Stunning Spots in Orange County, California You Never Knew

These are the hidden gems you didn’t know existed in Orange County. From its picturesque beaches to its exhilarating theme parks, Orange County has a lot to offer whether you’re just visiting or you live in Orange County. I encourage you to check out these hidden gems that make this place even more special.

Noguchi Garden

First on the list is the Noguchi Garden in Costa Mesa. In 1979, Henry Segerstrom commissioned Japanese-American landscape architect, Isamu Noguchi, to complete this outdoor sculpture garden which is sandwiched between a couple corporate high-rises across the street from South Coast Plaza. Formerly known as California Scenario, the artwork symbolizes the unique characteristics of the multi-faceted indigenous California terrain. The work highlights the Segerstrom family’s contribution to the agricultural heritage of Southern California through Lima bean farming with a large centerpiece sculpture called the spirit of the Lima Bean. The garden is open free to the public from 8 a.m. to midnight and has become a popular backdrop for photographers.

Irvine Ranch Historic Park

Number two: Irvine Ranch Historic Park in Irvine. Like the Segerstroms, the Irvine family played a vital role in Orange County’s history. Currently the site of the administrative offices for OC parks, Irvine Ranch Historic Park beautifully preserves Orange County and Irvine ranches legacy of farming and agriculture. On display are 24 original ranch structures, remnants of old farming equipment and a sprawling orange orchard. Also located on the property is the Katie Wheeler public library which replicates the 1900s Irvine family home. Once the world’s greatest producers of Valencia oranges, Irvine Ranch was at the center of Orange County’s transformation, from farming to real estate development and urban planning. The park is currently open Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday through Sunday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Pirate Tower of Laguna Beach

Up next at number 3 is the Pirate Tower of Laguna Beach. Nestled into the hillside of Laguna lies Victoria Beach which in and of itself is a hidden gem in Orange County. However, just past the beach where the shoreline begins to narrow stands a beautiful tower that will make you think you’re on the shores of medieval Ireland. The story behind this glorified staircase doesn’t quite live up to its mystical name, though. It was built in 1926 for California State Senator William E. Brown from Los Angeles as a means for accessing the beach below his estate. Still, it’s pretty cool to see in person and not many people know about it.

Dana Point Arches

Number four: the Dana Point Arches in Dana Point. After developing the Hollywood Hills with a flashy new sign in 1923, developer Sidney H. Woodruff set out to develop Dana Point in 1926. Los Angeles was prepping to host the 1932 Summer Olympics and Woodruff wanted a fancy luxury hotel to host a Grand Opening Ceremony. Centrally located between San Diego and Los Angeles, the Dana Point Inn was going to be the magnum opus of Woodruff’s new Mediterranean development. Unfortunately, the stock market crash of 1929 and subsequent Great Depression brought construction to a screeching halt. The half-built hotel was then eventually dismantled in the 60s.

A housing boom in the 80s prompted community members to create the Dana Point Historical Society, which played a key role in preserving the hillside foundation of the hotel now called the Dana Point Arches. A massive elevator shaft was dug through the mountain in the 30s to connect to a tunnel to the beach and the exit door is still visible from Dana Point Harbor Drive today.

Lyon Air Museum

Number five: the Lyon Air Museum in Santa Ana. Even if you’re not an aviation enthusiast, the Lyon Air Museum is a fascinating place to spend an hour or two learning about the United States important role in shaping world history. Located on the west side of John Wayne Airport, this museum was founded by retired Major General William Lyon of the United States Air Force. It offers dozens of exhibits featuring prominent aircraft from the early days of aviation such as: the Douglas DC-3 which revolutionized air transport in the 1930s and 40s, a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress which once carried then-General Dwight D. Eisenhower, and a North American B-25 Mitchell which successfully completed the first strike on Japanese soil during World War II.

Also on display are several old automobiles and military vehicles, even a 1939 Mercedes-Benz Model G4 Touring Wagon personally used by Adolf Hitler in over Saltzburg, Berlin and Poland. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and general admission is $12 per person. A knowledgeable staff of friendly volunteer docents are on site to guide you around and answer any questions you might have.

Well, that’s it for part 1 of my hidden gems in Orange County series. I hope you get the chance to check out all of these places. But before you go, please leave a comment down below and let me know your favorite hidden gems in Orange County. I just might feature your comment and location in a follow-up post. Thanks for stopping by and remember to never stop exploring.

What to See and Where to Eat in Austin, Texas

I was in Austin, Texas a while ago and in this post I’m going to show you some of the best things to do, see and eat here, including the amazing live music scene here in Austin. So, let’s begin our journey around this wonderful city.

Franklin’s Barbecue

This place is supposed to be the best in Austin. The line is absolutely insane. People have been waiting out here for hours. There are even lawn chairs. Well, apparently people get here as early as 6 a.m. and they don’t open ’till 11:00. So, that’s already waiting five hours, for some brisket. That should tell you how really good it must be. I myself made it inside after waiting for about two and a half hours. I got ribs, some brisket, pulled pork and sausage. All of them taste really great.  You might be wondering now; is it worth waiting up to three hours? Well, the thing after waiting in line for such a long time is you’ll get really hungry. And once you dig in the meat, it taste all that better. With all that hunger you kept in, you might ask for more.

Cypress Valley Treehouses

The next thing I recommend you to try when visiting Austin is taking canopy tours in Cypress Valley. It’s located right outside of Austin and they offer a really unique lodging experience where you can sleep forty feet above a ravine in a tree house. They’re actually sky yurts that have been strapped on to a tree. So the really, really cool part besides the fact that it’s in a tree is that there’s a waterfall inside where you can swim and bathe. This waterfall is available in all of the tree houses and all of the buildings on the property are powered by solar and wind energy. So it’s very good for the environment. They also offer canopy tours here, so you can sleep in a canopy, you can go with zip-line, explore the canopy. It’s a great way to be in touch with nature and to do something really positive for the environment.

St. Elmo Brewing Co.

This is the best place to go in Austin if you like drinking. I walked here all the way from the place I stayed and arrived 36 minutes later, completely drenched in sweat. The heat in this city is no joke, man! But the best thing is I got a big glass of cold beer to quench my thirst. Boy, was that great!

One of the cool things about this place is they have a food truck right in the entrance way, so you can get really good craft beer here. But, you can also get good quality food and it’s all kind of like Thai food. I got a charred broccoli, green beans, with sugar snap peas, green curry dish. It definitely was not fancy, but for a brewery to have this kind of tropical dishes, I was impressed.

Easy Tiger – Bake Shop & Beer Garden

An alternative to St. Elmo Brewing is Easy Tiger. It’s a cool place to come and chill and have some beers. They also serve a variety of baked goods, such as bread, pretzels, sausages and corned beef. You can also get nice cheese here, craft beer; there’s a huge beer selection and of course, my favorite part of this place is you can play ping pong here.

Barton Creek, Greenbelt

One of the things I love about Austin is It has a really avid outdoor scene from kayaking, biking, rock climbing, to hiking, you can really do it all in this city. I really appreciate that they have a really good bike system here. It’s only $12 a day and you can literally bike all around the city.

Zilker Metropolitan Park

This place is still part of the Greenbelt area and the main attraction here is their natural spring. Within Zilker Park lies one of the crown jewels of Austin. It is the Barton Springs Pool and this pool is three acres long with a temperature of 60 to 70 degrees. Because it’s fed from a natural spring, the water is super blue. There’s a slate rock on the bottom and it’s really an interesting pool. You don’t really see that anywhere else in the world. Admission is only three dollars for residents and eight dollars if you’re not a resident.

The White Horse

It’s a good place to chill in the evening. The bar’s interior has a very classic Texas vibe. They do free dance classes on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. So you can learn the Texas two-step dance, you can learn Cajun dance, you can learn swing and you can get a nice beer, drink or they got a food truck too. Apparently, that’s the theme here. It’s a pretty cool place. Oh, one more thing; they have free popcorn too.

Stubbs Barbecue & Live Music

This is a great place to get barbecue and also see live music. They have some of the best live music performances here daily and Austin is known for its live music. So this is a really great place to check out some local artists, some real Austin music.

Rainey Street

Renovated house is turned into bungalow bars reigned supreme on this increasingly popular tucked away street. If you come here day or night, you’ll see bar goers strolling from bar to bar or food truck to food truck here on Rainey Street in Austin.

5 Must-See Museums in New York City You Never Heard Of

New York City has over 100 museums. While the really famous ones, like the Met, MoMA, the Natural History Museum tend to get all the attention, today I’m gonna be sharing with you some of New York’s best museums that you’ve never heard of.

The Color Factory

For all of you Instagram-obsessed people out there, you’re gonna love The Color Factory Museum and interactive art exhibit. It’s only running until mid May possibly later, so make sure to check this out. Admission is $38 and must be purchased online before going, but trust me if you want a really fun experience, it’s worth it. The place had a Willy Wonka type vibe. While we didn’t see any Oompa Loompas, we did get plenty of food samples throughout the 16 different exhibits.

It’s quite interactive. You’ll get to draw your partner, play instruments and just have a generally good time. There are cameras everywhere, so if you don’t want to take your own photos, Color Factory will email you some of the best moments from your trip. These didn’t come out half bad. The absolute best part of the museum is the ball pit. Plan to spend up to two hours here. This is the perfect place for families or even a date.

Fraunces Tavern Museum

This is the front of Fraunces Tavern which is the oldest bar in New York City built before the Revolutionary War. Upstairs is a museum that’s a history lover’s dream. You can tell a place is old if George Washington himself used to drink there. While the bar is worth a trip as well, I’m gonna tell you about the lesser-known museum located upstairs. Adult admission is just seven dollars and you’ll learn so much about the history of New York City. I highly recommend asking for tour guide; ours was super knowledgeable.

This place is most famous for when George Washington delivered his farewell speech to the Continental Army in 1783 and the room hasn’t changed much since then. The other exhibits were equally as fascinating to a history buff like me, from amazing portraits, to a Martha Washington shoe, to a map of how New York City looked in the beginning. Prepare to be impressed! I love the room showcasing the evolution of the American flag. There’s even an interactive exhibit where you can put on old wig and hat. Give the museum at least one hour.

New York Historical Society Museum

The New York Historical Society has a very famous neighbor in the Museum of Natural History, but don’t count this spot out. For one, it’s New York’s first museum founded in 1804. Adult admission is $21 and you could spend hours wandering here. Although the focus is American history, one of the surprise exhibits is a room filled with one of the world’s largest collections of Tiffany lamps. These are absolutely beautiful. Some of the designs are really breathtaking.

You can learn a lot just wandering the halls here; from the many portraits, to old cartoons from The New Yorker paper. There’s a 15-minute video about the formation of New York City that is really informative. I recommend giving this place a chance, even with it’s very famous neighboring museum nearby.

City Reliquary Museum

This is City Reliquary Museum and if you’re a fan of quirky, unique stuff and just a
little bit weird this is the museum for you. A Museum of New York City relics; that it is. The smallest museum on the list and with a price tag of only $7 for admission. I dedicate 30 to 45 minutes here. In one word, this place is quirky. They have a lot of old New York City memorabilia like Seltzer bottles and displays from bygone eras.

Any one of the friendly staff there will happily take you on an included tour if you ask. I listen to old music playing from an antique telephone speakers; have a listen
yourself. There’s an old belly dancer exhibit that was pretty neat. Even the bathroom was a shrine to the quirky and strange. If you get a chance, make your way to the backyard for an unusual shrine to the Statue of Liberty. Overall, if you like weird stuff like I do, you’ll be right at home at the City Reliquary.

New York Transit Museum

Of all the museums on this list, the New York Transit Museum is by far my favorite because living in New York, you’re going to be taking public transportation all the time. Going down those stairs is gonna give you an insight into what it was like to live in New York and ride around the city. You can tell it’s going to be a fun experience when you walk down the stairs and feel like you’re entering a subway station because Transit Museum is actually housed in an old one, underground. Admission is an affordable $10. Plan to spend at least one hour weaving your way around New York transit history.

You’ll start your self-guided tour finding out how the subway system was built. Make sure to bring your camera because on the lower level is the crown jewel of the museum: the old subway cars. If you saw a vintage 1930 subway ride video from December, these might look familiar because they actually originated here. It feels like a movie set. I imagine riding subway cars that were from 1917 to 1963 filled with original ads, notices, and of course the seats. If that’s not enough, the exhibit blending comics with New York transportation was very interesting, if not downright creepy. You’ll also see streetcars, buses and even signs from other country’s subways. As I said before, this is my favorite Museum on the list and an absolute must-visit in Brooklyn.

That’s it guys. Make sure to tell me down below in the comments which one of these museums is your favorite; I’m curious. See you in the next post.

Top 5 Things to Do in the Beautiful Northeastern State, Maine

When one thinks of the state of Maine, there are many things that comes to mind for foodies. Maine tourism offers clams lobster and acres of fresh produce. For those who love to shop there are antique stores art galleries and large shopping malls. Golfers will find dozens of locations to practice their swing. Outdoor enthusiasts will find quiet state parks and for the weekend getaways, there is a plethora of historic B&Bs. Yes, Maine definitely has something for everyone. To get started on a Maine adventure, here are the top five things to do in Maine.

 Winter Adventure

Get an adrenaline rush while racing down the slopes of some of the best ski resorts in the Northeast. Whether it’s skiing and tubing at Mount Abram, night skiing along the Canadian border at Bigrock Mountain in Mars Hills, snowboarding and challenging ski runs at Sugarloaf, or family-friendly Titcomb Mountain, Maine has a long list of ski resorts from which to choose.

Summer Golfing

Play around that summer Maine’s Championship golf courses. If you love golf there are sure a lot of amazing courses to check out in Maine. Golfers can tee off at the 70 to par course at Point Sebago Golf Resort in Casco, where the length ranges from four thousand nine hundred yards from the forward to just over 7,000 yards at the back. Or perhaps a visit to the Fox Ridge Golf Club in Auburn, set on two hundred acres of rolling farmland or the delightful greens at the Nonesuch Golf Course in Scarborough. As you can see Maine is a golf dream destination.

Lighthouse Tour

Due to its rocky shoreline inlets and peninsulas, Maine is home to five dozen lighthouses. These have amazing history connected to them and it’s a great place to have some romantic time alone with your loved one. Some tourist favorites are the Cape Neddick Light, West Quoddy Head Light, the Grindle Point Lighthouse and Sailors Memorial Museum, the Portland Head Light and Museum, the Isle au Haut Light – which offers overnight accommodations, and the Monhegan light and museum. There sure are a lot of lighthouses in Maine and it’s definitely something you should take a look.

 Romance at the Covered Bridge

Maine was once the site of 120 covered bridges but due to storms, floods, modern highways, and fire, today only nine remain and can be found in the western region of the state. Its most famous bridge is the Sunday River Bridge also known as the Artists’ Covered Bridge. Other impressive Maine bridges include the Waldo-Hancock suspension bridge and the Deer Isle bridge.

Swimming in the Beach

Go swimming or play on the shore along craggy and beautiful Maine beaches. There is surfing at Long Sands Beach near Route One. The beautiful yet cold sand beach at Acadia National Park and family-friendly beaches like Old Orchard Beach, Popham Beach, and Ogunquit Beach. As a matter of fact, Old Orchard Beach is voted the best beach year after year due to the nearby amusement park, arcade and entertainment venues.

On the Maine vacation, the main thing is to have a good time. Come and see what great family memories are waiting to be made in the beautiful northeastern state, Maine. I think Maine looks like a crazy fun state to go to. Lighthouses, golf courses, a rocky shoreline, and sandy beaches. There is definitely something to do for all ages and even the family can go and have a lot of fun together in Maine.