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52 Fun & Best Things to do in Orange County, CA

52 Fun & Best Things to do in Orange County, CA

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Searching for things to do in Orange County? The sunny Southern California town is more than beaches and theme parks (though, there are plenty of those as well). Art, culture, history, rugged adventure, and entertainment are happening all over town.

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 a 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.

Getting to Orange County

American Airlines, United, Delta, and JetBlue Airlines all service John Wayne Airport (SNA) in Santa Ana. Check sites like SkyScanner to find flights, hotels, and car rentals as well as package deals for your Orange County, California adventures.

Travel insurance is an excellent investment when you’re planning a vacation. It covers things like sickness and medical emergencies, unexpected weather, and more. Hopefully, you’ll never need it, but it can be a lifesaver in the event that you do.

TLDR;

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 OC right now? Your search is over!

  • 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

Fun and Best Things to do in Orange County, California

Here are some of the most interesting, relaxing, exciting, and just plain fun things to do in Orange County!

1. Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum

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, and luncheons as well as special exhibits on topics such as the National Cancer Act, Nixon’s Environmental Legacy, and Women Leading the Way.

2. Redwood Grove Trail

Redwood Grove Trail

You won’t often see redwoods in Southern California, but Carbon Canyon Regional Park in Brea is the place 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.

See Related: Tips for Beating Post-Travel Blues

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 jackline pump, and the original Olinda Oil Well Number One. There’s a two-mile hiking trail that winds around the site.

4. Fullerton Arboretum

Fullerton Arboretum

The 26-acre Fullerton Arboretum is home to a plethora of plants, including flowers, beautiful gardens, and also a ton of local wildlife. There’s also a restored cottage house that 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.

See Related: Best Waterfalls in California: SoCal & NorCal Spots

5. Laguna Lake Park

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.

6. Knott’s Berry Farm

Berry Farm

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 and bunches of boysenberries. Oh, 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!

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 and jellies and other sweet treats while you’re there.

See Related: Disney Vacation Club Review: Is Disney Vacation Club Worth It?

9. Disneyland Park

Disneyland Park

The park that started it all.

Disneyland Park is one of the best places to visit in OC 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

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 in Orlando, Florida

11. Downtown Disney District

Downtown Disney District
Image by Patrick Pelletier used under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

For shopping, dining, and entertainment, check out the Downtown Disney District. 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

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

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. OC Brewery Tours

OC Brewery Tours

Orange County sightseeing can really tire you out. Sometimes you just 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 OC brewery tours.

Just a couple of stops on OC brewery tours could include Laguna Beach beer Co., Drift Distillery, Left Coast Brewing Co., or the Brewing Reserve of California.

See Related: What is the Cheapest Way to Travel Across the US?

15. The Bowers Museum

The Bowers Museum

Located in Santa Ana, the 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.

16. Santa Ana Zoo

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

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 offers a look 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.  

See Related: Next Vacay vs Scott’s Cheap Flights: Which Is Better?

19. Discovery Cube Orange County

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 (and all 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

Old Orange County Courthouse

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 features temporary and permanent exhibits on local history as well as the Orange County archives.

21. Orange County History Center

The Orange County History Center is the place for history buffs to study historic papers, photographs, and more.

22. Orange County Zoo

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 a bevy of barnyard animals at the Orange County Zoo.

See Related: Away vs Beis: What is the Better Suitcase?

23. Tanaka Farms

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 in case you’d rather let someone else do the picking.

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 just grow all the time, ya know).

24. Corona Del Mar State Beach Park

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 has to offer.

A half-mile-long sandy beach is backed by beachfront homes on a cliff. There are restrooms, outdoor showers, and food service vending.

See Related: Best Credit Cards for International Travel

25. Orange County Great Park

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 largest tethered helium balloons in the U.S. (and definitely the first of its kind). On a clear day, you can see for about 40 miles.

The balloon is sponsored by FivePoint, and rides are free on a first-come-first-served basis. There’s also a vintage-inspired carousel if you’d rather keep your feet 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.

The venue is surrounded by rose and lavender gardens and tall oak trees. Your wedding or special 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?).

See Related: Best Road Trip Games For Couples

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

Irvine Spectrum Center

The Irvine Spectrum Center offers shopping, dining, and entertainment as well as 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.

See Related: Best Travel Trailers for Couples

29. Travel the Pacific Coast Highway

If you have the need for 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 for about 600 miles from San Francisco to San Diego, so just 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.

30. Bolsa Chica State Park

Bolsa Chica State Park

Bolsa Chica State Park and an ecological reserve have 1,400 acres of dunes and fresh and saltwater wetlands. Five miles of hiking trails take you over the marsh (via a boardwalk) and past a variety of coastal plants and animals.

Go birdwatching, cast for fish, catch the sunset or watch for seals. There’s also an interpretive center that has exhibits, educational displays, and trail information.

See Related: Best Travel Gifts for Backpackers

31. Huntington Beach Pier and Boardwalk

Huntington Beach Pier and Boardwalk

For restaurants, attractions, and fun activities, you can’t miss the Huntington Beach Pier and Boardwalk. 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

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.

See Related: Best Travel Backpacks | Efficient Carry-On Options

33. Balboa Island

Located between the Balboa Peninsula and the mainland, in Newport Beach, the man-made Balboa Island was originally a sandbar. It was turned into an island in the early 1900s by developer William S. Collins. You can get there by car or by ferry (which is a wonderful way to see Newport Beach and the harbor).

There’s a paved trail around the area that’s popular 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. For fun things to do in OC, this is one of the best on our list.

See Related: Best Beach Bags With Cooler

35. Fashion Island

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

International Surfing Museum

With a nickname like Surf City USA, you know you have to 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 just might catch one of the venue’s surf music events.

See Related: Best Car Seat Travel Bags to Buy Today

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 from the live oak evergreen trees.

38. The Reptile Zoo

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 monitor 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 if you so choose. Have fun with that. Not me. Snakes gimme the creeps. Blergh!

See Related: Best Pet Travel Insurance Options to Buy Today

39. Santa Catalina Island

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 just soak in the glamorous Old Hollywood vibe.

40. Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach

The city of Laguna Beach offers a wide array of art galleries, boutiques, cafés, and waterfront restaurants. St. Francis by the Sea, built-in 1933, is the smallest cathedral in the world (it’s even in the Guinness Book of World Records).

Beachside you can explore sea caves, tide pools, secluded coves, and sandy beaches. Or just sit and work on a tan. We won’t judge.

See Related: 9 Best Apps & Sites Like Expedia For Travel

41. Savor Spanish Cuisine at Comedor

Located at 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 check out more about La Casa del Camino resort further on down the line.

42. Laguna Coast Wilderness Park

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 you’re 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.

See Related: Free California Travel Guide: Printable Guide to Travel

43. Crystal Cove State Park

Crystal Cove State Park
Image by D. Ramey Logan

Situated on 3.2 acres of beachfront property, there are 2,400 acres of stunning wilderness scenery that 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

Heisler Park
Image by 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.

You can access Picnic Beach, Rockpile Beach, Diver’s Beach, and Main Beach from Heisler Park on your Orange County adventures. It’s near Crystal Cove State Park, so you can combine the day’s adventures.

See Related: Best Things to Do in Malibu, California

45. Badlands Park

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 good terrain for beginners while being just challenging enough for more experienced hikers. You’ll be able to enjoy terrific views of Aliso Peak, the Palos Verdes Peninsula, and the stunning Pacific coastline.

46. Mozambique

If you’re looking for things to do in Orange County at night, it’s all about the popular live music venue at Mozambique. This swanky club offers a fun night with its award-winning restaurant, a bar, a lounge, and a stage area as well as a rooftop 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. 

See Related: Best Things to do in Big Bear, California

47. Dana Point Harbor

Dana Point Harbor

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 fairly tame, so it’s the perfect spot to learn to surf and is one of the best places to go in Orange County.

See Related: Most Exotic Places in California to Visit

49. Mission San Juan Capistrano

Mission San Juan Capistrano

Founded more than 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 historic things to do in OC.

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 to get a full and interactive experience. You use your smartphone to explore the city while looking for clues, solving puzzles, sightseeing, and learning about the history of the area while having fun.

50. Limestone Canyon Regional Park

Limestone Canyon Regional Park

In Silverado, Limestone Canyon Regional Park is filled with 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, bicyclers, 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 Indian Village Historic Site

Located in the beautiful Santa Ana Mountains, Black Star Canyon is popular with hikers and mountain bikers. It’s about a five-mile hike to the historic landmark site where a skirmish took place.

There are also remnants of the Black Star Mining Co. (said to be haunted), including equipment, mine shafts, and piles of coal.

52. San Clemente Pier

San Clemente Pier

Looking for a day trip idea? The San Clemente Pier is just south of San Juan Capistrano Mission. Originally built in 1928, the 1,296-foot wooden pier has undergone a couple of renovations in its lifetime.

Fishing, surfing, and hiking along the San Clemente Coastal Trail are all popular activities. There are a variety of shops and restaurants near the San Clemente Pier.

See Related: Fun & Best Things to do in Palm Desert, California

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.

Budget Hotels

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

Mid-Range Hotels

La Quinta by Wyndham Irvine Spectrum

Work on racking up 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, 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 to 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 free 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.

See Related: Amazing Resorts & Hotels With Animals On-Site

Luxury Hotels

The Westin Anaheim Resort

Stately palm trees greet guests as they arrive a the Westin Anaheim Resort. There’s 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.

Wyndham Anaheim

Located near Disneyland and the Anaheim Convention Center, the 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 taking in the Pacific Ocean sunsets.

Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort & Spa

Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort Spa
Image by Booking.com

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 to do in Orange County, just hang out at the hotel.

Spacious rooms have modern amenities, extra 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 bistro for that morning java, a restaurant, meeting and 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!

Rentals

Quaint, Cozy, and Historic Cottage

Quaint, Cozy, and Historic Cottage
Image by VRBO

The Quaint, Cozy, and Historic Cottage offers three bedrooms and two bathrooms within easy access to the sand of Laguna Beach. Eucalyptus trees surround the 1920s house that can accommodate six guests. There’s a washer/dryer, a fireplace, internet, and cable TV at this pet-friendly vacation rental.

Charming Beach Cottage

Charming Beach Cottage
Image by VRBO

Looking for beach houses in Orange County, Ca.? 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.

Getting 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.

FAQ

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?

From parks, zoos, and gardens to museums, cultural centers, and long sandy beaches, all the fun things are in Orange County. 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 may still be able to 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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