Top things to do

Top Choice Church in San Juan Capistrano

Mission San Juan Capistrano

Plan on spending at least an hour poking around the sprawling mission’s tiled roofs, covered arches, lush gardens, fountains and courtyards – including the padre’s quarters, soldiers’ barracks and the cemetery. Admi…
Top Choice Mall in Costa Mesa

Camp

Vegans, treehuggers and rock climbers, lend me your ears. The Camp offers one-stop shopping for all your outdoor and natural-living needs. Active Ride Shop and Seed People’s Market for outdoor gear and fair-trade ho…
Top Choice Mall in Costa Mesa

Lab

Sister property to the Camp across the street, this outdoor, ivy-covered ‘anti-mall’ is the original in-your-face alternative to South Coast Plaza, even if nowadays more (cool) national chains have moved in. Sift th…
Top Choice Californian in San Juan Capistrano

Ramos House Café

The best spot for breakfast or lunch in Los Rios Historic District, this Old West–flavored, wood-built house from 1881 (with brick patio) does organically raised comfort food flavored with herbs grown on-site: blueb…
Top Choice Seafood in Seal Beach

Walt’s Wharf

Everybody’s favorite for fresh fish (some drive in from LA), Walt’s packs them in on weekends. You can’t make reservations for dinner (though they’re accepted for lunch), but it’s worth the wait for the oak-fire-gri…
Top Choice Mexican in Costa Mesa

Taco Mesa

Brightly painted in Mexican Day of the Dead art, this out-of-the-way stand is a local institution for fresh, healthy, sustainably farmed tacos of steak, beer-battered fish and more, with an awesome salsa bar. We lik…
Top Choice American in Laguna Beach

Driftwood Kitchen

Ocean views and ridonkulous sunsets alone ought to be enough to bring folks in, but gourmet Driftwood steps up the food with seasonal menus centered around fresh, sustainable seafood, plus options for landlubbers. I…
Top Choice Coffee in Newport Beach

Alta Coffee Warehouse

Hidden on a side street, this cozy coffeehouse in a beach bungalow with a covered patio lures locals with live music and poetry readings, art on the brick walls and honest baristas who dish the lowdown on the day’s …
Top Choice Performing Arts in Laguna Beach

Pageant of the Masters

Hey, did that painting just move? Welcome to the Pageant of the Masters, in which elaborately costumed humans step into painstaking re-creations of famous paintings on an outdoor stage. The pageant began in 1933 as …
Top Choice Bar in Newport Beach

Muldoon’s

At upscale, upbeat, much-admired Muldoon’s, choose from indoor, outdoor (under a leafy tree) and bar seating and enjoy decent, if pricey, Irish pub grub, 10 beers on tap and live acoustic sounds Thursday through Sat…