Searching for things to do in Orange County? The sunny Southern California county is more than beaches and theme parks (though there are plenty of those as well). Art, culture, history, rugged adventure, and entertainment are happening everywhere.
Located between Los Angeles to the north and San Diego to the south along California’s Pacific Coast, Orange County is bordered by Los Alamitos, La Habra, Modjeska Canyon, and San Clemente. Long Beach is just a hop, skip, and jump away. The well-known cities of Anaheim, Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach, Irvine, Laguna Beach, and Seal Beach are all in Orange County.
The region offers a wide selection of activities, attractions, and outdoor recreation (not to mention a stunning West Coast California sunset) for families, couples, and group travelers. Whether you’re in town for business or leisure, take a minute to check out some of these fun things to do in Orange County.
Show Table of Contents
- Things to Do in Orange County & Places to Visit
- 1. Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum
- 2. Redwood Grove Trail
- 3. Olinda Oil Museum and Trail
- 4. Fullerton Arboretum
- 5. Laguna Lake Park
- 6. Knott’s Berry Farm
- 7. Knott’s Soak City Water Park
- 8. Knott’s California Marketplace
- 9. Disneyland Park
- 10. Disney California Adventure Park
- 11. Downtown Disney District
- 12. Breakfast at the Original Pancake House
- 13. Angel Stadium
- 14. O.C. Brewery Tours
- 15. The Bowers Museum
- 16. Santa Ana Zoo
- 17. South Coast Plaza
- 18. Lyon Air Museum
- 19. Discovery Cube Orange County
- 20. Old Orange County Courthouse
- 21. Orange County History Center
- 22. Orange County Zoo
- 23. Tanaka Farms
- 24. Corona Del Mar State Beach Park
- 25. Orange County Great Park
- 26. Giracci Vineyards and Farms
- 27. Pretend City Children’s Museum
- 28. Irvine Spectrum Center
- 29. Travel the Pacific Coast Highway
- 30. Bolsa Chica State Park
- 31. Huntington Beach Pier and Boardwalk
- 32. Orange County Museum of Art
- 33. Balboa Island
- 34. Balboa Fun Zone
- 35. Fashion Island
- 36. Huntington Beach International Surfing Museum
- 37. Shipley Nature Center
- 38. The Reptile Zoo
- 39. Santa Catalina Island
- 40. Laguna Beach
- 41. Savor Spanish Cuisine at Comedor
- 42. Laguna Coast Wilderness Park
- 43. Crystal Cove State Park
- 44. Heisler Park
- 45. Badlands Park
- 46. Mozambique
- 47. Dana Point Harbor
- 48. Doheny State Park
- 49. Mission San Juan Capistrano
- 50. Limestone Canyon Regional Park
- 51. Black Star Canyon Indian Village Historic Site
- 52. San Clemente Pier
- Best Tours in Orange County
- Where to Stay in Orange County
- Budget Hotels
- Mid-Range Hotels
- Luxury Hotels
- How to Get to Orange County
- How to Get Around Orange County
- What is the best thing to do with kids in Orange County?
- What are some fun things to do in Orange County?
- What are some things to do in Orange County when it’s raining?
- What are the best tourist attractions in Orange County?
There’s a lot to do in Orange County (and a LOT of things to choose from in this list!) Want to know the best of the best in O.C. right now? Your search is over!
Orange County Travel Essentials 🌴
Discover the coastal towns of Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, and Laguna Beach. Between the magic of Disneyland in Anaheim and the thrilling games of the Los Angeles Angels, Orange County promises unforgettable experiences. Here's your guide:
- Best Things To Do: Secure your Disneyland tickets early and explore the picturesque Balboa Island.
- Where to Stay: Luxuriate at the Lido House or find comfort at the budget-friendly Ayres Hotel Anaheim.
- Best Time To Visit: Enjoy the best of Orange County from March to May or August to October, avoiding the "June Gloom".
- How to Get Around: Rent a car for convenience or opt for Uber and Lyft for easy travels.
- How to Get Here: Fly directly to Santa Ana Airport or find more flight options at LAX.
- Most Magnificent Landmark: Redwood Trail Grove
- Best Park: Heisler Park
- Best Free Thing to do in Orange County: Laguna Beach
- Best Activity for Kids: Disneyland Park
- Best Activity for Adults: Santa Catalina Island
- Best Food: Comedor
- Best Nightlife: Mozambique
- Best All-Around Accommodation: Wyndham Anaheim
Things to Do in Orange County & Places to Visit
Here are some of the most interesting, relaxing, exciting, and fun things to do in Orange County!
1. Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum
The Richard Nixon Presidential Library, in Yorba Linda, is the official library and museum – as well as the burial site – of the former (37th) president. Visitors can tour his actual farmhouse birthplace, his Marine One helicopter, and exhibits on the Cold War and the Vietnam War.
The Orange County, California, site hosts events such as blood drives, 5Ks, luncheons, and special exhibits on topics such as the National Cancer Act, Nixon’s Environmental Legacy, and Women Leading the Way.
2. Redwood Grove Trail
You won’t often see redwoods in Southern California, but Carbon Canyon Regional Park in Brea is where to see them. Walk among giant redwoods and California walnut trees at the 10-acre redwood grove.
It’s one of our favorite outdoor activities in Orange County. It’s a 2.5-mile round-trip hike to the grove. Bring your binoculars and look for western bluebirds, California quail, and other feathered creatures on your walk.
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3. Olinda Oil Museum and Trail
History buffs in your crew will enjoy visiting the Olinda Oil Museum and Trail, a 12-acre park and museum featuring the sights and sounds of the area’s ties to the oil industry.
Check out vintage oil equipment, a former field office building, a jack line pump, and the original Olinda Oil Well Number One. There’s a two-mile hiking trail that winds around the site.
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4. Fullerton Arboretum
The 26-acre Fullerton Arboretum is home to many plants, including flowers, beautiful gardens, and a ton of local wildlife. A restored cottage house also serves as a museum and a look into Orange County’s agricultural past. Learn about garden pollinators and take sunset strolls with garden experts. It’s free to visit Fullerton Arboretum, and well worth it.
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5. Laguna Lake Park
Open since 1952; Laguna Lake Park is a 28.5-acre green space with a lake for reeling in (or at least trying to reel in) bass, rainbow trout, and bluegill. There are picnic areas, a restroom, and walking trails too. If that weren’t enough, there’s an equestrian center with riding rings, show rings, and seating for shows.
See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Irvine, California
6. Knott’s Berry Farm
I was wondering where to go in Orange County with kids in tow. Look no further than the local theme parks. Knott’s Berry Farm is famous for fried chicken, bunches of boysenberries, and roller coasters. Don’t forget those thrilling, looping, swooping, and diving coasters like Pony Express, Sierra Sidewinder, GhostRider, and Hang Time.
Themed areas of the park include an 1800s Old West ghost town, a Spanish fiesta village, and a boardwalk. Keep an eye out for everyone’s favorite beagle, Snoopy!
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7. Knott’s Soak City Water Park
Part of the Knott’s Berry Farm family but a separate park with a separate admission, Knott’s Soak City Water Park is one of the best places to visit in Orange County for slides, wave pools, lazy rivers, and fun for little ones. It sits on 15 acres and is themed to the spirit of Southern Cali surf and sand.
8. Knott’s California Marketplace
For shopping and dining, Knott’s California Marketplace makes a great place to visit in Orange County for the whole family. Even if you don’t set foot into the theme park, you won’t want to miss a stop at Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant.
It’s only the thing that started the whole marketplace back in 1934. Pick up Knott’s Berry Farm jams, jellies, and other sweet treats while you’re there.
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9. Disneyland Park
The park that started it all. Disneyland Park is one of the best places to visit in O.C., whether you’re a kid or a kid at heart. Walk down Main Street USA and visit New Orleans Square, Frontierland, Adventureland, Tomorrowland, and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
Relive your childhood on rides such as the Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Small World, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Jungle Cruise, and the Haunted Mansion!
10. Disney California Adventure Park
Home to Cars Land, Pixar Pier, and Avenger’s Campus, Disney California Adventure Park (DCA) is one of the best Orange County tourist attractions for families, couples, and singles of all ages.
Spend the day riding roller coasters and family-friendly rides like the Incredicoaster, Radiator Springs Racers, Soarin’ Around the World, and the new Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! Plus, you can find booze here, which you can’t say for Disneyland!
See Related: How to Get Discount Disney Tickets
11. Downtown Disney District
Check out the Downtown Disney District for shopping, dining, and entertainment. You can pick up souvenirs at Star Wars Outpost or the LEGO Store, listen to jazz at Flambeaux’s Jazz Club, or go bowling at Splitsville Luxury Lanes. Dining options include Wetzel’s Pretzels, La Brea Bakery Café, and Naples Ristorante e Bar.
12. Breakfast at the Original Pancake House
An Anaheim staple since 1958, the Original Pancake House is where you’ll want to start your Disney day. Dine indoors or out on a wide variety of selections such as Swedish, German, and Dutch pancakes, as well as traditional and buckwheat pancakes, or the works like bacon, eggs, omelets, crepes, and more!
Prefer waffles? They’ve got that too!
13. Angel Stadium
Angel Stadium, home to MLB’s Los Angeles Angels, opened in 1966. In addition to sporting events, the stadium has hosted concerts by Pink Floyd, Madonna, the Grateful Dead, the Rolling Stones, NSYNC, Kenny Chesney, and U2.
14. O.C. Brewery Tours
Orange County sightseeing can tire you out. Sometimes you need to take a break. Leave the driving and traffic to someone else as you visit, taste, and sample the best of Orange County’s craft beer scene with O.C. brewery tours.
A few stops on O.C. brewery tours could include Laguna Beach beer Co., Drift Distillery, Left Coast Brewing Co., or the Brewing Reserve of California.
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15. The Bowers Museum
Santa Ana’s Bowers Museum features more than 100,000 Native American, Asian, Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican, African, and Californian artistic items in a Mission-Revival-style structure.
Current, past, and upcoming exhibits at the Bowers Museum include Crown Jewels of the Walt Disney Archives, Ascent to Glory: Everest, Frank Lloyd Wright: Architecture of the Interior, and much more.
See Related: Things to Do in California
16. Santa Ana Zoo
Who doesn’t love furry creatures, cuddly critters, and fine feathered friends? Open since 1952; the Santa Ana Zoo has 20 acres of Central and South American plants and animals. Visit monkeys, pygmy marmosets, giant anteaters, and tropical birds. There’s a carousel, a train ride, and a 64-foot Ferris wheel, making this one of the most fun things to do with kids.
17. South Coast Plaza
In Costa Mesa, South Coast Plaza is the largest shopping destination on the West Coast. More than 250 restaurants, cafés, department stores, and designer boutiques, including Ann Taylor, Bloomingdales, David Yurman, H&M, Macy’s, and more.
18. Lyon Air Museum
Looking for unique things to do in Orange County? Lyon Air Museum is found on the west side of John Wayne Airport.
It looks into World War II vehicles, military aircraft, rare cars, and motorcycles. Check out a Douglas A-26 “Invader,” a DC-3 and a C-47, a 1942 Ford GPW Military Jeep, and a 1939 Mercedes-Benz Model G4 Offener Touring Wagon.
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19. Discovery Cube Orange County
A hands-on children’s science museum, Discovery Cube Orange County has exhibits on aerodynamics, the Mars Rover, physics, planetary rocket research, and much more (with hands-on access for visitors).
Discovery Cube is near the Bowers Museum if you’re looking for ways to add more fun things to do in Orange County to your itinerary.
20. Old Orange County Courthouse
Are you looking for a bit of history on your Orange County vacation? Pay a visit to the beautiful Romanesque Revival architecture of the Old Courthouse Museum at the Old Orange County Courthouse.
Located in Santa Ana’s historic district, the Old Courthouse Museum opened in 1901 and featured temporary and permanent exhibits on local history and the Orange County archives.
21. Orange County History Center
The Orange County History Center is where history buffs study historical papers, photographs, and more. With their interactive exhibits, visitors can explore artifacts from the past and learn how people live and developed the local area. This museum is guaranteed to provide you with a unique experience.
22. Orange County Zoo
If you can’t decide what to do on vacation with your kids, a local zoo like the Orange County Zoo is always a good decision. The Orange County Zoo, located inside Irvine Regional Park, features a 477-acre setting of animals native to the southwestern United States. There are mountain lions, black bears, bald eagles, ocelots, porcupines, and barnyard animals at the Orange County Zoo.
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23. Tanaka Farms
Gather some baskets and pick to your heart’s (and stomach’s) content at Tanaka Farms U-pick farm in Irvine. Depending on the season, you can pick strawberries or pumpkins. There’s also a gift shop and a walk-up market if you let someone else pick instead.
The kids will love the Barnyard Educational Exhibit, where they can visit rescued chickens, goats, sheep, donkeys, and a mini cow! This is one of the best things to do in Orange County for animal lovers.
Tanaka Farms has a sister site, Flowers at Hana Field in Costa Mesa, where you can pick sunflowers and marigolds (again, depending on the season – flowers don’t grow all the time, you know).
24. Corona Del Mar State Beach Park
Established in 1947, the 30-acre Corona Del Mar State Beach Park is popular with swimmers, surfers, divers, hikers, and beach walkers, making this one of the best outdoor activities Orange County offers.
Beachfront homes back a half-mile-long sandy beach on a cliff. There are restrooms, outdoor showers, and food service vending.
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25. Orange County Great Park
If you want to get high (in the air), Orange County Great Park is the place to be. One of the best Orange County attractions, the park focuses on sports, agriculture, and the arts, but the most famous attraction is the balloon that soars 400 feet in the air.
Contrary to appearances, it’s not a hot air balloon. It’s one of the enormous tethered helium balloons in the U.S. (and the first of its kind). On a clear day, you can see for about 40 miles.
FivePoint sponsors the balloon, and rides are accessible on a first-come-first-served basis. There’s also a vintage-inspired carousel if you’d rather stay on the ground.
26. Giracci Vineyards and Farms
Rustic charm and relaxed living meet at Giracci Vineyards and Farms in Silverado. The award-winning winery opened in 2010 and hosts corporate events, Wine Down Fridays, wine tours, and more. The tasting room offers romantic dinners and a tasting of six delicious wines.
Rose and lavender gardens and tall oak trees surround the venue. Your wedding or unique event pictures will be the envy of everyone. Giracci Vineyards is also Orange County’s premier equestrian boarding and training facility. There are two beautifully maintained barns, the Chardonnay and the Cabernet (cute, huh?).
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27. Pretend City Children’s Museum
Pretend City Children’s Museum is a fun excursion for the young travelers in your group. It’s designed to resemble a small city with interconnected areas. Kids can use role-playing and hands-on activities to explore as they wish.
Pretend City Children’s Museum has a library, a market, a bank, stores, and more, complete with street signs, light posts, and courtyards to wander.
28. Irvine Spectrum Center
The Irvine Spectrum Center offers shopping, dining, entertainment, and special events like outdoor movies and fitness sessions. Expect the big brand names stores as well as specialty shops. Choose from pretzels, chocolate, and ice cream, or relax at P.F. Chang’s, Brio Tuscan Grille, or California Pizza Kitchen (I mean, when in Cali …).
There’s also a Ferris wheel, a carousel, a Regal movie theater, and an improv theater for your entertainment pleasure, putting it high on our list of fun things to do in Orange County.
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29. Travel the Pacific Coast Highway
If you need speed (but not too much), a road trip down or up the Pacific Coast Hwy is a terrific way to see the seascape. The scenic Pacific Coast Highway runs about 600 miles from San Francisco to San Diego, so hop on anywhere along the coast in Orange County.
Along the way, enjoy the best views in Orange County as you stop off at farmers’ markets, roadside attractions, and local restaurants on your Pacific Coast Hwy adventures.
See Related: Best Things to Do in San Diego, California
30. Bolsa Chica State Park
Bolsa Chica State Park and an ecological reserve have 1,400 dunes and fresh and saltwater wetlands. Five miles of hiking trails take you over the marsh (via a boardwalk) and past various coastal plants and animals.
Go birdwatching, cast for fish, catch the sunset, or watch for seals. There’s also an interpretive center with exhibits, educational displays, and trail information.
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31. Huntington Beach Pier and Boardwalk
You can’t miss the Huntington Beach Pier and Boardwalk for restaurants, attractions, and fun activities. The boardwalk is about 10 miles long as it passes by Bolsa Chica State Beach, Huntington City Beach, Sunset Beach, and others.
The pier, at 1,856 feet long, was built around 1902 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Legendary surfers Duke Kahanamoku and George Freeth performed surfing demonstrations at the iconic pier. Today, you can visit surf and gift shops or grab a bite to eat at Ruby’s Diner at the very end of the pier.
32. Orange County Museum of Art
The Orange County Museum of Art (OCMA) features modern and contemporary art in a 25,000-square-foot space. There’s a 4,500-piece permanent collection of 20th and 21st Century art. Peruse paintings, sculpture, photography, and many more works of art.
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33. Balboa Island
The artificial Balboa Island was originally a sandbar between the Balboa Peninsula and the mainland in Newport Beach. It was turned into an island in the early 1900s by developer William S. Collins. You can get there by car or ferry (a beautiful way to see Newport Beach and the harbor).
A paved trail around the area is famous for walking and bicycling. Explore the shops, restaurants, and sites along Marine Avenue, visit the Balboa Island Museum, or rent bicycles and paddleboards at this Newport Beach area attraction. Check out the 1906 Balboa Pier for sunset viewing and fishing.
34. Balboa Fun Zone
Just across from Balboa Island along the Balboa Peninsula, Balboa Fun Zone is one of Southern California’s oldest attractions, in business since 1936.
The amusement park has arcade games, a marine museum, a waterfront Ferris wheel, and other activities. Enjoy strolling along the boardwalk and looking for sea lions in the harbor. This is one of the best things to do in O.C. on our list.
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35. Fashion Island
An island of a different sort, Fashion Island is one of the best shopping malls around. You’ll find department stores, designer boutiques, art galleries, fine dining, sweet treats, and a movie theater among the many offerings at Fashion Island!
36. Huntington Beach International Surfing Museum
With a nickname like Surf City USA, you must check out the local surf museum! The Huntington Beach International Surfing Museum is dedicated to Duke Kahanamoku. He may not have invented surfing, but he did a lot to promote it.
Explore exhibits on vintage surfboards, famous surfers, movies, music, and all-around surf culture. If you’re hanging out at the Huntington Beach Pier, you might catch one of the venue’s surf music events.
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37. Shipley Nature Center
Huntington Beach’s Shipley Nature Center opened in 1974 and features 18 acres of plants, animals, and walking trails. Habitats at Shipley Nature Center include freshwater wetlands, open water, coastal sage scrub, and oak woodlands. This is an excellent place to visit on hot days due to the lovely shade cover by the live oak evergreen trees.
38. The Reptile Zoo
Near the beach and approximately 20 minutes from Disneyland, the Reptile Zoo is in Fountain Valley. It has more than 100 species of rare and exotic reptiles. Check out snakes, tortoises, alligators, lizards, frogs, and arachnids.
The Reptile Zoo was the home of Frank (a.k.a. Mr./Mrs. Kipling), the 7-foot Asian water monitors lizard from the Disney Channel show Jessie. Sadly, Frank passed away in 2021 at the grand old age of 18, but his scaly friends and relatives are ready to welcome you!
You can even go hands-on or take a pic with a boa constrictor. Have fun with that. Not me. Snakes give me the creeps. Blergh!
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39. Santa Catalina Island
While visiting Orange County, consider a day trip to Santa Catalina Island. Part of the Channel Islands, it’s about 30 miles off the coast. Tours go back and forth from the Balboa Pier via the Catalina Flyer, a 600-passenger ferry.
On the island, you can take golf cart tours, zip-line adventures, glass-bottom boat excursions, or soak in the glamorous Old Hollywood vibe.
40. Laguna Beach
Laguna Beach offers many art galleries, boutiques, cafés, and waterfront restaurants. St. Francis by the Sea, built in 1933, is the world’s smallest cathedral (even in the Guinness Book of World Records).
Beachside, you can explore sea caves, tide pools, secluded coves, and sandy beaches. Or sit and work on a tan. We won’t judge.
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41. Savor Spanish Cuisine at Comedor
In the historic 1930s La Casa del Camino resort, Comedor serves traditional Spanish and Californian cuisines such as tapas, paella, skirt steak in chimichurri sauce, crab cakes, and a wide variety of wine and cocktail choices in an authentic beachside setting.
If you’re looking for a stylish stay, keep reading to learn more about La Casa del Camino resort further down the line.
42. Laguna Coast Wilderness Park
The 7,000-acre area of Laguna Coast Wilderness Park is in the San Joaquin Hills and is filled with oak and sycamore forests, coastal canyons, and natural lakes. Whether hiking, biking, running, or horseback riding, you’ll find a variety of trails for all sorts of travel at this Laguna Beach park. While at the park, visit the Nix Nature Center for trail guides, tour booking, and more information on the region.
43. Crystal Cove State Park
Situated on 3.2 acres of beachfront property, 2,400 acres of stunning wilderness scenery includes 18 miles of hiking trails. The waters around Crystal Cove are designated as an underwater park.
Explore tide pools and the creatures that live in them, including rock scallops, shore crabs, acorn barnacles, abalones, and other amazing things. Remember to look, but don’t touch or take!
Within the Crystal Cove State Park, there’s a Historic District of 46 vintage seaside cottages from the ‘30s and ‘40s. Check out the beachfront cottages as you stroll through the sand and surf. Crystal Cove is a popular spot for stargazing in Orange County.
44. Heisler Park
The oceanfront Heisler Park offers gardens, walking trails, tide pools, and picnic tables surrounded by palm trees and wildflowers. Spend the afternoon enjoying the Pacific views of Laguna Beach, checking out sculptures, or walking along coastal trails.
On your Orange County adventures, you can access Picnic Beach, Rockpile Beach, Diver’s Beach, and Main Beach from Heisler Park. It’s near Crystal Cove State Park so you can combine the day’s adventures.
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45. Badlands Park
For stunning Pacific views, check out Badlands Park. It’s located in Laguna Niguel and features a 2.3-mile trail. The trail offers suitable terrain for beginners while challenging enough for more experienced hikers. You’ll enjoy terrific views of Aliso Peak, the Palos Verdes Peninsula, and the stunning Pacific coastline.
If you’re looking for things to do in Orange County at night, it’s all about the popular live music venue in Mozambique. This swanky club offers a fun night with its award-winning restaurant, a bar, a lounge, an aging area, and a bar with great views of the Pacific. Enjoy a diverse blend of music, such as ‘80s hits, reggae, and current hits from local bands and national acts.
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47. Dana Point Harbor
Are you looking for cool places in Orange County? Look no further! Dana Point is considered the dolphin and whale-watching capital of the world. How cool is that?! Exceedingly!
Dana Point Harbor is a waterfront center for shopping, dining, entertainment, and activities. Gather your crew and head to Dana Point, where you can book Orange County activities like whale-watching, parasailing, diving, and fishing excursions.
48. Doheny State Park
One of California’s most popular parks, Doheny State Park offers picnic facilities, volleyball courts, campgrounds, walking trails, and a beachfront area with tide pools and surfable waves. The waves at Doheny State Beach are pretty tame, so it’s the perfect spot to learn to surf and is one of the best places to go in Orange County.
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49. Mission San Juan Capistrano
Founded over 200 years ago, San Juan Capistrano Mission is the seventh of 21 missions. Built as a center for religion, agriculture, and education, it’s considered the “Jewel of the California missions” and tops our list of historical things to do in O.C.
It preserves and presents California’s multi-cultural history of Native American, Spanish, European, and Mexican history. Peruse 18th and 20th Century art and artifacts or explore 10 acres of gardens with fountains and adobe structures.
Book a San Juan Capistrano Scavenger Hunt Adventure for a wholly interactive experience. You use your smartphone to explore the city while looking for clues, solving puzzles, sightseeing, and learning about the area’s history while having fun.
50. Limestone Canyon Regional Park
In Silverado, Limestone Canyon Regional Park has springs and streams, oak forests, coastal sage scrub, and “the sinks” (a mini Grand Canyon). The 4,000-acre park is part of Irvine Ranch Open Space and is popular with hikers, bicyclists, and nature enthusiasts. Keep your eyes peeled for red-tailed hawks, raccoons, deer, coyotes, and mountain lions.
See Related: Visiting Tahquitz Canyon in Palm Springs, California
51. Black Star Canyon Indian Village Historic Site
Black Star Canyon is popular with hikers and mountain bikers in the beautiful Santa Ana Mountains. It’s about a five-mile hike to the historic landmark site where a skirmish occurred.
There are also remnants of the Black Star Mining Co. (said to be haunted), including equipment, mine shafts, and coal piles.
52. San Clemente Pier
Looking for a day trip idea? The San Clemente Pier is just south of San Juan Capistrano Mission. Initially built in 1928, the 1,296-foot wooden pier has undergone several renovations.
Fishing, surfing, and hiking along the San Clemente Coastal Trail are popular activities. There are a variety of shops and restaurants near the San Clemente Pier.
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Best Tours in Orange County
If you're visiting Temecula Valley Wine Country for the first time, or if you want to experience a new side of it, this tour is for you. Spend a day tasting the wines of Temecula Valley Wine Country. Visit 4 of the area's unique wineries and experience tasting at each. Enjoy a delicious gourmet-inspired picnic lunch in a barrel room.
Discover the best of the Pacific Coast Highway on this downloadable self-guided driving tour between LA and San Diego. The road along the coast is beautiful, but it's also packed with natural wonders and man-made attractions.
Newport Beach is a world-renowned city in Orange County, California. Home to the famous Balboa Bay and its beautiful coastline, Newport is a popular vacation spot for families and tourists from all over the world.
Where to Stay in Orange County
Whether you’re looking for a luxury resort hotel, a quaint bed and breakfast, a budget hotel, or a relaxing beachfront vacation rental, Orange County has a little bit of everything. Let’s take a look at where to stay in Orange County.
Key Inn and Suites
Located in Tustin, about 12 miles from Disneyland, the Key Inn, and Suites has an outdoor pool and laundry facilities. Guest rooms have free Wi-Fi, a sitting area, a microwave, and a mini-fridge. It’s about six miles from Angel Stadium, which makes it a convenient choice for sports enthusiasts.
Days Inn by Wyndham Buena Park
The Days Inn by Wyndham Buena Park offers an outdoor pool, free Wi-Fi, and continental breakfast in a convenient setting. It’s near amusement parks like Knott’s Berry Farm, Knott’s Soak City Water Park, and Disneyland.
See Related: Best Family Hotels in San Francisco, California
La Quinta by Wyndham Irvine Spectrum
Work on racking those Wyndham Rewards points at the La Quinta by Wyndham Irvine Spectrum. It’s approximately 20 minutes from Disneyland and near the airport. Guests enjoy free Wi-Fi, a daily continental breakfast, an outdoor pool, a fitness center, and a hot tub.
Dana Point Marina Inn
Dana Point Marina Inn is within walking distance of Doheny State beach. There’s a pool, a fitness center, a hot tub, and an event space. Some rooms have kitchenettes, and some have a mini-fridge and a microwave. Enjoy complimentary Wi-Fi and daily continental breakfast at this marina-side pet-friendly hotel.
Holiday Inn Express Newport Beach, an IHG Hotel
With easy access to the airport, the Holiday Inn Express Newport Beach makes a terrific choice for business or leisure travel. Rooms have a mini-fridge, a microwave, a coffee maker, and free Wi-Fi. There’s a business center, a fitness center, and a pool.
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The Westin Anaheim Resort
Stately palm trees greet guests as they arrive a the Westin Anaheim Resort. A fitness center, seven restaurants and bars, meeting and event rooms, an outdoor pool, a hot tub, and a sun terrace.
Some guest rooms have separate seating and dining areas. For the ultimate theme park experience, book a room with views of Disney’s California Adventure Park.
Located near Disneyland and the Anaheim Convention Center, Wyndham Anaheim offers an outdoor pool, a hot tub, a fitness center, a business center, meeting rooms, a restaurant, and a bar.
All guest rooms have a coffee maker. Some guest rooms have separate seating areas, which is nice if you’re traveling with a larger group and need space to spread out.
Balboa Bay Resort
Located right at the marina in Newport Beach, Balboa Bay Resort offers luxury suites and guest rooms with four-poster beds, stylish furnishings, and custom-designed linens. There’s a restaurant, a fitness center, a pool, a full-service spa, meeting rooms, and a boutique.
La Casa Del Camino
Located in Laguna Beach, La Casa Del Camino infuses Spanish and Mediterranean influences with the scenery of the Pacific. Colorful and modern surf-inspired rooms offer free Wi-Fi and cable television. Enjoy a margarita and California cuisine on the rooftop lounge while enjoying the Pacific Ocean sunsets.
Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort & Spa
Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort & Spa – near Doheny State Beach, Laguna Beach, and Dana Point Harbor – has a restaurant, a lounge, meeting rooms, two outdoor pools, a spa, a putting green, a fitness center, and walking trails. You can also rent bicycles and surfboards. If you can’t find other fun things in Orange County, hang out at the hotel.
Spacious rooms have modern amenities, additional seating areas, custom linens, and balconies for sunrise or sunset views.
Courtyard by Marriott Foothill Ranch Irvine East/Lake Forest
Located in Foothill Ranch, Courtyard by Marriott Foothill Ranch Irvine East has an outdoor pool, free Wi-Fi, plush bedding, and ergonomic workstations. There’s a cafe for that morning java, a restaurant, a meeting, an event space, laundry facilities, a fitness center, a pool, a hot tub, and an outdoor terrace.
It’s near Angel Stadium and the Irvine Spectrum Center, which makes it convenient for sports and entertainment fans.
Inn at Laguna Beach
The oceanfront Inn at Laguna Beach mixes a beach bungalow with modern amenities. Guest rooms and suites have balconies and private patios with views of Heisler Park and Main Beach. Enjoy daily wine receptions in the lobby, breakfast, sunsets at the rooftop bar, and daily swims in the pool.
Inn at the Mission San Juan Capistrano, Autograph Collection
Spanish tile, dark wood tones, tropical plants, and a stucco exterior bring the Spanish landscape to Southern California at the Inn at the Mission San Juan Capistrano, Autograph Collection. Spacious rooms have designer furnishings, soaking tubs, extra seating areas, desks, and balconies. There’s a restaurant, a pool with sun loungers, a fitness center, and an outdoor fireplace.
See Related: Different Types of Hotel Rooms… Explained!
Quaint, Cozy, and Historic Cottage
The Quaint, Cozy, and Historic Cottage offers three bedrooms and two bathrooms with easy access to the sand of Laguna Beach. Eucalyptus trees surround the 1920s house that can accommodate six guests. This pet-friendly vacation rental has a washer/dryer, a fireplace, internet, and cable T.V.
Charming Beach Cottage
Are you looking for beach houses in Orange County, California? This Charming Beach Cottage is 1.5 blocks from the beach and near Balboa Pier. There are two bedrooms, one bathroom, a kitchen, a living room, and a deck/patio.
See Related: Fun Things to Do in Los Angeles, California
How to Get to Orange County
American Airlines, United, Delta, and JetBlue Airlines all service John Wayne Airport (SNA) in Santa Ana. Check sites like Skyscanner for flights, hotels, car rentals, and package deals for your Orange County, California adventures.
Travel insurance is an excellent investment when you’re planning a vacation. It covers sickness and medical emergencies, unexpected weather, and more. Hopefully, you’ll never need it, but it can be a lifesaver if you do.
How to Get Around Orange County
For flexibility and freedom, you’ll want to rent a car to visit all the beautiful beaches, delicious food, and fun things to do in Orange County at your leisure.
The Orange County Transportation Authority has bus and Metrolink train services throughout the area for travelers to get around and find Orange County things to do. There are nearly 60 OCTA bus routes.
What is the best thing to do with kids in Orange County?
Kids and Orange County, you ask? We can’t think of anything more kid-friendly (regardless of physical age) than Disneyland. It is the Happiest Place on Earth, after all.
What are some fun things to do in Orange County?
All the fun things are in Orange County, from parks, zoos, and gardens to museums, cultural centers, and long sandy beaches. Check out the Santa Ana Zoo, Seal Beach, and Mission San Juan Capistrano.
What are some things to do in Orange County when it’s raining?
Visit a museum such as the Laguna Art Museum, the Huntington Beach International Surfing Museum, or the Pretend City Children’s Museum. Part of Angel Stadium is covered, so you can still take in that Angels baseball game.
What are the best tourist attractions in Orange County?
If you’re wondering what to do in Orange County, the city offers tourist attractions such as Disneyland, Heisler Park, Knott’s Berry Farm, and Balboa Island.
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- About the Author
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Sandy is a freelance writer based in Richmond, Virginia. Her specialties range from hotels, dining, beaches, and yacht charters to theme parks, urban settings, mountain getaways, and other fun spots. In addition to Via Travelers, her work appears at AFAR, PierShare, Cozymeal, and more.