There's more to Orange County than just Republicans and Disneyland. (Although the amusement park, where Gay Days Anaheim occurs annually, is certainly a good reason to visit.) But occasionally, it's nice to take off the mouse ears and enjoy many of the refined cultural and culinary destinations that are just minutes away from the popular park. Whether it's coffee in Downtown Anaheim or sunset cocktails by the sea, here are some photo highlights of Anaheim, Laguna Beach, and Newport Harbor. And for more travel information on this region, visit the website of the Anaheim/Orange County Visitor & Convention Bureau or ask direct questions through Twitter to @Anaheim_OC.
The Anabella Hotel is an annual supporter of Gay Days Anaheim and hosts many of its events, such as the Splash pool party. As a stop on the Anaheim Resort Transportation (ART) shuttle line, it is also an convenient base to access the surrounding attractions like the Center Street Promenade Shops. 1030 West Katella Avenue, Anaheim. anabellahotel.com
Downtown Anaheim boasts the Center Street Promenade Shops, which includes boutiques, a yoga center, coffee shops, as well as a farmers' market and craft fair every Thursday. Above, the Good Californian Haberdashery sells dapper men's fashion, and connects to Barbeer, where gentleman enjoy a beer and a buzz from talented barbers. Within walking distance, the 40,000 sq. ft. Historic Packing House will further expand Anaheim's taste palate upon its renovation, making room for food and beverage vendors, as well as live music. Center Street, Anaheim. downtownanaheim.com
Enjoying a break and beverage at the Gypsy Den, a popular Downtown Anaheim coffeehouse that serves sandwiches and small plates in addition to wine and beer. 211 West Center Street Promenade, Anaheim. gypsyden.com
Surf's up at the Pacific Edge Hotel, a seaside resort in Laguna Beach. Visitors can enjoy stunning views from their room, or entertain parties at one of the beachfront bungalows, which includes a deck and living room area. 647 South Coast Highway, Laguna Beach. pacificedgehotel.com
A cheese board and charcuterie from The Deck, one of the only open-air beachfront restaurants in Laguna Beach. Folded into the Pacific Edge Hotel, The Deck also offers oysters on the half shell and other small plates. 647 South Coast Highway, Laguna Beach. deckonlaguna.com
Outdoors at the Sawdust Art Festival, an art-oriented village in Laguna Beach. Sawdust hosts two annual festivals: Summer (June 28 - September 1) as well as Winter (November 23 - December 15), where visitors can browse through booths of art, jewelry, clothing, photography, and more. Or create your own works of art and sign up for a studio class, which are scheduled year-round. 935 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach. sawdustartfestival.org
Many shores in Laguna Beach are secluded, and it takes a local to know the access point.
One of the "Surf Suites" at La Casa del Camino in Laguna Beach offers guests an aquatic tranquility. Many of the rooms at the boutique hotel are odes to California's sulf culture, and were created in collaboration with designers like Quiksilver and Roxy. 1289 South Coast Highway, Laguna Beach. lacasadelcamino.com
Patrons crowd The Rooftop Lounge above La Casa del Camino to drink in the sunset and the lounge's famous flavored mojitos. 1289 South Coast Highway, Laguna Beach. lacasadelcamino.com
Kya Bistro, also within La Casa del Camino, boasts a number of delectable small plates, including the pan-roasted spicy prawns, pictured above. The lobster macaroni and cheese is another popular dish. 1289 South Coast Highway, Laguna Beach. lacasadelcamino.com
A breathtaking view from The Rooftop Lounge of La Casa del Camino.
The Segerstrom Center for the Arts, situated in the heart of the Orange County Theater District, is a world-class facility where luminaries of the music and entertainment world grace the stage. Above, a theater awaits a packed crowd for upcoming performances like Priscilla Queen of the Desert or a musical selection from Bernadette Peters. 600 Town Center Drive, Cosa Mesa, CA. scfta.org
Jet packing is one of the many popular water sports, including kayaking, fishing, and boating, that can be enjoyed at Newport Beach. For the best views, rent a duffy electric boat and order to-go from the many great restaurants, such as SOL Cocina, for dining on the water. Newport Beach, CA. visitnewportbeach.com
Sea lions are common sightings in Newport Harbor. One, pictured above, enjoys a nap on one of the many cleverly named boats that line the docks.
Made famous by Arrested Development, frozen bananas are a popular treat on Balboa Island, located in Balboa Harbor. Two adjacent stores on the main strip, Dad's and Sugar 'n Spice, both claim to have originated the culinary creation, which is essentially a frozen banana dipped in chocolate and toppings. Marine Avenue, Newport Beach. balboaisland.com