With the history of the small town rooting back to the 1870s, Old Towne in Orange, California is an antique capital for the state and locals take full advantage of the Orange Historic District’s cultural heritage. Founded by lawyers Alfred Beck Chapman and Andrew Glassell, the four-block town was once considered to be the center of Orange, CA and is still one of the oldest attractions in the city. What is now referred to as Plaza Park or “traffic circle” is recognized as the epicenter of Orange to this day.
Holding onto the architectural integrity that’s collectively seen throughout the homes and structure of the city, this one square mile is filled with a variety of different old-time buildings; a diverse mix of businesses, older and newer restaurants, antique shops, boutiques and a dense community of homes. The residents of the area try to maintain the ongoing traditions that have continued since the early 1900s. Plus, with Chapman University being one of the top private universities in California, Olde Towne is just another attractive feature of its location.
Because the town’s architecture has such a unique aesthetic, Orange Historic District has also been used as a production location for many films and shows like “That Thing You Do,” starring Tom Hanks in early 1960s Pennsylvania, and the recent season of 20th Century Fox’s “American Horror Story.” Thanks to places like Old Towne in Orange, California, the community is still able to hold that connection to the early 20th century. With so much old and new culture revolving around the city, we can see how the town has evolved after more than 100 years of existence. Read on for some tips on things to do in Olde Towne Orange, California.
JoyRide: Vintage for Men
If you’re looking for an embodiment of vintage American male haberdashery, Kristine and Robert Houston have been providing the styles of traditional menswear for over 10 years now. People come here to embrace the styles popular in the 40s, 50s and 60s; a mixture of button-up tropical, bowling and Pendleton shirts along with Levi’s and freshly-tailored suits. With a diverse collection of classic hat-wear, the shop even has its own section for hat repairing; fixing everything from the conventional newspaper boy hat to fancy fitted fedoras.
With their neighbors recognized as the embodiment of traditional male vintage clothing, Elsewhere Vintage offers a selection of vintage women’s fashion. You’ll find styles dating as far back as the 20s, including clothes inspired by the flapper as well as selections of accessories, jewelry, hats and purses that will add unique fashionable twists to your closet. If you’re searching for a flashy fit to wear for a special occasion, Elsewhere Vintage will fit you just right.
The Potting Shed
Located in the heart of Old Towne Orange is one of the city’s most popular boutique garden stores specializing in different plant-care and provides the community with selections that’ll liven up your décor both indoors and outdoors. With many businesses fully opening back up after a long pandemic, be on the lookout for Workshops on the Plaza, in which the crew at The Potting Shed provides different activities and events for locals looking for a creative release.
Smoqued California BBQ
Serving the locals of Orange their own brand of “California BBQ,” Smoqued has been a favorite since 2012. With recent renovations to the restaurant, Smoqued is now open for full service dining. Providing their own variety of different in-house smoked meats and sauces, the menu consists of starters like the Smoqued BBQ Fries – shredded pulled pork lathered in a mixture of cheeses, mac sauce, onions, tomatoes and fresh jalapeños. For main courses, the plates and sandwiches are on the larger side, so don’t be afraid to split a meal with someone or order accordingly to share. Come prepared with an empty stomach and make room in the fridge for leftovers.
Orange Circle Antique Mall
The art of treasure hunting has never been so popular, and with places like the Orange Circle Antique Mall offering an assorted mix of fine china, vintage clothing, estate jewelry and art, the hunt is on. Here, you’ll find two floors of authentic treasures for a good price along with staff offering the historical background behind each little section of the two-story mall. Expect to buy a sundry mix of home décor and random knickknacks for your home .
Matoska Trading Company
Owners Brent and Nancy Schellhase established the company in 1991, and Matoska Trading Company is the place to visit if you’re searching for the historical and art-lead traditions of the North American Plains Indians. Offering an extensive collection of crafting supplies, handmade clothing, music, books and historic customs, Matoska has been specializing in Native American merchandise for quite some time. The company is also involved with nonprofit organizations like The California Indian Hobbyist Association. With their dedication to continuing the traditions of this culture, Matoska continues to be a prominent company within the city of Orange, CA.
1886 Brewing Company
Its home is an old-time building constructed in 1886, and this brewing company has taken the beer crafting community to new heights. Although 1886 Brewing Company is one of the newer restaurants and breweries to open up in Old Towne Orange, CA, their upscale brewpub menu as well as the flavor of their craft beers has already garnered a fan base in the area. Michael Hernandez and his business partner, Andrew Ciora, strive to provide their guests with an expansive menu, well-made beer and an overall good environment for friends and family.
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