By Jane Lasky
Want to go on vacation without the stress of going on vacation? Skip the packing, the travel delays and the jetlag by staycating right here in the O.C. There’s a plethora of must sees and dos that many locals miss out on because we’re all so busy with our regular day-to-day lives. So take some time off and get ready to explore one of the world’s premier holiday destinations: your hometown.
Try A New Restaurant
Save the train ride for another time and head to Anaheim’s super cool ARTIC Transportation Center (it looks like a futuristic igloo) for the chance to experience The Oyster Bar. Besides the obvious menu item of oysters (shucked while you wait), this fresh fine dining establishment is keen on Cajun and creole dishes. Peek out the window for an awe-inspiring view of the Honda Center and Angel Stadium. Another stellar venue for good grub is Costa Mesa’s Vaca, created by celebrity chef Amar Santana. Expect a very Spanish vibe and a mouth-watering selection of tapas.
Crash The Waterways Head On
Surfs up, staycationers! First up is the chance to paddle board at night at Newport Dunes. Just hit up Pirate Coast Paddle Company for the appropriate rig: A very big surf board equipped with bright night lights. If a boat ride suits your fancy and your nautical skills are up to task, you can always rent a Duffy, known for its ease of use (it’s like a golf cart on water). These electric vessels, rented at Duffy of Newport Beach, hold up to about a dozen seafarers (including canines weighing less than 30 pounds) who are keen to skim the waters at around five miles per hour.
Bring On The Nostalgia
The landmark Lido Theatre (now the Regency Lido) dates back to the days when Art Deco architecture was all the rage and when this structural style was often outrageous. Staying in sync with this trend (note the muted candy-colored exterior), this Newport Beach mainstay displays rare Catalina tiles and outlandish black-light lit ocean scene murals – think glow-in-the-dark sharks. It started as a small movie house (the first movie on the docket was Jezebel, starring Bette Davis in 1938) that now offers iconic and first-run films as well as fun cover bands. Whatever your entertainment fare, try hard to grab the front row seats in the balcony – it’s the best place in this memorable vintage house from which to observe.
Bike The Back Roads
The car-free, 50-mile Santa Ana River Trail is the perfect place to tune out the world while toning your calves. Start at Huntington Beach dam and pedal your way to S. Waterman Avenue in San Bernardino. Enjoy the traffic-free lanes and the fresh air. Other Orange County bike paths waiting for you to get into gear include the 7.8-mile loop at Irvine’s Meadowood Park and the 33-mile Como Street ride – the latter a challenge to even the most cycled cycler.