Southern California but no Disneyland. For a Disney theme park lover, is a good time even possible? The answer is yes- absolutely!
Let's start with perennial favorite (get it?), Roger's Gardens in Newport Beach. Not only is it home to the original Disneyland bandstand, it's just a beautiful place to explore.
The indoor and outdoor rooms are filled with blooms and style. I particularly loved the "book nook" with its archway spanning across the width of the walls. This photo above, does not do it justice. You've got to see it for yourself.
In the old Orange Circle, just about a block or two away from Chapman College, is a brand new and incredibly tasty Mexican restaurant- Gabby's. It's not cheap- but then the area has become very trendy- yet the food is a fresh and flavorful take on what could be cuisine taken for granted in Southern California. The main room and bar take you to another place and time. An artistic and culinary triumph. The chips and salsa are winners too. A necessary great beginning to a very, very good meal.
The very top photo and the directly one above are taken at Pacific City, a new outdoor shopping center literally across the street from the roaring surf of Huntington Beach. It was a perfect California dream day- just right for a cup of coffee while taking in the view... and dreaming of days gone by when we lived there.
A lemon tree blooms in early March? Must be California!
You're looking at my in-laws back yard and their fully fruited lemon tree. Between this, gardenia, and ever blooming red and pink bougainvillea, not to mention eternally sunny days, I always ask myself "Why did I move?"
Fun in Palm Springs.
Onto Palm Springs. Even though its only an hour and a half away, there are so many diversions in this desert town, it feels like a whole new state and an entirely different culture. This fire pit in the gardens of a retro styled hotel resort - Parker in Palm Springs -made for a perfect end to an incredible meal nearby.
OK, we snuck away to Downtown Disney for an hour one night before we departed the O.C. It was crowded, lively, and just great fun. Even without a visit to Disneyland or California Adventure.
For those of you who have never ventured outside of the Disney parks, there's a whole new world out there. Go explore it!
(Photographs copyright Mark Taft.)