A Design Lover's Guide to Orange County

A Design Lover's Guide to Orange County

Kim Lucian
Jul 31, 2012
While Orange County is probably best know for turning out "Laguna Beach" and "The Real Housewives", those who are from the area know it's actually a pretty charming place. The collection of beach cities from Laguna to Sunset have a laid back costal appeal that is a mecca of surf culture and areas like downtown Fullerton, and the Orange Circle are perfect for spending an afternoon browsing antiques.

International Surfing Museum: A small building off of main street in Huntington Beach aka "Surf City, USA" houses a collection of old boards, video, still images and other artifacts for an interesting look into the culture and history of the movement.
OCMA: Home of the California Biennial show the museum features modern art, installations, and multimedia works incorporating video and sound.

Santa Ana Art Walk: The walk takes place once a month allowing visitors to visit exhibitions in the old Central Station building and open studios in the surrounding downtown artists lofts.
Yost Theater: The Yost is a historic theater transformed into a music venue. The architecture and existing decor creates a dramatic environment for the roster of local talent from the immediate area and nearby LA.
1,000 Steps & The Wedge, Local Beaches: If you're looking for a spot a bit more off the beaten path 1,000 Steps might be your answer. With a steep staircase actually descending 230 steps the payoff is a quiet sandy beach without the packs of locals and tourists. If you want a bit more excitement try the wedge, with a giant shore break the wedge is where you can go to see local surfers tackle big waves.

Orange Circle & Fullerton Antiques: Both the Orange Circle and Downtown Fullerton are filled with quiet antique shops perfect for an afternoon of browsing.
The Lab & The Camp: Both run by the same company the Lab in Costa Mesa is a collection of shops, restaurants and art galleries in an open, outdoor area. It has a sort of urban up-cycled ascetic with colorful installations made from everything to brightly painted metal barrels to old auto parts and has an outdoor fire pit to encourage mingling. The Camp has a similar feel but with an active, outdoorsy slant. Here you can gear up for your adventures with biking, climbing and camping gear. The also boast a scuba lessons, a yoga studio and barre studio.

Harbor House Cafe: This breakfast served all day spot serves giant omelets stuffed with cheese and guacamole and creamy hot chocolate topped with fresh whipped cream along with a slew of other options. The walls of the cozy restaurant are lined with classic movie posters, and other vintage tchotchkes.
Gypsy Den: With locations in both Santa Ana and Costa Mesa the Gypsy Den is a cozy restaurant/cafe with eclectic furnishings and walls hung salon style with art and tapestries. The chai latte and bread pudding are popular picks.

Hotel Laguna: The historic Laguna Hotel sits along a picturesque coastline and is steps away from downtown Laguna beach and it's collection of boutiques and restaurants. The building itself is a popular site for weddings.
Shorebreak Hotel: Keeping with the local surfer vibe of Huntington Beach the Shorebreak has a modern aesthetic with a coastal feel.

(Images: 1. & 3. Shutterstock, 2. ColinYoung-Wolff/OCMA, 4. The Camp, Gypsy Den, 5. Shorebreak Hotel)

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