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USA: California: Bishop, Coloma, Hearst Castle, Laguna Beach, Lone Pine, Los Angeles, Mammoth Lakes, Mono Lake, Monterey Bay, Palm Springs, Pismo Beach, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Barbara, Solvang, Yosemite National Park
Laguna Beach, California, USA: And other jewels of Orange County
by Prakash Bang, Editor in Chief
Generally speaking, the slogan 'Sunny California' holds good. Well, that was generally speaking. As luck would have it, I happen to land when it was pouring. However, the downpour didn't deter me to explore the wealth around. No puns intended. Orange County does flaunt wealth. The homes cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and it's common to see cars on street that cost more than the homes.
Orange County has many beaches. As soon as we landed at the Orange County airport from Sacramento, we headed to Knott's Berry Farm located about an hour away at Buena Park. What started as 'chicken dinner' restaurant gradually went on to become America's First Theme Park. There's an interesting story. In early part of the century, Mrs Knott began to serve her signature chicken dinner. So good was the taste that there was a wait of 3 to 5 hours. To keep the waiting guests occupied, Mr Knott started putting in rides and other themes around the restaurant. He became friends with Charles Shultz - the creator of Snoopy - thus the evolution of Snoopy Camp. Today, over 3 million visitors come to the site. Knott's Berry Farm (it was a berry farm, hence the name) has a hotel on site too. Visitors are only walking distance away from other attractions in Buena Park like The Pirates and The Medieval. And interestingly Knott's Berry Farm offers complimentary shuttle to its guests to visit Disneyland, their competitor, that's just about 15 minutes away. Good gesture indeed. No prizes for guessing what we had for lunch at the Knott's Berry Farm.
After stuffing ourselves, we drove for about 30 minutes to Laguna Beach. It was and is a quaint little town on the lovely shores of the Pacific Ocean. The town is lovingly called the Riviera of The West.
The beautiful ocean and the majestic mountains attracted many artists from around the world to make their home at Laguna Beach. In the early century, artists roughed their way to reach the location. Many never returned… they stayed back for good. It won't be out of place to call Laguna Beach an artists' town. There are over 100 galleries and the town has over 1000 artists living in. From the classic to the contemporary, visitors can buy art.
I had the opportunity to spend some time with a local artist, Nancy Egan. She was with her oils at Cloud 7 - a studio shared by 7 artists. The studio belongs to the artist for a fixed day of the week. They come, they paint, they discuss. Many art festivals keep happening in this town. A visitor wouldn't go back unhappy.
Laguna Beach is also home to some great wild life. It's shores attracts migrant birds, whales, seals and many other species. Refer to a very interesting article 'Orange County' submitted in 'Share Experience' section on this web site. Cheri Ikerd, a keen nature lover and owner of OC Wildlife & Beach Tour can help you plan some great day trips to discover the region's wildlife and beautiful beach coves.
From Laguna Beach we drove towards Newport Beach about 30 miles away. Since it was pouring quite heavily, we just moved around in our bus looking at the lovely neighbourhood and the homes therein. Many Hollywood and Sports Celebrities have their homes around. The famous basketball player, Kobe Bryant lives here. We just got to see his home from about 1000 feet away!
Since we couldn't go to the shore, we decided to visit the area's famous shopping mall - Fashion Island. As the name suggests one can find array of great brands out here. Some of my colleagues did shop as, to their surprise, deals where on the go. You could be lucky too.
Our next stop, another 30 minutes away was Huntington Beach. This is also known as Surf City of the USA. We checked into Hyatt Regency for the night. Just a bridge away from the beach, Hyatt Regency is a very large property and offers a variety of restaurants and fun activities to its guests. Make a point to carry the hotel's layout map… else you will keep going round in circles. For dinner that night, we were the guests of Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort which was just a couple of blocks away from Hyatt Regency. We were given a round of the hotel. The rooms were just fantastic with each one of it offering a splendid ocean view.
Their chef did a great job too.
Laguna Beach Image Gallery Photo viewer
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