Few places hold such a variety of sights as Orange County, California. We list the top 20 things to do in Orange County below.
The County is particularly blessed by its beautiful location where visitors will be able to indulge in incredible beaches and their perfect iconic Californian sunset, walk endless trails surrounded by lush nature, learn more about its history through museums and great locations, as well as enjoy the ultimate and memory-lasting experiences that you can’t find anywhere else.
There is much to do and much to see, as such an offer will surely please people from all age ranges and backgrounds.
With that in mind, we compiled a few must-visit and must-do ideas to take into consideration the next time you consider Orange County in your travel itinerary.
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Whatever people may say, it’s hard to top up a Disney theme-park adventure.
Fantastic for children, amazing for grown-ups, even the straightest face will surely smile at the multitude of opportunities to have fun, enjoy the set and indulge in some great-paced action.
At Disneyland, there is always something happening. The fact that you’re under the Californian weather makes everything seem even better and more appropriate.
Rollercoaster rides and themed attractions will take you through experiences that include The Avengers, a great wine festival or hanging out with the characters from the children movie “Frozen”.
There is little left to the imagination with constant fun in its streets, music, and characters singing, offering an ever-changing atmosphere of magic and wonder.
You can find a wide range of hotel suites that will deliver on your every request to family budget hotel rooms. Thematic dinners and the usual highly-rated and unexpected Disney know-how in entertaining its visitors will surely make your visit unforgettable.
Address: 1313 Disneyland Dr, Anaheim, CA 92802
2. Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve
For those that are after some peace and quiet, you’re in for a treat as your visit to Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve will offer some pure sense of relaxation alongside the discovery of its wide range of fauna and flora.
Over 200 species of birds can be found in this reserve that spreads over 1,300 acres of coastal beauty.
Those that like to adventure through endless trails can find unique experiences here as the area is particularly alive with such a wide range of different animals. Should you prefer to trust your exploration to the hands of an expert, you can embark on one of the many tours that are available taking you through this reserve’s most special locations and teaching you all the details about the life that is here to be found.
Address: 18000 CA-1, Huntington Beach, CA 92648
3. Crystal Cove State Park
Those that are moved by the Ocean will find in Crystal Cove State Park a wonder of their own.
With a multitude of trails to discover the area that is in excess of 15 miles, it’s hard not to get carried away by this area’s particular beauty.
This area is nearly 4,000 acres and alongside its many entertaining activities such as bike riding, trekking, camping, and hiking, it also offers great moments of coastline delight along the Pacific Ocean should you just wish to sit back and relax.
Those that are more connected or wish to find such a connection with nature can also experience some of the most relaxing picnic experiences in the park, with several places to enjoy that simple yet always pleasant experience.
Address: 8471 N Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651
4. Doheny State Beach
As interesting as Bolsa Chica or Crystal Cove, the Doheny State Beach offers a different approach to its visitors.
Here, you will find a wide range of marine creatures as well as birds that are endemic of this specific area.
An interpretive center is in place to help you understand the specifics of this area and the creatures that find their home here and an aquarium can be visited to get to see them in further detail.
Similar experiences to other parks can be found, with hiking, picnics, and camping available.
Its coastline is particularly beautiful for those that wish to indulge in some sun-soaking moments.
Address: 25300 Dana Point Harbor Dr, Dana Point, CA 92629
5. OC Brewery Tours
For those that like to have a little more fun, the OC Brewery Tours is a well-designed plan that will have you embarking on some of the tastiest and most interesting brews produced in the area, as well as posing as one of the most fun things to do in Orange County.
As much as most of us would like to take on that challenge more often, there is always the issue that no matter how great it may be to have a drink, the experience will surely limit you in terms of transportation to/from the venue.
The OC Brewery Tours plan is to grab you wherever you may be and take you back when you’ve had enough!
Plenty of options are available to make your fun unique and unforgettable. As simple a concept as it may seem, it surely will break any boredom or excessive relaxation you may be having when visiting Orange County.
• Towne Park
• All American Ale Works
• Legends Brewery
For more information: Visit the official website
6. Orange County Zoo
The Orange County Zoo displays many species of animals that are endemic to the Region.
Here, the visitor will be able to see mountain lions, porcupines, bald eagles, and black bears, alongside many other animals.
It’s possible to embark on a guided tour along the zoo to discover more details about these magnificent animal’s habits, as well as what policies are in place to preserve their habitats.
Children will surely appreciate some of the programs in place that take them through the many animals that live in the region, laid down in a fun and interactive way.
Address: 1 Irvine Park Rd, Orange, CA 92869
7. Pretend City Museum
The Pretend City Children’s Museum is a must-do for those that are traveling with kids.
Offering a wide range of experiences designed to deliver real-world scenarios to little ones, it’s the most fun they’ve ever had.
As a parent, you’ll surely be having as much fun as you watch your kids interact with others going along the many real-world situations that they will surely find in the future.
From playing policemen to firemen, doctors or bankers, there are far too many great fun activities to discover, learn and enjoy.
Address: 29 Hubble, Irvine, CA 92618
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8. Salt Creek Beach Park
Even those that enjoy sunbathing may indulge in some fun activities by the seaside.
Salt Creek Beach is one of the most popular surfing destinations in the area.
Great swells for all types of surfers offer waves that are as appealing to beginners as they are to experts.
It’s possible to rent out a surfboard for your fun in the area, as well as taking a few lessons if you don’t feel brave enough to go on your own.
Other alternatives are available in case you don’t feel like surfing through waves, including your standard swimming sessions, snorkeling, bodyboarding or paddleboarding. Options are endless, taking into consideration you’re standing by one of the most beautiful Pacific Coast areas in the USA.
Some of the greatest things to do in Orange County can be found in such magical places as Salt Creek Beach, especially if you’re lucky enough to enjoy the sunset whilst sitting on your board waiting for the next swell to hit.
In the Summer months, you’ll also find a wide range of beach bars and restaurants open to making your stay more pleasant, inviting you to spend more than just a few hours in this fun and beautiful location.
Address: 33333 Pacific Coast Hwy, Dana Point, CA 92629
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9. Huntington Beach Pier
Definitely worth visiting, the iconic Huntington Beach Pier is a 1,850 feet long pier taking you far into the Pacific Ocean.
One of the most well-known and photographed beach spots in Orange County, it offers its visitors unparalleled sights and photo opportunities. Sunsets are particularly romantic and beautiful when you’re standing here and it is closely linked to Huntington’s surfing culture.
With over 115 years old, this free-to-visit location does not admit dogs, skateboards, bicycles or smoking in its premises.
You can rent fishing gear and enjoy a relaxing afternoon without the need for a fishing license. If you’ve never done it before, it’s easy to spot many seasoned locals enjoying such activity that will surely give you a helping hand in finding the perfect technique.
There are also some great places to visit where you can enter and enjoy a cocktail or something to snack, as well as a few little stores that will offer great souvenirs.
The pier is a particularly beautiful location that shouldn’t be missed, especially for its uniqueness and its history, closely linked to its city and all the surfing culture that is ever-present here.
Address: Main St. and Pacific Coast Highway; Huntington Beach
Just search for “Huntington Beach Pier” on Google Maps
10. Angels Stadium
Even those that aren’t great fans of baseball – or those that come from other countries and have never experienced a game – will surely be impressed by the Angels Stadium, home to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Plenty of affordable options are available to its visitor, from discount tickets to groups, ensuring that you can surely live the unique atmosphere of a baseball game whilst visiting Orange County.
Depending on the team’s schedule, it’s possible to see day and evening games, each offering uniqueness and an unforgettable experience as you feel the Angels Stadium vibrate with each play.
Address: 2000 E Gene Autry Way, Anaheim, CA 92806
11. Discovery Cube
For those that wish to develop their knowledge a step further, the Discovery Cube offers a wide range of tours, exhibits, and activities for children. With over 100 activities to take part in, some of which will take children through better eating habits as they learn about the importance of a healthy lifestyle.
Inspired and co-created by the Anaheim Ducks hockey team, the “Science of Hockey” delivers a fun and engaging experience in the hockey world for all of those that wish to know more about it.
All the experiences available invite children to interact with a diversity of materials and real-world scenarios, further developing their abilities whilst teaching them valuable information about the real world.
Some of these experiences take place outside the center’s premises and are aimed at teaching more about the marine life in the area, surely delivering unforgettable moments to children of all ages.
Address: 2500 N Main St, Santa Ana, CA 92705
12. Orange County Great Park
For further moments immersed in nature, the Orange County Great Park will offer its visitor a great place to relax as well as enjoy arts and sports.
Activities are aplenty, inviting you to take your place in some physical exercise as well as enjoy many incredible attractions.
An aviation exhibition, a carousel, farmers market, arts complex, and constantly changing events give life to what could but surely isn’t just another park, as it is also one of the best free things to do in Orange County.
Here, the visitor can also embark on the unique Great Park Balloon attraction and have the always incredible experience of taking off in a real balloon, whilst enjoying the fantastic views of the area.
Address: 8000 Great Park Boulevard, Irvine, CA 92618
13. Boat Trip at Newport Beach
Little things in life are as fun and inviting as a boat trip taking you across beautiful scenic spots.
With plenty of boat tours and daily rentals, you can embark on your very own exploration of the area or hire a skipper to take you and your loved ones to a unique yet memory-lasting boat adventure.
All sorts of tours can be found here, some offering onboard catering or inviting you to bring your own.
Enjoying the views of some of Newport Harbor mansions will surely deliver a unique perspective on life and the area itself, as well as the always impressive sense you get when you get to see some of the exclusive yachts that take harbor here.
For more information: Visit the Official Website
14. Lido Marina Village
This exclusive and beautiful waterfront offers enough variety to keep you busy for the good portion of the day.
With several stores and restaurants, you’ll feel that this location is inspirational, romantic and hype, all in one.
Plenty of great moments await, with a farmers market, live music and ever-changing events that are designed to keep kids and grown-ups happy. You’re expected to find everything from homemade delicatessen to fresh seasonal flower carts where you can create your own bouquet.
It’s surely a place to enjoy some good and relaxing moments, have a great meal or a drink whilst enjoying a great atmosphere!
Address: 3434 Via Lido, Newport Beach, CA 92663
15. Knott’s Berry Farm
If your idea of fun is an old-school theme park, look no further.
Defining itself as California’s first theme park, the Knott’s Berry Farm started small to slowly enter family’s hearts.
Hosting everyone’s most loved attractions from Old West Ghost Town to modern roller coasters and interactive experiences, its visitor will surely find enough alternatives to spend a whole day here.
With over 160 acres, there are four distinct themed areas, visitors can stay in the premises at the very own Knotts Hotel, as well as benefit from several family discounts, special offers, and diversity of tickets for all price ranges ensuring you can get the experience you want from the park.
In the hot months, the Knott’s Soak City water park will surely offer an even more fun experience to families, with several waterslides and attractions to entertain those that can’t get enough of the water.
Several themed dining options are available, making your stay complete and surely unforgettable.
Address: 8039 Beach Blvd, Buena Park, CA 90620
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16. Fashion Island
If shopping is your idea of fun (which happens to be mine), then Fashion Island will surely surpass your expectations.
Regarded as one of the best shopping centers in the area, it offers exclusive shops and activities to those that wish to spend a good portion of their day.
Here you can find designer stores, great cafés, and restaurants along lushly landscaped piazzas with palm trees and fountains. Sophisticated and inviting, it is surely a great way to enjoy some exclusiveness and experience some of the best stores to be found anywhere.
Address: 401 Newport Center Dr, Newport Beach, CA 92660
17. Honda Center
The Honda Center is home to some of the greatest events you can think of, as well as home to the NHL team Anaheim Ducks.
From fast-paced hockey matches to concerts by some of the world’s most renowned artists, there may just be enough for anyone to be impressed in this particular venue.
The Harlem Globetrotters and some of the greatest events on tour make sure to make the Honda Center an unmissable stopping point in your visit.
Check their website to see what’s on and you’ll surely find something that will offer a unique and memorable experience, as well as discover the range of restaurants and stores available.
Those that wish to take their experience up a notch can find a wide range of upgrades for each venue that includes luxury suites and premium experiences.
Address: 2695 E Katella Ave, Anaheim, CA 92806
18. Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament
Few experiences are as unique as enjoying dinner in a pure medieval environment.
With epic battles taking place in front of you in an action-filled theatre of knights, maidens, and clashes, it’s hard not to be impressed by the incredible efforts of those involved in delivering some of the most entertaining dining experience you’ve ever had.
With royal falcons making a pass close over your heads and well-thought menus that will surely invite you to be taken back in time, Medieval Times may just be one of those unmissable experiences for all that wish to add something to their bucket list and strike it off in style.
Address: 7662 Beach Blvd, Buena Park, CA 90620
19. Bowers Museum
Embark on a discovery taking you through time and knowledge.
With fascinating exhibits that will take you through ancient cultures, habits, and traditions, it’s hard not to feel amazed by the diversity and uniqueness of the Bowers Museum ever-changing program.
There is far too much to learn and to take with you as you can enjoy music performances, after-hours cocktails and dinners family programs, workshops, talks, and interactive exhibits.
Surely, the Bowers Museum presents itself as an ever-changing dynamic opportunity to experience knowledge, art, and information in ways that are more inviting and interactive than most museums usually can achieve.
Their programs offer a wide range of experiences that are certain to make your time worthwhile.
Address: 2002 N Main St, Santa Ana, CA 92706
20. Mission San Juan Capistrano
This historic chapel, landmark, and museum present itself as a place of historical relevance with over 240 years of history.
Founded in 1776 as the seventh of twenty-one missions to be established in California by the Spanish, it witnessed wars and challenges far beyond the visitor’s imagination.
Erected to ensure the Spanish territorial boundaries and Christianity would be expanded from its premises, it served also as a base with the intention of converting the Indigenous natives to Catholicism.
With several guided tours, you can discover its rich history, exhibits and museum rooms alongside an expert that will help you explore the details and perspectives of this unique location, representative of the early days of the Spanish presence in the area.
Several ticket options are available, as well as specific programs for young ones to discover the Mission’s history and importance, preserving it for years to come.
Address: 26801 Ortega Hwy, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
The visitor may surely feel overwhelmed by the number of excellent opportunities that Orange County presents.
From incredible theme parks, beaches, historical grounds, exclusive shopping centers and inviting nature locations, the true difficulty lies in picking a starting point.
Blessed by a unique geographical location where the Pacific Ocean meets the Californian sands, the number of activities is also one to surely please all kinds of visitors whether you’re traveling solo or in large numbers.
Enjoy a surfing lesson until the sun sets, learn how to fish with the locals, go on a shopping spree amongst exclusive shops or learn about unique historical grounds and you’ll surely not run out of great excuses to spend your time here.
Again, there are far too many options to keep you entertained, some of which are perfect for young kids to develop a sense of independence, culture, and knowledge.
Some experiences are surely unique, whether you’re screaming alongside a crowd at a baseball or hockey game, watching The Globe Trotters or having dinner while two knights have a swordfight.
Whatever moves you as you travel, surely Orange County will have more than enough reasons to impress you over and over again. It offers enough variety and constant impressive moments to surely create everlasting memories and have you returning to its incredible settings more often than you’d surely expect!
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