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20 Unique Ways to Spend Your Summer Nights

From culinary explorations to sky-high exploits, we've got just what you need to keep things hot when the sun goes down in O.C.

Linked Inn
The Resort at Pelican Hill

1. Take Flight
For you, the sky’s the limit. So plan an evening of high-flying adventure. Start at Lyon Aviation Museum to browse its collection of World War II -era planes. Then head to JWA and hop on a chopper at O.C. Helicopters for a sunset tour of the coast. The O.C. Beaches option takes you over The Ritz-Carlton, The St. Regis, Salt Creek and Dana Point Harbor. (Custom tours are available too.) Once you’re back at JWA, make the short drive to Tustin’s Nieuport 17, where you’ll nosh amid vintage airplane memorabilia. Full circle, indeed. $298 (O.C. Helicopters’ beaches tour only)

2. Champagne and Caviar

Consider yourself a caviar connoisseur? Then this one’s for you: Celebrate National Caviar Day on July 18 by reserving the private dining room at The Winery Restaurant’s posh waterfront establishment in Newport. Here, sommelier Mario Miranda and Executive Chef Yvon Goetz will prepare a perfect pairing. Top off your seafood tower (fresh oyster, king crab legs, Maine lobster tail and jumbo shrimp) with the prized Golden Osetra caviar, and fill your Champagne flute with Ace of Spades Armand de Brignac Gold or Salon Blanc de Blancs Le Mesnil. But if the seaside locale is calling you outdoors, we suggest docking your Duffy behind the restaurant, and the gracious staff will bring the fare to you. Private dining room, from $1,600

3. Cultural Playground

Spend the first Saturday night of the month satisfying your senses in Santa Ana’s downtown village. An art walk gets going at 7pm, so you can explore the many galleries and open lofts. Then indulge your palate at chef Jason Quinn’s Playground 2.0. (It’s right next door to his first Playground, natch.) The ubercreative gourmand will serve up an all-inclusive experience. Or reserve all 18 seats, and he’ll prepare 15 to 20 courses for you and your foodie friends. Playground 2.0 experiences, $100-$4,000

4. Posh Private Screening

Before there was a Fashion Island, the Port Theater was Newport’s social hub, and it continued its place in Orange County history until the birth of the megatheaters. It faced demolition for a time, but then an investor stepped in and transformed it into a new, hip and modern venue-a true Hollywood ending. And you can take your own dreams to the big screen when you rent it out for you and your flick-loving friends. The luxed-up movie house boasts elegant decor; spacious leather sofas and seating; two premium bars that serve signature drinks, vino and craft brews; and an on-site kitchen. The best part? The theater’s specialists will work with you to tailor your event to your specific vision. So, settle in with a martini and a gourmet bite, and enjoy watching your film of choice. And if you book in August, you might just be treated to your own special screening of the Yves Saint Laurent biopic. Price upon request

5. The Ultimate Mix

It’s not just the fabulous fare coming out of Arc’s kitchen (thanks to culinarian Noah Blom) that has people buzzing—since the Costa Mesa restaurant opened last year, gourmands have been raving about the liquid art that mixologist Koire Rogers is shaking up. And you can get the best of both worlds when you belly up to the bar (it’s the best seat in the house, natch) and let the dynamic duo create an uberexclusive menu for your visit. Here’s a little taste of their dining extravaganza: A pouring of Salon 1999 Blanc de Blancs and oysters Rockefeller topped with caviar, radish, butter and chervil will start things off. Up next is a glass of 2011 V&S Morey Chassagne Montrachet Morgeot 1er Cru Chardonnay, which will accentuate the richness of your lobster bisque, toast and thermidor. The 2007 Pinot Noir Mongeard Mugneret Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru, meanwhile, will complement the duck liver, leg and breast; potato with fat, crème and gold; and lamb, with orange, maple and mint. Then comes the main course: a 2003 Bordeaux Cos d’Estournel St. Estephe Grand Cru paired with the five-bone rib rack roast. It’s cut from the center of the rib-eye, with clean rib bones attached. (Think tomahawk meets lamb rack. Incredible!) You’ll enjoy an aperitif of bitter muscat wine, Meyer lemon and Champagne, paired with green tomato, balsamic and herb. Then comes dessert: Rogers’ version of the James Cameron Cigs & Coffee, with Blom’s cookies, chocolate and cream concoction. $1,000 per person for 11-course menu with a four-guest minimum

6. Tee Off and Watch the Sunset

Spend a late afternoon with PGA pro Glenn Deck on one of The Resort at Pelican Hill’s two breathtaking courses when you choose the One-Day Tour Experience, which includes a state-of-theart neurokinetics program that analyzes a player’s body movements, along with a customized PGA Tour assessment. Deck (who’s been ranked among Golf Magazine’s top 100 teachers) will school you on your swing and give you tips to help you win your next game. Afterward, head to the ever-glam Andrea for cocktails and a dinner of Italian specialties. Now that’s par for the course. One-Day Tour Experience, $8,000 for four guests

7. Summer Solstice

There’s no better way to commemorate the longest day of the year than with a stay in Surf City. That’s why you’ll want to book the Waterfront Beach Resort’s Twin Dolphin Suite Experience on June 21. After spending the day lounging poolside in your private cabana (bottle service included), your beach butler will be at your service to arrange an evening on the sand, complete with a bonfire to keep you warm as you watch the sun sink over the Pacific. When the day is done, head to your suite on the 12th floor to catch a few winks before you’re greeted in the morning with unsurpassed views of the shore. Twin Dolphin Suite two-day experience, $2,000

8. Jet Set

Need a quick escape? Charter a jet out of John Wayne Airport and travel to Sin City, where you can party till the wee hours at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas. An evening here must begin with the Sicilian-spiced duck breast at Scott Conant’s lauded Scarpetta restaurant. (The signature plate will ply your palate with an enticing blend of flavors.) And do not miss Vegas Nocturne—dubbed the best new show by vegas.com—at Rose. Rabbit. Lie. It’s an indescribable entertainment experience that you just have to see to believe. Of course, Vegas is synonymous with gambling, so try your luck at the casino—take your pick from blackjack, roulette and three-card poker, among a bevy of other classic table games. Then stop in for a late-night (or early-morning) bite at The Henry (try the pan-roasted nicoise), or sneak into the secret pizzeria before your trip back home. Talk about an all-nighter! John Wayne Airport jet charters, from $1,200 per hour; Vegas Nocturne VIP experience, $135

9. The Boys Are Back

When the curtain rises on Segerstrom Center’s first-ever Arts and Business Leadership Awards Dinner on July 10, you’ll be in for an applauseworthy experience. The affair honors a distinguished supporter of the arts and a rising star, and it begins with cocktails a la Mad Men and a retro-inspired meal in Samueli Theater. The grand finale: Prime seating for the Tony Award-winning Jersey Boys, followed by a cast party. Oh What a Night, indeed. From $500

10. Fourth From the Water

Get a star-spangled view of the fireworks that will explode over O.C.’s beach cities on the Fourth of July by throwing a patriotic party aboard the Icon, Charter Yachts of Newport’s stunning private boat. Luxe decor abounds on this 120-foot beauty (think exotic woods, glass murals and Euro-inspired touches), which accommodates up to 150 guests and is stocked with a galley kitchen, a full-service bar and an expansive upper deck that’s perfect for dancing—and viewing that show. There’s a baby grand on board too, just in case the American spirit moves you to play. Price upon request

11. Night of Pageantry

The summer wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Laguna’s Festival of Arts for a viewing of its beloved Pageant of the Masters tableaux vivant production. Enhance the experience with tickets to the Aug. 23 Celebrity Event and Concert, an exclusive soiree that includes dinner, an intimate concert with music legend Al Jarreau and the pageant performance, themed this year The Art Detective. Live actors will transform into masterpieces depicting some of the world’s greatest mysteries and unsolved crimes. $220 with preferred seating

12. Global Fare

Go on a culinary journey around the world with a night of dining at O.C.’s internationally inspired restos, all within a short jaunt. Chef Sota Akiyama is dishing out the flavors of Japan at his Sota Sushi, a hip, intimate space on PCH in Corona del Mar. His fusion fare boasts locally sourced ingredients mixed with traditional Japanese preparations, and it’s a must for local sushi-lovers. Arrange for Sota-san to prepare a menu of his indulgences (like his innovative Sota pop roll) with selections from his well-curated menu of hot and cold sake, which includes bottles of the pricey Suirakuten (it retails for $180). The restaurant also offers plum wine and handcrafted cocktails that capitalize on the flavors of the country. Work off the calories by walking the two blocks down to the beach for a moonlit stroll. Then explore the cuisine of another culture with dessert and a drink pairing at Fig & Olive at the nearby Fashion Island. Mediterranean fare and vino from Europe’s finest wine-growing regions are on the menu here, so order a bottle of Ducru Beaucaillou Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot ($490) and a dessert crostini. End the journey with a south-of-the-border nightcap at Red O Restaurant. We suggest the classic margarita, of course. Bon appetit!

13. Haute Summer Night

Throw an alfresco party under the stars, delighting in sips and tastes by Mastro’s Steakhouse at the adjacent urban oasis of Noguchi Garden. Tucked away against the backdrop of South Coast Metro’s glass-facade towers and unique sculptures, the garden offers a spectacular setting, and Mastro’s classically trained staff will flawlessly execute every aspect of your night. Options include a bar for wine and cocktails, tray-passed hors d’oeuvres and elaborate food options. Price upon request

14. On the Hush

Invite that special someone to join you in a Hush Experience, a new O.C.-based concierge service that leaves the planning to the experts, who will create a date night in a random, eclectic location, with a three-course meal and entertainment. They’ll plan an ultimate evening just for you. Or you can join others in an exclusive, yet intimate, pop-up experience. They’ll clue you in on the where and when, but you’ll be left in the dark about the activities until you arrive. You might walk into an event on the beach or on a boat, with entertainment that could range from aerial acrobats to Tahitian dancers. Book a VIP experience, and you’ll enjoy additional perks, such as a meet-and-greet with the entertainment. $400 per couple for VIP experience

15. Mix It Up

For a truly relaxing weekend, book the No Shoes, Nolet’s, No Worries Package at the Surf & Sand Resort in Laguna Beach. Here, you’ll get a little bit of everything this beautiful beachfront resort has to offer. After check-in, head to the pool deck and settle into the cozy lounges under a chic cabana and order a drink from the poolside bar. The setting will make you think you’re vacationing along the Mediterranean. Once you’ve had a chance to unwind, you’ll head inside for a private lesson with a mixologist from Splashes, the Surf & Sand Resort’s signature oh-so posh restaurant overlooking the beach. It’ll include paired appetizers with your drinks (concocted using Nolet’s Silver Dry Gin, of course) on a private balcony. And be sure to try Nolet’s Silver French Press cocktail for two. It’s a must. Afterward, you and your date will head to the resort’s Aquaterra spa for a relaxing treatment. Then watch the sun set over the Pacific Ocean from your luxurious premium suite. After dark, take a stroll back to Splashes, where you’ll dine while being serenaded by the sound of the crashing waves just 25 feet away. When you wake up in the morning, in-suite breakfast will be waiting for you. From $2,599 per night, per couple

16. Seeing Red

If you’re a true night owl, then you and your friends will want to spend a Saturday evening (after 9pm, natch) at AnQi for its exclusive six-week Red Hour Live Music series. This invitation-only program will feature talents from American Idol and The Voice, surprise celebrity performances and Hollywood DJs. You’ll choose from 14 new Red Hour cocktails and 14 Red Hour tapas-we recommend the Mr. and Mrs. Red. If you book the Uber Black Car package, you’ll get black car transportation within a 15-mile radius, along with dinner and VIP front-row bottle service. $500 per table with bottle service, $800 for the Uber Black Car Package, up to $4,500 for private dining

17. Boys of Summer

It would be downright un-American to let a summer go by without catching the Angels at play, and our Halos will take to the plate against the Dodgers on two nights this August. Obviously, it’s best to cheer on our home team from one of The Big A’s reserved luxury suites, and we suggest making it the Lexus Dugout digs. That’ll put you and 11 of your closest friends just 50 feet from the batter’s box. (And that’s closer to the man at bat than the pitcher!) You’ll have a concierge and suite attendant at your service, as well as access to the Diamond Club and Knothole Club restaurants. And you’ll see what the rest of the crowd can’t-eyeshots of the Angels’ and visiting team’s subterranean batting cages. And be sure to arrange for in-suite catering, so you don’t miss one minute of the game. $4,300

18. Dressed to Kill

It’s a duo of epic appeal: On July 9, the legendary Cher stops at Honda Center in Anaheim with special guest (and fellow music maven) Cyndi Lauper to perform for local fans. And if you book the Silver Hot Seat package, you’ll get prime seating, plus exclusive merchandise from the headlining diva. We suggest starting your night early, so you can dine leisurely at Wolfgang Puck’s new restaurant, Puck’s Tavern, which recently opened right there at Honda Center. The 230-seat restaurant offers signature Wolfgang Puck dishes and innovative arena cuisine. You can step up to the bar for a signature cocktail or one of Puck’s California wines. Then it’ll be time to see the superstars. You’ll be singing all the way home. $210 per person for the Silver Hot Seat Package

19. Throwback Thursday

Start your night in a chauffeurdriven vintage Rolls-Royce from Classy Chassis Rentals- book the Bubbles and Berries package and you’ll get Champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries. To stay true to the vintage theme, we suggest embarking on a progressive dining experience at local landmarks: Dizz’s As Is for cocktails and apps, La Cave in Costa Mesa for dinner and Five Crowns for dessert. Price upon request

20. Evening in the Vineyard

Arrange a private gathering at the family-owned and -operated Newport Beach Vineyards and Winery. We suggest booking the wine cave for a catered dinner. You’ll love strolling the vineyards, and the gardens, koi ponds and aviary. Plus, you’ll learn about the growing operation, the annual crush and the fermenting process before tasting the vineyards’ delicious nectars and delighting in a sumptuous meal. From $125 per person

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Newport Beach’s Port Theater