We love it here. It seems like every time I have a good friend or family member coming into town, they hit us up for our recommendations on favorite places to eat, or where to stay, or what the best beaches are and I end up sending them a text that would rival War and Peace in length!
Orange County is one of the few places in California where you can find something fun to do on every street. Check it out! The park has something for both children and adults.
Known for its stunning coastal views, beautiful beaches, and gorgeous weather, Orange County is the quintessential image that most people think of when they think of California. Pack your summer things, get ready for some of that California sunshine, and enjoy your time in Orange County! Note: this post contains affiliate links, which help run this site at no extra cost to you so I can keep providing free travel advice and tips.
This is also one of the best free things to do in Orange County although you usually have to pay for parking. Colorful, crazy flavors, fun shapes perfect for kids or kids at heartInstagram-friendly, and delicious too.
25 best things to do in orange county, california
The first time I tried a Vietnamese iced coffee I was in Little Saigon, completely unaware of the magic I was about to put into my mouth in the form of very strong coffee and condensed milk. It was love at first sip. To start, grab a Vietnamese iced coffee from Phin Smith. Established in the s by Walt Disney, Disneyland attracts millions of visitors every year and is one of the most visited theme parks in the world.
From thrill rides to favorite costumed Disney characters and themed fantasy worlds to get lost in for the day, Disneyland is easily one of the most fun things to do in Orange County. California Adventure is seen as the more adult version of Disneyland with more thrill rides and the option to drink alcohol if you want. Local tip: The FastPass feature at the Disneyland parks is a game-changer. Downtown Disney is the area you walk through to get to either Disneyland or California Adventure.
Downtown Disney is definitely on the touristy side but worth visiting at least once for the full Disney experience in Orange County. Local tip: Parking is free for 15 minutes if you want to just hop out and walk around quickly.
Best places to stay in orange county
Or, you can park for up to five hours for free if you dine-in at any of the Downtown Disney restaurants. It was basically a very fancy staircase down to the beach when it was in use, but it has since become a famous Laguna Beach landmark to visit.
Just make sure you go during low tide. This is the most stunning state park in Orange County, offering up coastal views, plenty of easy hiking trails, tide pools, and historic buildings.
30 things to do in orange county, california | the ultimate bucket list
Situated between Newport Beach and Laguna Beach and spanning 3. Start with tackling a hiking trail or two, maybe go snorkeling or walk around the tide pools, and then have a picnic on the beach to finish off your day at the park. Make sure to go early since the parking lot fills up fast, especially on weekends. This is one of the most popular tourist spots in Orange County so expect it to be somewhat crowded.
Local tip: If you can snag one, book an overnight stay at one of the Crystal Cove Cottages. These 24 historic cottages were built in the s and were part of the seaside colony that existed here from to You can book a cottage via ReserveCalifornia. This particular mission was founded in and is one of the oldest Orange County landmarks that is still standing today. During a visit to the mission, you can tour the grounds to view the many artifacts, artwork, permanent exhibits, and unique American Colonial architecture on display.
Established inthe museum features exhibits on the early history of Orange County, as well as art from all corners of the globe in the form of textiles, sculptures, and paintings. This is one of those museums that has a little something for everyone withobjects in their permanent collection and a unique variety of rotating exhibits.
One of the more unique things to do in Orange County is checking out the local craft beer scene.
When to come to orange county:
For decades, San Diego has been known as the spot for craft beer in California. But, in recent years, Orange County has been giving San Diego a run for its money in terms of quality craft breweries. There are various breweries to visit around Orange County, although a good chunk of them can be found in Anaheim.
Besides ice cream tacos and Vietnamese iced coffee, one of my favorite things to consume in Orange County is churros! Eat them with filling Nutella, vanilla, chocolate, etc or with some Champurrado Mexican hot chocolate made with corneither way they are sure to be delicious. Tucked away just a mile from the coast, Costa Mesa is a vibrant and eclectic city to explore in Orange County. Afterward, you can go on a street art hunt to check out the many public art sculptures and colorful murals around the city. And for murals, installations, and artsy utility boxes, you can go off of this list.
Case in point — there are quite a few reserves, nature centers, and conservation areas around Orange County that will allow you to get to know local plants and animals in a peaceful environment. One of the best places to visit for untouched nature is the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve.
The center was established in the s and features 18 acres of native plants and animals and is a good place to learn more about the natural history of the area. And finally, another good place to go to immerse yourself in nature is the Dana Point Headlands.
These headlands are part of a conservation area and a beautiful place to go for a hike and watch the sunset. A short ferry ride, drive, or walk away from Newport Beach, lies the man-made Balboa Island. This scenic island is filled with local shops, delicious eateries, and is a popular year-round destination for locals and tourists alike.
Whatever you decide to do, taking the ferry to Balboa Island and spending the day exploring this little oasis is one of those classic Orange County things to do and always a fun day out. The Balboa Peninsula houses the Balboa Fun Zone with arcade games, a ferris wheel, and plenty of kid-friendly activities.
And, more specifically, Old Towne Orange.
Old Towne Orange is a charming and historic downtown area situated around a traffic circle at Plaza Park. The district was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in and features plenty of historic buildings including over 1, historic homesrestaurants, coffee shops, bars, and antique shops.
Lying 22 miles off the coast of Orange County, Santa Catalina Island is one of the most popular places to visit near Orange County and a fun day trip or weekend trip to experience in the area. The island has two main hubs you can ferry to — Two Harbors and Avalon — although Avalon is its main town that most tourists head to first.
If you can work it into your budget though, a visit to Catalina Island is well worth the price and one of the best things to do near Orange County.
Local tip : With its lack of cars and its many hills, most people get around Catalina Island by golf cart. There are usually places to rent golf carts near the ferry dock once you arrive. Orange County has that quintessential California weather that allows you to wear shorts and flip flops pretty much all year.
The one exception is the dense morning fog that tends to hug the coastline, especially in the summer. However, this usually burns off by the afternoon to clear, sunny days. With its temperate weather year-round, Orange County is a great destination to visit at any time of the year. This area of California barely gets any rain and rarely goes below 60 F in the winter during the day.
25 best things to do in orange county, ca — top activities & places to go!
As much as I hate encouraging adding to the traffic in Orange County, the best and fastest way to get around is by car. They have 77 buses that run throughout the county and you can view their schedules here. For the bus, you can purchase tickets with exact change directly from the bus driver when you get on, or download the OC Bus Mobile app to purchase tickets on your phone.
For Metrolink trains, you can either purchase tickets from kiosks at the station or from the Metrolink app. Looking for more California travel inspiration? Check out these related posts! What to do in San Francisco at Night. Best Weekend Trips from San Francisco. Get first dibs on travel updates, tips, and deals. Life is an adventure, me around the world!
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The best things to do in orange county: a local’s guide
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Last year, Suneel invited me to hangout on Valenti. I've been to quite a few national parks in Califor.