Sep 23 2008

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Affordable Orange County: A weekend getaway guide

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Orangecountysunset
By Alina Motin

Temperatures are perfect in Orange County nearly all year-round. I recently moved here from the Midwest and I don’t take the beautiful weather for granted. In the beach areas, you are typically surrounded by affluence like sprawling beach homes and exquisite yachts, but it is possible to enjoy the area economically.

One thing to keep in mind is that you will need to have a car. There isn’t a way to get around the area without one.

Among Orange County hotels, Ramada Limited in Costa Mesa/Newport Beach has great rates on weekends in the fall. The hotel is about a mile away from the beach.

While in this area, make a stop at Balboa Bay Island. This is a walkable, laid-back island. You will notice that most residents have private yachts in front of their homes. You must treat yourself to a frozen chocolate-covered banana here, a treat that originated on the Island.

From the island, take a ferry ride to Newport Beach for $1 (for an extra buck your car comes with you on the ferry). Once on the beach, rent a boogie board or a beach cruiser (rentals are available right on the beach). Sharkeez is a great place for lunch, where you can enjoy delicious fish tacos and margaritas.

For evening festivities, drive about 10 miles north to Huntington Beach. Check-out Savannah for its happy hour special. This is a great people-watching place as it sits right on the beach. Stay for the sunset (some of the most beautiful sunsets are here on the West Coast).

The following day should be spent exploring Laguna Beach, located about 15 miles south of Newport. On your drive down, stop in at the Beachcomber Café for breakfast. This area is preserved so it has retained the ambiance of a 1930s beach resort. The restaurant sits right on the beach and you can enjoy breakfast for about $6-$10.

In Laguna, stay at Laguna Beach Inn. The hotel is near the beach and they offer complementary parking, hot breakfast and wine and cheese reception in the evening. Explore the many art exhibits Laguna has to offer.

In the evening, watch the sunset from Casa Del Camino‘s roof-top bar (across from Laguna Beach Inn). There is a great tapas restaurant, K’ya, downstairs at the hotel. Or you can check-out Brussels Bistro for dinner (a 5-minute drive). Here, you get good, reasonably priced food and of course a great selection of beer. If you’re not ready to call it a night, go to the White House. It’s a laid-back bar, maybe a little cheesy, but nevertheless a fun place for some late-night dancing!

Related Orbitz resources:

Alina Motin is an Orbitz market manager in Orange County.

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