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MLK Jr. Day in the OC

January 11th, 2018

 

Spend this MLK Jr. Day in Orange County participating in one of several celebrations of the life and works of Dr. King. The 30th annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Peace and Unity Parade and Celebration takes place in nearby Long Beach at 1950 Lemon Avenue. It all begins at 10:30 a.m. with a parade at the corner of MLK and Atlantic. The festivities continue until 6 p.m. with activities for all ages.

Over 25,000 people attend each year to enjoy live music in the afternoon and performances that revere camaraderie and peace. A carnival is erected and there are arts and crafts activities for little ones highlighting social justice. A number of groups and organizations support the event with information booths.

A Long Weekend That Matters

Every year, Tustin Library hosts special events for MLK Jr. weekend. Although most libraries, including Tustin, are closed on Monday, the weeks leading up to the holiday feature readings and showcase books that connect readers with Dr. King’s work. A particularly popular option is Jill Foran’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day with gorgeous illustrations for young readers. Check your local libraries to see what events they have lined up for Saturday and Sunday.

Join OneOC, a local volunteer organization that offers projects for locals and visitors alike on MLK Jr. Day. OneOC rallies together to make Monday “a day on, not off” and hosts a variety of projects for all ages, interests and abilities. There’s even a project toolkit to help you put together your own event.

How will you be celebrating?

 

 

 

Anaheim Plaza

January 3rd, 2018

 

A trip to Southern California demands a little retail therapy, and Anaheim Plaza is a favorite for locals. Smaller and less crowded than GardenWalk, it’s where you can find your favorite shops along with local options. As the very first shopping mall in Orange County, it was regional from 1954 until 1992 when it was transformed into a “power center” with a variety of popular big box stores.

The first department store, The Broadway, set the stage for making Anaheim Plaza a shopping mecca. By the time wealthy patrons began calling Orange County home, demand for more stores, more space and more restaurants was high. Anchor stores include FAMSA, El Super, TJ Maxx, Forever 21 outlet and even a Wal-Mart.

What’s in Store?

Check the full directory to start planning your shopping getaway. Favorites include Ulta, Carter’s and Five Below. Dining options like Rubio’s Fresh Mexican Grill, Marie Callender’s, Dose Coffee and Baskin-Robbins help keep energy levels high when you need to refuel.

The Anaheim Plaza is located at N. Euclid Street and the Santa Ana Freeway in Anaheim. Whether you need to pick up some staples (like a swimsuit for the beach) or simply want to explore a local shopping hotspot, don’t miss out on the post-holiday specials at this Anaheim landmark.

 

 

Your NYE Guide

December 27th, 2017

 

There’s a party for everyone in Southern California, like the Minimal Effort: NYE bash from 4 p.m. – 4 a.m. You’ll need to travel to downtown Los Angeles for this mega party, but it’s well worth the short drive, especially since revelers keep it going until the wee hours. Held at the Minimal Effort Club, it’s perfect for those looking for a club atmosphere, or night owls who think 2 a.m. is way too early to stop ringing in the New Year.

Others prefer to go to Disneyland for one of the most magical nights of the year. Hours are from 8 a.m. – 2 a.m. on this day, with two separate fireworks shows. It’s one of the busiest nights of the year, and you’ll want to arrive in the morning to ensure you see your top attractions (and the park doesn’t stop admissions!). However, for many families, it’s a New Year’s tradition.

Party Options

The GIANT OC New Year’s Party Supersocial for singles and couples alike is known for great food, flowing drinks and a welcoming environment where everyone 21 – 99 is treated to a night of fun and dancing. Hosted at Hotel Fullerton, close to Anaheim, there are raffle prizes, ice breakers, games and more.

You’ll also want to consider:

  • New Year’s Eve Bash at Henry’s Bar for food specials and live music
  • New Year’s Eve Celebration at El Mercado Modern Cuisine, with a four-course dinner and cocktail pairings
  • NYE at the Public House by Evans Brewing for a fixed menu
  • Resolution NYE at Holiday with live music and surprise performances

 

 

Spending Christmas at Disneyland

December 18th, 2017

 

Christmas Day is one of the busiest days of the year at Disneyland parks, and the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve is always packed. However, when planned correctly, this can also be the most magical time of year to visit the park. Always arrive early and plan to spend the entire day at the park (if you have a multi-park pass, choose just one park for the day—there’s plenty to see and do!).

If possible, visit during the first two weeks of December when schools are still in session. You’ll get all the fun of the festive season without the additional crowds. Visiting on a rainy day is always a good idea. Rain is rare in California, but December is the “wettest” month. Map out which attractions you want to see and head to those first—otherwise, the lines might be too long to complete your itinerary.

Top Attractions

Christmas at Disneyland is famous for the It’s a Small World and Haunted Mansion attractions, both of which get a seasonal touch you won’t want to miss. The Nightmare Before Christmas takes over the mansion, and you have to check out the nearby gingerbread display with its intoxicating aroma. It’s a Small World gets about 250,000 extra lights on the exterior and 30,000 inside. You’ll find icicles, snowflakes, snowmen and carols here. (Even if this isn’t your usual ride, you’ll want to check it out).

Make sure you see the Believe … in Holiday Magic fireworks show, set to popular Disney holiday music. Meet Santa at the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail throughout the month, and don’t forget about the A Christmas Fantasy parade on Main Street. Keep an eye on the Disneyland calendar for updates, and swing into any of the restaurants and food trucks for once-a-year delights.

German Fare in Anaheim

December 10th, 2017

 

It’s no surprise that a city founded by Germans has plenty of authentic, delicious German restaurants to choose from. At Jagerhaus, you’ll find goulash, strudel, bratwurst and other German treasures all in an intimate, cozy environment. Start with the traditional fondue, and don’t forget to save room for an extra pint or two of imported beer—or one of the delectable apple crisp desserts.

At The Phoenix Club, you can enjoy special celebrations year-round including an incredible Oktoberfest if you frequently visit the area. The lively pub and dance hall is available for private rentals, and is popular during the holiday season for Christmas parties. Bavarian cuisine is scratch-made and always impressive.

Grab a Pint

Old World German Restaurant is aptly named and known for classic dishes, out of this world schnitzel and a variety of pastries. You’ll also find the biggest collection of imported German beer here, making it a favorite for special gatherings and happy hour. Head to Mattern Sausage and Meats for something a little more low-key, with a deli counter-service operation. The staff is happy to whip up a meal to-go or to take to your guest room.

Stadtgarden is known for quick pub bites and live music on the weekend. It boasts more of a party atmosphere, and has the best treats to end a night of imbibing. No matter which German destination you choose, there’s a good chance the owners and staff are descendants of the founders of Anaheim!

 

North Gate of the City of Anaheim

December 5th, 2017

 

Located at 775 Anaheim Boulevard and North Street, this is the original town site of Anaheim. During its heyday, it was enclosed by a “living fence” comprised of willow trees which did a fantastic job of keeping livestock out. This gate is one of four that aided in travel back and forth to the north. While the actual gate no longer exists, the space remains a living testament to Anaheim’s history and is a gorgeous historic stop.

Visitors will find a historical marker set into a stone, marked HMZ2u. Use #HMZ2U when visiting, and share photos of your trip on social media. It’s a brief stop without any major signage, interpretive signs or a visitor’s center, which makes it a fast bucket list item for many travelers.

Anaheim’s History

The city was founded in 1857 and was originally made up 1,165 acres. The original name was “Annaheim,” in reference to the Santa Ana River. “Heim” means “home” in German. Over the years, the name naturally progressed. However, there are still hints of the rich German immigrant population that helped shape Anaheim into what it is today.

Fifty German families founded the town, which was incorporated in 1876. Throughout the decades, after splitting off from Los Angeles County, Anaheim remained largely rural until recent years. When Disneyland opened in the 1950s, that’s when suburban sprawl began and the rest is history—history that’s readily available for travelers visiting during their stay.

 

Magical Thanksgiving Feasts

November 20th, 2017

 

Three places are famously open on Thanksgiving Day in Anaheim: Theme parks, plenty of restaurants and a lot of pubs. One of the most popular picks for holiday cuisine is Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant at Knott’s Berry Farm. For less than $30 per person, you can enjoy a lavish and traditional feast. However, tables do fill up quickly, so you’ll want to make your reservations soon.

Disneyland is also open, as are all park restaurants, but a few are particularly well-known for their Thanksgiving dishes. The showstopper is the Fall Harvest Buffet in the Grand Ballroom at Disneyland Hotel. The classic meal includes roasted turkey, beef and ham, salads, mashed potatoes and other favorite sides, as well as a mouthwatering dessert station. It’s spendy at $79.99 for adults, but well worth it.

Dig In at Disneyland Park

Throughout the park, you’ll find themed specials like the Carnation Café’s oven-roasted turkey breast with bourbon gravy, sweet cornbread stuffing and homemade pumpkin pie. Duck into the Plaza Inn for a slow-roasted turkey and gravy dish with apple thyme dressing on the side. The River Belle Terrace also features turkey and all the trimmings, while the French Market is known for their cornbread and apricot stuffing, smashed potatoes and juicy cuts.

At the Blue Bayou, you’ll get a Cajun twist with turkey roulade complete with truffle stuffing, cognac turkey gravy and pumpkin crème brulee for dessert. Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante dishes up seasonal tamales with unique turkey twists. Get ready for the most delicious holiday spread of your life—the only question is, where do you start?

 

Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum

November 14th, 2017

 

You don’t need to be a fan of Tricky Dick to enjoy the exhibits and special events at this unique Anaheim landmark. The new museum and library is open to the public, and 1,600 newly released pages of Warren “Bill” Gulley’s documents from the White House Central Files are on display. The events described in these pages include visits by President Nixon and the First Family. Also in 2017, the library released 29,600 pages of Jeffrey Donfeld’s White House Central Files materials.

Another set of declassified materials, including 5,000 pages previously dubbed as strictly classified, detail President Nixon’s Brief, archives on Vietnam and the Middle East, and much more. Special programming just for kids include photo galleries, transcripts and audio of speeches (including Moon Landing and Silent Majority), White House tapes and of course kid-friendly exhibits on Watergate.

A Presidential Welcome

Within the museum, countless permanent exhibits ensure you’ll need more than one trip to see it all. Get acquainted with the museum at Orientation Theater, then move into the Wave of Change exhibit showcasing curved walls and a smorgasbord of sights and sounds that bring landmark events to life. A replica of the Oval Office immerses guests in how President Nixon spent his working days, and the Vietnam War exhibit is one of the most impressive in the country.

Of course, the Watergate exhibit is one of the most popular, and the Farewell Speech and Departure exhibit puts guests inside 1974’s Army One. Head Back to the Beginning and Early Years to get a glimpse into Nixon’s beginnings.

Which exhibit will you explore first?

Irvine Park Railroad

November 4th, 2017

 

Discover family fun galore at Irvine Park Railroad, where hiking, games of horseshoe, pony rides and horse rentals, bike rentals and of course train rides guarantee a fun day of thrills. The sprawling park is also home to the Orange County Zoo, and you’ll often find volleyball games taking place on grassy lawns and sandy areas.

 

Two restaurants, the Train Station Snack Bar and Lakeside Station Snack Bar, offer a variety of treats and goodies to keep energy levels high. Catering is also available for special events, such as weddings. Dig into scrumptious all-natural burgers, chili cheese nachos or fries, chicken nuggets, burritos and other favorites.

Planning Your Visit

With charcoal pits around the area, a large pavilion, meadows and moon bounce rentals available, it’s the perfect destination for your next event. A variety of natural venues, both covered and uncovered, allow for parties of all sizes. Whether you’re planning a wedding, quinceañera, family reunion or other event, work with the Irvine Park staff to create a memorable gathering.

Rentals are $250-$500 depending on the location and party size. You can also purchase everything necessary to fire up one of the complimentary BBQs around the park. For outdoor fun, Irvine Park has you covered.

 

The Race is On!

November 1st, 2017

 

November is prime race season throughout Southern California, whether you’re ready for your first 5k or you want to take on a marathon or ultra. Before the holidays are in full swing, challenge yourself at the Friends of La Serna 5k race in nearby Whittier. Now in its 20th year, the race benefits a local school and gives $500 scholarships to deserving high school seniors. Sign up for the November 11th event and get a healthy head start on your New Year’s resolutions.

The Calabasas Classic Run on November 12th takes racers through the famous streets of the stars. The race turns 21 this year, and proceeds benefit the Community Center Alliance. Help support activities, programs and services while getting a peek at some of the most famous houses in the area.

Beat Your PR

The Long Beach Veteran’s Day 5k and 10k on November 11th is a popular event where participants take to the scenic bike path and enjoy ocean views while helping to raise funds and awareness for those who served. Registration is just $20 if you sign up early, and it’s the perfect option for beginners and competitive racers alike.

Check out the Thanksgiving Weekend Marathon, also in Long Beach, on November 26th and burn off that holiday dinner. With a full marathon, half, 15k, 10k and 5k option, there’s truly a route for everyone. You’ll want to sign up early for this event—it’s a turkey of a good time!