Bursting the Orange County Bubble


Story by Liz Pennock

Despite the scores and scores of great things to do within driving distance of Chapman University, some students never think to get beyond the Chapman bubble. 

Such as freshman Zack Kawasaki: “There  just isn’t really anything to do in Orange. Pretty much everything is closed by 5 p.m.”

The “Chapman Bubble” keeps many students feeling confined to campus and isolated from the surrounding area.

“Even if you do have a car,” said senior Sophie Singer, “it still seems like we all go to the same places over and over again.”

However, what many don’t know is that Orange County is sprinkled with hidden gems: bookstores, boutiques, coffee shops and secret seaside coves just waiting to be discovered.

Check out these 10 under-the-radar spots the next time you’re feeling confined:

1. Ink & Bean Coffee Saloon and Wordshop // 155 W. Center Street Promenade, Anaheim CA

A mere five minutes from hustle and bustle of Disneyland, this spot is a writer or coffee lover’s dream. With a cozy, java-fueled atmosphere and friendly baristas, it’s the perfect place to enjoy a cup of that caffeinated liquid gold or read a book. On weekend mornings, local musicians perform on the patio. Ink & Bean also hosts writer workshops for anyone writing novels, screenplays, and even homework. Overall, with their delicious baked goods from local bakery iKneadLove and their artisan coffee courtesy of Stumptown Coffee Roasters, Ink & Bean is the perfect spot to escape to for some peace and productivity! 


2. Port of Sound Record Shoppe // 1500 Adams Ave #102, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

“My favorite part about Port of Sound is that the selection is super broad, the staff is friendly, and the store is just a nice place to hang out. It's definitely a place where you lose track of time really quickly, but in the best way possible because there's so much stuff to look through in such a small space,” said junior psychology major Adam Hove.

Tucked away in an ordinary strip mall, Port of Sound boasts an incredibly diverse record collection, ranging from 1950s movie soundtracks to the most recent Kanye album. The store carries thousands of new and used vinyl records, along with turntables, tapes, CDs, posters, pins, stickers and more.

For vinyl lovers, a trip here is definitely worth the 15 minute drive down the 405.


3. Goff Cove // 107 S Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, CA 92651 

Fronting the Montage Hotel in Laguna Beach, Goff Cove is a peaceful beach spot, perfect for taking a dip in the ocean or relaxing on the sand. The beach is protected by tall cliffs and rocks, giving an almost swimming-pool look to the area. This creates calmer waters, so there’s little worry required when it comes to getting crushed by a wave. Since it is so hidden, the beach is often void of tourists and therefore a great spot to snorkel, take a nap or simply appreciate the crystal blue waters.


4. Alta Coffee Warehouse and Restaurant // 506 31st Street, Newport Beach, CA 92663

A quaint gathering place for Newport Beach locals, Alta provides a warm, inviting atmosphere great for catching up with friends or grabbing a steamy cup of coffee before you head to the beach.

Newport native Elizabeth Allen loves the “laid back and chill atmosphere” and recommends the ice-blended mocha.

Converted from a bookstore in 1985, the coffee shop has a unique layout with lots of hidden nooks and crannies, including a dreamy outside patio complete with string lights and lush greenery, making wandering about an adventure in and of itself.


5. Ho Sum Bistro //  3112 Newport Boulevard, Newport Beach, CA 92663

Despite being located in a bright-blue building smack in the middle of Newport Beach, Ho Sum Bistro continues to fly under the radar. It’s “Californiental-style” cuisine includes an inexpensive variety of noodles, soups, salads, dim-sum and other specialty dishes.

“I celebrated my birthday at Ho Sum and it was the perfect spot for my friends and I. The food was delicious and inexpensive, and the atmosphere was fun and casual!” said junior Kelsey Dalzell.

Ho Sum accommodates for all of its guests, making room for larger parties or providing a cozy space for a date night. 


6. The Bookman // 840 Tustin Street, Orange, CA 92867

The Bookman is a book-lover’s paradise with floor to ceiling shelves of used, unique and out of print books on nearly every subject imaginable. Bookman provides a literary escape for its customers. Every surface, save the floor, is covered by books of all sizes and shapes. Most books cost no more than $10 to $15. Not only can you purchase books here, but you can also trade in your old books and receive store credit in exchange. Only a 5 minute drive from Chapman’s campus, The Bookman is an easy stop for anyone looking for some new reading material!


7. Oh Hello Friend // 122 N. Harbor Boulevard, Suite 104/105, Fullerton, CA 92832

Downtown Fullerton is full of a variety of shops, bars and restaurants, but few are as eclectic as Oh Hello Friend. From phone cases to home decor to quirky birthday cards, this is the perfect place to grab a thoughtful gift for a friend. Everything has a homemade aesthetic, even the store itself, with DIY crafts hanging from the walls and the phrase “You Are Loved” posted throughout. Oh Hello Friend’s unique style and collection of goods makes it a great place to shop or find inspiration.


8. Paradise Bay // Thousand Steps Beach, Laguna Beach, CA

Although a little bit of a trek, the cement pools at Paradise Bay are worth the hike. These man-made pools fill up with seawater at night, and then warm up in the sunlight during the day, making for a spa-like escape.

“It felt like we had stumbled upon a secret resort in the middle of the beach,” said junior Jordan Gudaitis, in reference to the secluded nature of the pools.

The best way to get to these cool pools from Thousand Steps Beach is to walk left towards the cliff, walk through a large cave, and then climb down the rocks towards the sand. The concrete pools were built into the rocks during the 1930s, and have since melted into the cliffs, becoming a must visit spot in Laguna!

9. The Villa Del Sol // 305 North Harbor Boulevard, Fullerton, CA 92832

One of Fullerton’s most cherished buildings, The Villa Del Sol is the beautiful, Spanish-style home of several restaurants, shops and much more. A common venue for weddings, large receptions and banquets, this historical location provides a view of downtown Fullerton from its balconies as well as a great place to dine.

Restaurants located in the Villa Del Sol include: Cafe Hidalgo, The Brownstone Cafe, Green Bliss Cafe, The Cellar and Stadium Tavern.

Aside from being a place to eat and shop, it’s also a great place to explore and photograph.


 10. ARTIC: Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center

Although it seems strange to consider a gigantic, multi-colored transportation center as somewhere exciting to explore, the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center, or ARTIC, is an experience all by itself. Not only is it a place where you can catch a bus or train, ARTIC also features a variety of places to each, including The Lost Bean Organic Coffee and Tea, The Oyster Bar, Mission Market, Ritter’s Steam Kettle Cooking and The Alchemists. As you enjoy your dinner or drinks, you can watch the ceiling change colors as if you’re in a space station of sorts.

Junior Chloe Hales said “the entire building is mesmerizing. It’s such a cool place to take pictures and wander around.”

And if you feel so inclined, after you’re done with dinner or drinks, you can hop on the Metrolink or Amtrak and visit an impressive selection of cities!

Metrolink also offers a $10 weekend pass, which gives you unlimited rides for only $10. The pass is valid system-wide on either Saturday or Sunday and is available for purchase at all Metrolink station ticket vending machines. 


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