HIp Pocket: Newport Beach, Calif.

Now Showing: The Real 'OC'

By Samantha Sordyl
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 20, 2005

Here's the latest weather report, courtesy of Fox's "The OC," for Orange County, Calif.: Today, tomorrow and every day after that till the end of time will be warm and sunny, with intermittent spurts of melodrama.

Okay, it does rain in sunny Southern California. But these are bright times for Newport Beach, the wealthy town about 40 miles south of Los Angeles where the popular teen-scene drama, now in its second season, is set. The surfside hamlet has become a mecca for fans who want to walk in the flip-flopped footsteps of "OC" characters Seth, Ryan, Summer and Marissa.

To that end, the Newport Beach Conference & Visitors Bureau (see Information, below) has produced a map highlighting the show's hot spots -- from the Balboa Fun Zone ("The OC's Hangout") to Crystal Cove ("Aerial Shot in the Opening Segment").

In any given episode, punches flow as freely as the champagne, and the histrionics are laid on as heavily as the sunscreen. So why so much buttoned-up bad behavior in such a lovely locale?

"OC" executive producer McG, a Newport native and director of "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle," said in a phone interview that the area's rapid growth has turned the town into a popular destination representing the "most attractive triad of the human experience: high-end shopping, the beach and beautiful people." Happily, he said, there's still room for skinny comic book fans like Seth in this "world of strapping, beautiful ear-to-ear grins."

With a little help from McG, here's how to find your own private "OC."

" SET SAIL LIKE SETH: Start your voyage in Newport Harbor , where Seth docked his beloved sailboat Summer Breeze in Season 1, said McG. This season, good-guy-but-lousy-financial-planner Jimmy Cooper, Marissa's dad, calls this spot home after losing his house and wife.

Learn the ropes -- and rigs, too -- at the School of Sailing & Seamanship of Orange Coast College (1801 W. Pacific Coast Hwy., 949-645-9412, http://www.occsailing.com/; $300-$700). If you already know an anchor hitch from a bowline, head to Marina WaterSports (600 E. Edgewater, 949-673-3372, http://www.marinawatersports.com/), where you can rent a sailboat ($35 an hour), pontoon boat ($65 an hour) or kayak ($15 to $20 an hour) .

At night, hop aboard the Entertainer, a yacht that offers dinner cruises starting at $59.95 and a brunch cruise for $41.95 a person. Amble about its two enclosed decks or go al fresco, then step inside for dancing as a DJ spins upon request. Details: Hornblower Cruises and Events, 2431 W. Pacific Coast Hwy., 949-646-0155, http://www.hornblower.com/.

" HIT THE BEACH: The beaches in these parts are smooth, white and wide. Two- to three-foot waves can grow to five feet, typically when wintertime weather takes a turn for the worse -- and the surfers take over.

Start your beachcombing by walking south on Balboa Peninsula to the Wedge, which, according to McG, is "home to the largest, scariest waves or beautiful, tranquil waters, depending on the day."

Summer and Marissa frequent 32nd Street Beach. Tearful over her status-hungry mom, Marissa steals away here at night to a lifeguard tower -- one of the few spots actually filmed on location. The gang would also likely hit such strands as Laguna Beach, Corona Del Mar State Beach or any of the beaches along the numbered streets on the Balboa Peninsula, said McG.

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