Top Orange County Things to Do in September

Get an early start on Halloween this month at Knott’s Scary Farm.

Foodie days, musical and comedic performances, art exhibits and more … See our list of the 30+ top Orange County things to do in September.

Edited by Whitney Lauren Han.

Nood Beach (and Snoop Dogg)
Sept. 1. Calling all noodle fans! Sample creative noodle dishes from more than 20 area restaurants at Foodbeast’s first-ever Nood Beach festival. Event highlights also include DJ sets by DJ Snoopadelic (aka Snoop Dogg), Jeffrey Sutorius (aka Dash Berlin) and Coast Club; live performances by E-40, Yachty by Nature and Sega Genecide.. Ages 18+. Noon-9 p.m. $40 GA, $80 VIP. SeasLegs at the Beach, 17851 Pacific Coast Hwy., Huntington Beach.


Laguna Art-A-Fair
Through Sept. 1. This annual juried art festival features works by 125 artists in a wide array of media including painting, drawing, photography, digital art, mixed media, sculpture, jewelry, ceramics, glass and wood. Weekends bring live entertainment. Su-Th 10 a.m.-9 p.m., F-Sa 10 a.m.-10 p.m. $7-$9. 777 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, 949.494.4514.


Sawdust Art Festival
Through Sept. 1. View works by 200 Laguna Beach artists in mediums including glass, painting, jewelry, ceramics, clothing and textiles, sculpture, scrimshaw and photography. Event highlights include demos, kids activities, outdoor cafes and live music in the eucalyptus grove. Daily 10 a.m.-10 p.m. (closes 6 p.m. on July 4). $4-$9. 935 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, 949.494.3030.


Sunday Jazz Brunch
Begins Sept. 1. Sway to live jazz music during chef Brittany Valles’ new brunch at Oak Grill. New menu items include house-made monkey bread (while supplies last) and breakfast flatbread. From the main entrees, guests can select one starter and one main for $29.95. Then, there’s a Main II category that offers one starter and one Main II entree for $36.95. Bottomless mimosas are $10, and bloody marys are $15. Every Sunday from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Fashion Island Hotel, 690 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach, 949.760.4920.


SOCIAL Huntington Beach
Opens Sept. 6. The highly-anticpated new-American dining concept of SOCIAL Restaurant Group opens its second location in Huntington Beach. With an outdoor patio complete with an outdoor bar, fire pits and lawn games, this location also offers a fresh lineup of weekly food and beverage happenings like Taco Tuesday, All-Night Happy Hour Wednesday, King Crab Leg Thursday, Wagyu Prime Ribeye Friday and Fried Chicken Supper Sunday. Tu-Su dinner from 5-10 p.m., Sa-Su brunch 9 a.m.-3 p.m. 21214 Beach Blvd., Huntington Beach, 714.374.7715.


Tall Ships Festival
Sept. 6-8. Sail into the weekend for the annual Tall Ships Festival at Dana Point Harbor. Festivities and the tall ships parade kick off on Friday (Sept. 6); tall ships tours, pirate adventures, cannon battles, mermaid encounters and several other activities take place on Saturday (Sept. 7) and Sunday (Sept. 8). See website for schedule and prices. Free parking at Strand Vista Park or Dana Hills High School. Ocean Institute, 24200 Dana Point Harbor, Dana Point, 949.496.2274.


American Mariachi
Opens Sept. 7. Big-hearted comedy with live music. Lucha spends her days caring for her mother. It’s the 1970s and women can’t be mariachis … or can they? A loving gesture for a mother becomes much more as the young women dream big and embrace the transcendent power of music. See website for showtimes and prices. South Coast Repertory, 655 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, 714.708.5555.


Brew Ha Ha Craft Beer Festival
Sept. 7. Cheers to the ninth annual craft beer festival, this year featuring unlimited sips of more than 160 craft beers from regional as well as out-of-town breweries, some rarely seen in Southern California. Participating breweries include Bootleggers, Chapman Crafted, Stereo Brewing, Stone Brewing and Faction Brewing. Guests enjoy picturesque views, classic backyard games, live entertainment and gourmet food trucks such as Mess Hall Canteen, Viking Truck, Meat Up BBQ and Fiesta Gourmet. 21+. VIP entry at noon, GA 1-7 p.m. $45-$55 GA, $65-$75 VIP. Oak Canyon Park, 5305 E. Santiago Canyon Road, Orange, 949.363.1774.


Unicorn Fest
Sept. 7. Experience a magical afternoon at Outlets at San Clemente’s first Unicorn Fest featuring centerwide activities and entertainment, including a unicorn meet-and-greet, princesses and fairies, a Rainbow Dance Party, a unicorn pop-up shop by Daisy Shoppe and inflatable fun. 1-5 p.m. Free. 101 W. Avenida Vista Hermosa, San Clemente, 949.535.2323.


Begins Sept. 8. Oktoberfest Huntington Beach brings authentic German food, imported German beers, German bands and other German-inspired festivities and competitions. See website for schedule and pricing. Old World German Restaurant, 7561 Center Ave., Huntington Beach, 714.895.8020.


Elton John
Sept. 10-11. The Grammy Award-winning legend stoops at Honda Center as part of what may be his last tour for the album Farewell Yellow Brick Road. 8 p.m. See website for ticket prices. 2695 E. Katella, Anaheim, 714.704.2400.


Sept. 12-14. Orange County’s original fashion week returns with three panel discussions with experts and influencers in fashion and beauty, including jewelry designer Gorjana Reidel, actor Becca Tobin, Planoly founder Brandy Pham and influencer Cassydy Berliner. Expect pop-up shops featuring celebrity brands, activations throughout the center and in-store parties. The events are free and open to the public. Women’s brand Simply is event co-host. Fashion Island, 401 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach.


Group photo of the chefs from last year’s Tastemakers of Orange County.

Tastemakers of Orange County
Sept. 12. Celebrate the Asian and Pacific Islander community, culture and heritage by indulging in Asian and Pacific Island-inspired cuisines and beverages from distinguished O.C. chefs. Highlights also include entertainment and silent and live auctions. VIP entry 6 p.m., GA 7-9 p.m. $85 GA, $125 VIP. Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Argyros Plaza, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa.


David Spade at Brea Improv
Sept. 13-14. American actor, stand-up comedian, writer and television personality David Spade takes center stage for a two-night comedy special. The audience can recognize Spade from Netflix’s original comedy The Do-Over and for his comedic style of heavy sarcasm and self-deprecation. F 7:30 p.m. Sa 9:30 p.m. $45. 180 S. Brea Blvd. Brea, 714.482.0700.


Pacific Northwest Seafood Celebration
Sept. 13.
Indulge in an eight-course family-style Pacific Northwest Seafood Celebration on the Dana Lawn overlooking Salt Creek Beach. Guests can engage with the chefs as they prepare the meal. The price include endless pours of cocktails and paired wines. 6-9 p.m. $150. The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, One Ritz Carlton Drive, Dana Point, 949.240.2000. Tickets


The Queen Mary’s Doggie Paradise
Sept. 14. 
The Queen Mary is pleased to debut an afternoon of doggie delight at the all-new Doggie Paradise. This event offers a day of fun for all four-legged friends of any size or breed. Highlights include educational workshops at the Bark-eology Tent, dog-themed entertainment on the Pawfect Performance Stage and a cutest dog contest. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. $25 GA (includes one human and one dog), $50 VIP (includes one human and one dog), $5 extra per additional dog. The Queen Mary Events Park, 1126 Queens Hwy., Long Beach, 562.499.1739.


Taste of Japan
Sept. 14. 
Celebrate Japanese culture and cuisine at the first ever Taste of Japan in downtown Long Beach. This family-friendly festival features a wide variety of Japanese culinary treats available for purchase, beautiful Japanese art, anime and on-stage performances. For the adults, the festival has a special VIP ticketed beer and sake garden, which will include an eclectic variety of all-you-can-drink beer and sake, as well as some special food items. 11 a.m.-6 p.m. $5 GA pre-sale, $7 GA at the door, $60 VIP pre-sale, $80 VIP at the door. Pike Outlets, 95 S. Pine Ave., Long Beach, 877.225.5337.


Concert on the Green
Sept. 15. Local band Flashback Heart Attack brings the 1980s cover-band experience to the Newport Beach Civic Center. Concert goers are encouraged to bring picnic dinners, blankets and low-slung beach chairs; food trucks will also sell dinner and desserts. 6-7:30 p.m. Free. 100 Civic Center Drive, Newport Beach, 949.717.3802.


Sunset Jazz 
Through Sept. 18. The Jazz Cruise and Blue Note at Sea—the only full-size charter cruises dedicated to “Straight-Ahead & Contemporary Jazz”—and jazz impresarios Joe Rothman and John McClure present a series Wednesday nights at the Rose Garden and Seaview Terrace of the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa. Performances from 6-8:30 p.m. See website for lineup and ticket prices. 900 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach, 949.759.5003.


Knott’s Scary Farm
Opens Sept. 19. Snoopy’s favorite theme park turns sinister on select nights during the Halloween season. This year brings new live shows, mazes and 1,000 monsters lurking throughout the park. Scary Farm opens 7 p.m. Admission: $95. See website for Scary Farm event nights. Knott’s Berry Farm, 8039 Beach Blvd., Buena Park, 714.220.5200.


Winemaker Dinner
Sept. 19. Antonello Ristorante’s upcoming winemaker dinner features a four-course meal complete with Justin Winery wine pairings and a special presentation from winemaker Justin Baldwin. Menu and pricing TBD; call for reservations. 6:30 p.m. 3800 South Plaza Drive, Santa Ana, 714.751.7153.


Black Diamond Party
Sept. 20. Dress to dazzle at Aqua Lounge’s swanky evening party with music by DJ Halo. Come early for the pre-party featuring House of Carbonadi Black Diamond Vodka martinis for purchase, and food stations including cheese and charcuterie, passed Ahi tuna cones and assorted French macarons and S’more shooters. The Diamond Jewelry station with jewelers Rosalina Lydster and Kimber Frankel on-hand feature custom diamonds and vacation diamonds for trying on and purchasing. The booth special is two bottles of Black Diamond Vodka for $500. Aqua patio pre-party 7 p.m., Aqua Lounge 9 p.m.-1 a.m. $10 per person. Fashion Island Hotel, 690 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach, 949.760.4920.


Romance of the Mission Benefit Gala
Sept. 20. The Mission Preservation Foundation presents a gala dinner hosted by the Ritz-Carlton and a concert by Grammy Award-winning vocalist Steve Tyrell in the ruins of the Great Stone Church. The event benefits the historic Mission San Juan Capistrano. Reception 6 p.m. Concert 7 p.m. with candlelight dinner to follow. $350. 26801 Ortega Hwy., San Juan Capistrano, 949.234.1323.


Architecture in Motion
Sept. 21. Los Angeles-based dance company Diavolo weaves a cinematic experience of powerful images and abstract narratives in imaginative works such as Voyage, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing. The engagement also features the Orange County edition of Diavolo’s National Veteran’s Project. 7:30 p.m. $38-$68. Musco Center for the Arts, Chapman University, 415 N. Glassell, Orange, 844.626.8726.


“Galaxia” by Rufino Tamayo.

Dimensions of Form: Tamayo and Mixografia
Opens Sept. 21. Fifty prints by modern master Rufino Tamayo, on loan from the Mixografia gallery in Los Angeles, depict silhouetted figures, celestial bodies and the seprent-god Quetzalcoatl. Tu-Su 10 a.m.-4 p.m. $13-$15 adults, $10-$12 students and seniors 62+, free for ages 12 and under. Bowers Museum, 2002 N. Main St., Santa Ana, 714.567.3600.


Toast to the Casa
Sept. 21. Sample food, wine, beer, spirits and cigars from nearly 30 local vendors at this annual fundraiser gala, themed “The Enchanted Garden,” supporting Casa Romantica’s cultural and education programs. Watch, listen and dance to live acts from opening until closing. 5:30-10 p.m. $175 before Sept. 1, $200 GA. Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens, 415 Avenida Granada, San Clemente, 949.498.2139.


Battle of the Tequileros
Sept. 22. Bringing together more than 30 different tequila and mezcal brands, the celebratory event benefits local non-profit Operation of Hope Worldwide. Nosh on tray-passed tapas-style bites from the Taco Rosa kitchen, giveaways and live music performed by The Agave Bros. of Laguna Beach. During the event, cast your votes to determine winners for four categories: Best Tequila, Best Mezcal, Best Cocktail and Best Booth Presentation. 21+. 4-8 p.m. $100. Taco Rosa, 2632 San Miguel Drive, Newport Beach, 949.720.0980. Tickets


Casa Lumina
Opens Sept. 22. Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens unveils its first-ever illuminated garden walk. Through October 3, the two-week event highlights the beauty of the Native Bowl garden, utilizing outdoor projection technology with thousands of animated, multicolored twinkling lights to create an immersive physical space. Su-Th 7-9 p.m. $7 GA entry, $5 member admission, $5 extra per glass of wine. 415 Avenida Granada, San Clemente,


The Cellar Restaurant Wine Dinner
Sept. 22. Elevate your evening with a five-course wine dinner featuring rare selections from Chateau Lafite Rothschild. Prepared by executive chef Scott Rosales, the dinner begins with a stone fruit salad paired with a 2017 Bordeaux blanc followed by poached white fish dumplings served with a Champagne rosé. Next, enjoy slow-cooked casserole of rabbit sausage paired with a 2016 Le gende Saint Emilion. The entree is filet of beef a la Rothschild, is to be served with a 2014 Blason d’aussie reserve. To top it all off is a dessert of meringue floating in vanilla creme Anglaise paired with a petite pour of Grand Marnier. 6 p.m. Call for price and to make reservations. 305 N. Harbor Blvd., Fullerton, 714.525.5682.


PlumpJack Wine Dinner
Sept. 25. Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse in Irvine presents a five-course wine-pairing dinner featuring wines from PlumpJack Winery in Napa Valley. National sales manager Sandra Roberts of PlumpJack will guest host while guests indulge in regionally-inspired foods prepared by executive chef Istvan Toth. 6:30 p.m. $150. 18420 Von Karman Ave., Irvine, 949.477.4810.


Dark Harbor
Opens Sept. 26. Named one of the top 10 most haunted places on earth by Time magazine, the Queen Mary hosts an event dripping with its haunted history. Dark Harbor’s resident spirits include Ringmaster, Captain, Samuel the Savage, Graceful Gale, Half-Hatch Henry, Iron Master, Scary Mary, Voodoo Priestess and Chef. See website for times. $20+. The Queen Mary, 1126 Queens Hwy., Long Beach, 562.499.1739.


Ohana Dana Point
Sept. 27-29. Grab your sunscreen and head to the annual music festival on Doheny State Beach. Musical acts include Eric Church, Mumford & Sons, Young the Giant and Norah Jones. Craft beer, wine, cocktails and artisan food from local restaurants and food trucks will be available. F 2:30-10 p.m.; Sa noon-9:45 p.m.; Su noon-9:30 p.m. See website for ticket prices. Doheny State Beach, 25300 Dana Point Harbor Drive, Dana Point.


Surf City Surf Dog
Sept. 28. Catch a few waves with your furry friend at one of Southern California’s most pristine beaches. This event brings together the surfers, dog lovers, families and pets for a day of fun and fundraising. Canine competitors try to catch the top five waves in 12 minutes; food trucks will on site for spectators. Check-in 7:30 a.m., event 8 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Huntington Dog Beach, 100 Golden West St., Huntington Beach, 714.841.8644.


Wine Soirée Spectacular
Sept. 28.
Spend your evening with a wide variety of wines and food, live music, a silent auction and a raffle where you can win 50 bottles of wine at the 10th annual soirée. Funds raised benefits the Southern California Hospice Foundation, which provides assistance to children and adults with needs outside of hospice. 6 p.m. $150+. The Bungalow, 2441 E. Coast Hwy., Corona Del Mar, 949.673.6585.


Golden Foodie Awards
Sept. 29. Enjoy libations and cuisine from chef-driven and independent restaurants at the annual Golden Foodie Awards. Guests nosh and imbibe creations from O.C.’s finest curators of taste trends. Red carpet 5 p.m.; awards 6:40 p.m.; after party 8:30 p.m. See website for prices. Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa, 900 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach.


Pirate Coast Paddle Glow Tours
Through Sept. 29. Spend a summer evening on an LED-light-adorned paddleboard or kayak on the bay; see marine life only visible at night on this excursion held Friday and Saturday nights through Labor Day. Cocktails and dinner at Back Bay Bistro follow. See website for availability. $45 per session. 1131 Back Bay Drive, Newport Beach, 949.278.0011.

Photos: Knott’s courtesy Knott’s Berry Farm; Tastemakers, Lisa Hu Chen. 


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