13 Best Places to go in Orange County and Things to do

best places to go in orange county

The Real Orange County has used Orange County’s glamorous coastline and places to visit as the backdrop for popular shows like Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Real Housewives of Orange County, and Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County. In real life, this County south of Los Angeles is a wonderful place to visit. With its airport and proximity to big cities like Santa Ana and Costa Mesa, Orange County is the ideal weekend escape with lots of locations to visit, whether for a romantic break or a family holiday. There are posh seaside cities like Laguna Beach to visit and popular family sites like Disneyland. Below are the best places to go in Orange County. 

Laguna Beach

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Image credits: Tripadvisor

You’ll remember Laguna as the sleepy town on the Pacific Coast Highway that started it all if you saw Lauren Conrad and Kristen Cavallari grow up on MTV’s Laguna Beach and The Hills. It’s no surprise that Hollywood producers opted to film their show here, with cliffs falling towards the Pacific Ocean and sun-kissed beaches hidden by coves. Not only is the scenery breathtaking, but there is also much to see and do along Laguna’s seven-mile stretch of beach. It’s simple to spend a weekend relaxing on the beach by kayaking or supping through the sea caves and natural tidal pools.

Suppose you want to increase the ante on an adventure. In that case, the city also has 20,000 acres of protected wilderness area in the canyons behind the beach with mountain biking and hiking paths for all abilities. Art galleries, boutique stores, restaurants, and pubs abound throughout the town itself.

Anaheim

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Image credits: Visit the USA

Anaheim is one of the best places to go in Orange County if you’re traveling with children. The city is 30 miles southeast of Los Angeles via I-5, and it is home to the Disneyland Resort. Disneyland Park and Disneyland California Adventure Park and a downtown retail and eating center, and several hotels are all part of the resort.

This Southern California attraction, however, is significantly smaller than Disney World in Florida. Tomorrowland, home to Space Mountain, and Star Wars: Galaxy Edge, where youngsters may try their hand at piloting the Millennium Falcon, are two of the park’s most popular attractions. However, Anaheim is more than just the “happiest place on earth” (AKA Disneyland Resort). Spend some time strolling through the Anaheim Garden-Walk, which features shops, restaurants, and live music. Hiking trails in Yorba Regional Park and Oak Canyon Nature Center provide the opportunity to reconnect with nature.

Newport Beach

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Image credits: Visit California

The Wedge, where swells may reach 30 feet in the summer and fall, is one of Newport Beach’s best surf locations; visit in the winter for more gentle waves. Check out Endless Sun Surf School for private instruction if you don’t know what you’re doing and want to learn. You may simply just stand on one of the seaside promenades and watch the surfers catch waves. Aside from surfing, Newport is home to the West Coast’s biggest recreational harbor, which offers lots of opportunities for fishing, swimming, and other water sports.

More beaches, as well as several restaurants and bars, can be found on the Balboa Peninsula. The Balboa Fun Zone is a vintage amusement park in this town. Balboa Island is also accessible by ferry. Along Marine Avenue, the man-made island has a boutique retail strip and restaurants and art galleries. In addition, If you’re looking for high-end shopping and exquisite food, you can’t go wrong with Fashion Island’s massive open-air mall. Its huge property in eastern Newport features about two hundred stores and eateries to peruse, as well as a massive multiplex cinema.

San Clemente

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Image credits: Trip

San Clemente is Orange County’s southernmost town and a traditional surf town, complete with a beautiful beach, an iconic pier, and a charming boardwalk ambiance. It has a lot of fascinating cafes and stores, as well as several wonderful restaurants and taco stalls.

The most popular beach, as well as the one with the most amenities, is San Clemente State Beach, which is just outside of town. Head to the quieter Trestles Beach to the south, close to San Onofre, to see the surfers strut their stuff and perhaps enjoy less crowds on a hot day.

Huntington Beach

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Image credits: Planetware

Huntington Beach, often known as Surf City USA, is one of the best places to go in Orange County to learn to surf. Several surfing events, including the U.S. Open, are held at this city just south of Los Angeles on the Pacific Coast Highway (U.S. 1). Surfing is now open. There are ten miles of beach and waves to play on, as well as several firms that provide instruction. The Huntington Shore Bike Trail, which runs parallel to the beach and is a nice leisurely day ride, is a terrific option. Make a point of visiting Huntington Dog Beach if you’re traveling with your dog.

Visit the Huntington Beach Pier, which is the epicenter of the city’s beachside entertainment. Here you may watch the surfers try to hang ten, enjoy one of the city’s equally famed sunsets, or toss your fishing line. It is the longest pier on the West Coast, measuring 1,800 feet. Ruby’s Diner is at the end of the road, where you can have a milkshake or a burger with fries.

Dana Point

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Image credits: Mrs. O Around the World

Dana Point is located in Orange County’s southernmost region. The neighborhood is bordered by Doheny State Beach and Salt Creek Beach, providing lots of opportunities to wander along the sand or catch some waves. On the other hand, Dana Point is where you may schedule a whale or dolphin viewing trip. If you prefer to trek, go to Dana Point Headlands Conservation Area, where paths snake between cliffs and provide panoramic views of the ocean.

The Harbor area is home to a variety of boutique stores, restaurants, and cafes, as well as a departure point for ferries to Catalina Island and whale watching tours. Dana Point is renowned as the “Whale Capital of the West,” and you won’t have to travel far to see some of these magnificent creatures.

Dana Point Harbor is also a terrific site to arrange a deep-sea fishing charter, try stand-up paddleboarding, or rent a kayak. Because of the year-round pleasant weather, you may enjoy activities like these almost all year.

Bowers Museum

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Image credits: OC register

Thanks to the famous Bowers Museum, the great arts have never been more accessible in Orange County than they are now. The Bowers Museum, which the American Alliance of Museums has accredited since 1936, seeks to promote various cultures via their unique arts, an honor that only 5% of museums nationally obtain. All ages are welcome, and there is a separate “Kidseum” for children as well as customized event possibilities for groups. Visitors to Orange County will not want to miss out on seeing this world-famous sight.

Seal Beach (Seal Beach)

Seal Beach is a beautiful beachfront community in Orange County, as well as a beach. It is also one of the best places to go in Orange County due to its proximity to Disneyland. This beach is another popular surf destination. It’s also a fantastic spot for windsurfing and kitesurfing because of the wind. Parking is $3 every two hours or $6 per day.

El Moro Canyon Loop Trail

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Image credits: That OC Girl

California is known for having some of the most beautiful scenery in the country, and Orange County is no exception. Hiking paths abound in the O.C, which will keep your blood pumping while providing breathtaking views. The El Moro Canyon Loop Trail is one of the best places to go in Orange County for any hiking enthusiast. El Moro, which is near Laguna Beach, features a loop configuration that makes it easy to navigate. It’s not too tough to traverse at five miles in length. You may either ride your horse along this route or walk it. Also, make sure you have a decent pair of hiking shoes and that you are well-protected from the weather. Beautiful wildflowers and the vivid blue of the ocean may be seen while hiking.

Crystal Cove State Park

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Image credits: Dana Point Marina Inn

One of Orange County’s best examples of natural and open seashores is Crystal Cove State Park. There are plenty of spots to fill your itinerary with fresh air, from sandy beaches to its 2,400 acres of backcountry! Low tide is the greatest time to explore tide pools. Also, this allows you to safely roam around and observe the diverse species that reside along Orange County’s coastlines. Because the tide pools in Crystal Cove State Park are protected, read up on tide pool etiquette and how to enjoy them responsibly if this is your first time here.

Reef Point, Rocky Bight, Pelican Point, and Treasure Cove are the greatest beaches for tide pool exploration. Make sure you’re wearing water shoes with a decent grip (like Tevas), a helmet, and sunscreen! While the convenient RV sites along Huntington Beach are always available, Crystal Cove camping offers a little more diversity, including tent camping and wilderness hike-in choices!

Shipley Nature Center

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Image credits: Funorangecountyparks

This is one of the best places to go in Orange County because it never makes you forget about your connection to nature. In exhibits, there is a lot of conservation and diversity. The Shipley Nature Center assists anybody who wishes to get more connected to nature with their environment. Shipley Nature Center, located in Huntington Beach, offers a variety of activities. Trails, a butterfly house, and a native plant nursery are all available. There’s even a maypole on which to dance. This environmental facility in Orange County has a strong focus on culture. You may attend activities such as live music during the summer. It’s one of the best places to go in Orange County.

Doheny State Beach

You may assume that living near beaches would make you numb to the sound of waves smashing on the sand or the sight of the sun setting on the beach. The beaches in Orange County, on the other hand, offer a whole other experience. Doheny State Beach provides an education unlike any other. This O.C beach is a great place to learn about biodiversity. This is particularly true of the creatures that dwell in the area, which soar through the air and swim through the water. Dolphins, sea bass, and starfish may all be found. Pelicans, hummingbirds, and Egyptian geese may also be seen. Doheny State Park allows you to observe and learn about incredible animal species and emphasizes the need for conservation. Doheny State Park cares about the environment, as seen by events like a post-fourth-of-July beach cleaning. 

Old Courthouse Museum

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Image credits: Travel South Dakota

The Old Courthouse Museum is dedicated to this purpose. When you visit California’s most historic courthouse, you’ll find a variety of exhibits that demonstrate how much has changed in the O.C and around the state. The Old Courthouse Museum has more than a century of history. It has been preserved to give it a vintage, but never faded, appearance. The Old Courthouse Museum’s sandstone and granite building are as strong as all the essential information within. The Orange County Archives, the Orange County History Center, and the Pacific Coast Archaeological Society’s library are just a few of the remarkable items in this museum.

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