OC’s Vintage Find: Old Towne Orange
One of Orange County’s most popular vintage treasures is the Old Towne Orange Historic District, the largest historic district in the State of California. If eclectic antiques, pop culture memorabilia and Indie dining is your idea of bliss, then you’ll find your "happy place" here.
This one-mile square area, which locals have dubbed the "Orange Circle" because of a traffic circle located in the middle of the plaza, is a true throwback to another era. This isn’t a place to rush through with your cell phone at your ear. To really soak in the atmosphere, you have to take a leisurely stroll and discover all the sturdy brick buildings with more than 50 different architectural styles from decades long ago, inviting stores filled with must-have antiques and a surprising mix of restaurants, shops and art galleries that range from timeless to trendy.
Unique eateries throughout the area are a favorite of mine. For example, one of the cornerstones of the Old Towne Orange Historic District is the nostalgic Watson’s Drug Store and Soda Fountain, which opened in 1899. It is the perfect place to stop for a root beer float, malt or comfort meal. Here you can really soak up the atmosphere and take in all the vintage car license plates that decorate the walls, and listen to classic songs made popular some 50 years ago from their juke box. For a few quarters you can be your own DJ and find that special tune you loved or maybe your parents used to play.
More dining awaits at the Citrus City Grille—which is a great place for beautiful champagne Sunday brunch. Down the street at Rutabegorz you’ll find funky and healthy comfort food, while the always popular Filling Station and Felix Continental Café serve up Cuban-style specialties.
Locals’ Tip: Without any signage on the building, it might be easy to walk past Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen. Don’t miss this highly acclaimed restaurant on S. Glassell Street that features an array of inventive Mexican cuisine and some of the best margaritas I’ve ever tasted. They even come in colorful hand-blown glasses.
Take a big bite out of this town and try a dining excursion tour. They happen all month long: by foot, by trolley and some even include art galleries and food sampling as well.
If you have time, visit the beautiful campus of Chapman University on the edge of town that has many concerts and art galleries to experience.
To me, a day at the Orange Circle is a perfect place to rediscover the past and enjoy the present.
If you want to keep up on what's going on in this unique area, check out http://iheartoldtowneorange.com/.