Shopping in The O.C. is almost as legendary as surfing. Start at expansive South Coast Plaza, California’s largest luxury shopping complex, with iconic luxury brands such as Hermes, Chanel, and Prada, as well as the West Coast flagship location for bridal designer Monique Lhuillier. (SCP is also home to only the second Tiffany & Co. Blue Box Café in the nation.) Another posh option: Fashion Island, just offshore from Newport Beach, where Italian-style piazzas, palm trees, and koi ponds (not to mention ocean views) make the place feel more like a resort than a shopping mall.
For bargain hunters, The Outlets at Orange offers more than 120 value stores, including Nordstrom Rack and a Banana Republic outlet, as well as a host of not-just-shopping attractions, including an indoor Vans SkatePark, movie theaters, and bowling at the light-and music-filled Lucky Strike Lanes. Keep stretching your dollar at The Shops at Mission Viejo, home to 150-plus stores including Apple, LEGO, and Madewell, and eateries like Too Sweet Chocolate and acai bowl purveyors Cuuup.
For a twist on big-box shopping, visit Costa Mesa’s relaxing The LAB (Little American Business) “anti-mall” that focuses on appealing independent shops. At The ARTery, see quality handcrafts and artwork displayed in creatively tricked-out 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 Irvine’s Spectrum Center, where a towering 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.