Mar 31 2011

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SoCal style: Summer vacations in Orange County

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Floral fantasy: Laguna Hills Lodge's enchanting garden.

By Alina Motin

As an Orange County resident, I can be assured of two things: 1. I will always have visitors and 2. Every day feels like a California vacation. With summer around the corner — and constant temperatures around the high 70s to low 80s — I’m happy to share my tips for where to stay, play, eat and drink — whether you’re on the beach or at the Happiest Place on Earth.

For family vacations
If you are visiting with kids, the OC Fair is a perfect event for you.  The event — to be held from July 15 – Aug. 14 — showcases food, animals, carnival rides and concerts.  If you are looking to stay near the beaches at an affordable price, check out Holiday Inn Express Costa Mesa (and get free breakfast with your stay!).

And of course, you can’t beat the top family destination, Disneyland Resort.  If you haven’t yet seen Disneyland’s newest attraction, World of Color – it is an absolute must!  It is a spectacular show of lights, fire, music and Disney characters (this new attraction launched last summer.)  For one of the most convenient locations, virtually across the street from the main gate of Disneyland, stay at the Fairfield Inn Anaheim, which is offering a four-night package in a Disney-themed room, an in-room movie and a $50 Disney gift card per stay.

Itching to get into the park before the general public? Guests at Disney’s Grand Californian have VIP access.

For retail therapy
TV viewers might have questioned the reality of “The Hills,” but Californians’ love affair with shopping is no Hollywood construct. Take up the task alfresco with a spin around Fashion Island, an outdoor shopping mall in Newport Beach, then rest your feet and celebrate with food and wine deals until 6:30 p.m. at the  Canaletto. Another nearby mall with all the stores imaginable is located in Costa Mesa: South Coast Plaza. For nearby hotels, consider The Westin South Coast Plaza, The Wyndham Orange County and The Hotel Handford.)

For culture
If you enjoy jazz, check out Summer Jazz Series at the Hyatt Newport Beach on Friday’s at 8 p.m. from June to  October. Also, Jimmy Hopper, an impressive performer (previously having performed in Las Vegas) makes an appearance every Saturday at the 5-star Island Hotel.  His show provides for great entertainment and the show is free.

For art lovers, visit the legendary Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach from July 3 – Aug. 31.  The event is known for “living pictures” in which works of art are recreated by real people who are made to look nearly identical to the originals. During your visit, make Laguna Hills Lodge your home base. It’s close to all the action, flanked by flowers and extremely homey.

And by all means, use this opportunity to rent a convertible to drive to one of the beaches in Huntington, Newport or Laguna and enjoy the ocean and the sun. Welcome to the O.C.

Related resources

Alina Motin is an Orbitz market manager in Orange County.

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Posted on: March 31, 2011 | Tags: | Category: Beach VacationCategory: California VacationCategory: Family time

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