O.C.’s Best 2020! | See & Do

From jazz concerts to ropes courses to strawberry picking, there’s so much to add to your can’t-wait-to-do list.
South Coast Farms photograph by Emily J. Davis

Laid-Back Strawberry U-Pick
An intimate and serene experience awaits in the 10 acres of wide-open fields at South Coast Farms. At $4 a pound, fill your baskets with ripe, organic berries. The small family farm, which has been growing strawberries for more than two decades, is in a rural area off Ortega Highway by Tree of Life Nursery. No time to pick? Stop by the farm stand in Dana Point for fresh produce including vegetables, flowers, and strawberries. San Juan Capistrano, 949-661-9381

Temporary Sculpture Exhibits
If you’re passing Laguna Beach City Hall, chances are you’ll spot one of the temporary art exhibits installed on the lawn. From interactive, stained-glass houses to laser-cut, geometric sculptures lit up at night to provocative hooded figures making a statement about climate change, these outdoor displays are another testament to the artistic spirit of the coastal beach town. Laguna Beach, 949-497-3311

Intimate Music Venue
Not many O.C. arts patrons would think small describes anything associated with Segerstrom Center for the Arts. But the Samueli Theater provides a cabaret spot for performances that are best experienced with a personal touch and a chance for the musicians to connect to the audience directly. The jazz series that takes place there feels like a behind-the-scenes peek at a secret recording session with 300 new friends. Costa Mesa, 714-556-2787

Free Fitness Classes
Whether you’re a yogi or enjoy circuit training, Bella Terra offers free classes that will get your heart rate up. The outdoor area known as The Green, just outside the movie theater, is the site for classes from fitness studios including CorePower Yoga and Orangetheory Fitness. Huntington Beach, 714-897-2533

Memorial Mural
After the helicopter crash in January that killed nine O.C. residents, Social owner Andrew Dorsey reached out to Andaluz The Artist to work on a mural honoring the victims—John, Keri, and Alyssa Altobelli; Kobe and Gianna Bryant; Sarah and Payton Chester; Christina Mauser; and Ara Zobayan. Folks traveled from the ends of the county and beyond to visit the colorful artwork and pay their respects in person. Costa Mesa

Outdoor art at Sherman Library and Gardens photograph by Emily J. Davis

Outing for All Ages
Are you part of a multigenerational group looking for common ground for an afternoon? Check out Sherman Library and Gardens for fresh activities. Adults will enjoy afternoon tea, yoga, and the annual Newport Beach Garden Tour. Engage kids with sculpture art made from discarded beach toys and other trash, a closer look at nighttime creatures near Halloween, and painting classes. And the Nights of 1000 Lights extravaganza in December is a must-visit for all. Corona del Mar, 949-673-2261

Swing Dance Pop-Up
Cooks Chapel at the Packing House is known as a wedding and private event venue, but it hosts a swing dance lesson and dance session with live music every second Tuesday of the month. You can even bring in food from the Packing House. Anaheim, 949-302-8229

Free Outdoor Art
Get your dose of fresh air while unlocking your creative potential at the monthly workshop Irvine Ranch Conservancy hosts at the Helena Modjeska Historic House and Gardens. Learn techniques such as plein-air painting or botanical illustration from a professional artist. You’ll also get a tour of the century-old ranch home and some background on Madame Modjeska’s life as a world-renowned actress. Lake Forest, 949-923-2230, letsgooutside.org

Sky-High Thrills
If you’re looking for excitement beyond your usual routine or a thrilling new way to conduct team building, head to Orange County Ropes Course. Climb, swing, zip line, and leap your way through multiple courses filled with individual and team challenges. Plan a visit ahead of time to have the courses specifically tailored to your group. Anaheim, 714-616-1026

Irvine Spectrum playground photograph by Emily J. Davis

Shopping Center Playground
The 2018 Irvine Spectrum expansion brought with it a simple-yet-effective climbing play structure that kids still can’t get enough of. As many parents can attest, sometimes the only way to lure them out is with a treat from neighboring Afters Ice Cream or 85 C Bakery. Irvine, 949-790-4871

College Flashback
University students can’t possibly take advantage of all the impressive events offered on campus each year. Lucky for the rest of us that UC Irvine opens its speaker series, mock trials, and lectures by experts to the public on a regular basis. Whether you want to participate in the jury to decide if Hamlet committed murder, listen to MeToo founder Tarana Burke talk about next steps on college campuses, or just be in the room when national and international luminaries have conversations about civil liberties, health innovations, election results, or environmental breakthroughs, the options are vast. Irvine, today.uci.edu

Tour for Baseball Fans
Go behind the scenes of America’s favorite pastime with the Angel Stadium Ballpark Tour. The 75-minute guided walking tour includes the playing field, the Angels dugout, the press conference room, and the broadcast booth. Plus, get an exclusive look at the Gene Autry suite. $10 to $12, June through September. Anaheim, 714-940-2230

Inspirational Variety Show
The Shine is a volunteer-produced pop-up event featuring anything from music and meditation to short films and motivational talks. Think of it as a booze-free happy hour that takes place every few months to nourish the spirit and provide connection. theshinemovement.org


Head to orangecoast.com/readersrave to vote for your favorites from this year’s Reader Picks!

Visit orangecoast.com/best2020 for the rest of our Best Of picks.

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