Brew Ha Ha
Stroll through any beach town or tourist hotspot like Anaheim, and you'll likely find crowds of patrons pouring onto the patios of their favorite local establishments. Here in O.C., where the weather is welcoming (almost) year-round and spirits grow young, happy hour is a common pastime among friends. It's also a place that makes it's own beer, so you can keep sipping long after you've left. At Anaheim Brewery, a tasting room and beer garden invite you to stop in and sample eight-plus fresh beers on tap among them the wildly popular Anaheim 1888, fruity Hefeweizen, Coast to Coast IPA and Peerless Porter. Pick your favorites and order those to go in a growler. Also in Anaheim, Noble Ale Works serves up brews with names like Nose Candy (which recently won a medal at the Great American Beer Festival), Back in the Day IPA, Naughty Sauce and Tongue Tickles. Sample a flight in the tasting room and bottle the best ones to take home. Recently opened in Laguna Beach by a few friends who 'shared a passion for craft beer and brewing,' Laguna Beach Beer Company creates brews that reflect the history and laid-back lifestyle of the city: The Greeter's Ale, Second Reef Session Ale and Canyon Road Red are all worth a try, and can be found in about a dozen restaurants and bars throughout Laguna, Dana Point and San Clemente.
Not Your Average Joe
Driven by the pursuit of perfection, Portola Coffee Lab spilled onto the Costa Mesa scene a few years ago brewing with countless fancy methods some of the best coffee we've tasted to date. Focused on sustainability and the well-being of farmers as much as the flavor, this grass roots coffee co. travels to distant lands to cultivate a variety of beans, that when blended together and roasted, create a savory cup. Ordering a cup at one of Portola's O.C. labs is a treat and a science lesson at the same time ('Would you like the siphon, pour-over or trifecta?'). It's also a great place to pick up some new brewing know-how, fun accouterments for your home coffee bar and some bags of delicious beans. Located in the heart of downtown Laguna Beach, Laguna Coffee Company is a locals' hotspot that boasts flavorful roasts from around the globe. These beans don't come off the truck though; the family who runs it picks its preferred berries from the vine and roasts them in-house, creating blends like Beachcomber, Bohemian and of course, the Laguna Blend. You can purchase a bag at the cafe as well as select shops and grocers.
Lift Your Spirits
For over a decade, Newport Beach Vineyards & Winery has been growing, harvesting and maturing its wines on a property tucked away in Upper Newport Bay. You need a reservation (and a few hours) to taste here, but varietals like the Black Bay Cuvee and OC Red make it the perfect play to while away half a day. Take a tour of the property and pleasure your palate with a flight (or two!), and then wrap a few bottles to bring home. Bottling California vibes in an ornate bottle, Laguna Beach-based Purple Corduroy crafts 'surf-inspired' wines that pair well with coastal cuisine like seafood and barbecue. These swell varietals were dreamt up by three local 'bromigos' one of them a professional winemaker and aspiring chef, who produces their Red, Blonde and Rose Siren varietals in the northern town of Lodi. Order it by the glass or purchase a bottle at CDM Wine Gallery in Corona del Mar, Laguna's Selanne Steak Tavern, Dizz's As Is, La Sirena Grill and Laguna Beach Wine Gallery, and DaVine Food & Wine in Dana Point.
The T-shirt is the most popular souvenir of any destination, and here in O.C., you'll find everything from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim" to Disneyland"®" characters to surf brands to boutique duds designed by local artists. Browse any city's shopping centers and you're bound to find the former. Each of the coastal towns has specialty surf shops carrying not only internationally recognized brands like Quiksilver and Billabong, but also custom tees with the local logo. The place where many surf companies were born, you'll also discover well-stocked collections from such emerging brands as Roark Revival, based in San Juan Capistrano. Soul Project, a Newport Beach and Laguna Beach-based apparel company that donates $1 from each purchase to a local children's or environmental charity, prints the work of area artists on its tees.
If you live in a surf town in another part of the country, or make your way to the waves frequently, it might interest you to order a custom-made board from the very craftsman who shaped the boards of some of your favorite professional surfers. Carve out some time to visit one of these three O.C.-based companies Hobie Surfboards, Almond Surfboards and Estrada Surfboards all dedicated to perfecting the art of crafting your board.
Hang it Up
O.C. is home to a burgeoning art scene, with galleries, fairs, festivals and monthly art walks sweeping through towns like Santa Ana, Fullerton, Huntington Beach, Long Beach and of course, Laguna Beach (founded over 100 years ago as an artists colony). Many local plein air artists feature paintings of the area's distinctive coastlines, aqua-blue waters and significant landmarks. Even a piece that doesn't represent the O.C. itself but is produced by a local will make you remember your trip every time you look at it. For more ancient home treasures, comb through an array of antique shops (The Circle in Orange has a fun assortment).
Title Photo: Almond Surfboards
1: Anaheim Brewery
2: Portola Coffee Lab
3: ©ScottSporleder/Newport Beach Magazine
4: Visit Anaheim
5: Visit Anaheim
6. Sawdust Art Festival