There’s no denying it. We spend Monday through Friday yearning for Saturday. Who can blame us? We live in the land of leisure and fun. Sometimes, even with the never-ending slew of local events, activities, and traditions, we find ourselves drawing a blank and asking, “What should we do this weekend?” We’ve compiled a year’s worth of ideas so we never waste another sacred Saturday.
1. Helicopter Tour | If you haven’t seen Orange County from a helicopter, you haven’t really seen it. Family‑owned OC Helicopters offers a few packages—we recommend the Laguna Beach Tour ($249), which covers the coast from Corona del Mar to Monarch Beach. Owner and pilot Ric Webb is a decorated military veteran and a fantastic guide who enhances the flight with interesting facts about the gorgeous scenery. ochelicopters.com
2. Explore Old Towne orange | A Saturday that starts with breakfast at Mead’s Green Door Cafe is always a good one. Grab a classic egg plate or a house-made vegan banana chocolate chip muffin. The day’s main attraction is the 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. farmers market. Colorful farm stands abound. Don’t miss OC Baking Company and Grampy Pat’s Sourdough, all on the grounds of a former citrus packing site now owned by Chapman University. After the market, stroll nearby Glassell Street and pop into the vintage shops—Antique Station and Antique Depot are favorites. meadsgreendoor.com, orangehomegrown.org, ocbakingco.com, grampypats.com
3. Indoor Rock Climbing | If you’re looking to try climbing, head to Santa Ana for Sender One’s intro class, which teaches basic skills such as knot-tying, safety checks, and how to belay—that is, how to handle the rope so your climbing partner stays safe if he or she falls. The hourlong course includes the harness, chalk, shoes, and a day pass to use the stunning facilities. $39 for nonmembers. senderoneclimbing.com
4. OC Night Market | Influenced by night markets commonly held in Asia, this open-air bazaar pops up in Costa Mesa three times a year, showcasing more than 200 local food and retail vendors and featuring live entertainment. With items such as Beach Live’s uni bowls or Mess Hall Canteen’s elote tater tots, expect to find more than the average street-food fare. ocnightmarket.com
5. Irvine Improv | Countless funny folks make their way through the Irvine Improv Comedy Club every year, so it’s a shame to miss out. This month, catch “Next Friday” star Michael Blackson, or Chris D’Elia of NBC’s hit comedy “Undateable” and Netflix’s “Incorrigible.” Dine there with food from Umami or choose from other Spectrum restaurants nearby including Cucina Enoteca, Kabuki, and Paul Martin’s American Grill.
6. Newport Dunes | Even offseason, you can spend a Saturday at Newport Dunes, where Moe B’s Watersports rents pedal boats, kayaks, SUPs, or electric boats ($15 and up). From mid-May to early October, kids of all ages can slide, climb, and jump off inflatable rafts at the water playground ($18, $25). Finish at Back Bay Bistro with small plates such as barbecue pork sliders or loaded fries during social hour, starting at 4 p.m. Or carbo-load early with the Saturday all-you-can-eat brunch ($28), from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. newportdunes.com
7. Irvine Regional Park |Take a respite from crowds and concrete for a day at woodsy Irvine Regional Park. Delight in the natural surroundings during a one‑hour guided ride ($55) on one of the nine docile quarter horses at Country Trails and Riding School. The park has pony rides for younger kids, paddle boat rentals on the lake ($15 per half hour), bike rentals, the Orange County Zoo, the railroad, and plenty of open space. Parking is $5 on weekends. ctriding.com, ocparks.com/parks/irvine
14. Tanaka Farms Strawberry Tour | For a fun family excursion, take a guided wagon ride around the 30-acre property in Irvine and learn about the season’s fruits and vegetables. Spend the rest of the afternoon at the farm’s U-Pick in the spring and take home a pound of strawberries right off the vine. Strawberry tours for 2018 start in March ($18, no reservations needed). tanakafarms.com
15. Whale watching in Dana Point | Pick up picnic provisions at Tutor & Spunky’s Deli, where the menu includes sandwiches named “San Juan Cap” (featuring Capicola, natch), “Doheny Beach,” and “USC Forever.” Nearby Lantern Bay Park has picnic tables and views of the harbor. A short stroll over to the long corner staircase leads you across the street to the marina. Dana Wharf hosts our favorite whale-watching tour, popular for its quick two-hour round trip, especially if you can book the catamaran. tutorandspunkys.com, danawharf.com/whale-watching
16. Fermentation Classes | Open since 2014, Costa Mesa’s Fermentation Farm is a members-only health food shop offering a variety of handcrafted, fermented goods—such as sauerkraut and nondairy yogurt—believed to improve gut health. The shop also runs instructional classes. Don’t miss the kombucha-making class Nov. 4 ($35) and Fermenting Veggies 101 on Nov. 11 ($40). Not a member? Check in on Yelp to get a free one-month trial. Continue the healthy lifestyle with an easy, dog-friendly, 4.2-mile hike at the nearby Talbert Nature Preserve. fermfarm.com
17. DTSA Art Walk | Get yourself to downtown Santa Ana the first Saturday of every month for a vibrant art walk, now in its 18th year. Start with dinner and cocktails on the patio at Lola Gaspar in the historic Santora building. Next up: gallery hopping, first in the building’s basement, then on to Grand Central Art Center and the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art. For dessert, walk a few blocks for classic ice cream at Milk Man, inside the McFadden Public Market, where you can also try your luck at old‑school arcade games on the upper level. lolagaspar.com, downtown-santaana.com/artwalk/
18. Fullerton Arboretum + Plant Sale | Need to unwind? Take a leisurely stroll through the exquisite 26-acre Fullerton Arboretum ($5), which features nearly 4,000 plants from around the world. Don’t miss the chance to relax by the duck pond. Throughout the year, the arboretum hosts plant sales with more than 100 varieties of native California plants, grown and propagated in the arboretum nursery. The next sale is Nov. 4 and 5. Bring your wagon and plenty of cash! Most vendors don’t accept credit cards. For lunch, try the nearby popular Asian-fusion restaurant Mr Katsu. We recommend the Habanero Pesto sandwich and potato croquettes. fullertonarboretum.org, mrkatsu.com
19. Parasailing + Fun Zone | Shift your perspective with a parasail ride from Balboa Parasail in Newport Beach ($80). Anyone ages 5 and older can fly, and those who just want to venture out on the boat pay $25. The trip takes about 90 minutes, and how wet you get is up to you. Afterward, hang out at the Fun Zone where kids can ride the Happy Swing, Tower Drop, Ferris Wheel, or Ocean Motion ($4 and up). No trip to the Fun Zone is complete without a scoop of ice cream from Cowafornia and a stop at the arcade for some old-fashioned Skee‑Ball. balboaparasail.com, balboaferriswheel.com
20. Dana Point Headlands Trail | This 3-mile loop takes you through a preserved habitat and offers panoramic views of the ocean and Dana Point Harbor. Depending on the time of year, you can catch a glimpse of whales migrating. Stop by the Dana Point Nature Interpretive Center to learn about the local natural history. Grab a post-hike frozen treat at The Hive & Co. or sit down for seafood at Waterman’s Harbor. store.hivexo.com, watermandp.com
21. First Saturdays at The Ecology Center | On the first Saturday of every month, The Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano offers a guided tour of the historic home and bountiful farm and gardens plus an opportunity to learn about sustainability. Afterward, head to Los Rios Street for a leisurely stroll. Get coffee and a pastry at charming Hidden House Coffee and poke your head into many quaint shops along the way. theecologycenter.org, hiddenhousecoffee.com
22. SEED Talks + Craft Beer Flight | To introduce customers to the artists behind the wares at Seed Peoples Market in Costa Mesa, the founders initiated Talks, spotlighting local artisans, along with treats from Camp mainstays such as Blackmarket Bakery. Follow your learning immersion with a stop at new brewery Gunwhale Ales, just down the road, where you can sample the signature Farmhouse ales in a beer flight that is best enjoyed on the patio. seedpeoplesmarket.com, gunwhaleales.com
23. Miraval Spa’s High Tea | Spend an afternoon sipping and soaking at Monarch Beach Resort’s Miraval Spa Cafe’s High Tea ($50). Indulge in a tower of sweets and sandwiches, a selection of teas, and the Dana Point resort’s famous blueberry scones. Afterward, be ready for some serious R&R and take advantage of spa access, including the pool, hot tubs, and saunas. miravalspamonarchbeach.com
24. Marina Park Community + Sailing Center | This Newport Beach park is the perfect one-stop destination for little ones. Enjoy the wave-free, sandy harbor beach, nautical-inspired playground, and lunch at the Lighthouse Bayview Cafe. Be sure to try the beignets ($6), as you’ll
burn lots of energy afterward. You can rent kayaks or paddleboards. newportbeachca.gov/marinapark, lighthousenb.com
25. Ride the Rails to San Clemente | Spending the day on and around picturesque San Clemente Pier feels like a minivacation. Better still is not having to deal with traffic and parking. You can catch a train from your local station—if you’re near enough, we recommend Santa Ana Regional Transportation Center. The handsome Mission-style structure was the filming location for the final scene in “Rain Man.” From there, you can take Metrolink or Amtrak. The latter is more costly, but has fewer stops. Once you arrive in San Clemente, grab an iced latte at Bear Coast Coffee. amtrak.com, metrolinktrains.com, bearcoastcoffee.com
26. Beach yoga + brunch| If detox to retox is an O.C. mainstay—and it is—adding a beach to the equation is downright sinful. So the coastal outpost of SeaLegs did, allowing you to enjoy a free 75-minute yoga class led by Equinox Huntington Beach’s best against the picture-perfect backdrop of crashing waves. Afterward, toast your efforts with a cranberry mimosa and gluten‑free bites. Worked up more of an appetite? SeaLegs sells an epic breakfast burrito big enough for two ($8). Pro tip: Leave the yoga mat at home; a towel is plenty. sealegsatthebeach.com
27. Explore downtown fullerton | A stroll down Harbor Boulevard in downtown Fullerton leads to a charming array of distinctive cafes, boutiques, and specialty restaurants. Stop by Dripp coffee bar—housed in the historic Fox Theatre—for delicious cold brews and chai lattes. Find vintage and antique furniture and home decor at The Found Shop, and philanthropic goods at Share & Do Good. Round out your visit with a meal at Fuoco Pizzeria Napoletana.
dripp.com, thefoundshop.com, shareanddogood.com, fuocopizza.com
28. Float Therapy |Spas that specialize in sensory deprivation tanks have popped up everywhere the past few years. While claustrophobes might shudder at the thought, many people swear by the practice as a form of stress relief. At Newport Float Therapy in Costa Mesa, spend an hour or 90 minutes in a light- and sound-free tank filled with salt water, letting your mind quiet ($59, $79). Afterward, stop at nearby 7 Leaves Cafe for a strawberry hibiscus or matcha tea. newportfloat.com, 7leavescafe.com
29. Ice Skating at The Rinks |With three venues to choose from, The Rinks makes ice skating in Orange County easy any Saturday year-round. Get some exercise, check out all the children practicing double axels, and chill out. If you don’t have your own skates, figure and hockey skates are available for rent. The Rinks has locations in Anaheim (1 to 3 p.m., 7 to 9 p.m.; $7 to $15), Westminster (noon to 2; $7 to $14), and Yorba Linda (12:30 to 2 p.m.; $6 to $15). therinks.com
30. Lyon Air Museum | Tucked along the west side of John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, this museum is a must for gearheads, aviation enthusiasts, and World War II buffs. The massive, light-filled space is home to meticulously maintained vehicles and thoughtful exhibits, open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day. Plan your visit around lunch, and you can head to nearby Mitsuwa Marketplace and its always-bustling food court. Stop for a bowl of ramen at Santouka, then pick a pastry from the grocery section at Hamada-ya. lyonairmuseum.org,
31. World Fabulous Drag Brunch | Sashay your way over to the World Fabulous Drag Brunch at House of Blues Anaheim. On the first Saturday of the month, “RuPaul’s Drag Race” alum Willam hosts with three new powerhouse performers. Chow down on Southern-inspired brunch options such as Creole chicken jambalaya, collard greens, and fried chicken and waffles ($45). For $25 more, you get a bottle of Champagne and choice of juice. Walk off your buzz and amble around the shops at GardenWalk, or bowl a few frames at Bowlmor lanes. houseofblues.com/Anaheim, bowlmor.com
32. Afternoon Tea at the Disneyland Hotel | Steakhouse 55’s vintage Hollywood flair inside the Disneyland Hotel is an elegant setting for this centuries-old European tradition. Choose from more than 16 loose-leaf teas and herbal infusions such as “Eros,” a sweet orange and creamy vanilla bean black tea with Ceylon leaves. Treat yourself to a three-tiered stand of scones served with Devonshire cream, lemon curd, and seasonal fruit preserves, plus savory tea sandwiches and an assortment of sweets ($50 for Classic, $65 for Premium, $35 for kids).