Recently, my youngest daughter –Rose—moved to the city of Orange. I’ve had a lot of fun going to visit her: she has a great little yard I’ve helped her renovate. I’ve especially enjoyed visiting her, as I once lived in the very same neighborhood close to Old Towne Orange, when I was in my 20s. Odd how history repeats itself, isn’t it? Orange is quite different now: I recall going for evening jogs through citrus groves that are now city streets, but it’s been a blast seeing what remains of old haunts. Since I feel like I’ve become somewhat of an “expert” on Orange County again, here’s my current favorites there.
Largest & Most Eclectic Selection of Wine & Beers: Provisions, Old Towne Orange
Part coffee bar, part bottle shop, part tap room, part deli, Provisions is one of the more unique storefronts I’ve ever visited. They have a rotating tap list of about 25 beers, ciders and hard kombuchas by the glass. For the most part, these are local brews that showcase what a diverse brewing culture there is out in Orange County. Beers on tap are all over the map from quadruple IPAs to barrel aged stouts to sours and more. Additionally, the wine selection is one of the most eclectic I’ve ever witnessed; you’re sure to find something you’ve never heard of before. And – hey! – Provisions sells an Earl Grey flavored whiskey. They had me at TEA!
Best Tide-pools: Tide Pool Beach, Corona del Mar
Tide Pool Beach is an aptly-named strip of sand and rock close to the main drag of the town on Highway 1. If you enjoy scurrying up and down rocky crags early in the morning, this place is for you! Fantastic wildlife, beautiful ocean, and lots of sea-spray. Even the walk to this beach is beautiful. I don’t recommend swimming at high tide, but if you time it right, you’ll see lots of tide pools here.
Distinctive Architecture: Christ Cathedral, Garden Grove
This massive building was originally built for a mega-church; however, when the pastor filed for bankruptcy (one I only wish I could have handled, what a fascinating case!), the property was sold to the Catholic Church and is now a functioning cathedral. The structure is made from more than 10,000 individual glass planes built to withstand an 8.0 earthquake! It is also home to the 3rd largest indoor pipe organ on earth. A fascinating building with a fascinating history.
Best Loose Teas: Tea and Tumeric, Laguna Beach
There’s nothing I love to find as much as a high-quality, local loose-leaf tea purveyor. Tea and Tumeric has a huge variety of different types of teas, as well as a few spices for cooking (you must try the truffle salt). The owners’ blend a lot of their own stuff and have whipped up a few tea concoctions that I’ve not found elsewhere!
Best Antique Mall: Antique Depot, Old Towne Orange
My wife, Karen, and I love a good antique market (okay, Karen may love them more than I do, but I am a willing participant). Antique Depot is one of many antique stores in Old Towne but it stands apart in quality. With about 500 booths on two floors, Karen and I never come away empty-handed. My daughter loves the clocks and vintage clothing. Karen loves all the china and antique advertisements, while I spend most of my time in the huge gem and fossil room.
Best Place to Take a Stroll: Fullerton Arboretum at CSU Fullerton
When I’ve got a tough IRS case, nothing helps me focus like a brisk walk. This park is one of the best places I know for walking and thinking. I especially enjoy the water lily ponds with turtles and koi, but the historic house, fruit orchard, children’s garden, and cactus section all also provide pleasant diversions from figuring out how to stick to the Tax Man on behalf of my clients.
December 8th, 2023