County of Orange, Center of Southern California
clearly illustrates the Southern California lifestyle. A beautiful
coffee table visual monograph which displays the beauty, depth, and diversity
of the County of Orange as never before. There are 462 gorgeous photographs
from more than 60 top commercial photographers. 100 pages worth. But there
is also a fascinating text by David Lansing, travel author and writer
for Sunset, National Geographic, and the Times of Orange County. And unique
maps of the County and its position as the Center of Southern California.
And vital statistics. And a guide to county parks and beaches. And a list
of recommended destinations. And visitor information resources. And high-quality,
Below are excerpts
of the text for your reading pleasure.
Where We Come From
say babies come in two styles: Winston Churchill or Mao Tse-tung.
Which is to say that all babies look pretty much alike. They're
wrinkled, they're chunky, and they squint. It's not until later
that we become individuals, develop a sense of style. We keep a
stogie in our hand at all times. We wear a homburg hat. We shave
are the same. The better ones--London, Paris, San Francisco--have
a style all their own, a true sense of place. Some cities have personalities
so large they can swallow us up. When the writer Joan Didion moved
from her beloved California to New York City, she hung a map of
Sacramento County on her bedroom wall to remind her on a daily basis
who she was, where she came from. As if she might become one of
"them" if she wasn't careful.
what to make of the County of Orange? How deep do the roots go and
who are the people who live here? Does everyone really wear Hawaiian
shirts to work and are they as conservative as the media oftentimes
suggests? More importantly, why do people choose to live here?
the thing: the County of Orange defies generalizations. Oh, you
can try. You can get a glimpse of a south county neighborhood where
hundreds of homes are so uniformly homogenous you wonder how the
residents are able to distinguish their front door from their neighbor's.
But then you amble around the historic French Park neighborhood
of Santa Ana, with its lovely turn-of-the-century homes, or see
the restored Victorian homes around Old Towne Orange and think,
"Well, this can't be the County of Orange...can it?"
can and it is.
there are miles of some of the prettiest beaches in the world and
even more miles of congested freeways, but there are also dense
woodlands of old oaks, ocher-colored sandstone canyons rich in fossils,
and quiet country roads where farmers still sell baskets of just-picked
strawberries or jars of homemade honey. There are glittering glass
cathedrals and a crumbling adobe mission; the world's most famous
amusement park and little known natural waterfalls; astonishing
restaurants serving artichoke ragout and sidewalk carts offering
spears of papaya or cups of watermelon.
County of Orange's greatest strength is its astonishing diversity.
It's what both delights and befuddles newcomers, for just when you
think you have it figured out, that you know what these 782 square
miles are all about, you stumble across a vision of Southern California
that is nothing like what you imagined, whether it be the bustling
community of Little Saigon, home to the largest concentration of
Vietnamese Americans in the United States, or rustic Silverado Canyon
where stagecoach service ran over a hundred years ago between there
and Los Angeles.
truly understand the County of Orange you need to know two things:
It's young and it's highly impressionable. It has been shaped by
men as diverse as Jose Antonio Yorba, a member of the Portola expedition
of 1769, who came back to hilly chaparral land he'd traveled through
and established the first rancho in the area, and C.J. Segerstrom,
a dairy farmer from Sweden, whose heirs eventually developed some
of the most lucrative commercial property in the world, including
South Coast Plaza.
the old Swede and Spanish-born Yorba would seem to have little in
common, they both understood that with vision and hard work, you
could make this land into anything you wanted. You still can. That's
what Walter Knott did when he began farming berries in Buena Park
in 1927. That's what Walt Disney did in 1955 when he saw something
more than orange trees in Anaheim. People have always come to the
County of Orange because it is a land largely unencumbered by the
past. It has always been a place to look to the future rather than
to bygone days.
of the most important additions to the County of Orange appeared
almost simultaneously, for good reason, in 1955. Five years earlier,
construction had begun on a futuristic motorway, originally called
the Santa Ana Parkway, that would link the center of the region
directly to Los Angeles via an unobstructed river of concrete. It
was the coming of the Santa Ana freeway that would eventually determine
the location of an equally futuristic amusement park that would
forever change the county. In 1953, Walt Disney hired the Stanford
Research Institute in Palo Alto to determine the best location for
a new theme park. They recommended a 160-acre orange grove in Anaheim,
conveniently located next to the proposed Santa Ana Freeway. While
construction of the freeway pushed south, development of the happiest
place on earth went on at its own feverish pace. The freeway and
the park were completed almost at the same time, and in July 1955,
some 28,000 guests passed through the gates of the Magic Kingdom.
Two months later, Disneyland had already welcomed its one-millionth
in the County of Orange was now at a record level. Once the first
freeway into the County was complete, about 50,000 new residents
moved here every year for the next three decades. In 1952, there
had been barely a dozen cities in the County; in the next ten years,
that number would almost double. The population boom of the late
'50s and '60s brought about a number of other important developments
in the County, from the construction of the University of California,
Irvine campus in 1965, to the dedication of a County airport in
the County of Orange turns the corner on another century, it faces
a host of challenges and new opportunities. The diversity that has
always been the county's greatest strength will continue to fuel
economic growth that is expanding more rapidly than almost any other
community in the nation.
day that Walt Disney cut the ribbon opening up the Magic Kingdom,
he noted that the park would "never be completed as long as there
is imagination left in the world."
same could be said for the future of the County of Orange.
Beaches, Our Playground
is an undeniable connection between the ocean and the County's lifestyle.
Perhaps it's because life is said to have risen up out of a salty
sea or because the human body is seventy percent water. Whatever
the reason, visitors and residents alike are constantly drawn to
the ocean--to play, to create, to meditate, to envision--here in
the County of Orange. Our 42 miles of coastline offer up spectacular
views and a wide spectrum of entertainment that all translate into
a certain lifestyle that you can hear in the music, see in the fashion,
and taste in the food.
you prefer to bring all your beach toys with you--boogie boards,
fins, beach chairs, volleyballs--head father south to Bolsa Chica
State Beach, where parking is a breeze, thanks to the 2,500 parking
spaces next to the clean wide beach, or down to Huntington Beach
where its professional surfing events and youthful lifestyle make
its moniker as Surf City U.S.A. well earned.
Costa Mesa Freeway spills into Newport Beach at its southern terminal,
explaining one of the reasons why this stretch of coast gets particularly
busy in the summer. The sand courts at the end of 42nd Street are
great for casual two-person volleyball games, and the surf between
32nd and 44th Streets is popular for body surfing.
Corona," in Corona del Mar, is the perfect family spot, with mild
waves for young swimmers, while "Little Corona", a few blocks south,
is a favorite tidepool spot. The many small, rugged coves north
of Laguna Beach make for great snorkeling and scuba diving, while
the grassy parkland along the city's Main Beach is the perfect spot
to watch a pro volleyball match or a pick-up game of basketball.
Farther south, Salt Creek Beach Park, just below the awesome Ritz-Carlton,
Laguna Niguel resort, is one of the best swimming beaches in the
most popular beach campground in all of California can be found
at Doheny State Beach, south of the Dana Point Harbor. San Clemente
and San Onofre have a greater assortment of surfing spots--for both
experts and beginners--than anywhere in the world. But the best
way to find your favorite County of Orange beach is to just drive
along the coast until you find a spot that looks appealing to you.
Then unpack the car, dip your toe in the water, and let the alchemy
is the First Wonder of the Modern World, an astonishing Babylon
of entertainment where crickets talk, bears play piano, and a mouse
named Mickey holds forth as ruler of the Magic Kingdom. As Disneyland
turns the corner on the 20th century and begins to eye its 50th
anniversary, California's number one attraction is, in many ways,
being reborn as a host of new rides and hotels, including a new
themed land dedicated to the Golden State, which will open soon
in Buena Park, is Knott's Berry Farm. Like its bigger brother, Knott's
is also looking to the future as its new parent company, Cedar Fair,
opens up several new rides in the park, beginning with Ghostrider,
the tallest and longest wooden rollercoaster in the West. Almost
within the coaster's shadow is Movieland Wax Museum, with wax stars
like John Wayne, a county resident, and Kevin Costner who played
baseball at Cal State Fullerton.
there is more to Anaheim and Buena Park than theme parks. Almost
within the shadow of Disneyland's Matterhorn is Edison Field, formerly
called The Big 'A', where the California Angels have been thrilling
baseball fans since 1966. Also nearby is Arrowhead Pond, home to
the Mighty Ducks hockey team. When the Ducks aren't at home, the
Pond is also a popular venue for rock concerts, ice shows, and the
John Wooden basketball tournament.
south of Anaheim, in Garden Grove, is another wonder of the modern
world, the 12-story glass and steel Crystal Cathedral, known for
its Easter and Christmas pageants. Not far from South Coast Plaza,
in Costa Mesa, is the Caesar's Palace-like compound of the Trinity
Broadcasting Network, and further down the freeway, at Mission San
Juan Capistrano, is the Old Stone Church, built in the shape of
a Latin cross with seven domes, where the swallows still come home
to roost in March. Dana Point celebrates the return of the gray
leviathans with the Festival of the Whales in March, while in April
you can watch the spectacular start of the Newport-Ensenada sailboat
race from the beaches around Corona del Mar and Newport.
in the County of Orange means it's time for the annual Festival
of Arts/Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach, as well as the Sawdust
Festival and Art-A-Fair which showcase quality art pieces by over
150 nationally juried artists. Summer also means time for a number
of major surfing competitions along the coast including the U.S.
Open in Huntington Beach. Anaheim celebrates its German heritage
during Oktoberfest, mid-September through October, while Huntington
Harbour, Dana Point, and Newport Beach light up the night with their
festive boat parades in December.
The Magic of Art
Jack and the Beanstalk, magic sprouted from a handful of legumes
when the Orange County Performing Arts Center rose up out of a bean
field in Costa Mesa in 1986. The $65 million jewel in the County's
cultural crown was seeded with generous donations in both land and
cash by the Segerstrom family.
addition to being home to the Pacific Symphony Orchestra, Opera
Pacific, and the Philharmonic Society, the 3,000-seat center has
also hosted a number of touring Broadway production and international
dance and opera troupes. Plans for a second, smaller concert hall,
the Segerstrom Center for the Performing Arts, are currently under
is the Tony Award-winning South Coast Repertory, considered one
of the finest regional theaters in the country. Spilling across
South Coast Plaza are a number of outdoor art installations, like
the world-famous 1.6 acre outdoor sculpture garden created by Isamu
Noguchi, titled the "California Scenario," as well as major pieces
of work by artists like Alexander Calder, Joan Miro, and Jean Dubuffet.
Excellent theatre can also be found at the Laguna Playhouse, Alternative
Repertory Theatre in Santa Ana, and the Vanguard Theatre in Fullerton.
the County's rich and diverse cultural mix, the Irvine Barclay Theatre
offers an eclectic mix of world music and contemporary dance and
serves as the home to the county's largest dance company, Ballet
this is only a taste of arts in the County of Orange. To see the
whole menu you'd have to travel to the Bowers Museum of Cultural
Art in Santa Ana, with its acclaimed art collection of indigenous
peoples and fine California paintings, to the Orange County Museum
of Art in Newport Center with its premiere collection of visual
arts from California Impressionists to provocative contemporary
art. Laguna Beach, home to the Festival of Arts & Pageant of the
Masters in the summer, draws lovers of California art to the Laguna
Art Museum year round, while contemporary artists can be seen practicing
their art at the Artists Village, centered around the historic Santora
Arts Complex in downtown Santa Ana.
this would be only the start. You would still need to make time
to visit the Newport Harbor Nautical Museum, housed in a sternwheeler
on the bay in Newport Beach, and the Richard Nixon Presidential
Library & Birthplace in Yorba Linda, so you can tour the farmhouse
where America's 37th President was born.
children, there's the Children's Museum of La Habra, Santa Ana's
Discovery Museum of Orange County, with its restored Victorian buildings,
and the County's most recent addition, the Discovery Science Center,
also in Santa Ana, with over 100 hands-on exhibits. And don't forget
the International Surfing Museum in Huntington Beach!
no historical record of James Irvine Jr. having visited New York
City's Central Park, but one can't help but imagine that its stature
as the most splendid urban park of its time had something to do
with his decision in 1897 to donate a 160-acre oak grove to the
County of Orange, thus making it the first regional park in all
of California. Back then, families would travel by horseback and
buckboard to picnic beneath the oaks or play a little stickball.
visit to Irvine Park today, which recently celebrated its 100th
anniversary, shows how both the park and recreational activities
in the County of Orange have expanded. You can still go horseback
riding and play a little baseball, but you'll also find trails for
mountain bikers and hikers and a lake for fishing or boating.
weather and ideal recreational facilities make the county an outdoor
enthusiast's dream. The Pacific Ocean fronts the County, opening
up a world of water activities from deep-sea fishing out of Dana
Point to kayaking along million-dollar homes in Huntington and Newport
harbors. There are no less than six piers in the County, open to
fishermen, diners, marine enthusiasts, and strollers.
there are hundreds of miles of hiking trails, including the new
"mountains to sea" Arroyo Trabuco Trail which runs for 15 miles
from the boundary of Cleveland National Forest to the ocean. All
in all, the County of Orange has over 30,000 acres of spectacular
parkland where you can fish, hike, bike, run, swim, camp, or experience
a number of other activities. If that's not enough, you can sail
to Catalina, rollerblade along the beach boardwalk, or try your
hand at skimboarding, a sport that was invented in the County.
surfing wasn't invented here you'll probably find more advocates
of the sport, both young and old, along the County's 40 miles of
coastline than anywhere in the world. Perhaps that's why Huntington
Beach, nicknamed "Surf City," annually hosts a number of surfing
contests including the U.S. Open and Gotcha Pro. Almost as popular
is beach volleyball. Check the two-man games out around Main Beach
in Laguna or between 32nd and 44th Streets in Newport.
let's not forget the many magnificent golf courses, from Pelican
Hill Golf Club, one of the premier public golf clubs in the nation,
to new courses like Aliso Viejo Golf Club. In all, there are some
30 golf courses in the County open to the public, comprising Southern
California's Golf Coast.
World-Class Shopping, Dining and Entertainment
king of retail in the County of Orange remains South Coast Plaza
with its sister complex South Coast Village. This is one of the
premier shopping centers of the world, ranking among the top metropolitan
markets in every retail category measured--from bejeweled watches
to Italian suits.
270 of the world's most prestigious retailers-- Hermes, Jil Sander,
Prada, Fendi, Chanel, Gucci, Mikimoto, and Christian Dior, to name
just a few--are interspersed throughout this shopping mecca which
was created and developed by the Segerstrom family in 1967 on what
had been bean fields. There are also over two dozen great restaurants
in the South Coast Metro district including the much-lauded Gustaf
Anders, Troquet, Joachim Splichal's Pinot Provence, Wolfgang Puck
Café, and Antonello Ristorante.
down the street from South Coast Plaza is The Lab Anti-Mall where
you can get a henna tattoo or one of the finest Cuban meals in the
southland. Overlooking the California coastline is Fashion Island
in Newport Beach, the most successful open-air shopping center in
the country, with over 200 shops, restaurants, and department stores
including Bloomingdale's and Neiman Marcus. The Shops at Mission
Viejo recently had itŐs Grand Re-Opening to debut an upscale, casually
elegant shopping experience for the fast-growing south County.
Irvine Spectrum Center and The Block at Orange are relative newcomers
to the scene, but both have added a number of unique retail and
entertainment options to the County of Orange scene. The Irvine
Spectrum features the Edward's 21-screen theater complex, one of
the largest in Southern California, and a six and a half story,
stadium-style IMAX theater, plus fascinating dining emporiums like
Dave and Buster's, where in addition to feasting on St. Louis-style
pork ribs, you can enjoy a number of interactive electronic games
at The Million Dollar Midway. The Block at Orange opened late in
1998 with Vans Skate Park, the largest such facility in the world,
Ron Jon Surf Shop, the largest surf shop in California, and more
than 100 other restaurants and shops.
not all of the County's unique shopping and dining experiences will
be found at these mega-malls. Old Towne Orange is known as "the
antique capital of California" with more than three dozen stores
filled with collectibles spread out around a '50s-style downtown
plaza. Little Saigon, in Westminster, shows the County's diversity
with a mind-boggling array of Vietnamese restaurants, bakeries,
delis, and shops.
throughout the County are such unique eateries as Newport's Speedway
Racing Bistro, a motorsport-themed restaurant, the Comedy Mystery
Dinner Theater in Cypress, as well as Wild Bill's Wild West Dinner
Exravaganza and Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament, both in Buena
Park, where your meal comes with jousting matches or saloon dancers.