Best Of Orange County 2021: See & Do

Photograph by Emily J. Davis

Community Mural
The 7,500-square-foot mural at Orange County Educational Arts Academy was designed and installed by Brian Peterson of Faces of Santa Ana and local artist Damin Lujan. Titled the Purple Unity Project, the mural highlights the charter school’s commitment to unity, diversity, and inclusion and features portraits of historical and influential figures from Rosa Parks to Malala Yousafzai. Santa Ana, @purpleunityproject

Pop-Up Plant Swap
This monthly event held at Houseplant Nation brings local plant enthusiasts together. Participants are encouraged to bring plants they’ve fallen out of love with, have no space for, or have multiples of—as long as they are healthy and pest-free. It’s an opportunity to learn from others and bring a new and rare plant home. Huntington Beach, 714-330-1579

Free Parking Lot Concerts
Liven up your Thursdays with free drive-in concerts at The Camp. Park your car, grab some food from one of the many restaurants, pop your trunk, and enjoy tunes from bands such as Spacetime Television, Undecided Future, and Candid. Starting at 5:30 p.m., these two-hour concerts give you enough time to relax and unwind after work. Costa Mesa,

Downtown Retool
The Promenade on Forest took lemons and made lemonade during the pandemic. Forest Avenue closed to vehicles between Coast Highway and Glenneyre Street, which created a thriving, walkable area for performances, artwork, outdoor dining, and relaxing. Alcohol is permitted at the tables on raised platforms. The closure will remain for at least three more years. Laguna Beach

Photograph by Emily J. Davis

Baja Wine and Beer Tasting
Alta Baja Market hosts curated tastings of Baja wine and beer on its patio. Featured wineries and craft breweries include La Cetto and Vinos Los Angeles. Online reservations are required, and the price ($25) includes a small cheese plate. Santa Ana, 714-783-2252

Mountain Bike Clinic
Learn the basics of mountain biking at this workshop hosted by Irvine Ranch Conservancy. Expert volunteers coach proper form and technique as participants navigate a series of modular structures such as dirt ramps and rock step-ups. You’ll also learn proper safety and preparedness before hitting a trail. Online registration required. Irvine,

Long-Awaited Pool Party
After years of planning, Modern Times Leisuretown opened last summer with a sparkling pool—which has been off-limits because of safety restrictions. But the massive, resort-like brewery already shines with its ample outdoor seating, vegan bar food, cafe, and an incomparable beer list. We’re counting down the days till we’re at that poolside bar! Anaheim, 714-874-4439

Comedy and Concerts at the Beach
Enjoy live music Saturdays at SeaLegs at the Beach for free. Buy food and a drink and kick back in a lounge chair while you listen to bands such as David Rosales & His Band of Scoundrels, Pato, Stephen Wesley, and more. Keep an eye out for stand-up comedy shows, which have featured Tiffany Haddish, Jeff Ross, and Bill Burr ($45). Huntington Beach,

Baby Goat Yoga
Combine a love for animals and yoga at the Goods and Goat Market’s baby goat yoga class ($35). The 45-minute class takes place Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays and involves baby goats jumping up on you while you (attempt to) move through yoga poses. Afterward, check out the Zen garden or browse the store. San Juan Capistrano, 949-212-4357

Photograph by Jessica Lawler

Coastal View Park
Badlands Park is the fairest of O.C.’s ocean-view parks. Owned and operated by the county, the natural open space offers little in the way of frills such as grass and playgrounds. What it does provide are beautiful rock formations and sweeping cliffside views of the Pacific Ocean without the need for any uphill hiking. Laguna Niguel

DIY Workshop Hub
Not only does Open Market OC feature local makers and small businesses at two locations, it also offers workshops at the Laguna Hills spot that you can take after a day of shopping. Offerings include art classes, candlemaking, chunky-blanket workshops, and more. Class prices vary. Laguna Hills, 949-485-0322 and Santa Ana

New Theater
After a dozen years performing live comedy in Orange County, ImprovCity has upgraded its digs and opened a new black box theater space in the heart of Old Town Tustin. Check out the improvisational classes and live shows (family-friendly and late-night). Tustin, 855-624-6776

Photographs courtesy of Atomic Skate Exchange

Free Roller-Skating Class
Each Saturday, Atomic Skate Exchange offers roller-skating lessons at no cost held outside of its storefront. Instructor Leo Ra James guides participants through the basics, followed by more advanced moves. The class ends with an open skate. Irvine, 949-325-8646

Needlepoint Store
Grab everything you need to make a creation at Newport Needlepoint. Once you get your things, you can sit at the large table and start working. Not sure how to get started? The staff will help you one-on-one at no cost. Newport Beach, 949-650-8022

467-Step Workout
Switch up your routine and get in some cardio at Hillcrest Park. The hilltop park near downtown Fullerton features a steep set of stairs overlooking Lions Field. The stairs are lit up at night and include three lookout decks for much-needed breaks. Fullerton

Flamenco Show
Not your run-of-the-mill Saturday night activity, the weekly “Art of Flamenco” show at Cafe Sevilla offers insight about the southern region of Spain and its traditional dance. Performers will impress you with energy, intricate footwork, and song. Dinner includes the popular paella, a salad, and a delicious lemon tart plus a glass of sangria ($89.50). Shows start at 6:30 p.m. Costa Mesa, 949-688-1555 

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