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Anaheim Spring Break Guide

March 20th, 2017

 

With more than 15,000 schools letting out for a full week throughout March and April, Anaheim is, and has always been, a popular spring break destination. Of course, the weather is perfect for a trip to Disneyland where you’ll find the park decked out for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations as well as spring break revelers. However, what if you want a cooler option this time around?

Visit the many water parks the Anaheim area has to offer, like Great Wolf Lodge—perfect for families, singles and couples! Get a daily pass for their slides and pools, and there are many dining and shopping options. The Howlin’ Tornado twister of a ride, slick Coyote Cannon and Totem Towers await.

Wet Escapades

At Knott’s Soak City, just a few miles from your guest room, you can see what the 2017 expansion has ushered in. The biggest water park in Orange County boasts a brand new Shore Break, an almost vertical fall featuring S-curves that only the bravest should dare attempt.

Hopping on a whale-watching excursion is a leisurely and romantic spring break option. With migration season in full swing and the Anaheim area a sanctuary, it’s nearly guaranteed that you will spot gray and blue whales, dolphins and more marine life.

Hawaiian Grub in the OC

March 19th, 2017

 

Hawaii might be just a hop over the Pacific, but it’ll feel like you’re living the Aloha life at one of these local 808-themed establishments. Matiki Island BBQ serves classics like kalua pork along with generous side dishes including musubi and macaroni salad. It’s a laidback, casual environment that’s family-friendly. Here, the flavors are incredible, and the portion sizes are impressive.

Roy’s is your upscale pick for Hawaiian fusion cuisine. Located along the Garden Walk, many locals love their Aloha Hour where you can get a Hawaiian martini, tempura-crusted ahi rolls, lump crab fried rice and a lot more for very little. The kalua pork sliders with crispy onions are always a hit.

Island Life

Try the aptly named Hawaiian King BBQ where there’s shaved ice, shrimp rice and pulled pork, and try the famous platters spilling over with short ribs, grilled spam and delectable seafood. Being so close to the Pacific means every platter is fresh.

Maui Rose is a quaint, family-owned establishment where you can get fast, delicious Hawaiian cuisine for dine-in or takeout. Try their various side dishes with your pick of protein, and get a taste of the tropics right in Anaheim.

 

Go Green This St. Patrick’s Day

March 14th, 2017

 

Irish pubs and southern California might not sound like a common pairing, but the Anaheim area is home to some of the best St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the country. Check out the top Irish bars in the area, like Tom Bergin’s, a tavern where you’ll be treated to Celtic music, authentic grub, and plenty of imported beer including the famous Guinness. (Green beer is also available on the big day!)

South Bay’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities include a family-friendly parade and festival at the Pier Plaza. Located close to Hermosa Beach, it’s the perfect way to kick off the holiday before heading to the Pacific for a surf lesson, sun bathing session, or hopping on a whale-watching expedition.

Luck of the Irish

Wear your green when going to the Hooley in San Pedro. Hosted by the Knights of Columbus, a “good old-fashioned Irish hooley” is just what your next vacation in Anaheim needs. A dinner of corned beef and cabbage, a full dessert bar, and all the Celtic entertainment you can handle is yours at this annual 18+ fundraiser.

Of course, you can always loop back to Tom Bergin’s and take part in their annual marathon where the course is full of Guinness trucks, beer pong tables and Irish entertainment. The “Shamrock Hour” is where many go for low-cost beer, fare, and a little debauchery.

Old Orange County Courthouse

March 6th, 2017

 

History buffs and appreciators of architecture will adore the 1893 Old Orange County Courthouse which is open for self-guided tours. It was the very first building in Santa Ana and opened in 1897 as a jail. However, in 1990 it began to transition into a courthouse and became the most striking building in the area throughout the first half of the twentieth century. It took 17 months to turn into a courthouse and was ushered into the new century and Orange County in 1901.

Unsurprisingly, the courthouse has been a staple in a number of big cases including the ruling which gave California royalties for off-shore drilling easements. In 1947, the streets were flooded with hundreds of people to catch a glimpse of the defendants in the People v. Gollum and Overell case. The courthouse became a landmark in 1983 and is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

Visiting the Courthouse

As part of the OC Parks System, the courthouse is open to the public, and you’ll find volunteers on site to answer questions. You can schedule group tours Monday through Friday, and the museum portion of the courthouse is open daily. It’s still a functioning courthouse with offices for marriage licenses, the OC archives, and hearing rooms for appeals.

Various wings of the courthouse are available for special events, and getting married at the Old Courthouse is very popular. Stop by for a museum tour, to explore the archives, or schedule your next event at this charming destination.

What’s New at Madame Tussauds?

February 24th, 2017

 

If it’s been a while since you visited the Madame (or if you’ve never been!), it’s time to tick this southern California staple off your bucket list. The famous wax statue museum is so massive it’s broken into categories including Spirit of Hollywood, Modern Classics, Making Movies, Marvel Superheroes, A-List Party, Country Western, and Crime. Even President Obama has his very own niche!

Private events and group sales are available if you’re traveling with a crowd, otherwise slip inside seven days a week, and “meet” your favorite stars. Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, Charlie Chaplin and Elvis Presley are waiting to greet you. Take a photo with Selena, snag a selfie with Jason Derulo, or get your photo with Adele.

VIP List

Everyone’s a VIP at Madame Tussauds when there’s Rihanna, Taylor Swift and Will Smith awaiting your arrival. In the crime wing, you’ll find Anthony Hopkins, Marlon Brando and Pierce Brosnan.

Shrek and Edward Scissorhands are always popular picks, and you’ll get the real 4-D experience in the Marvel wing! Thor, Wolverine, Captain America and more are all on hand to make your visit or special event one worthy of a hero.

 

Whale, Then

February 20th, 2017

 

Are you ready for the big migration? Every year, the massive gray whales migrate back up from Mexico along the coast of Newport and Laguna Beach, a protected haven for the big beasts. Along with gray whales, blue whales and an array of dolphin species also make the journey, and February is prime time to catch a sighting and photo of several of the migrators.

Cruises in Newport Beach start at just $16, but you can also opt for a romantic dinner or brunch package. It’s nearly guaranteed that you’ll enjoy some great sightings during this migratory period, especially thanks to the crystal clear waters and expert knowledge of your captain.

What to Expect

The migration takes place January through April, so any month in winter and early spring is a fantastic time to get on board. However, for February, consider booking a romantic holiday whale watching cruise. Cozy up with someone you love, and enjoy a special outing on turquoise waters to see a variety of marine wildlife.

Choose from a selection of tour providers, lengths and vessels to make this trip one you’ll never forget. Bring binoculars to get even “closer” to the whales and dolphins, and don’t forget to come back at the end of summer to watch their return migration!

Make Mickey Your Man This Valentine’s Day

February 12th, 2017

 

Disneyland knows how to do every holiday right, including Valentine’s Day! The decorations are stunning with the entire park decked out in pink, red and hearts galore. If you’re looking for a truly magical day with your special someone (or family!), head to Disneyland, and take in the festive, outlandish decorations that only Disney can pull off.

The walkway near the It’s a Small World ride is always one of the most romantic areas in the park, with a tree-lined street and lanterns along with twinkle lights surrounding you. Surprisingly, the Storybook Land ride is incredibly romantic, whisking you under the light-covered rose arches on an intimate boat ride.

Sweet Things

Many sweethearts come just for the special Valentine’s Day food and desserts, and Disney doesn’t disappoint. In the morning, get the strawberry and chocolate chip pancakes at Carnation Café, and at Café Orleans you can get the “Bouchee of Love,” a puff pastry with savory delights.

Check all your favorite restaurants for surprise treats and special dishes throughout the month of February. Disneyland is one of the most romantic places in Anaheim and southern California if you plan your trip right. Where will your first romantic stop be?

 

Most Romantic Restaurants

February 10th, 2017

 

Wine and dine your special someone this Valentine’s Day at one of the most romantic restaurants in the city. Make reservations at The Getty Center’s restaurant, a fine dining establishment with Chef Michael Cimarusti whipping up delights like grilled octopus, sea scallops with black quinoa, short ribs with ground grits, mussels and clams. A special menu is available with a decadent dessert.

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The Little Door is a Parisian-style bistro known for fine wines paired with authentic pastries. Start with marinated seaweed and fresh shucked oysters, then move on to the grilled filet mignon with a demi-glace. The pine nut-crusted scallops are addictive, and the couscous “royale” with duck stew is unforgettable.

More V-Day Options

At Cliff’s Edge, you’ll find an outdoor patio that’s dripping with romance, and marinated olives or potato fritters are an excellent start. Roasted duck breast with foie gras or venison with braised cabbage are both popular entrees. Don’t miss out on the chicken liver mousse with bacon jam, too!

Head to Yamashiro Hollywood if you want sushi and Asian-Cali fusion while being surrounded by koi ponds. Tucked into the Hollywood Hills, you’ll overlook the city as you dine on wagyu steak and truffle Hamachi. End the meal with a dessert martini and dessert sushi with a strawberry and kiwi hand roll with melon.

Star Wars Half Marathon at Disney: Register Now!

January 14th, 2017

 

Sign up early to head over to the dark side at Disneyland in April for a full weekend of the Star Wars Half Marathon: The Dark Side. You’ll be racing through Darth Vader’s neighborhood while white uniformed stormtroopers cheer you on. The Galactic Empire Sith Lord and Darth Vader have a full weekend of surprises planned for this epic run, live entertainment and special events.

All ages are welcome for the half marathon, 10k, 5k and, of course, Disney Kids Races. Whether you want a fast fun run or a serious training race, this is the race for you. However, only participants who register before January 17 will get their full race swag on the big day. If you’re a frequent traveler to Anaheim, get a jump start on this spring event!

Early Planning

The races take place April 20-23, but they always sell out. You can sign up to run for the dark or light side, but the dark side is always the one that’s the toughest to get into. Registration is open now, and if you register before January 17, you’ll get a personalized bib, official digital event guide, your size choice of a tech shirt—and of course, that brag-worthy medal.

Register online or in person at the park. Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple takes place throughout the day at Tomorrowland. Check out The Bootstrappers at New Orleans Square, or head to Frontierland for The Laughing Stock Co. Whether you’re here in January, April, or both, the fun and options are endless.

Lunar New Year Guide

January 14th, 2017

 

There’s Disneyland’s Lunar New Year celebration, a must with the decorated streets, performers, and Disney characters in full costume, but what if you want to do more to celebrate the Year of the Rooster? Try visiting a temple like Thien Hau in Chinatown and Hsi Lai in Hacienda Heights, both known for having fluent English volunteers and staff members to help you make the most of your visit. Praying to both Chinese deities and ancestors is common, as is lighting a candle or lamp.

Reading a book about the culture, the New Year, or the history of Chinese immigrants in the Los Angeles area is a great way to celebrate January 28. Need a recommendation? Head to one of the many bookstores in LA’s Chinatown, and check out the works of Mo Yan who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2012.

The Year of the Rooster

Taking a calligraphy or Chinese painting class is an excellent way to learn a new skill, fall in love with a new hobby, and make the most of the Lunar New Year. Check out Flax Pen to Paper, Fuji School or Kathryn Murray Calligraphy to get started.

An Asian cooking class at New School of Cooking, EATZ or Cozymeal is another fantastic way to celebrate the New Year. Great for a date, solo project or with family, learning how to whip up authentic cuisine will really heat things up for 2017.