Top 7 Valentines Day Ideas in Orange County

Love is in the air, and what better way to celebrate the month of love than with your special someone! Orange County is the perfect place to spend a romantic getaway from dreamy gondola rides to enchanting picnics with a view. We’ve listed a few incredible events and ideas we know you and your special someone will love for Valentines Day and any day!

Valentine Hike+Picnic with a View
1000 Steps Beach
31972 Coast Hwy
Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Orange County is known for its splendid views and nature strolls. Start off your day with an easy hike to A Thousand Steps Beach, and enjoy a romantic picnic with your significant other. Scope out the beach and discover tide pools and secret caves.

Facade Fun House
The Lab Anti-Mall
2930 Bristol street
Costa mesa, CA 92627
Have some fun at Facade Fun House in The Lab, Costa Mesa. You and your special someone will adore this interactive exhibition where you can take hundreds of photos and post it all over social media.

Liven up with some Cuban Flare
708 Spectrum Center Drive Irvine, CA 92618
If you love authentic Cuban food and Cuban flare, enjoy a lively and romantic meal at the Habana. It is known for their romantic atmosphere with candle-lit ambiance and delicious culinary creations.

Escape Rooms in Orange County
4245 E La Palma Ave
Anaheim, CA 92807
Have a group date and be entertained rummaging your way through these escape games. Rated #1 best escape room in Orange County and Los Angeles, Cross Roads Escape Games is known for its clever and unusual themes, which your team will no doubt love.

Wine Tasting
26755 Verdugo St
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
Time to unwind and taste some delicious wine in Orange County’s largest winery. Stocked with over 50 different offerings, you and your special someone will lose track of time delighting yourselves in the abundance of wine. Feeling a little hungry after? You’re in luck! Rancho Capistrano Winery is also home to delicious creations from Chef Adrian de La Torre. It’s no wonder this winery was named “Best Overall Restaurant” in San Juan Capistrano.

Romantic Gondola Ride
3101 West Coast Hwy #110
Newport Beach, CA 92663
Relax and make a romantic gesture by taking your significant other on a gondola ride. Create memories and float swiftly through canals and watch the beautiful horizon as the sun sets.

Valentine’s Day Garden Dinner
Farmhouse at Roger’s Garden
2301 San Joaquin Hills Rd
Unit #5
Corona Del Mar, CA 92625
Indulge in this romantic getaway restaurant, nestled on over 7 acres of land in the heart of Newport Beach. You and your special someone will love the ambiance and fresh cuisine picked right out of the garden.

Orange County is not only the perfect Valentine’s Day destination, but an even better place to live! Contact The Kovacs Connection Team to learn more.

8 New Year’s Resolutions to Make in Mission Viejo

You know the feeling: the morning of January 1st, and you want to start fresh. New Year’s resolutions can be wiping away what you didn’t like about 2017, and starting fresh. But what resolutions make sense?

Let’s Start Moving More

There are so many step trackers and pedometers on the market now that it just makes sense to try and hit 10,000 steps a day. Walking, and moving more increases your heart rate, lowers your blood pressure and risk of several types of cancer. Plus, it just makes you happier, with those endorphins floating around. So make the choice to strap on the pedometer of your choice and get moving!

Let’s Learn Something Today

Keeping your brain active and engaged is just as important as the number of steps you take; maybe more so. It is important to stretch your mind as well as your muscles. Don’t go to the same 3 or 4 websites you read every day; expand your horizons. TED talks can be a great way to expose your brain to new ideas. You can find them on YouTube and just find one talk a day (none of them area very long) that interests you.

Let’s Meditate or Pray

Did you know that praying and meditating lowers your blood pressure, lessens anxiety and improves your mood? Getting quiet and intentional about meditation and prayer can get you better ready for the day.

It’s Play Time!

We can get so wrapped up in our day-to-day lives that we forget how to play. Find a 4 year-old and they can show you! Allow yourself the option to kick back and play like there’s nobody watching!

Take Time for Thanks

Stop. Really stop, and think about your life, and the blessings you enjoy. We spend so much time thinking about what we don’t have, or what we should have, or what we could have had, that we don’t appreciate what we have right in front of us. People who make a conscious effort to be grateful are better able to overcome adversity, and they sleep better, too. Plus, they have happier relationships with other people. Guess why? The other people know they are appreciated, which makes them happier to be around… you! Win, win.

Time to Let Procrastination Go

Yes, if you are a procrastinator, you won’t like this very much. But it’s still true. Decide that in 2018 procrastination is not your friend. Oftentimes, the best thing to do is to do what you are dreading the most first. You get it out of the way, and everything else is easy. Try it once and see if you agree.

Bucket List Time

There is nothing like travel to hit the ‘reset’ button on your life. We can get so involved in our own worlds that we fail to see the greater world around us. Travel allows us the opportunity to meet people from a wide variety of cultures and backgrounds, and can open our eyes to new sights and perspectives.
Nature’s Cool: Chill Out

In general, we spend far too much time in front of our TV’s, our computers, and our smart phones. We spend very little time hanging out in nature. It is amazing how gratifying and happy it can make you to observe nature. See what happens when a pair of cardinals build a nest close to your back door, or when wrens decide to lay some eggs in a hanging pot. Nature is astoundingly beautiful and interesting. Don’t miss it!

So you have your New Year’s resolutions figured out: how do you want to spend the last day of 2017? Ring in the new year with these magnificent events around Orange County!
New Year’s Eve Ideas

New Year’s Eve Yacht Party— Newport Harbor

You can ring in the new year aboard the 130-foot yacht The Ambassador. The floating party includes champagne, appetizers and a dance floor.

Disneyland will be the scene for parades, shows and fireworks at Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure. The fireworks shows will be held at 9:30pm and 11:59pm.

There will be a Senior’s New Year’s Eve Dinner and Dance at Dana Point. The fun will be held at the Dana Point Community center on Del Obispo Street.

Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park will celebrate the new year with shows, parties and fireworks on December 31st.

New Year’s Eve Gala Dinner Cruise — Newport Beach

Hornblower Cruises is hosting a dinner cruise which will board at 8:30pm at Hornblower South.

At The Kovacs Connection, we love connecting with you to find the perfect home! Let our team of professionals assist you in finding your perfect spot for the new year!

Wrapping Up: Creative Gift Wrapping Ideas for Under the Tree and Selling Your Home

There seem to be two kinds of people when it comes to holiday gift wrapping: the last-minute, just throw it in a bag kind of people, and the givers who painstakingly wrap each gift, spending more time (and often more money) on the wrapping than the gift itself. We want to find that wonderful middle ground, where the gifts you give look fabulous, but you’re not spending all day on that one wrapping job for the latest New York Times Best Seller for your friend. Then, we have a few tips to help you gift wrap your home to sell during the holidays.

Pure Dead Brilliant

Use a design in various ways to create some interest. Like the Scottish saying “pure dead brilliant,’ Scottish tartan plaids in various designs but in the same color palette of red, green and gold can create a very winter, festive air.

The Natural Look

Take inexpensive brown craft paper and get creative with it. Use it to wrap your gifts. Then pull it all together with a decorative ribbon and some fresh herbs, or a sprig of berries from the craft store.

Is that East or West?

Take some old maps that are gathering dust in your car or home office, and use them to wrap your gifts. Instead of a bow, you could use a thin cord and a vintage button to give it another nod to nostalgia.

The Creative World is Your Oyster

We mentioned brown craft paper. White butcher paper is a great canvas for any wrapping idea. Once the gift is wrapped, you can use stamps or draw personal notes on the gift to make it uniquely yours. If the gift is going to Grandma, then the outline of a grandchild’s hand will mean that wrapping paper won’t be thrown away anytime soon!

Play it Again, Sam

Do you have any old sheet music lying around? If you know you aren’t going to use it while sitting at the piano, use it as wrapping paper. It already looks upscale, and you can complete the look with a silky bow and silver bells. Because you know, ‘it’s Christmas time in the city.’ You’ll have that song stuck in your head all day. You’re welcome.

From “For Sale” to “Sold!”

The holiday season is often considered the worst time to list a home, but in reality, it does have advantages. Thinking about selling your home? Consider this: potential homebuyers this time of year are serious, and there are typically fewer homes on the market, so if you get a nibble, it’s a good one. A few tips:

  • Decorate, but this year, less is more. Don’t overdo it: it can be distracting to buyers.
  • Hire a reliable real estate agent, with a team that will work with you during the holidays.
  • Make sure the price is right. Your realtor can give you a reliable comparative analysis to make your home attractive to motivated buyers.
  • Make sure it’s sitting pretty. Curb appeal is important all year-round, but particularly in the winter months.
  • Create a video tour. The holiday season is busy for everyone, so make it easy on potential buyers by working with your real estate agent to create a video tour of your property that they can see when the time is convenient for them.

Call the Kovacs Connection Team to help you gift wrap your home to sell!

5 Ways to Pull a Quick Cocktail Party Together in Rancho Santa Margarita

So it’s Friday afternoon, and you’re more than done with a very long week. Your spouse calls and informs you that some people are coming over… in an hour. To him, it’s no big deal, but to you, it means hosting a cocktail party, and the blood pressure is rising. It happens a lot during the holidays, so how can you look all cool and collected on a moment’s notice? Here are a few ideas for you.

The Best Plan is Not to Plan at All

Your guests take their emotional cues from you when they walk in your door, so chill out. I know, it is easier said than done, but if they feel you are stressed and put out, they will feel uncomfortable. Put some great music on, light a candle or two, and breathe deeply. You will have a great time this evening. Promise.

The Cocktails

If you are throwing a cocktail party together at the last minute, a couple of things to keep in mind: the KISS principle. Keep It Simple Sweetie. There are a couple of ways to approach it. Have a few bottles of a good red and a good white ready. Get a few beers iced down. Have one ‘signature’ cocktail available. This time of year, something like a pomegranate martini would be festive. But don’t try to have everything anyone could ever want. If appropriate, text or call the invitees to let them know what you have, and if they’d like something different, to bring it with them. Win. Win.

The Glassware

Just put those red solo cups away, please. Yes, I mean it. Now is the time to pull out the stemware. Don’t worry if it doesn’t match: it can actually be better if it doesn’t. That way, it’s easier for your guests to find their glass when they’ve walked away from the table to join another conversation! Pull out a variety of glassware, from various wine glasses to highball glasses to shot glasses.

The Napkins

If you have time to run to the store, look for some funny cocktail napkins. There are a lot of creative options out there. One of our favorites is: “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas, but if the White Runs Out I’ll Drink the Red.” It is often the small details like these that people remember from an impromptu gathering, so feel free to show your personality!
The Snacks

Again, this is a relatively last-minute cocktail party. It is not a 3-course gourmet meal, so don’t stress about it. What do you have in your pantry and refrigerator that work? The best way to start is to pull out a wooden cutting board. Then pull out olives, cheeses, crackers, fruit and nuts. You want to arrange it artfully, but when it’s last minute, that means artfully messy! It’s best to have a variety of cheeses on the board, like 3, arranged in a triangle. Then fill it in with grapes, maybe a ramekin filled with nuts, a stack of green and black olives. You will want to have a couple of cheese knives available by the board. You will look like a contestant on the Food Network’s Chopped but it was actually pretty light culinary lifting.

Yeah But What About the Queso or Pizza Rolls?

Resist the urge. If you are feeding a hungry crowd for a football game, then yeah, go for it. But for an impromptu cocktail party, keep it simple and classy. Plus, your home will smell better from a scented candle than a pizza roll! Speaking of homes, we have some fabulous properties to show you at The Kovacs Connection. Let our team of real estate professionals find you the perfect place to have that impromptu party… and yes, you will forgive your spouse for springing it on you with no notice… whatsoever!

Top Turkey Fails and 5 Places to Enjoy a Fabulous Feast in Orange County

Shutterstock/Andrey Armyagov

We know, you tried so hard. You had visions of an amber roasted turkey just ready to carve while your adoring family complimented you on your kitchen prowess. Aaahhh, but it was not to be. Don’t worry: you’re not alone. Many cooks have had epic fails in the kitchen on the 4th Thursday of November. So we’ll cut you some slack, give you a laugh or two, then our team at The Kovacs Connection will tell you where to go to get a fabulous Thanksgiving Day feast in Orange County.

Butterball Turkey has a famous Turkey Talk Line on Thanksgiving, where worried cooks can call in and get some much-needed advice. 50 trained men and women staff a building in Naperville, Illinois every year. They work 12 hours a day to make sure your Thanksgiving meal comes off splendidly. They are chefs, dietitians and nutritionists and they have heard it all. Consider this: on Thanksgiving Day alone they answer more than 10,000 calls from 6am to 6pm. As with anyone who deals with the general public, these good-hearted folks have heard it all. Here are a few stories from epic turkey fails.

When a Turkey Talk Line staffer asked a caller what state her turkey was in (meaning was it frozen or thawed) the caller replied “Florida.”


A man called in to tell the staffer that he had cut his turkey in half with a chainsaw, then wondered if the oil from the chain would affect the bird.

A woman in her 70’s called the Talk Line: it was the first time she had cooked a turkey for Thanksgiving because her mother had said she was tired of cooking and it was time her daughter got a clue.

A proud gentlemen called the Talk Line to say he had wrapped his turkey in a towel and stomped on it, breaking the bones so it would fit in his pan.

After discovering a turkey in his dad’s freezer from 1969, a man called the Talk Line to ask about the best way to cook it.

Shutterstock/Bochkarev Photography

So… you are not alone. How about ditching the apron and the carving knife and heading out for a gourmet meal? Here are a few ideas for you of places to go in Orange County for a Thanksgiving feast.


The Atrium Building provides a picturesque setting for this modern bistro’s contemporary food, as well as the revolving art displays.

Five Crowns

Exciting contemporary seasonal cuisine found in an English-inspired setting.

The Ranch Restaurant and Saloon

Chef Michael Rossi presents contemporary fare in a rustic setting that contrasts with its industrial park surroundings in Anaheim.


Innovative cuisine set against one of the prettiest spots along the Laguna Beach coastline.

TAPS Fish House and Brewery

Notable beers join steaks and seafood in Brea’s lively downtown area.

So there you have it. No reason to fret. No turkey to roast. No sides to make. No worries. The only thing you need to make… is a reservation!

Want more Thanksgiving restaurant ideas? Contact our Orange County experts at The Kovacs Connection today!

7 Ways to Get The Most out of Fall in Rancho Santa Margarita

Now don’t be scared. Yes, the wind is howling, the door is creaking and the dog is barking, but we’ve got you covered! Our team worked our way through fall in Rancho Santa Margarita to find some fun ways to spend the scariest time of the year.

Fall in Rancho Santa Margarita Means Orange:

Pumpkin City’s Pumpkin Farm

The color orange is the star attraction at the Pumpkin City’s Pumpkin Farm. It’s for fall, it’s fun, and it’s free! We’re talking about Orange County’s largest premier Harvest Festival. Talk about a perfect outing for the family! Free admission and parking, barnyard animals in the Petting Zoo, pony rides at the Pony Corral, puppet shows, amusement rides, thousands of pumpkins..need we say more?!?

Spooktacular Fall Family Festival

Tuesday, October 31–2pm-5pm

What a great way to spend time with your younger children on Halloween afternoon. Spooktacular gives your kids a chance to trick-or-treat in a fun and safe environment. They can play on multiple inflatables and bounce houses. There is also a costume contest as well as a child and pet costume parade. Just think of the possibilities! Enjoy some refreshments and have your picture taken for your memory book. Or Facebook. Or Twitter. Or Snapchat. Or get the picture!

Cinepolis Luxury Cinemas

Speaking of pictures: talk about a great spot for Girls Night Out, Date Night Out, or Some Other Special Night Out! Cinepolis is a premiere movie theatre and restaurant experience. Wander in and find areas to relax, order dinner and watch a frightening movie in comfort and style. Just have your sweetie nearby so you can grab him when the movie takes a dark and scary turn!

Cismontane Brewing Co.

Regulars to Cismontane love its cozy atmosphere and excellent choice of craft brews. Seating at this smaller craft brewing company is limited: the locals recommend ordering a growler. Cismontane Brewing typically has around 8 beers on tap, and many others bottled. Grab an outside table, order a meal from the Thai restaurant next door and they’ll deliver it right to you. Sounds like a plan!

Dailys Sports Grill

College and Pro Football is king this time of year, and the NBA is just getting started. Dailys Sports Grill can scratch your itch for lots of sports to watch with multiple TVs and good pub food. Excellent weekend spot to unwind and figure out what you’re going to wear to that Halloween party!

Dunbar Brewing

This is not a place for a witch’s brew, but rather a cool spot to hear music and gather with friends around a pint. Regulars say the bar will remind you of “Cheers” where everybody knows your name, but newcomers are welcomed with open arms. There are food trucks on location that can fill up your empty tanks. The beer selection is impressive and varied.

Spa Gregorie’s Day Spa & Salon

If the ghosts and ghouls are getting on your last nerve, Spa Gregorie’s might just be the antidote for your worries. It was voted Best Day Spa by American Spa Magazine, Day Spa Magazine, City Search and SpaFinder. This is a unique retreat for women and men, where guests can escape the rigors of daily stress. So unwind in this special space. Body massages and facials await, and there are couples package deals to die for!


So.., even if the dog is barking, the wind is howling, and the door is creaking, you can shut the door and head out to some fall fun in OC!


Home of the Holidays Pet Adoption Fair

When: Dec. 4th

Time: 10am – 3pm

Location: Irvine Animal Care Center, 6443 Oak Canyon

Brighten up your home this holiday season by rescuing one of 600 plus homeless pets at this amazing fair. The festivities will include dozens of vendors catering to pet owners, gourmet food trucks, a silent auction, pet micro-chipping services and an opportunity drawing.

Christmas Walk

When: Dec. 4th

Time: 11am – 4pm

Location: Village of Corona Del Mar

Galavant the streets of Del Mar as it radiates all of its holiday beauty. Enjoy the gorgeous sounds of Christmas carolers, savor the flavors at a restaurant tasting and take the kids to meet Santa. Don’t forget to enter the opportunity drawing with over $15,000 in prizes.

Laguna Niguel Holiday Parade

When: Dec. 10

Time: 10am

Location: Crown Valley Community Park

Come and pay tribute our local military, world-class athletes, marching bands, local talents and everything that makes this community so great. The theme this year is “Home for the Holidays” so if your visiting be sure to come out and honor our special city.

Newport Christmas Boat Parade and Ring of Lights

When: Dec. 14-18

Time: 630pm

Location: Bay Island, Newport Beach

Come watch an impressive display of artistry as boat and yacht owners decorate and parade their vehicles in spirit of the holidays. Opening and closing nights of the parade will feature fireworks at 615pm on the 14th and at 9pm on the 18th.

Holiday Craft Show

When: Dec. 19th

Time: 9am – 3pm

Location: Cypress Community Center, 5700 Orange Ave.

A great place to pick up unique gifts and do some last minute holiday shopping. You’ll find an assortment of hand crafted items, a sweet shop, a barbecue lunch and entertainment.

Hooray for Chanukah

When: Dec. 24 – Jan. 1

Time: refer to the website

Location: Pretend City Children’s Museum, 29 Hubble, Irvine

Let the children discover the magic of Chanukah at this festive and educational gathering. Spin the dreidel, light the Menorah and be in the moment with friends, family and the children.