Escaping the Chapman bubble: The 5 best sights and cities to see near campus

It’s easy for students to get stuck in the “Chapman Bubble.” Chapman’s campus is located near Southern Orange County cities like Irvine, Anaheim, and Laguna Beach. At these cities, you can experience flight from a tethered balloon or buy homemade jewelry from a trailer. Here are five of their most eclectic spots.

Orange County Great Park Balloon

Distance from Chapman: 13.5 miles (Typically 20 minutes)

The tethered balloon has the ability to hold up to 25-30 passengers at a time. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Why It’s Worth Seeing: The balloon at Orange County Great Park was the first tethered helium balloon in the United States. The balloon still soars up to 400 feet with unobstructed views that span for 40 miles. Fly high during these hours: Thursday–Friday: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. ; 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday–Sunday: 9 a.m. to 3 pm. ; 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. If you’re 19 and older, the cost is only $10. If you’re under 18, the cost is $5. Bring a friend under 18 with you and they ride for free! Find more information on rates and parking here.

Location: 8000 Great Park Boulevard, Irvine, CA 92618

The LAB Anti-Mall

Distance from Chapman: 10.6 miles (Typically 15 minutes)

May Martin is one of 24 businesses located at The LAB. Photo courtesy of Carlee Correia

The Lab just celebrated 25 years of anti-mallism. Photo courtesy of Carlee Correia

Why It’s Worth Seeing: What used to be a night vision goggle factory is now The LAB, or  “Little American Business.” This anti-mall is home to unique cafes, restaurants, and small businesses. At the anti-mall, you will find businesses like May Martin, which sells homemade jewelry from a small camper. The LAB also has an online blog where they feature business owners and recap their events. It’s open Monday–Thursday & Sunday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. ; Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Location: 2930 Bristol St, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Downtown Disney District

Distance from Chapman: 4.9 miles (Typically 12 minutes)

There is a variety of food options in Downtown Disney, such as gourmet treats and sit-down meals. Photo courtesy of Carlee Correia

Downtown Disney has performers strolling through the District while live music is performed on the main stage. Photo by Carlee Correia

Why It’s Worth Seeing: A Disney pass starts at $104 but the Downtown Disney District is a way to experience Disney magic for free! You can enjoy Disney-themed restaurants, shops, and performances at no extra cost. After you eat a Minnie Mouse candy apple, visit the World of Disney store for an abundance of collectibles, apparel and more. Downtown Disney is open every day from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m.

Location: 1580 Disneyland Dr, Anaheim, CA 92802

La Super Birria

Distance from Chapman: 4.8 miles (Typically 15 minutes)

Only a five-minute drive from the restaurant is Downtown Santa Ana, where you can rent electric scooters and check out artistic murals on the side of buildings. Photo courtesy of Carlee Correia

La Super Birria makes their own tortillas. Yum! Photo courtesy of Carlee Correia

Why It’s Worth Seeing: Located in the Downtown Santa Ana Historic District, La Super Birria opened in 2018. Although new, it is a hidden gem tucked inside a 20-year-old candy store. Between the sweets and party supplies, La Super Birria is known for its home-style Mexican cooking and a five-star rating. Open every day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., take some time to try authentic Mexican food and pick up dessert afterward.

Location: 1041 W 1st St, Santa Ana, CA 92703

Heisler Park

Distance from Chapman: 21.9 miles (Typically 30 minutes)

Behind these picnic benches is a time capsule that was sealed up in 1977 and is scheduled to be opened on May 30, 2027. Photo courtesy of Carlee Correia

Heisler Park is a popular spot for special event photography. Photo courtesy of Carlee Correia

Why It’s Worth Seeing: Laguna Beach is home to Heisler Park. Its oceanfront tide pools are open to the public for another free adventure. Heisler Park is also lined with trails for exercising and enjoying an ocean view. Stroll down one of the many pathways or stairs to capture an Instagram worthy photo. It is open to the public every day from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m.

Location: 375 Cliff Dr, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Carlee Correia

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