Another episode of The OC, another example of the failure to actually film in Orange County distorting reality. Here’s a geographical primer, especially for Peaches Geldof.
Peaches Geldof? Yeah, daughter of Sir Bob. I’m flipping through the channels on Monday night and there she is doing an episode of her “Peaches Geldof: Teen America” series on Sky One (see here and here), standing on what looked to be the Newport Pier.
I haven’t watched the entire episode yet, but the first five minutes told me that Peaches is a big OC fan and was thrilled to have been at the “real” Crab Shack.
OK, enough. I can’t stand it any more.
Newport Beach has two piers, neither of which seem to be used in the show, neither of which have a Crab Shack. But if you’re in Newport, the piers are worth checking out.
Newport Pier is midway down the Balboa Peninsula. Need to see it now? Here’s a web cam view. At the end of the pier is The Fisherman restaurant. My friends and I went a couple of times after it opened in the mid-90s. Nothing special, and we didn’t often go back.
At the base of the pier is Charlie’s Chili. It’s great. Cheap, good food. Hamburgers are good, so are the fish tacos. The booths are actually pretty similar to the Crab Shack in The OC. If you wanted that type of experience, this is the place to go. It was our favorite haunt especially at election time, when we’d ponder which of a zillion propositions to go for.
Around the base of the pier, there’s plenty of people watching. There’s a nice flat area where people will be rollerblading past, going by on bikes, walking with surfboards, you name it. The Bird Man Of Newport used to hang out there. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen him, and I hope he’s still OK. Back in 1997, he made the news when the “she” he met turned out to be a “he” who stole his birds, a terrible thing to do to this fixture of the Peninsula community. Here’s an article with a picture of the Bird Man.
Need more food? The Old Spaghetti Factory is nearby, good fun, cheap food, nice atmosphere. Then there’s the Crab Cooker. Get in line early or go mid-week. Good food, fun atmosphere again. Mrs. Cooker (that’s what we called her) used to be my landlord. Hey, Helen!
Want to walk a bit further? Head over to El Ranchito, just to the north of the pier, for great Mexican food and the best strawberry margaritas. We’d stumble home merrily after a few pitchers of those.
More toward the tip of Balboa is the Balboa Pier. Again, plenty of action nearby, especially in the Fun Zone, where you’ve got arcades, a small Ferris Wheel and other attractions. Nothing super fancy, and it goes through regular periods of decline and revitalization.
As for the pier itself, head to the end. That’s where Ruby’s Diner is. Ruby’s is a small chain, I think still only in California. They serve up some of the best hamburgers you can get. Top it down with an Oreo malted and waddle back down the pier. No reservations and often crowded, so put your name down, then wander around nearby and enjoy the ocean.
To close, poking around, I came on this map (PDF file) from the city’s visitor bureau. No, the Balboa Pier is not the OC’s “Pier Diner,” nor is the Crab Cooker the “Seafood Shack.” The Ferris wheel where Marissa and Ryan kiss is not the same one in Balboa. Believe me, I gave it a close look. Not a match. No wonder you get sad stories like this, where someone’s trying to find The OC landmarks but not locating them.
Sure, some of these places are like what you see in the show. I’m sure some of them have inspired those places. But they aren’t the same.
I understand lots of scenes are shot in Hermosa Beach, in LA County and my favorite of the LA beach towns. It’s very similar to Newport, in many ways.
How about that triangular pier you see in the show? Newport’s two piers are just straight, long shots into the water. So’s Hermosa’s. What you see in The OC I’m pretty sure is the Redondo Beach Pier, as you’ll see here and even better here.
Having helped set the record straight (I hope), even if The OC isn’t in OC, you’ll probably still enjoy the atmosphere of Newport. And maybe one day, they’ll do more than film just a few aerial shots from afar.