As a self-professed foodie, I was super excited to take a trip to Orange County to visit my sister earlier this year. She’d been telling me about all the amazing restaurants and vineyards for ages, so when I finally got the chance to pay a visit, we planned out a week’s worth of dining so that I could pack in as much local flavor as I could.
Orange County offers restaurants unlike any I’ve ever seen, and most of the menus we sampled were full of variety, which is what I’m generally looking for when I try a new place. Not only was the seafood incredible, there was a wonderful selection of fusion foods that appealed to my sense of adventure. One of the best things about Orange County is the fact that it’s so accessible from many different places; it’s just a quick drive from San Diego, making it the perfect area to visit for a day trip or a weekend getaway.
Here are some of the best places to eat (and drink!) when you’re in town.
This large eatery is nice and open, with several dining rooms, a lounge, and even a library, which really appealed to the writer in me. The dinner menu is a bit on the pricier side of things, but it’s worth it for the Chilean sea bass and a gourmet burger made with tomato jam and smoked goat cheddar fondue. The lunch menu is a little more reasonable price-wise and offers lots of fresh salad options as well as a grilled cheese made on amazing rosemary olive oil bread.
Yep, you read that right. It might take you a few tries to pull up this place online, but it’s worth the effort. Located in Newport Beach, A Restaurant offers a large variety of wines and beers, along with a charcuterie menu that is a meal all on its own. One of the best places around for fresh seafood, this joint offers up octopus, calamari steak, and oysters as well as more traditional fare like filet mignon and fish and chips.
If you like sushi, there are few better places in Orange County than Sushi Noguchi. The restaurant itself is exceptionally clean and sparsely furnished, so you can dine in an open space surrounded by white. The seafood is extremely fresh–the chef reportedly gets it all from Japan by way of an L.A. fish market several times a week–and the prices are very reasonable.
Looking for a place to quench your thirst? Look no further than Barley Forge, which offers craft brews and a large tasting room. They also have a kitchen that uses locally-produced meat and cheese to provide food for soaking up some of that alcohol.
Three Seventy Common
If comfort food is what you seek, check out Three Seventy Common, which takes your childhood favorites and makes them perfect grown-up fare. Think short-rib grilled cheese and an alcoholic root beer float.
No matter what you’re looking for when it comes to food and drink, Orange County has you covered. Just be sure to plan ahead and make reservations, and always check out the restaurant’s website to make sure of their hours and seasonal menu, which are subject to change. Some establishments are more kid-friendly than others, and some require a dress code; not all of them allow the standard laid-back Cali uniform of flip flops and tank tops.
Columbia, Missouri is one of the most beautiful places in the country, and it offers many different attractions for people of all ages, making it a wonderful place to visit with family. With gorgeous parks and unique, historic landmarks, Columbia is a must-see for any traveler.
One of those rare towns that offers something for artists, sports enthusiasts, history buffs, and foodies, Columbia also hosts music venues that can’t be beat and views that people drive from all over to see. Here are a few of the best places to visit in Columbia.
Rock Bridge Memorial State Park
This gorgeous place has something for everyone, including beautiful biking and hiking trails, an underground stream, caves, and sinkholes for the adventurous.
This historic little cinema is located right next door to one of the country’s last video stores and includes a bakery in case you need something sweet. Best of all, you can actually bring food and drink inside if you wish, something unheard of in any other theater setting.
Columbia Art League
Creative types will love the Art League, where you can walk around and view artwork from locals and maybe even buy some. The gallery often changes out pieces, so you might be able to see different works if you go more than once.
The Candy Factory
This candy store makes it’s own chocolate and drizzles it on just about anything, including oreos, strawberries, and pretzels, so expect a bit of a wait when you show up because it’s a huge tourist draw.
The Blue Note
This music venue features a small bar and great acoustics for seeing live bands, so grab a group of friends and head out for a night on the town. The Blue Note is located downtown and is within walking distance to several great restaurants and other night spots.
Mizzou Botanic Gardens
These beautiful gardens feature tree trails and gorgeous flora and fauna, including monarch caterpillars at certain times of the year. This is a great place to take the kids and go on a guided tour for an educational experience.
Historic Costume Gallery
The Costume Museum and Research Library hosts historic and designer clothing on exhibition with guided tours available to view nearly 13,000 items. This museum is also a destination for lectures and special events, so check the website before heading over to see what’s going on that day.
With summer just around the corner, many Iowans are looking forward to vacations in the coming weeks. For those with disabilities, traveling can be a little trickier, so it’s crucial to be prepared to make things run as smoothly as possible. Here are five tips for Iowa Travelers with disabilities:
If you’ll need any special equipment at the airport, call as soon as you confirm your travel plans. Call the airline and airport customer service as necessary to arrange accommodations for each of your days of travel. The more of a heads-up you can give them, the better. Call again a day or two before your trip to confirm your arrangements and make sure you’ll have all the necessary documentation you’ll need. If you face any delays or canceled flights, be sure to follow-up with the airline about making needed accommodations for your new plans.
Plan for any medications you’ll need to bring. Bring a few extra days of dosages so unexpected delays won’t put you in crisis. Pack them in their daily organizers as you would for any other week — vacations can be a lot of chaos and confusion, but taking medication should be as smooth away as it is at home. You may want to set alarms on your phone as reminders, as well. If you take a medication that requires refrigeration, call ahead to your hotels to ensure you’ll have access to a small refrigerator in your room.
Don’t underestimate the importance of luggage. Bad luggage can put a major damper on any trip, but especially one for someone who has limited mobility. If you’re flying, check your airline’s baggage number, size, and weight restrictions. If you’ll be driving, pack with the image of your bag sitting on your back seat. Is it bulky and falling over? If yes, lighten your packing.
Be prepared for inconveniences. Bring items that will compensate for rooms that aren’t as accessible as you’d hoped. Pack things like a backup shower chair and a collapsible reacher so you can make due as you have to without putting too much of a pause on your vacation if your room isn’t up to par. If you have any equipment that needs charged, bring backup batteries and power cords.
Looking to stay nearby? You have options! Traveling across the country or world can be quite the undertaking for anyone, so if you’re thinking of staying in-state, Iowa has you covered. If you’re looking for a relaxing day with nature, head to Dubuque to visit Eagle Point Park. With 164 acres of beautiful land overlooking the Mississippi River, your worries will melt away, and you just might even catch a glimpse of a soaring bald eagle. The park’s pavilions and picnic tables are on concrete pads, making them accessible to those of just about any ability. If thrill-seeking is more your game, Adventureland Park in Altoona has roller coasters, bumper cars, a sky ride, and much more. If it’s a particularly hot day, grab your swim gear and head right over to Adventure Bay. Both parks are family friendly and can accommodate your specialized needs.
Whether you’re going abroad or staying in Iowa, keep these tips in mind this summer. Traveling with a disability may not be a breeze, but it can certainly be easier! Happy travels!