Old Town Orange – Classic Cars, Soda Shops & Tikis

Whenever I’m in Old Town Orange, I feel like I’ve stepped into the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.” It has an old-fashioned small-town feel that you would never think you’d find in Southern California. Disneyland and its reproduction of an idealized Main Street are just five miles away, but lovers of vintage Americana will find the real deal right here.

Walking distance from Chapman University, Orange is apparently the only city in the county built around a plaza. The space was turned into a park in 1887, and the fountain was replaced with a “new” one in 1937. The neighborhood is particularly notable for the many pre-1940 buildings and homes that have been preserved. (Therefore even the two Starbucks locations in the plaza actually look kind of neat.)

This sign for Rod’s Plaza Beverages was one of my favorites. The Old Town Orange Historic District is lined with antique malls and vintage shops, restaurants and Watson’s, which is The OC’s oldest operating soda fountain and featured as a film set in “That Thing You Do.”

And right next door to Watson’s is a branch of the World Travel agency, where I happened to spot some tikis and a United Airlines Aunty Menehune figurine in the display window.

Just as tikis help sell jacuzzis at the fair (via the idea of creating an island paradise at your home), we have these tikis tempting you to an exotic getaway. Well, they caught my attention anyway.

Although, I nearly walked right past them because I was too busy checking out this beauty. Classic car owners love to cruise around these streets, especially on Sundays. (There’s also an annual show in April.)

This guy gets bonus points in my book for having a dashboard hula girl!