Twelve months spent researching, making lists, and checking ’em more than twice, and it all pays off in this issue. Here’s our definitive guide to the county’s best foods, drinks, fun things to do, places to shop, and people who can fix just about anything.
Cultural Smorgasbord | You might have toured Casa Romantica’s house and grounds, but the nonprofit’s eclectic roster of classes, exhibits and performances has our attention these days. This historic home of San Clemente’s founder hosts movies, art, contemporary dance, and music. Galleries now overflow with flowers from British artist Rebecca Louise Law’s show. Upcoming: the surf-Tiki-rockabilly sounds of the Hula Girls. Bring your grass skirt. $5 general; event fees vary. 415 Avenida Granada, San Clemente, 949-498-2139, casaromantica.org
Performing Arts Gig | Think you’ll never get to see the hit musical “Hamilton”? Think again. Becoming a volunteer usher at Segerstrom Center for the Arts will get you into shows such as the Tony winner (in May 2018) and others, and gives you the chance to see dance companies, rock groups, and more. Recruitment meetings are July 10 and 11. Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, scfta.org
Green Crowd Sourcing | Share your extra plants, pots, and garden tools at Garden Share, a monthly event organized by Orange County Coastkeeper, a nonprofit organization that promotes clean-water projects. Held at the organization’s 2.5-acre native plants garden, adjacent to Santiago Canyon College, it’s an opportunity to trade tips and clippings with 50 to 100 like-minded gardeners. 9:30 a.m. to noon, second Saturday of the month. 8520 E. Santiago Canyon Road, Orange, 714-850-1965, coastkeeper.org
Public Art in One Place | Just a block from Disneyland, Anaheim GardenWalk boasts the largest local aggregation of cooler-than-cool public murals from alternative artists, with each of the pieces thoughtfully organized and curated by Torrey Cook, owner of Artists Republic Gallery, which moved to this shopping center in late February. 400 W. Disney Way, Anaheim, anaheimgardenwalk.com
Nail Spa To-Go | The Nail Truck has an Instagram as chic as the vintage Airstream from which it operates—the interior decorated seasonally, of course. But it’s the mobility factor that makes it a mani-pedi find. The reasonably priced services are quick and convenient, whether for private parties or stops in office parks. Check the schedule to see if the truck will be near you soon. 949‑294-6902, thenailtruck.com
Zumba Experience | Sean Soto heats up his dance classes with more than just salsa—he incorporates hip-hop, country, and other genres plus a ton of fun. And there’s none of the territorial attitude you find in other group fitness experiences. Soto is warm and encouraging, as are his regulars. Find his classes around central Orange County on Facebook at Zumba Sean Soto.
Win-Win for Artists and Communities | If you’re an artist older than 55 and willing to put in time every week with disadvantaged communities, this is for you. The Picerne Family Foundation’s Artist Outreach Project offers an easy-to-access grant that allows you to give back, helps you pay some bills, and keeps you doing what you love. picernefoundation.org
California Scene Art | California artists have been well-represented in local museums, galleries, and at our summer art festivals. But the Hilbert Museum of California Art at Chapman University has filled in some blank spaces beautifully. The permanent collection of 1,000 mostly oil and watercolor paintings are of the California Scene movement, representational works from the 1930s to 1970s, by artists such as Millard Sheets and Mary Blair. Admission is free, and temporary exhibits supplement the permanent collection. 167 N. Atchison St., Orange, 714-516-5880, hilbertmuseum.com
Back-to- Nature Run | We love the 8-mile Santiago Truck Trail because it offers panoramic views of south Orange County, including vistas of interior canyons and Santiago Peak. The trailhead is one-half mile up Modjeska Grade Road, and the terminus is shady Old Camp. For a shorter run or walk: A little less than 3.5 miles from the trailhead are the U.S. and Marine flags, flapping majestically atop a bluff. Parking on Santiago Canyon Road near intersection with Modjeska Grade Road, Silverado
Rejuvenation Sanctuary | It’s easy to overlook this modest converted house in Eastside Costa Mesa that’s a beauty and massage sanctuary. What Total Body Care lacks in fancy spa frills, such as a sauna or steam room, it makes up for in facial and massage services at reasonable prices. Lisa is an ace facialist whose hands are magic. Facials, $50 to $135; massages, $40 to $130. 154 Broadway, Costa Mesa, 949-574‑2400, totalbodycare.net
Pokémon Stop and Go | Reports of the decline of Pokémon Go are greatly exaggerated. A walk around the Circle in Old Towne Orange proves it. You’ll see Chapman University students, gray-haired men, teenagers, women of a certain age—all gazing down at their cellphones. Better still, all along the roundabout (in and around the restaurants, stores, and churches), there’s a PokéStop to fill up on potions, and a gym in the middle of the Circle fountain. Ignore the haters and catch ’em all. 75 to 99 Plaza Square, Orange
Luxury Sing Along | Montage Laguna Beach is channeling “home, home on the range”—but at the beach. The luxury resort has four Taylor Koa GS Mini guitars available to guests for free during their stay. Looking for musical company? There are fireside jam sessions Fridays and Saturdays from May through September, guided by a local musician. 866-271-6953, 30801 Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, montagehotels.com/lagunabeach