Orange County Fun

Categories: Budget Diva, Day Tripping, Diva-Colored Glasses, Diva-liscious, Do As The Locals Do, Featured, Miscellaneous
Contributing Diva:
By Angela Rocco DeCarlo
 
CiaoWhen living in Chicago I covered California more frequently 
than other venues. Health spas. Theme Parks. Beaches. The entire state seemed 
to be a playland where the perfect entertainment could be located and 
devoured. Loved it.
            
Now thatI’m living in exile in Southern California it is fun to 
display the land’s end treasures for Midwesteran pals who come to visit.
          
When my friend, Dianne, and her family visited me recently, I 
wanted to give her a taste of Orange County, California, to take back against 
the next nasty Chicago winter. What could be better than lunch on the beach 
and a shopping spree on Balboa Island?
          
As a Chicagoan I’m fascinated by the surfing culture of the 
Pacific Ocean beaches. I’ve been to the charming surfing museums in Huntington 
Beach and get a kick out of watching surfers calculating waves to catch the 
best ride back onto the sand. In fact, I’m still agog by my son’s next door 
neighbor’s garage which houses endless racks of wetsuits, surfing boards and 
other necessities of the sport of the boys in the family.
            
What could be better than nabbing a window table at the 
venerable Duke’s restaurant on the sand of Huntington Beach? We could nibble 
calamari or hummus trio while being entertained by the endless march of sand hogs 
cavorting in front of us on the other side of the glass. 
       
The view is spectacular - the food excellent - and the bill for 
four under $75 and there’s valet parking. It’s a favorite of residents and 
tourists alike.

Duke's is named for the graceful, handsome Hawaiian 1918 Olympic 
gold medalist, Duke Kahanamku, who popularized surfing in the United States, 
Australia and other places. 
            
The next day we shot down to Newport Beach, a little south of 
Huntington Beach, to the quaint precinct of Balboa Island. There’s a little 
“fun zone” with a marine museum, a ferry boat to reach the peninsula and a 
fine array of specialty shops and ice cream emporia galore…also the uniquely 
sedate Ciao Italian Restaurant.
     ciao-1        
Everything about Ciao was engaging…it was quiet so one could 
talk and be heard, not often the case in some of today’s hyperkinetic 
places…The lack of windows provided open air access to the drama of sidewalk 
walkers, while quiet background music, with some Sinatra sprinkled in, enabled 
our party to converse without intrusions.
              
The food was outstanding, of course we again ordered 
calamari, but this time it came with the most delicious red “gravy” to dress the 
fish and pasta dishes…yummo.
            
Now this may sound strange, but I’m rather tired of having to 
crack the code of faucets and paper towel dispensers in various restrooms.   
This ladies’ room was easy…water faucet was accessed easily and the paper 
towel dispenser automatically gave you another sheet when you removed what 
was hanging there.
       
The five of us sampled scallops, salmon, salads and pastas…it was a 
feast.
      
Afterward, we stumbled next door to a clothing shop featuring $15 
prices on all items with some exceptions. It was fabulous – Tango Rose.
        
Dianne’s daughter purchased what looked like a truck-load of 
clothing and shoes for herself and her eleven-year old daughter, for under $100. 
Very impressive brands, too.
            
Both lunches were noteworthy for good food and unobtrusive 
prompt service. 
            
These are places we want to visit again, even without Chicago 
pals.
 
            
Duke’s Huntington Beach
317 Pacific Coast Hwy.
Huntington Beach, CA92648
714-374-6446
Duke’s is also in Malibu, Maui, Kauai and Waikiki
 
             
Ciao Italian Restaurant
223 Marine Avenue
Balboa Island, CA92662
 949-675-4773
 
                                         
Angela Rocco DeCarlo, is a former Chicago journalist. She 
covers travel, entertainment and culture.
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