • Best Residential Neighborhood

    Talega, San Clemente

    If we must wreck the world with McMansions, let us at least wreck it to look like Talega. Located in the hills by a decommissioned aerospace test site, the development—which first broke ground 10 years ago—was master planned with an eye toward open space and mixed income levels (but no one in the lower bracket, of course). The economy has… More >>
  • Best Downtown

    Old Towne Orange

    It might be a repeat-repeat-repeat winner, but this is truly the only downtown in Orange County that is both un-snoozy and douchebag-free. The Orange Circle boasts an adorable, quaint setting—so adorable, quaint and Americana-y that even That Thing You Do!, with its picture-perfect 1960s time period, was filmed here—and offers everything from indoor antique malls, cute old people, an old-fashioned… More >>
  • Best Not-So-Cheap Thrill

    A Villa at the Resort at Pelican Hill

    Billionaire real-estate developer Donald Bren has poured concrete over huge chunks of Orange County, but when it comes to building with impeccable style, no one does it better. That's why if you are looking to celebrate a special occasion with friends between a Sunday and a Wednesday and have an extra $1,650 (not including tax and gratuities), you should spend… More >>