Here’s our annual list celebrating the best O.C. has to offer, including food, drink, fun things to see and do, places to shop and ways to indulge.

Department Store Spa Session
Get pampered at one of Orange County’s best‑kept secrets: Spa Nordstrom at South Coast Plaza. The day spa avoids splashy advertising to stay exclusive to its loyal customers. Shop ’til you drop, then take the elevator up to the little‑known 4th floor for a restorative massage. You’ve earned it. Costa Mesa, 714‑850‑2570

To-the-Nines Event Design
Shawna Yamamoto Event Design is run by sisters Shawna Yamamoto and Nicole Austin, who conceive an experience for partygoers with cohesive and extravagant creations. The Brea‑based company has had a hand in designing everything from weddings for celebrities like Julianne Hough to corporate bashes and fantastical ice‑cream‑themed first birthday parties. Brea, 714‑255‑0900

Vintage Watch Shop
The selection of used Rolex, Omega, Jaeger-LeCoultre and prestige brands at Watches and Wares rivals other dealers in Orange County. Owner William Houchin and his staff know their timepieces and can help guide you toward owning your grail. Most pieces include a two-year warranty and service by an in-house expert watchmaker, removing much of the risk of buying pre-owned. Orange, 714‑633-2030

Eco‑Luxe Nail Salon
Using only eco‑friendly and sustainable products, Anaheim’s BellaBar is the holistic answer to pampering your body and giving you peace of mind. While you lounge in pink velvet club chairs, you’ll feel more like you’re hanging out at a hip friend’s place than a nail salon. Relax with a customized organic facial ($110 to $150) and seasonally inspired manicures and pedicures. ($35). 714‑874‑5872

Pastel-Pretty Shop and Cafe
Discover fresh and feminine fashions at Morning Lavender—a boutique curated by Kim Le Pham. The shop, which traces its roots to an online boutique, doubles as a cafe, where you can also get your lavender latte fix. A sunlit patio serves as an idyllic setting for the weekend afternoon tea service ($35). Tustin, 714‑486‑1429

 Fanciful Beachwear

The multifaceted, Costa Mesa‑based artist Matthew Allen recently collaborated with Japanese retailer Uniqlo for a T‑shirt collection. Allen shares his surf‑ and beach‑inspired messages and designs with prints, mugs, and tote bags as well. No matter which item you choose, the simplicity and fun from this former art director of Surfer magazine will lift your spirits. Costa Mesa, 949‑735‑8583

Photo by Mariah Tauger


Boutique Stationery Store
The art of a handwritten note is alive and well at Sugar Paper. At the Lido Marina Village store, you can peruse a delicately minimalist collection of stationery and cards or shop custom options and wedding invitations. For custom orders, each piece of paper and envelope is hand‑fed into Sugar Paper’s antique printing press by a skilled pressman. Newport Beach, 949‑524‑3000

Luxury Sound Bath
The hour‑long sound meditation at Spa Montage is designed to help you escape everyday stresses ($40). The dynamic practice seamlessly uses crystal singing, Tibetan bowls, guided visualization, and an array of other instruments to create an immersive experience. Laguna Beach, 949-715-6010

Party Balloons
Irvine‑based Balloonzilla is Orange County’s answer to elevated balloon party decorations. The company’s modern spheres come in all shapes and sizes. Each of its balloon walls, bouquets, curvilinear arches, and, yes, multistoried waterfalls are sculpture sights to behold. Irvine, 949‑427‑0155

New Surf Boutique
A more jaded individual might call it a millennial paradise, but the truth is, all ages love Daydream Surf Shop, a coffee house, boutique, and, perhaps most unique, surfboard club. Sign up to try out various surfboards, sip inventive coffee drinks, and score upcycled screenprinted sweatshirts, all in a friendly atmosphere. Newport Beach, 949‑612‑7175

Record Shopping
At Buena Park’s UFCW Union Hall, The Greater Orange County Record Show is a call to vinyl lovers. Ten times a year, vendors from across the Southland load tables with heaps of records so you can score an affordable favorite from years past or a sought‑after rarity you can finally cross off your wish list. Admission is $3. Buena Park, ocrecordshow.com

Haute Dispensary
Named one of the top‑10 most beautiful dispensaries in the U.S. by leafly.com, Santa Ana’s Bud and Bloom is a star in the evolving cannabis retail experience. Brick walls, marble counter tops, and reclaimed hardwood floors create an industrial meets old‑world aesthetic. Staffers are knowledgeable and judgment free, and time spent with them is like talking to an old friend. Santa Ana, 714‑576‑2150

Smart Salon
The stylists at Madison Salon are talented and friendly, but they also generously share their craft and expert tips so when you’re home alone with your blow dryer, you can re-create their magic. The salon even hosts Madison Mane Mondays, in‑salon classes to reiterate its motto—“Forever learning, forever growing.” Costa Mesa, 949‑270‑6240

E0yewear That Gets Noticed
On PCH since 1974, European Optical carries styles you won’t find at the mall. EO by Astrid is the eponymous line of one-of-a‑kind frames designed by the owner and handcrafted in Germany. Other standout brands include Barton Perreira, Silhouette, and Masunaga, with more styles for men than you’d find at most shops. Lenses are made on-site, often while you wait, and complicated prescriptions are a welcome challenge. Laguna Beach, 949‑494-6106


Reader Raves: Boutiques

We asked our Instagram followers for their
favorite boutique in Orange County:

Illustration by Lydia Guadagnoli

Rococo
“@shoprococo locations in Costa Mesa and Dana Point. Nicely curated collection of pieces for everyday” —@mtrovato

Style Society, Costa Mesa
“@stylesocietyboutique is amazinggg.” —@sarahabuelsaud

Brass Tack, Laguna Beach
“Great selection of vintage clothing, jewelry, home and art pieces.” —@bentleyandsullivan

Cleobella
“@cleobella in Sunset Beach! It’s a charming women’s boutique featuring handmade clothing and accessories, plus it’s backed by a philanthropic mission.” —@ladylloyd

Fleur De Lys, Costa Mesa
“The customer service is superb. The staff members not only remember you, but they remember your name and what you like. The products sold are very unique and of good quality.” —@mm_ooj


 Insta-Tip

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