Writers in the Storm

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July 18, 2012

RWA12 Conference: Where The Locals Go in Orange County

Orange County Local

Photo by Taylor Miles: https://www.flickr.com/photos/taylormiles/878286722/

Romance Writers of America®
32nd Annual Conference
Anaheim Marriott®
July 25-28, 2012

Welcome back to Part 2 of our RWA12 Conference series. If you missed Part 1, click here.

All of us at Writers In The Storm live here in Orange County, which makes this year's RWA conference more exciting than most for us. It also means we feel the need to extend the red carpet to all our online pals and share some of our favorite places with you.

You can't come to Orange County, California and never  leave the hotel. Right???

Below are the best tips from the comments of the first post, along with several of our very favorite places in the OC. Maybe you'll only get to visit one of them, but we guarantee you'll enjoy yourself. 🙂

First, the tips...

1. Use Anaheim Resort Transportation to get around with less expense.

One of the nicest things about Anaheim is the Anaheim Resort Transportation system (ART). These are buses that go all over the city, with various routes stopping at different hotels. Here’s a map: http://www.rideart.org/individual/

You can buy passes at any kiosk and they run about every 20 minutes on each route. They go to Disneyland where you can pick up one to take you to other parts of Anaheim, for church, cheaper food or whatever.

Cost: 1 Day=$4 / 3 Day=$10 / 5 Day=$16
There are reduced rates for seniors or the disabled.

2. RWA National is serving several meals

Just because we're recommending other sights to see doesn't mean we won't be eating at the conference when the opportunity arises. This is the chance for SERIOUS networking and you paid for it. Take advantage of it!

Laura Drake was kind enough to post the schedule of events (which includes meals!): http://www.rwa.org/cs/rwa_annual_conference/schedule_of_events/schedule

3. Disneyland isn't the only theme park in town.

TheART buses I mention above will take you to Knott's Berry Farm if you've a yen to go and there are also buses to Universal Studios though I'm sure they cost a bit more. It's a pretty safe bet that if you wanted to go to Sea World, the Zoo or Legoland in San Diego that you'd be able to get there too. Just Google it.

Now, the sights...

Where do we love to go during peak summer season here in Orange County?

I hate to say this to the person who has dreamed of going to Disneyland their entire lives, but hardly any locals go to the theme parks during the summer. It's hot and crowded and the lines are unbelievable. We go to these places during the winter.

During the summer, we go to the beach!! Our faves are:

1. Laguna Beach

Whether it's the Art-A-Fair, the Sawdust Festival or the Pageant of the Masters, summer in Laguna is special. If you're not into the arts, there's shops and plenty of beach front. And when the tourists aren't swarming, the locals pop into Las Brisas on the cliffs for a cocktail and some appetizers on the patio at sunset.

2. Crystal Cove

If you're a fan of old beach-y movies, you're going to dig the 1930's feel of Crystal Cove. From Beaches to Treasure Island to an old Joan Crawford flick called Rain, Crystal Cove is steeped in movie history. There's also trails, tidepools, miles of beach, a store and a museum. Plus, a damn fine restaurant called the Beachcomber Cafe (see below) and a bar.

3. Balboa

As long as you take the back roads to Balboa Island, rather than sitting in the long line of cars to the Peninsula, getting to Balboa is fairly easy. We all agreed that there's something magic about walking onto the ferry and taking it from the island to the Fun Zone. We guarantee it will live up to its name.

[If you plan to visit Balboa, ask for "the back way" in the comments. I'll be happy to share.]

Our favorite, most memorable dining experiences include:

1. Sunset on the patio at the Orange Hill Restaurant

What makes this so fun? A great view, good food and turbo-cool outdoor firepits! Best of all, it's within 10 miles of the conference hotel. Their Sunday brunch is one of the best in Orange County but be sure to call for reservations.

2. The Beachcomber Cafe at Crystal Cove

Hubby and I love going here, alone or with friends as it never disappoints. The Beachcomber is one of my favorite breakfast places and I promise you dig the food, whatever time of day you come.

Wear comfy shoes because you want to walk the trails between where you park your car and the restaurant. (There's a shuttle for $1/person as well.) The trails along the cliffs above the beach have one of the best beach views in the OC!

Plan to wait up to an hour for a table (it's quicker if it's early or you offer to sit inside) and just enjoy the tidepools and the atmosphere. If you prefer to sit on the patio, they provide blankets on the back of each chair that say, "I was stolen from the Beachcomber Cafe!"

Tip: If you buy something from the restaurant or store, they will validate the $15 parking.

3. The restaurants around the Huntington Beach pier

Several national surfing competitions are held on the beach next to this pier and H.B. has more than earned it's nickname "Surf City USA." It's known for it's miles and miles of beachfront, fantastic ocean front dining and a hopping bar scene.

The Longboard Restaurant and Pub, located in the oldest building in Huntington Beach, is a favorite local downtown hangout known for its backyard patio and vast menu and you can’t beat the ocean views at Duke’s, Ruby’s, Spark Woodfire Grill and Fred’s Mexican Café. Be sure to make a reservation on Open Table to avoid the wait.

4. The old Date Shack (now Ruby's Shake Shack)

Set on Pacific Coast Highway, above Crystal Cove, this place is a classic! Here's video, in case you want to see it yourself. And the shakes? To die for!

That ought to get you started on cool beach spots in the OC. Please do recommend other fun spots in the comments!

Remember, some of us are going to the RWA-Women's Fiction Chapter Mini-Conference on Wednesday, July 25th. Some of us are going to RWA's National Conference that runs from July 25-28th. (Laura Drake and Sharla Rae are going to both.) Regardless, if you see us, PLEASE stop us and say "hi."

Did I leave out anything important? Do you have other suggestions, hot spots or conference tips to share? Do any of the Anaheim residents have specific recommendations? We'd love to hear about it!


About Jenny Hansen

Jenny fills her nights with humor: writing memoir, women’s fiction, chick lit, short stories (and chasing after her toddler Baby Girl). By day, she provides training and social media marketing for an accounting firm. After 15 years as a corporate software trainer, she’s digging this sit down and write thing.

When she’s not at her blog, More Cowbell, Jenny can be found on Twitter at JennyHansenCA or here at Writers In The Storm. Every Saturday, she writes the Risky Baby Business posts at More Cowbell, a series that focuses on babies, new parents and high-risk pregnancy.

0 comments on “RWA12 Conference: Where The Locals Go in Orange County”

  1. I love all of those places and Villa Nova is most definitely a favorite. For the best Chinese Chicken Salad in the world, my pick is Ho Sum Bistro's. It's right there on Newport Blvd at the beginning of the Peninsula. YUM and then there is the Crab Shack for the best smoked albacore and of course Charlie's Chili for hangover breakfast.

  2. Jenny, thanks for the virtual tour ... I will follow the events. Hope you and Laura and all the WITS report during the events to keep those unfortunates like myself posted on the fun !!!

  3. I'm not attending RWA. I'm not a romance writer. Well, I have romance in my YA, but it's twisted, so it doesn't count! Can't afford any conferences right now, but, dang, I'm so exctied to meet all of you at the party! Ah, I love Laguna Beach and Balboa and especially Huntington Beach, where my YA novel is set! I'm so glad I moved closer to ya'll. I haven't been to some of those restaurants. Dukes is great. I hadn't heard of The Shake Shack. The dog park at Seal Beach is pretty cool, though I've only been there once. Need to get back there.

    You're so right about Disneyland being super crowded in the summer. Knott's Berry Farm, too, is way too crowded, and they're miserable in the heat.

    Thanks, Jenny, for starting this site. I wish I was going to RWA just to hear Kristen speak and hang with all the WANAs!

    1. I can only take partial credit for starting WITS - Sharla Rae, Laura Drake and Fae Rowen did as much as I did. It's a very shared effort over here.

  4. If you MUST buy a Souvenir for the kids but want to avoid Disneyland, try DOWNTOWN DISNEY! My grand kids love that place and didn't get tired of shopping at all. Any souvenier you can get inside plus others can be found at Downtown Disney. It costs to park but it's cheaper than Disneyland and there's no charge to go to the mall.

    I love Crystal Cove too and highly recommend it. The cafe food is fun and the place is right on the sand.

  5. Thanks for this post! I'm glad I found it on Twitter with the #RWA2012 hashtag. 😉 I'm heading down to RWA with my writing group, and hoping to check out some of the area too. Are any of these beaches and restaurants accessible without a car?

    1. Jessica, the Orange Hill isn't so far away that a cab ride would be prohibitive for your group. I love having appetizers on their patio and just enjoying the view.

      All of the beach places, you will need a car (unfortunately). Again, you might price the cab ride and figure out if it's cost effective to do it for a big group. Also check with National and see if they have any excursions planned.

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