Brea gets a bad rap for being a drab city full of gabachos, and although there is some truth to that, compared to what's going on in neighboring cities such as Yorba Linda, Placentia and Diamond Bored—things in Brea are lookin' pretty good! The city has an interesting mix of late-1990s tract homes and those surreal neighborhoods surrounding Birch Street that could've been designed by Walt Disney. All the homes are new, but they look like they should be in the Orange Circle; it's totally Truman Show, which, oddly enough, was shot in Celebration, Florida, Disney's town. Brea also has an intense public art program, in which properties receive money if they display a piece of art along the street. It would be a great way to liven up the place if the artwork weren't totally weird and creepy—such as the statue on Brea Boulevard of a man masturbating.
If none of this appeals to you, retreat to beautiful Carbon Canyon Regional Park (4442 Carbon Canyon Rd., 714-973-3160). It offers all that normal park stuff—grass, trees, playgrounds, benches—but it also has an easy and enjoyable hiking trail. And you can bring your horse! There's even a “lake” where you can “fish”! Our favorite spot is the mini redwood forest in the very back of the park, perfect for a picnic with lots of shade.
If city life and hands-on statues are your thing, then SummerFest Brea (summerfestbrea.org) is the event of late summer. Think of it as a Taste of Newport, but with less plastic surgery and more kids' activities. The event, held Aug. 15 at the Civic and Cultural Center, will feature more than 30 vendors offering food and drink samples. Admission is free, but tasting tickets cost $3 each. The money gained through these sales will go to supporting the arts in Brea.
It won't be super-easy to catch a buzz at SummerFest, as that requires a lot of samples. When all else fails, getting drunk on Birch Street and going to see a movie is an option. In terms of downtown scenes, Birch is pretty sterile and tame, but there's a Buffalo Wild Wings, TAPS and Yard House—no shortage of alcohol there. Park your car for free in the structure, get your booze on, and then choose from TWO movie theaters, which are curiously next to each other. If there's a particular flick you're looking for, chances are good it's here, unless it's something super-indie like Nymphomaniac. In that case, you're better off walking your drunk ass up the road to find the handjob statue. It's really funny.