O.C.’s Best: Ways to Play & Explore

Attend a movie screening; hike to a monastery; celebrate high tea in full regalia. The options are plentiful.
Illustrations by Annick Pourier

Punch therapy
➞ Talk about a stress-reliever! Few boxing coaches trust you to hit bags from day one, but with Jonathan Brown at TZone Fitness you can take a boxing class without having boxed before— quickly learn the basics while getting a killer workout. This punch-therapy gets out your pent-up stress and aggression while sweating out everything else. Train at the gym or a location of your choice, such as the beach.
The first session is free. 333 E. 17th St., Costa Mesa, 949-270-6814, trainingzoneoc.com

Two-Wheel Refuge
➞ When you tire of sharing the road with hostile motorists, steer onto the paved Aliso Creek Bikeway, a swell mini-roadway that runs inland about 13 miles from the entrance at Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park. Watch for signs as you climb imperceptibly to the foothills. Then you’re just a few hundred yards from fabled biker bar, Cook’s Corner. A burger, a beer, and the mostly downhill return miles will fly by. Trailhead near 28373 Alicia Parkway, Laguna Niguel, ocparks.com/parks/aliso/

Hike to Enlightenment
➞ The Live Oak Trail has a 670‑foot elevation gain and leads to Vedanta Ramakrishna Monastery, with its serenity and locally made honey. The route has stunning views of Catalina. At about the 2-mile mark, take the right fork, then left on Monastery Road. The round trip is a little more than 4 miles, taking about two hours. Parking is $3 to $5. From the park entrance, head toward Oak Grove and park at the trailhead. O’Neill Regional Park, 30892 Trabuco Canyon Road, Trabuco Canyon, 949‑923-2260, ocparks.com/oneillpark

Pancake Breakfast Fundraiser
➞ Need a pancake fix? Skip Huntington Beach’s 4th of July crowds and catch the city’s easy-to-park-at Junior Lifeguards Pancake Breakfast (Aug. 6 this year). Enjoy delicious plate-sized pancakes, sausage, orange juice, coffee, and hot chocolate, plus entertainment by the Lifeguard Band, raffle drawings, and more. Plan to waddle back to your car. 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. $4. Lake Park, 1035 11th St., HuntingtonBeach, 714‑374-1501,


Canine Parenting
➞ Become a foster parent to a dog and help a pet in need find its forever family. You provide the TLC and temporary home; I.C.A.R.E. Dog Rescue supplies the food, meds, and round-the-clock advice. Foster parents can adopt if they wish to keep their new best friend. 31441 Rancho Santa Margarita Parkway, Rancho Santa Margarita, 800-961‑1858, icaredogrescue.org

➞ For some, a trip to Tio Flaco’s Tacos is less about the flame-grilled carne asada than it is the chance to come face-to-tentacle with Templeton, the restaurant’s octopus mascot. Follow Templeton on social media where you can watch him canoodle with NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers, find his inner Jedi, and go on a police pursuit. 18959 Magnolia St., Fountain Valley, 714-593-9000, tioflacos.com

Introduction to Science
➞ Children can’t get to all the fun fast enough at Orange Coast College’s annual Community Science Night on Oct. 21 this year. The campus is open to the public with exhibits on robots, telescopes, volcano eruptions, math bingo, and more. Hot dogs, chips, and a drink are free, as is parking. 2701 Fairview Road, Costa Mesa, 714-432-5072, orangecoastcollege.edu

Short Stories
➞ Forget TV, come to DimeStories for an evening of live three-minute author readings. These 500‑word gems can be funny or sad, but they’re always thought-provoking. Bring your original prose (no poetry) or just bring your listening ears the second Sunday of the month. Stay for conversation, nibbles, and fine wine. $5 suggested donation. LCA Wine, SoCo Collection, 3315 Hyland Ave., Costa Mesa

A little naturalist.
Environmental Nature Center

Nature Hangout
➞ The Environmental Nature Center is free to visit and the setting for a diverse lineup of family activities: walks during the full moon, stories under the stars, and Little Naturalist programs. The center also offers week-long nature camps during summer and school breaks. Its 3.5 acres are home to redwood trees, a butterfly house, and the first building in O.C. to receive the LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. 1601 E. 16th St., Newport Beach, 949-645-8489, encenter.org

Victorian Tea Party
➞ The Victorian Society’s annual event features scripted entertainment and a four-course tea service on real china ($45 individual, $320 table of eight). At this tea, hectic contemporary life feels far away. Get in the spirit and deck yourself out in waistcoats and extravagant tulle-and-feather hats from Rental Bootique ($65 to $115, 714-241-0907, rentalbootique.com). This spring event sells out, so get your tickets early. Cal State Fullerton Arboretum, 1900 Associated Road, Fullerton, 657-278-4010, fullertonarboretum.org

Oceanside Tree Lighting
➞ Celebrate the Christmas holiday with a small-town feel at the Crystal Cove Historic District. This event is organized by the nonprofit group that supports the state park, and it’s a throwback to times of old with an artisan bazaar, free hot chocolate, carolers, vintage decorations on the historic cottages, and the big finale—lighting the tree at sunset. $15 parking at Los Trancos lot; shuttle to the historic district for $1 each way. Crystal Cove State Park, 8471 N. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, 949-376-6200, crystalcovealliance.org

OC Cars & Coffee

Cars Talk
➞ Irvine’s nationally recognized Cars & Coffee event left a major void in our car culture when it abruptly ended in 2014. The most worthy successor is Cars & Coffee Aliso Viejo, 7 to 9 a.m. every Saturday. If you drive an interesting car, bring it, park it, and share it. With hundreds of available parking spots, there’s plenty of room and a welcoming feel. Aliso Viejo Town Center, 26701 Aliso Creek Road, Aliso Viejo, facebook.com/candcav/info/

Instagram setting
➞ Crystal Cove Beach Cottages are magical during the golden hour (one hour before sunset). Some days, the sky looks like pink cotton candy, and the waves are a glowing turquoise. Use the golden light as your main source of illumination, and maybe add a little fill with a reflector, if needed. Set up cute photo ops at iconic Cottage 46 (home to rotating exhibits) or pose on a front porch. Crystal Cove State Park, Historic District, 8471 N. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, 949‑494-3539

Chapman ProducersInsider’s Ticket to Hollywood
➞ See hit movies before they’re released and attend guest lectures by celebrity filmmakers at Chapman University’s Dodge College. The college is tight-lipped about what’s showing for the rest of 2016, but past pre-release screenings have included “Trainwreck” and “Neighbors,” and guests such as the producers of “Dancing with the Stars” and “The Princess Diaries.” More incentive: It’s free. 283 N. Cypress St., Orange, 714-997-6765, events.chapman.edu

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