Friday, July 27, 2007

Mayan Inn

Contrary to popular belief there is ethnic food in South Orange County.

Today for lunch four co-workers and I ventured to the Mayan Inn, on the corner of Los Alisos and Jeronimo in Lake Forest. It has been owned and operated by the same family since 1986. Located in a strip mall I wasn't sure what to expect, but one step inside the restaurant and all hole-in-the-wall fears disappear. It is a very cute atmosphere with white stucco walls, black vinyl booths and Mexican flag colors everywhere.

They serve very traditional Mexican food. For lunch I had a cheese enchilada and beef taco plate, which included beans and rice. The beans were excellent, not from a can. The enchilada sauce was homemade and delicious. It had the right balance of tomato and chili spices.The rice wasn't fantastic, but I'd still be willing to give them another shot. I'm anxious to try the chile verde.

If you're in the SOC give it a shot.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Places to Bonfire in Orange County

At the doctor's office last week I casually perused Orange Coast's July 2007 issue and discovered a list of beaches with firepits in the O.C.

The article points out several important keys to successful bonfires in the OC. The first is to arrive early in the day and stake out your spot, especially in the summer.

The second is to make sure you have the right kind of wood. The article says that the best for a long-lasting, smoke-free fire is pine and Eucalyptus. You can log onto to learn how to build your wood pile. Here are a list of O.C. beaches with fire pits to test your fire building skills.

Capistrano Beach - 35005 Beach Road.
Hours: 6 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Parking: $1/hr.
Phone: 949-923-2280.

Dana Point - Doheney State Beach, 25300 Dana Point Harbor Drive, at el Obispo.
Hours: 6 a.m. - 10 p.m. during DST and 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. PST.
Parking; $10.
Phone; 949-496-6172

Huntington Beach - Bolsa Chica State Beach, 17851 PCH, between Warner Ave and Seapoint.
Hours: 6 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Parking: $10
Phone: 714-846-3460

Huntington Beach - Huntington City Beach, 103 PCH, between First St and Beach Blvd
Hours: 6 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Parking: $10
Phone 714-536-5281

Huntington Beach - Huntington State Beach, on PCH between Beach Blvd and Magnolia Ave.
Hours 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Parking: $10
Phone: 714-536-1454

Newport Beach - Balboa Beach/Balboa Pier, on Ocean Front between Island Ave and Main St
Hours; 6 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Parking: Meters and street parking
Phone: 949-719-6100

Newport Beach - Corona del Mar State Beach, Ocean Ave and Iris Street
Hours; 6 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Parking: $10
Phone: 949-644-3151

Newport Beach - Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort and Marina, 1131 Back bay Drive, off Jamboree Road.
Hours 8 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Parking: $10
Phone: 949-729-3863

San Clemente - Calafia State Beach, Avenida Calafia and Avenida del Presidente
Hours: 6 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Parking: $10
Phone; 949-492-3156

San Clemente - Ole Hanson beach/North Beach, 1900 Avenida Estacion
Hours: 4 a.m. to midnight Monday through Saturday and 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
Parking: Metered until 8 p.m.
Phone: 949-361-8265.

San Clemente - Pier, 620 Avenida del Mar, off El Camino Real.
Hours: 4 a.m. to midnight.
Parking: $1/hour.
Phone: 949-361-8219.

San Clemente - State Beach, 3030 Avenida del President at Avenida Calafia.
Hours: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Parking: $10
Phone: 949-492-0802

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Drive-In is back in OC

I was searching for info on the OC Fair and randomly ended up on a link to a new drive-in that shares the fairgrounds. A decade after the last one in OC closed Star-Vu opened its gates to a sell out crowd. It's closed now for the fair but opens again August 11, 2007.

The new drive-in experiences offers state of the art sound (on FM transmission) and first-run movies but still keeps all the traditions and nostalgia alive as well.

I can't wait to go. Growing up in a small Ohio town there was nothing to do on a summer night but go to the drive in. I loved going in my jammies, playing on the swingset up front and eating a ton of popcorn. The great thing about a drive-in here in CA is that there won't be any mosquitos to eat you alive on a hot summer night.

Location: Orange County Fairgrounds, Costa Mesa, 88 Fair Drive. The fairgrounds are located just off of the 55 Freeway South at the Del Mar/ Fair Drive exit. Cars arriving will be entering off of Fair Drive through Gate Two. Exit traffic will be directed out Gate 10 to Newport Boulevard.
Capacity: 300 cars
Price: General admission (13 years and older): $8.50, Children (5 to 12 years) $5 , and free for 4 years and under.
Public information: Phone number: 949-296-7002 , Website: or email:

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Mad Maps

I just found a new source for day trip, scenic routes and off-the-beaten-path tours of Southern California, Mad Maps.

My trusty Real Simple listed it as a problem-solver under $6 in its August issue. These pocket-sized maps show seven scenic drives, out-of-the-way eateries, and other great places to stop and see the best that the area has to offer.

There are maps offered Los Angeles and San Diego. I'll have to check them out.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Getty Villa

NOTE: I just went back to the Villa today and took the Orientation tour. There is no need to take both the Architecture and Garden tour and the Orientation tour. They overlap a lot. Instead I recommend getting in line early for the spotlight tour lead by the gallery teachers, not the docents. We showed up at 2:45 for the 3 p.m. tour and it was full. So sad.

June 24, 2007 - On Saturday Ty and I went north to Pacific
Palisades to visit J. Paul Getty's renovated Villa.

It is modeled after the ancient Villa dei Papiri, believed to have been the home of Julius Caesar's father-in-law, buried by the explosion of Mt. Vesuvius. Now the Getty Villa is dedicated to the study of the arts and cultures of ancient Greece, Rome and Etruria.

The grounds are designed to resemble an archeological site. On the top level there are modern buildings and a cafe with outdoor tables. We travel down into the site the architects built layers of sedementary rock into the canyon walls to represent time as we descend upon the Roman home beautifully restored and alive to tell its story.

The Villa is dedicated to showing life as the romans lived. Built around a large courtyard with small galleries that would have been rooms for the family. The walkways are lined with busts of individuals known by the family, serving as conversation pieces for their guests as they toured the home.

The gardens are spectacular. They have gone to painstaking detail to plant only those flowers and herbs that would have been in existance in Roman times.

We watched a 12 min overview of the building and renovation of the Villa and also took the 40 minute Garden and Architecture Tour. I highly recommend it as a great introduction to the museum and its vision. There are also other tours available that go into greater depth about the collections.

One thing I loved was that every tour is given a receiver and headphones. You can wander up to 100 feet away from your group and still hear what the docent is saying. It gives greater opportunity to explore and not have to travel through the musueum in a clump straining to hear. Great feature.

The museum has 44,000k pieces of antiquity and 1,200 are on display, so no two visits to the Villa will be the same. Log onto to request your free tickets. I would plan a few weeks in advance as tickets go quickly. But the great thing about a limited number of tickets per day is that the museum never feels too crowded. We arrived at 11 a.m. and wandered around, took a tour, leisurely strolled through exhibits and ate in the cafe and left around 4 p.m. We didn't feel rushed. It was actually a very relaxing experience.

Parking is $8.

Pavilion of Wings

Originally uploaded by greenbeangirl74

This past weekend Erika and I ventured to Natural History Museum in Los Angeles to see the Pavilion of Wings. With her KCRW discount we got in for free, how sweet is that.

The Pavilion itself was amazing! Full of brightly colored bushes and flowers to attract and feed the butterflies there are literally hundreds and hundreds of butterflies flying all around. I felt like a kid again in complete wonder and awe. Most of the time you just stand there in stunned silence as you watch these beautiful creatures flutter around so delicately.

The exhibits shows the life cycle of the butterfly from caterpillar through its metamorphisis. Every week new species are released. The museum lets people in on the half hour but since we went on a weekend it was still really crowded.

The Pavilion is open through November 3rd. There is an extra $3 fee for the Pavilion of Wings in addition to the museum entrance fee of $9.
900 Exposition Blvd. (between Vermont and Figueroa.)
Los Angeles, CA 90007 Phone: (213) 763-DINO

Monday, July 9, 2007

List of Places I Have yet to see Southern California

I've been to many places over the last 14 years that I've lived here in Southern California, but new things keep popping up on my radar. Here is a list of places I want to visit, categorized by their general vicinity. Of course I have the least for where I live (OC).

1. Palm Springs - Aerial Tram, Windmill Tour, Pioneer Town, Indian Canyon Tour

2. San Diego - Balboa Park Botanical Gardens, Point Loma, U.S.S. Midway, Heritage Park Victorian Village, Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park, Eat in the Gaslamp District, Old Town. Other tour options: All San Diego Tours, Old Town Trolley, Gaslamp Architectural Tour

3. Los Angeles - Cheesy star tour, Forest Lawn (architecture and celebrity cemetery), Venice Beach (driven by it, never stopped on the boardwalk), Museum of Tolerance, Buenaventura Mission, San Gabriel Mission Other tour options: LA Conservancy Walking Tours of Downtown, Sony Pictures Studio Tour (even though WB is the best),

4. Santa Barbara - Santa Barbara Mission, Santa Ynez Mission, Stearns Wharf, Galleria del Mar, Other Tour Options: Red Tile Tour, Santa Barbara Trolley Tours, Architectural Foundation Walking Tours

5. Orange County - Bowers Museum, Art Bar,

I hope to visit a lot of these this summer. We'll see.

Want to know the best time to book your flight for the lowest fare? I just discovered a web site that will help you do just that. will help you determine the best time to buy your flight in the next 90 days. It will advise you to buy now cause fares are on the rise or wait because fares are dropping. You can set up an alert that will keep you posted on how your fare is doing.

Based on a third party audit they are 74.5% accurate in their predictions and offer fare history report as a comparison.

Only larger metropolian areas have the farecast option available. I was only able to set up my alerts from Los Angeles or Ontario but not Orange County.

Shakespeare By the Sea

Since I've already concluded that Shakespeare is more easily understood and appreciated in an outdoor venue, this weekend we're planning to see Taming of the Shrew in Irvine's Turtle Rock park this Sunday.

It's a great experience with the Bard in an outdoor amphiteatre and the travelling company, Shakespeare by the Sea never disappoints.

Visit their web site to see if they're visiting an LA area park near you.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Live Music at the Irvine Spectrum.

I said I loved the Irvine Spectrum and I wasn't kidding. We were back again tonight.

We went to see Evening, had dinner at Champs and then headed toward Barnes and Noble. We never made it to Barnes and Noble, we were sidetracked by Cold Stone Creamery and two twin violinists.

The Irvine Spectrum has several stages located through the complex dedicated to live performance. We were treated to Jason and Nolan, the electric violin playing identical twins. They were amazing. It was a great finish to our evening. So relaxing to sit and listen to their music ranging from celtic, to romantic and a hymn thrown in for good measure.

I went to the Spectrum web site but they do not have their live event page updated to include anything. If you'd like to see Jason and Noan they will be back July 28 and 29.