Orange County is brimming with amazing beaches and world-renowned surf spots, home to enough theme parks to keep any kid at heart busy for days, and a chilled-out SoCal vibe that’s totally conducive to leisurely exploration. Whether you’re looking to soak up the sun, shop until you drop, or lace up your hiking boots to tackle a trail at one of the region’s many state parks, we’ve got a line on some of OC’s best attractions courtesy of our local Orange County tour guides.
You can’t visit the OC without visiting Disneyland. Walt’s original Disneyland theme park first opened here in 1955 and remains a huge draw for visitors and locals alike. If you don’t get your fill of rides at Disneyland, you can always make your way to Knott’s Berry Farm, another iconic OC theme park, which began as a small family farm nearly a century ago. Now it’s home to some of the most thrilling rides in the world. If rides aren’t your thing, there are plenty of other things to do to keep you busy.
Crystal Cove State Park is an amazing state park in South California, encompassing just over five kilometres of Pacific coastline, inland chaparral canyons, and the Crystal Cove Historic District of beach houses. Hikers can explore nearly 30 kilometres of trails through 2,400 acres of native wilderness. History and architecture buffs will want to check out the aforementioned Crystal Cove Historic District, which is one of the last remaining examples of early 20th century Southern California coastal development. Depending on how long your stay in the OC is, camping at the park is also an option.
Sometimes shopping is as simple as heading to the mall. But sometimes, shopping can be a much more unique experience. Case in point: The CAMP, located in Costa Mesa’s SoBeCa District. The Camp puts the emphasis on green, eco-concisions, healthy living and all of the stores and services here are health conscious or fitness related. No, you don’t have to be a health nut or training for your third half-marathon to shop here — it’s an inclusive place well worth a visit even just for the laid-back, somewhat quirky atmosphere. There are lots of healthy eats here, as well as unique offerings like an organic nail salon.
This district in Laguna Beach stretches down the Pacific Coast Highway, from Anita Street to Bluebird Canyon, and features a multitude of art galleries, shops, restaurants and cafés with quaint patios for sipping a coffee while people-watching. HIP stands for “Historic and Interesting Places” and there’s no shortage of interesting things to see and do here. Not to mention, at the end of every street, you’ll find access to some of Laguna’s best beaches.
Mission San Juan Capistrano was a Spanish mission in colonial Las Californias that is now an historic chapel, landmark and museum that showcases the area’s colonial history. This is also known as the birthplace of Orange County and welcomes over 300,000 visitors each year. Guided tours are available, or you can explore the sprawling grounds on your own, which encompass peaceful gardens, exhibits, fountains and the Serra Chapel, which is the oldest standing church in California.