Best Orange County Events
Credit: Pasea Hotel & Spa

Local Summer Starts Now! Here’s What to Do in Orange County Once the Tourists Leave

8 Events to Make This Local Summer the Best One Yet

With perfect weather, sparkling beaches and endless summer vibes, it’s no wonder Orange County is the place to be for the sunny season. Those who are lucky enough to live in the OC  know the following to be true: after tourists and visitors leave, “local summer” officially begins—and this year’s is primed to be full of food, drink, entertainment and fun. Temperatures won’t drop until late October, and with the fall equinox coming in late September, there’s still plenty of sunshine to soak up. Whether you’re a local or just want to experience summer like one, here are eight OC events and activities that must go on your calendar.

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Summer Forever Fest

Who to Go With: Your bestie or your boo
When: Sept. 2-4 (Labor Day Weekend)
Where: Paséa Hotel & Spa, Huntington Beach
What: Three days of bites, libations and live entertainment

Best Orange County Events
Credit: Pasea Hotel & Spa

Ready for the best Labor Day plans ever? Grab your tickets to Paséa Hotel & Spa’s second annual Summer Forever Fest for three days of unforgettable fun! From 1-5 p.m. on Saturday, guests can kick off the weekend with specially priced sips from your favorite beer and seltzer brands and enjoy live entertainment during the Beer & Seltzer Festival on the hotel’s Ocean Lawn. On Sunday from 1-6 p.m., dive into the pool party at Ninth Island Pool, where you can take a dip and sip on your favorite boozy libations. Be sure to reserve a private pool cabana for an even more luxurious experience, complete with a bottle of bubbly, lounge seating for up to six people, a fully stocked mini fridge and more. On Monday from 9 a.m. to noon, start your day off right with a Bubble Brunch at Treehouse Lounge. Sidle up for live music, bubbly, a buffet and a bloody mary bar—the perfect way to end your long weekend!

 

626 Night Market

Who to Go With: Your date
When: Aug. 26
Where: OC Fair & Event Center, Costa Mesa
What: An Asian-inspired traveling night market 

Best Orange County Events
Credit: Jennifer Sanchez

Come for the Korean hot dogs, and stay for the cute merch! Bringing the vibrant energy of Asian markets to Orange County, the 626 Night Market is an open-air affair that locals have been raving about since 2012. Inspired by the nighttime bazaars in Asia, 626 Night Market showcases a diverse array of local talent, featuring street food, live concerts and apparel inspired by popular culture. The last OC market of the season pops up in late August, so don’t miss out!

 

Tunes at the Dunes

Who to Go With: The entire family
When: Sept. 1-3 (Labor Day Weekend)
Where: Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort & Marina, Newport Beach
What: A giant beach party with food, fun and music

Best Orange County Events
Credit: Shea Thompson

Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort and Marina is hosting its summer concert series, “Tunes at the Dunes,” attracting music lovers and families looking to end summer vacation on a high note. The scenic waterfront venue provides an ideal setting for all the festivities, including live music,  food trucks, watersport rentals, an inflatable floating water park and plenty of space to relax on the sandy shores or dance under the starry skies.

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Oktoberfest

Who to Go With: Your favorite beer enthusiast
When: Sept. 17 through Nov. 5
Where: Old World Village, Huntington Beach 
What: A highly anticipated celebration of German culture and beer

Best Orange County Events
Credit: Hannah Sutton

Every mid-September since 1978, Huntington Beach’s Old World Village transforms into a booming celebration of German culture. Much like the famous Volksfest in Bavaria, Oktoberfest  revels in traditional German music, dance, cuisine and—of course—a large variety of beers and other beverages. Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays are open to all ages, while Fridays and Saturdays are reserved for those 21 and up. Whether it’s enjoying the hearty bratwurst or joining the crowd at the famous wiener dog races, Oktoberfest is the perfect opportunity to enjoy an authentic taste of Bavarian traditions right in the heart of Orange County.

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Enjoy the Beach Without the Crowds

Who to Go With: The friends who always bring snacks, games and sunscreen
When: Whenever
Where: Any OC Beach
What: Enjoy the beach without the crowd

Credit: Gustavo Zambelli

Whether you want to head to your favorite local beach or venture to a new oceanside haunt, you can’t go wrong spending the day with your toes in the sand! From Seal Beach’s pillow-soft sand to the fire pits at T-Street Beach in San Clemente and everywhere in between, the OC offers 42 miles of coastline for you to explore—especially now that local summer is upon us. As summer fades into autumn, Orange County’s beaches experience a magical period: the crowds thin out while the weather remains pleasantly warm, making way for you and yours to enjoy a much-needed day of serenity by the sea.

 

Pacific Wine + Food Classic

Who to Go With: Your favorite foodie
When: Sept. 30
Where: Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort & Marina, Newport Beach
What: A VIP-only food and wine festival 

Best Orange County Events
Credit: Monet Quick

For years, Pacific Wine + Food Classic has brought food enthusiasts and wine connoisseurs together to celebrate Orange County’s exciting gastronomy. Starting with a welcome cocktail and ending with a silent disco, this year’s event will be a more intimate VIP-only experience. Grab your tickets before they’re gone to savor the artistry of talented chefs and winemakers from all over the world. Bon appétit!

 

Darker Waves Festival

Who to Go With: Your music-loving group chat
When: Nov. 18
Where: Huntington State Beach 
What: All-day music performances, vendors, merch and more

Darker Waves Festival in Huntington Beach is a must-attend event for OC music lovers, particularly of the alternative, rock and new wave persuasions. Attendees can expect a day full of performances on multiple stages from bands like Tears for Fears, Violent Femmes, New Order, She Wants Revenge and many more. Between performances, grab that hoodie you’ve been eyeing—it might be chilly in November—along with some delicious food and a cold beer. All this and an ocean view? This festival is perhaps only rivaled by that other one in the valley!

 

Live Music at SeaLegs

Who to Go With: Your summer crush
When: Select dates into the fall
Where: SeaLegs at the Beach
What: Live music performances with tasty food and a stellar view

One of Huntington Beach’s most popular venues, SeaLegs at the Beach is the perfect place to elevate your local summer with live music performances and a fantastic food and drink menu. Nestled along the coast, this breezy, laid-back spot invites guests to enjoy regional bands and musicians while soaking in the soothing backdrop of ocean waves. The intimate setting creates a friendly and welcoming atmosphere that’s perfect for a first (or 50th!) date.

Writer | Website

Born and raised near the Pacific Coast, Jordan Nishkian is a California girl through and through. She graduated from Cal State Long Beach with a BA in Creative Writing and a BA in Anthropology, and her favorite place to be is curled up in a comfy chair with a book in her hand and a pen in her hair.

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