(Credit: Joan Marcus)

(Credit: Joan Marcus)

It already feels like Spring in OC, and while there is never really a time to be cooped up inside, conditions are especially perfect for a weekend out and about. From the high culture of the theatre to some of the most scenic stretches of hiking trails anywhere, Southern California has it all. If you are situated on the east side of the 605 freeway, Orange County is stacked with things to do and places to see for the weekend. Here is a short list of some of our best picks on how to spend your Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Friday, February 19
(Credit: Joan Marcus)

(Credit: Joan Marcus)

Follow The Yellow Brick Road with “Wicked”
Segerstrom Center for the Arts
600 Town Center Dr
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
(714) 556-2787

Having just celebrated the tenth anniversary of it’s ongoing run last week, the Tony and Grammy award winning musical “Wicked” continues to fill auditoriums wherever it stops. The musical, which was developed by Stephen Schwartz, and is based on the Winnie Holzman book, is a bit of a reimagining of the timeless Wizard of Oz tale. This story is told from the perspective of the villainous witches of Oz and actually pits the Wizard as a ruler with an iron fist, a regime of which this witch vehemently opposes. The new spin on the familiar plot has become a bit of a classic in it’s own right. There is a reason the show still does so well a decade into the production. Grab a ticket and find out why.

Saturday, February 20
(Credit: Mike Stilkey)

(Credit: Mike Stilkey)

Anthology: Mike Stilkey
Palm Court Art Complex at The Great Park
Sand Canyon Ave.
Irvine, CA 92618

With installations featured in Turin, Italy, Switzerland; Manila, Philippines; Hong Kong and Beijing, China as well as here in the United States, Mr. Stilkey’s brand of large-scale art is globally recognized. Transforming reclaimed books into his canvas, Stilkey uses paint, lacquer, and colored pencils to bring to life vibrant, vivid characters that leave people fixed. Running through April, the Art Complex at Irvine’s Great Park is housing a comprehensive retrospective on the work of Mike Stilkey. The eye candy is enough to make you wonder just how and why is admission free.

(credit: mangojuicy/shutterstock)

(credit: mangojuicy/shutterstock)

Orange County Model Engineers Ride
Costa Mesa’s Fairview Park
2525 Placentia Avenue
Costa Mesa, CA 92628

Costa Mesa has been the home for the Orange County Model Engineers since the early 90’s. Train enthusiasts to the say the least, these historians of all things rail open their doors to the public every third weekend of the month for free rides on a wide variety of trains housed on the 40-acre site. The impressive collection of engineering marvels function as great timepieces and works of art themselves. Learning about the particulars of the trains from the knowledgeable staff only adds to the appreciate during the ride.

Sunday, February 21
(Credit: Laguna Canyon Foundation)

(Credit: Laguna Canyon Foundation)

Take the Laguna Canyon Wilderness Hike
384 Legion St
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
(949) 497-8324

Here is a sobering fact, the Lagunas Lakes (redundant, we know) of Orange County are the county’s only natural bodies of water. Though the ongoing drought has meant depleting levels of replenishment, there is an undeniable serenity among the miles and miles hiking trails that surround the area. Spectacular views of Bubbles and Barbaras Lake or a stroll through Bommer Ridge asserts how the preserve is literally an oasis in the heart of a bustling metropolitan OC that feels so far from the noise and traffic of the work week. This slice of California is a small portion that has not been tampered with and is free to experience. The trails are open daily at 8am.

(Credit: Fullerton Arboretum)

(Credit: Fullerton Arboretum)

Fullerton Arboretum
1900 Associated Rd.
Fullerton, CA 92831

Back when Cal State Fullerton was actually called Orange State College, faculty members and students began work on what is now a sprawling 26-acres of thriving plant/tree life. There are over 4,000 different types of plants among the walkways of Fullerton’s Arboretum. The stretch on the north side of the campus is about as ideal as it gets for special events, with weddings and wine festivals regularly on the arboretum’s calendar. With a museum on site open primarily on weekends, there is an educational element that only furthers an appreciation for how diverse and beautiful the land is. With events like Veggiepolooza and Green Scene, the staff keep things interesting for visitors to ensure there is a reason to keep coming back.

Article by Ramon Gonzales.