President’s Day kicks off the week with a wildly fun day off escape to Universal Studios Hollywood. After that, we serve up some healthy eats at Greenleaf Chopshop and a brew or two at SideDoor, as Hanger 24 takes over. After that, Wicked hits the stage, The Ritz Carlton debuts new dining choices and the week crescendos with an exquisite Mozart Piano Concerto at Soka University’s beautiful new Performing Arts Center. Seven days of diverse SoCal excursions. Get out there.
Universal Studios Hollywood
Universal Studios Boulevard,
Universal City, CA 91608
With President’s Day off, grab the kids and head out to Universal Studios Hollywood. There’s really so much to do and see there — and doing it all with a Front of Line Pass is definitely the way to go. The star-treatment passes are approximately $130 each (includes one-day park admission) and wildly worth it, as you’ll have nearly no waits for any ride. Top attractions include “The Simpsons,” a revolutionary virtual roller coaster where you’ll hang on tight and laugh out loud. You also have to take in the legendary Studio Tour for an up close look at how Hollywood movies are made. After that, wrap the day with the lights of Universal City Walk and perhaps a bite at Hard Rock Café. It’s a fully packed, diverse way to spend a day.
Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop
Hillgren Square Shopping Center
234 E. 17th St.
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
Have you been to Greenleaf yet? They opened a location in Costa Mesa last summer and so many still don’t know about this secluded hot OC spot. Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop is a trend-setting organic restaurant that blends healthy choices with an affordable, fast-casual dining experience. Choose made-to-order salads, wraps, sandwiches and more, all prepared in their sleek, open-display kitchen. There are many gluten-free choices (about 75 percent of the menu, in fact) and vegetarians and vegans will find plenty of delicious options. Greenleaf offers an eclectic mix of boutique wines and local microbrews too. Entrees range from just $8.50-$12.50. Favorites to try include the Tomato Basil soup, The Antioxidant Orchard salad and The Veggie Burger is perfection. Pair your meal with an earthy Sangria cocktail and Big O dessert for the full tasting experience.
Hangar 24 Takes Over SideDoor
3801 East Coast Highway
Corona del Mar, CA 92625
SideDoor in Corona del Mar welcomes Hangar 24 Craft Brewery for a tap takeover event on Wednesday, Feb. 20 from 4:30 to 11:30 p.m. Guests will have an opportunity to taste a variety of award-winning craft beers, including brews from the barrel, local fields and seasonal series. A brewer from the company will be on hand to talk about their history and craft too. Based in Redlands, Hangar 24 is one of the top 100 brewers in the U.S. And SideDoor, you may know, is the sister restaurant of Five Crowns. No reservations are required for the event.
Segerstrom Center for the Arts
600 Town Center Drive
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Wicked is back in Orange County with discount Lottery Tickets to the show. Before each performance, you can go to the Segerstrom Center box office and have your name placed in a lottery drum. Two hours before the show, winning names will be drawn for the limited number of orchestra seats that you can purchase for $25 each, cash only. WICKED has been dubbed “a cultural phenomenon,” and when it last played Costa Mesa it broke box office records, selling out in record time. It’s the winner of 35 major awards, including a Grammy and three Tony Awards. Tickets start at $44.50 if you opt to skip the lottery and purchase in advance. Performances run through March 17.
The 15th Annual Los Angeles Times Travel Show
Los Angeles Convention Center, West Hall
1201 South Figueroa Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015
Planning to hit L.A.’s biggest travel event? Visit the 15th Annual Los Angeles Times Travel Show for two days of exploring where to go, what to see and do and how to stretch your travel dollars. Explore the possibilities from safaris to scuba diving, wind surfing to wine tours, archaeology excursions to relaxing on a pristine beach. Learn from the top travel experts about hundreds of destinations. Get show-only deals and enter trip giveaways. The show is open Feb. 22 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Feb. 24 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Raya at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel
One Ritz-Carlton Drive
Dana Point, California 92629
Whether you’re entertaining clients over a breakfast meeting or just looking for a new weekend brunch spot, Raya at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel just got more delicious. Chef Marissa Gerlach has added three new breakfast dishes to the menu. The new Cuban Sunrise is an open-face sandwich with pork carnitas loaded on top of a soft potato roll and covered with Chile hollandaise, pickles and a fried egg. Next, the Fried Rice and Eggs combines bacon, soy, tofu, bean sprouts, kimchee and scallions. It’s a creation inspired by Chef Marissa, who just backpacked through Bali and Lombok and ate nasi goreng (the Indonesian style of fried rice with eggs) almost every morning. The Fried Rice and Eggs is very versatile and can be vegan or vegetarian by removing the bacon. Finally, the third dish is Chorizo and Egg Huarache. The Mexican flat bread is great for anyone who eats gluten-free. Chef Marissa cooks the chorizo in the eggs that gives it a little bit of heat. She melts Oaxaca cheese on top and then adds sliced avocados and chile de arbol sauce. The dish is served with sliced heirloom tomatoes on top.
Mozart Piano Concerto at Soka
1 University Drive
Aliso Viejo, CA 92656
Visit Soka University’s beautiful new Performing Arts Center and experience the Pacific Symphony for Sundays at Soka. This is the second in a series of three afternoons under the direction of conductor, Carl St. Clair, who is dedicated to the musical mastery of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Acclaimed pianist Orli Shaham joins Pacific Symphony to perform Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 17 — considered one of his finest. The Sunday afternoon program also includes Mozart’s “Haffner” Symphony and the Overture to Don Giovanni. The new Performing Arts Center boasts world-class acoustics designed by Yasuhisa Toyota, designer of noted performance venues such as the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. The performance is at 3 p.m., and tickets are $58; students and seniors are $48. Pacific Symphony patrons can enjoy $10 off their individual ticket purchases by using promo code: PSATSUA.
Debbie Lavdas is a Southern California writer who covers events and more for CBS Los Angeles, as well as lifestyle for Laguna Beach Magazine and Bask Magazine, plus parenting topics for OC Family magazine. Keep up with her at @DebLavdas on Twitter or DebbieintheOC.com.