OC Day Tripper

By Ellen Bell

OC Day Tripper
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5 Best OC Spots to Shop on Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday is on November 24th. It’s the day when we are all encouraged to spend our holiday shopping dollars at local, neighborhood shops instead of the mall.

Fortunately, Orange County has no shortage of these small, boutique-style shopping centers that are brimming with unique gift ideas and  local flavor.

Here are my Top 5 Best Bets for Local Holiday Shopping.

They are listed in geographical order, from south to north


1. Los Rios Historic District – San Juan Capistrano

The Los Rios Historical District is the oldest neighborhood in the State of California. Located across the railroad tracks from the Mission San Juan Capistrano, Los Rios is the perfect place to escape holiday crowds and take a step back in time.

Here you can stroll under the shade of old eucalyptus trees and shop in historic buildings that date back to the late 1800’s.


Give yourself a gift and stop for lunch at the Ramos House Cafe; one of the best restaurants in Orange County.


2. Balboa Island – Newport Beach

There is no better place to feel grateful to be a Californian in December than on Balboa Island.



Holiday decorations under sunny skies are the norm for this little shopping district in the middle of Newport Harbor.




Except for the Starbucks, there are no chain stores on Balboa Island, making it the perfect seaside spot for Small Business Saturday. You can stop at legendary  Dad’s Donuts for the perfect shopping pick-me-up.



3. Old Town – Tustin

Old Town Tustin, at Main and El Camino Real, is a shopping district dating back to the 1880’s when the city was a well established agricultural town.

You can find one of a kind gifts in this central Orange County town that prides itself on historic preservation.

Continue your trip to the past with lunch at Quinn’s Old Town Grille, where vintage photographs cover the walls.


4. The Circle – Downtown Orange

Very few places  personify vintage Orange County better than The Orange Circle.

This quaint shopping neighborhood close to Chapman University has a  charming-yet-hip feel. Both antique treasure hunters and foodie devotees will be able to cross items off their holiday shopping lists.

Make sure to visit Watson’s Drug and Soda Fountain, a local fixture since 1899.


5. Harbor Boulevard – Fullerton

Fullerton is the birthplace of Leo Fender’s electric guitars and the local shopping scene still retains this musical identity.



Harbor Boulevard has an eclectic mix of shops for the music lover; from vinyl records to vintage clothing.


Make sure you visit the Leo Fender Exhibit at the Fullerton Museum to see how this Orange County town changed the sound of rock and roll.




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