Brea Oil FieldsThe city of Brea started as a village for oil field workers, at the peak of the Black Gold (petrol) rush, but when the oil boom became the oil bust, Brea became a citrus producer with orange and lemon fields instead of drilling fields.

Fun Fact: Did you know that the first significant oil well in California, the Pico No. 4, was discovered in 1876, long before the boom in Brea? This discovery marked the beginning of California's oil industry, which would later lead to the development of towns like Brea.

The transition from oil fields to citrus orchards in Brea is a classic example of how communities evolve with changing economic landscapes. The citrus industry played a significant role in Brea's economy until the mid-20th century.

You can still see some oil drills on the hills above Brea, but they are dwindling. 

While the number of oil drills in Brea has decreased over the years, these remnants of the city's past provide a unique historical landscape, blending industrial heritage with natural beauty.

Over the years, Brea turned into an important retail center because of the large Brea Mall, several mini-malls, and the recently redeveloped Brea Downtown. 

The Brea Mall, opened in 1977, has been a central part of the city's transformation into a retail hub. It's not just a shopping destination but a social gathering place for the community.

Read more about Brea's history here.  

Main Attractions

Brea Downtown

Brea downtown - by Jonnyboyca - wikipediaBrea's downtown area underwent a major revitalization project in the 2000s and became a meeting place for Brea residents and visitors for food and entertainment.

Fun Fact: The Brea Downtown revitalization project not only modernized the area but also preserved its historic charm, making it a perfect blend of the old and the new.

You can enjoy a movie at Edwards Theaters, catch a comedy show at the Improve, or just take a stroll between the shops and restaurants.

Tip: Don't miss the public art installations scattered throughout Brea Downtown. They add a unique cultural touch to the shopping and dining experience.

Brea Edwards Cinema - by Jonnyboyca - wikipediaDowntown has a large variety of cuisine to satisfy every taste.

Some of the amazing restaurants that I love here are Bruxie, Elbows Mac n' Cheese and Roll Em Up Taquitos, Cha cha's Latin kitchen and Bruno's Italian kitchen, TAPS fish house, Yard house, Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ, and Izakaya. 

Insider Tip: For a unique dining experience, try the locally sourced ingredients at TAPS Fish House. Their Sunday brunch is particularly popular among locals and visitors alike.

There's also ample parking on the street or in the parking structures.

Not Another Escape Room

Not Another Escape RoomIf you love the challenge of escape rooms, you will love this one where your objective is not to escape - but to find the clues, solve the puzzles, and complete the objective before time runs out.

Did You Know? 'Not Another Escape Room' offers a unique twist on traditional escape rooms by focusing on story-driven puzzles and immersive experiences, making it a must-try for puzzle enthusiasts.

And if you love science fiction, pick the Time Machine Room. When you enter, you are informed that the time machine's inventor went missing.

Your mission is to investigate this disappearance, locate the missing scientist, and prove once and for all if time travel is even possible.

Brea Improv

Brea Improve Entrance - By James - FlickrWho doesn’t like to laugh? If you love comedy, the Brea Improv is a good place to bust your gut.

Insider Tip: The Brea Improv not only showcases well-known comedians but also up-and-coming talent. It's a great place to discover new favorites in the comedy scene.

I recently went with my wife to watch a specific comedian, but we were surprised by the long lineup of local and visiting acts.

The Brea Improv has a 500-seat showroom with a nice theater for the performers. The back wall is electronic and can be adapted based on the show.

Read more about the Improv here.

Shopping

Brea Mall - by ArnoldC - wikipediaShopping, of course! With the Brea Mall occupying more than a million square feet and full of major stores like Macy's and Nordstrom, you must spend some time here. 

Shopping Tip: The Brea Mall is not just a shopping destination; it's a fashion hub. Make sure to check out the seasonal fashion shows and events that are often held here.

Besides the big-name stores, you can find plenty of boutique shops, electronics, games, and restaurants.

A large food court offers a sampling of world foods for every taste.

The Outdoors

Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy several parks like Sports Park, Arovista Park, Craig Regional Park, and Tri-City Park. Close to the city, you can visit Carbon Canyon and Chino Hills parks. 

Brea Sports Park

Brea Sports ParkThis is a large park with a play area, ball fields, and walking and hiking trails. The play area is divided for children 2-5 years of age and 5-12 years. 

Fun Fact: Brea Sports Park is not just for sports; it's a community hub hosting various events throughout the year, including outdoor concerts and family movie nights.

It is the perfect park for kids who love slides, climbing steps, climb-up poles, and walls. The ground is made from foamy cushion rubber, protecting kids from most falls. 

There is a lot of shade on the playground and the parking lot.

Note: The field use is prioritized for Brea-based organizations through arrangements with the Community Services Department.

Arovista Park

Brea Arovista ParkArovista is another large park in Brea featuring play areas, barbecues, picnic tables, restrooms, a baseball diamond, soccer fields, a volleyball court, an amphitheater, a concession stand, a football field, and basketball courts. It is lighted so that you can enjoy night games.

Did You Know? Arovista Park is often chosen by locals for its amphitheater, which is a popular venue for community plays and music events, adding a cultural dimension to the park's offerings.

Giant Birch trees help keep this park shaded for more enjoyable hot days. The park also has a lot of room for walking and jogging.

Craig Regional Park

Craig Regional ParkThis park is managed by Orange County and is characterized by rolling hills, a large variety of trees, a small lake, three year-round creeks, and a rose garden. 

Traveler's Tip: Craig Regional Park is a perfect spot for birdwatching enthusiasts. The park's diverse habitats attract a variety of bird species, making it a hidden gem for nature lovers.

The park offers many walkways, playgrounds, picnic tables and park benches, bicycling, and hiking/walking trails.

A three-acre lake is visited by many annual migratory birds - and Fishing is allowed with a License. You can also launch model radio-controlled sailboats.

Six picnic shelters and two group areas provide shade with tables and barbecues. In addition, there are picnic tables and barbeques scattered throughout the facility.

The park offers a variety of recreational activities, including three softball fields, one baseball field, jogging trails, and a sports complex with basketball, volleyball, racquetball/handball courts, and horseshoe pits. 

Tri-City Park

Tri-City ParkThe park is officially in the city of Placentia, but it borders Brea and Yorba Linda. 

Insider Tip: Tri-City Park is a favorite among local photographers, especially during the golden hour, thanks to its picturesque lake and scenic views.

A variety of recreational opportunities, including bicycling, walking, model sailboating, Fishing, and playgrounds, are available.  

An 8-acre lake gives the park a natural beauty and attracts many migratory birds, along with ducks and geese. 

Fishing for catfish and bluegill is allowed with a California Fish and Game License. Launching of model radio-controlled sailboats is also permitted.

When I used to work in Brea, I brought my bag lunch here and enjoyed a peaceful and relaxing meal on the lake before returning to the grind of work.

Dining

Yes, you can eat in Brea Downtown or at the Brea Mall, but the dining scene in Brea is not limited to those places. Some of my favorite restaurants are scattered around town.

Cheesecake Factory

Cheesecake Factory - by Anthony92931 - wikimediaThis one is on the Brea Mall grounds but detached. At the factory, we come for the cheesecake but stay for the great food and drinks. 

Did You Know? The Cheesecake Factory's extensive menu features over 250 dishes, made fresh from scratch every day. It's a culinary adventure that goes well beyond just cheesecake!

This is my favorite restaurant chain; the menu is so huge it requires some studying before ordering.

They offer sandwiches, steak and seafood, flatbread and pizza, and pasta dishes.

The dessert menu is phenomenal. You can start with the traditional cheesecake, but be adventurous and try oreo® dream Extreme, cinnabon®, cinnamon swirl, or even the low-carb cheesecake.

El Torito Grill

El Torito Grill - BreaBefore you even order, they bring you freshly cooked tortillas or chips with three different types of salsa and sweet butter. 

Insider Tip: El Torito Grill is known for its tableside guacamole, prepared just the way you like it. It's a must-try for a fresh, personalized appetizer experience.

Their margaritas are excellent, too, but they have a selection of cocktails if you prefer something different. 

Some of my favorite dishes here are the Fajita, Shrimp Enchiladas, and any of their combos.     

For dessert, you can pick deep-fried ice cream, berry tostada, or Mexican flan.