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Summer is synonymous with getting back to the great outdoors, but we live in Southern California, where that happens every day. But the season also makes the last of our wilderness up in the mountains some of the least desirable places to visit, as the canyons bake and the bugs are out in full, buzzing force.
If you have to camp locally, you can still plan accordingly. Take a short drive up Chapman Avenue or El Toro Road, and you'll arrive at O'Neill Regional Park (30892 Trabuco Canyon Rd., Trabuco Canyon, 949-923-2260). It's certainly not the redwoods, but it's an easy getaway with a scenic campground. You can bring your dogs and hike right outside your tent. The only drawback? The narcs say no alcohol allowed. But we think you know what to do.
If you'd like to skip out on the effort of setting up camp, as well as the $20 fee, check out the Silverado Summer Concert Series, which happens from 6 to 10 p.m. every third Saturday of the month until September. After the heat of the day settles behind the hills, you can bring a picnic to the Silverado Community Center (27641 Silverado Canyon Rd., Silverado, 714-649-2850; smrpd.org) and listen to local bands while you dance under the stars—all for the price of a can of food. Or you can buy a meal there for five bucks.
Of course, we can't avoid physical exertion altogether just because it's hot. We can deal with it like pigs do, though, by slathering ourselves in mud to keep cool. On June 21, KROQ hosts the annual Irvine Lake Mud Run (irvinelakemudrun.com). For $70, you can enter as an individual or team member and run, slip, slide and crawl through an obstacle course. It's all the fun of a marathon without the intense competition or the fear of "hitting the wall." Plus, there's a beer garden. Teams dress up in wacky costumes, and hey, watching people fall over all day is strangely satisfying. And maybe you'll make it into the OC Weekly slideshow.