Best of 2018 – Winners

Best of 2018

Sports & Recreation

  • Best Angels Player

    Mike Trout

    Team Best Of was looking forward to shaking things up in 2018 by giving the nod to Shohei Ohtani for his fabulous, near-historic start to the season as a pitcher and designated hitter, which produced something akin to Fernandomania back in the day in LA. However, a June 7 arm injury ended Ohtani’s dream season prematurely, and though the Japanese superstar quickly returned to the batter’s box—and the practice mound at the time this was written—there is no denying the monster numbers again being put up by his teammate Troutie. Before he was placed on the 10-day disabled list in August, the six-time Major League Baseball All-Star, two-time American League Most Valuable Player and consensus best all-around player in the game boasted a .309 batting average, which was three points higher than his career average. Trout had also collected 30 home runs, 60 runs batted in and 21 stolen bases. His homer at July’s All-Star Game had him joining Al Kaline and Mickey Mantle as the only other players to have hit two dingers in MLB showcases before reaching age 27. Angel Stadium, 2000 E. Gene Autry Way, Anaheim, (714) 426-4357;

  • Best Angels Hall of Famer

    Vladimir Guerrero

    Driving by Angel Stadium, portraits of sluggers Shohei Ohtani, Mike Trout and Albert Pujols hang from sidewalk posts. And then, an old familiar face appears from the rows above. Even though Vladimir Guerrero played his last game as a Halo in 2009 before ending his storied career elsewhere, his likeness doesn’t feel out of place. Vlady cemented that bond by becoming the first player donning an Angels cap on his image immortalized in bronze at the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. The right fielder wasted no time creating his legacy after coming to Anaheim from the Montreal Expos in 2004. That season, Guerrero belted 39 home runs and 126 RBIs while batting .337 from the plate. The stellar stat line earned him American League MVP honors. He continued swinging at pitches wildly outside the strike zone and turning them into improbable base hits for the Angels in the five seasons that followed. When inducted, Guerrero kept his Hall of Fame acceptance speech short and sweet, but his Angels baseball legacy is now for the ages.

  • Best Local Surfer(s)

    Kanoa Igarashi and Courtney Conlogue

    After Huntington Beach locals Kanoa Igarashi and Courtney Conlogue swept the competition at the U.S. Open of Surfing, there was no choice but to declare a tie in this category. This year’s victory marks the second time Conlogue won a U.S. Open, and the second year in a row that Igarashi took home the gold. As a kid, Conlogue would ride her bike 20 miles from her home in Santa Ana to surf the Huntington Beach break with her brother. She won her first U.S. Open at age 17 and went on to finish second in the World Surfing League (WSL) in 2015 and 2016. Igarashi’s family immigrated to Huntington Beach from Japan while he was still a boy to give him the best shot at becoming a pro surfer. That decision paid off: At age 18, Igarashi became the youngest WSL pro. Instagram: @courtneyconlogue and @kanoaigarashi.

    Instagram: @kanoaigarashi/
    Instagram: @courtneyconlogue/

  • Best Dog Park

    Huntington Dog Beach

    The official boundaries are the beachside of Pacific Coast Highway from Seapoint Avenue to 21st Street, but frequent visitors (and their masters) know it stretches farther and farther on either end. Paws crossed that does not ultimately endanger the designated swath of sand and surf that includes picnic tables, grassy areas, public restrooms, doggie-waste-bag dispensers and nearby, non-outrageous public parking. (Just $1.75 per hour on meters that take cards, coins or currency.) Under ordinance, dogs are supposed to remain leashed at Dog Beach, but Surf City looks the other way so long as your pooch is not endangering people or other flea collectors. Sugeagoodboy! 100 Goldenwest St., Huntington Beach, (714) 841-8644;
    100 Goldenwest St.
    Huntington Beach – 714.841.8644

  • Best Place to Play Pool

    Blue Dolphin Restaurant & Billiards

    It’s difficult to believe this pool hall, bar and Chinese-American restaurant is still open in ever-prettified Dana Point. But the throwback haven for billiard-lovers abides, providing space for a few friends to hang out or throw birthday bashes and tournaments. The Blue Dolphin boasts well-lit, green-felted tables upstairs and down, in addition to foosball, darts and a shuffleboard game. There’s even a coin-operated table. American Poolplayers Association contenders in 9-ball play at this wonderful dive, so go before its inevitable demise. Just keep one eye out for sharks when you’ve consumed too many kamikazes, which always seem to be on special. 34130 Pacific Coast Hwy., Dana Point, (949) 489-2936;

    34130 Pacific Coast Hwy.
    Dana Point – 949.489.2936

  • Best Beach

    Crystal Cove State Park

    If you mind the tides, it’s possible to beach-comb the entire 3-plus miles of beaches, coves and points in a single visit. Swim or bodysurf Muddy Creek, El Moro, the Historic District—where you can see the ramshackle cottages from the water—and the middle of Treasure Cove. Or just snooze under an umbrella until it’s time to grab a drink at the Beachcomber. True, a $15 day-use fee is required, but it helps to preserve and protect all our State Parks and makes your beach day feel even more like a vacation. Plus, all the naturalist programming is free. Perhaps, if you go tidepooling with a guide, you’ll get to see the two-spot octopus or tiny-yet-psychedelic blue dorid. Just remember the only thing you are allowed to take home is sea glass, aside from the sand that gets everywhere. 8471 N. Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, (949) 494-3539;
    8471 N. Coast Hwy.
    Laguna Beach – 949.494.3539

  • Best Ride at Disneyland

    Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

    Since 1979, guests have been embarking on a journey through Rainbow Ridge Mining Town. A red engine train takes passengers through bumpy winding roads as they escape the perils of an exploding abandoned gold mine. To many, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad does not compare to the likes of Space Mountain, but the anticipation of not knowing what is to come after each sharp turn is what makes this ride all the more exhilarating. Thus, it is truly “the wildest ride in the wilderness.” 1313 Disneyland Dr., Anaheim, (714) 781-4636;
    1313 Disneyland Dr.
    Anaheim – 714.781.4636

  • Best Sportscaster

    Rob Fukuzaki

    His only association with Orange County—other than his daily ABC7 sportscasts that are picked up here because of our inclusion in the Los Angeles broadcast market—is being the host of pre- and post-game shows of the Los Angeles Chargers, whose headquarters are in Costa Mesa. When Torrance-born, Hawaii-raised Fukuzaki joined the Eyewitness News team in 1994, he became the first male Japanese-American anchor in LA’s regional television-news game. He’s gone on to win several awards from the Southern California Broadcast Journalism Society, but Fukuzaki would tell you his greatest achievement is his charity and community work, especially on behalf of the Heads Up Youth Foundation. Having founded the nonprofit that assists disadvantaged youths in Southern California through sports programs in 1997, Fukuzaki continues to serve as its chairman.

  • Best Bowling Alley

    Linbrook Bowl

    When you say, “Fuck it; let’s go bowling,” go to Linbrook Bowl. Its Googie-style architecture and beautiful neon sign imbue it with an old-school, Big Lebowski-esque charm, but the interior was recently renovated so mechanical glitches won’t interfere with games. Open 24 hours, Linbrook Bowl is the perfect late-night hang-out spot. When you’re done bowling, be sure to check out karaoke at the Kopa Room (a.k.a. Linbrook’s bar). 201 S. Brookhurst St., Anaheim, (714) 774-2253;
    201 S. Brookhurst St.
    Anaheim – 714.774.2253

  • Best Pub Trivia

    All-American Pub Trivia

    Do you like drinking? Do you have multiple trivia apps on your phone? Do you watch episodes of Jeopardy at the gym? If you answered yes to any of those questions, check out Trivia, Taps and Taco Tuesday at this Anaheim brewery. Hosted by Geeks Who Drink, the contest boasts categories that are varied enough to always be challenging, but you can usually have the satisfaction of coming through in the clutch with that random piece of trivia. Be sure to go with a team, as it’s much more fun than arriving solo. 5120 E. La Palma Ave., Ste. 103, Anaheim, (657) 549-2140;
    5120 E. La Palma Ave., Ste. 103
    Anaheim – 657.549.2140

  • Best Neighborhood Park

    TeWinkle Park

    We all need to get out of the house occasionally and enjoy nature (even if that nature is manmade). Costa Mesa’s TeWinkle Park has something for everyone: a great playground, a skate park, tennis courts, basketball courts and baseball fields. If you’re looking to just relax in the outdoors, there are several walking trails, a small hill to climb and a duck-attracting lake that smells more like horses because of the fairgrounds’ stables across the street. 970 Arlington Dr., Costa Mesa, (714) 754-5223;
    970 Arlington Dr.
    Costa Mesa – 714.754.5223

  • Best Nature Trail

    Jeffrey Open Space Trail

    You can’t deny the meticulously designed path parallel to Jeffrey Road, stretching from Portola Parkway to Trabuco. Depending on your mood or method of transportation, you’ll discover both paved and dirt paths from which to choose. Well-lit at night, this scenic, 5-mile round-trip trail bypasses intersections with bridges and tunnels. Residents can utilize secure restrooms, water fountains and benches. Dog owners will definitely appreciate bag dispensers and an enclosed grassy area on the Portola end. If you’re into local history, there’s even spots along the trail that educate folks. 13252 Jeffrey Rd., Irvine, (949) 441-5874;
    13252 Jeffrey Rd.
    Irvine – 949.441.5874

  • Best Martial-Arts Studio

    Kings MMA

    Owned by renowned master Rafael Cordeiro, Kings MMA is the place for top UFC fighters and amateurs alike to get their kicks in. Children, novices and professional fighters can train in Muy Thai, mixed martial arts and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu classes. Cordeiro says his teaching style emphasizes knowledge and philosophy just as much as technique and conditioning. 7391 Warner Ave., Huntington Beach, (714) 848-2525;
    7391 Warner Ave.
    Huntington Beach – 714.848.2525

  • Best Day Trip

    Potato Chip Rock

    Although Orange County hosts Disneyland, some of California’s best beaches and the original Real Housewives, it’s good to venture beyond the county lines every once in a while. Just a few hours away, San Diego’s social-media sensation Potato Chip Rock awaits. Resembling a thin crisp atop a boulder, the natural construction attracts hikers who traverse steep, sharp trails to stand on it for selfies. Pro tip: Enjoy free street parking if you start your 4-mile hike from the back of Mount Hudson. Weekday parking is free at Lake Poway, though it’s 10 bucks on weekends and holidays. Whenever you go, wear workout gear and bring a backpack and plenty of water. 14644 Lake Poway Rd., Poway, (858) 668-4772;
    14644 Lake Poway Rd.
    Poway – 858.668.4772

  • Best Golf Course

    San Clemente Municipal Golf Club

    If you want the most proverbial bang for your golfing buck, as well as a well-conditioned, eminently playable and unreasonably seasonable course (temperatures rarely spike above 85 degrees, even as OC, as with the rest of the American Southwest, slides inexorably into the maws of climate-changed hell), you can’t beat this one. It’s owned by the city, which means green fees are cheap, topping out at $44 on Saturdays and Sundays or as low as $14 if you grab a super-twilight rate after 2:30 p.m. or 3:30 p.m., depending on the time of the year. The links have more than stood the test of time, going on close to 80 years now. At 6,435 yards from the back tees, it’s long enough to put your driver in play, but, as always, it’s how you do around and on the greens that counts. There are also ocean views on several holes, and the course encourages walking—if you’re one of those. That also factors into pace of play (think five hours when busy) sometimes being a drag, but that’s why Buddha invented beverage carts, right? 150 E. Avenida Magdelena, San Clemente, (949) 361-8384;
    150 E. Avenida Magdelena
    San Clemente – 949.361.8384

  • Best Gym

    Club Pilates

    It doesn’t matter whether your goals are a vacation bod or marathon shape. You want results, and you don’t want to pay the price down the line for putting your body under too much stress. Surprisingly, low-impact workouts can still produce a burn you can feel, thanks to those S&M-looking reformer machines at Club Pilates. Cardio Sculpt class is heart-pounding with jump boards, while a Reformer Flow session stretches like no other. It’s the best of both worlds! Various locations;
    Various locations

  • Best Surf Spot

    Salt Creek Beach

    There are three areas from which you can takeoff into the water at Salt Creek Beach, which boasts waves for every kind of surfer. “The Point” tends to be more crowded and competitive, “Middles” (literally in the middle) can have strong waves but tends to take in the excess people from the crowds, and “Gravels” is best for bodyboarding. It is definitely a locals’ spot, so make sure to respect those who have been riding its waves for decades. Amenities such as outdoor showers and bathrooms (which can be a blessing at some beaches) make surfing at Salt Creek Beach both enjoyable and convenient. 33333 Pacific Coast Hwy., Dana Point, (949) 923-2280.

    33333 Pacific Coast Hwy.
    Dana Point – 949.923.2280

  • Best Yoga Studio


    Yoga is so much more than moving through sequences of sun salutations. It’s a practice that can align your mind, body and spirit after you get the hang of it, making it one of the most potent forms of meditation. It’s important to go to a yoga studio you jibe with, one that places emphasis on the connection to spirit through movement, so you’ll get more out of the experience and transcend to the best version of yourself. That’s why YogaSapien in Laguna Beach is so special. From super-sweaty power yoga to integrated sound-healing restorative and Yin yoga, the sessions are geared toward connecting to the self and experiencing meditation through motion. The classes are lead by specialists who help individuals grow in their practice. 610 N. Coast Hwy., Ste. 208, Laguna Beach, (949) 416-3996;
    610 N. Coast Hwy., Ste. 208
    Laguna Beach – 949.416.3996

  • Best Ducks Player

    Corey Perry

    Forget the boring stats; we celebrate Perry this year for one of the funniest goals in recent hockey history. Time has erased the name of whatever team the Ducks were fighting in some game last season and when the goal happened. Perry wasn’t even involved—not just not involved with the goal, but also, even though he was on the ice, not even involved with the game. What Perry was doing was punching a bunch of players who were sitting on their bench. Why? Because the players were blocking Perry from grabbing his stick, which had somehow landed at their feet. So, while the whole arena roared at the scene, which caused a major distraction on the ice, one of Perry’s teammates snuck the puck into the net. It wouldn’t have happened without Perry’s notorious bad temper. For further evidence of this athlete’s contribution to comedy, just type “Corey Perry is a Jerk” into a YouTube search and reach for the popcorn.