Shopping in The O.C. is almost as legendary as surfing, and this town, just inland from the coast, has the mega-shopping destinations of them all: South Coast Plaza, California’s largest luxury shopping complex. You can easily spend a day here perusing boutiques for luxury brands such as Hermes, Chanel, and Prada. The massive complex also includes more than 40 places to eat, from quick bites and specialty foods to splurge-worthy fine dining—consider the gourmet fusion fare served at Anqi by House of An.
For a twist on big-box shopping, visit Costa Mesa’s relaxing The LAB Antimall, focusing on appealing independent shops. At The ARTery, see quality handcrafts and artwork displayed in tricked-up shipping containers. At South Coast Collection (SOCO), browse at home decor and culinary stores surrounded by handsome landscaping.
If you like your shopping with a dose of entertainment and amusement-park fun, visit the Irvine Spectrum Center, where a soaring Ferris wheel, plus a carousel and kiddie train for the little ones, give you a unique way to take a break between boutiques. Late nights are lively here too, with movie theaters, Irvine Improv Comedy Club, and quality restaurants.
Now put the credit cards away and head for one of California’s prettiest stretches of coastline, just south at Crystal Cove State Park.