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Are you curious about visiting Orange County and pondering about the things to do and places to visit? The article you are reading is the right one to get the necessary information.
But before discussing the topic, let us read about Orange County, its location, weather, and other facts.
1. Amazing Things about Orange County, California
What is a “County“? A County is a territory or an administrative division of a county with towns and rural areas surrounding it. Orange County (O.C.) is a county in Southern California, in the metropolitan region of Los Angeles, USA. It forms the 3rd largest county in California, with Los Angeles to its North and San Diego to its South.
According to World Population Review data, the current population of Orange County, California, is 3.2M, with a growth rate of 0.55%. Orange County is home to beautiful beaches, gardens, hikes, museums, restaurants, theme parks, shopping malls, nightclubs, surfing, spas, and more. An exciting feature of Orange County is that it is home to the well-known world’s Disneyland.
1.1. Weather and Climate in Orange County, California
Orange County, CA, has a Mediterranean Climate where summer is short, warm, dry, and clear, with plenty of sunshine. Winter is long, mild, wet, and partly cloudy. The summers are from May to October, and the winters are from November to March.
The temperature lies between 65°F and 85°F during summer, and August is the hottest. In winter, the temperature lies between 46°F and 70°F, with December as the coldest.
2. Fun Things to do in Orange County, California
As we have learned above the essential facts, let us now dive in and discuss the best attractions worth visiting and the fun things to do in Orange County, CA.
2.1. Newport Beach
Newport Beach is a marvelous coastal shoreline in Southern California, known for its boat harbor. The beach is 5 miles long and stretches along the Pacific Coast. It provides stunning beach views, nature preserves, aquatic adventures, and idyllic restaurants, making it a perfect destination for couples on weekends.
A fascinating feature of Newport Beach is that you relish and soak in the beauty of sunrise and sunset and explore the best views using boat tours and cruises.
Also, rent a kayak and go kayaking, or join guided kayak tours and watch out for aquatic creatures like sea whales in the area. You would also learn more about geography and history along the way.
2.2. Balboa Fun Zone
Balboa Fun Zone is an enjoyable amusement park on the Balboa Peninsula in Orange County, Newport Beach, California. It is an iconic tourist destination as it attracts around 7 million visitors every year.
The Balboa Fun Zone Ferris Wheel is a popular park ride and all-time entertainment for tourists enjoying a fun night and day on the Newport Harbor.
2.3. Balboa Island
Balboa Island is an alluring harbor in Orange County, Newport Beach, California. It is one of the best fun things to do in Orange County to enjoy an appealing day on the island.
Balboa Island offers restaurants and shops to have fun with the family. Having a tasty treat of frozen bananas on the main street or shopping for jewelry or souvenirs are a few highlights of this island.
Tourists opt for paddleboarding to explore the island or enjoy rides and other carnival games on Balboa Island. It is one of the best things to do in Orange County.
2.4. Disney California Adventure (DCA) Park
Disney California Adventure Park (DCA) is an attractive theme park and resort in Disneyland Resort, Anaheim, California, operated by the Walt Disney Company.
A fun-filled family Disney California Adventure Park resort has attractions like Star Tours, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Radiator Spring Racers, Incredicoaster, Avengers Campus, and more.
Mickey Mouse is one of the fascinating and favorite characters in Disneyland. Also, the theme park has plenty of adventures and rides for children and adults.
2.5. Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve
Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve is a nature reserve of 1,300-acre wetlands that serves as a habitat for several animal species like open water, coastal dunes, mudflats, salt marsh, freshwater marsh, seabird nesting islands, and riparian.
Apart from this, the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve has 200+ avian species of birds and 100+ varieties of plants and trees. It provides 5 miles of hiking trails and other tours. You will also find various photographers and birders inside this very popular reserve.
2.6. Knott’s Berry Farm
Knott’s Berry Farm is one of the supreme amusement parks in Orange County, Buena Park, California. Opened in 1932 with a 57-acre area, Knott’s Berry Farm is the best theme park developed from a small berry farm that seems like a place to pick fruit.
This park is a place of thrill and excitement with fun roller coaster rides like Timber Mountain Log Ride, Silver Bullett, Ghost Rider, Montezuma’s Revenge, and Xcelerator, to name a few. There are many rides for kids at Camp Snoopy.
The Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant is the foremost choice of families for delicious dining. Another exciting event in Knott’s Berry Farm is Knott’s Scary Farm during Halloween, transforming the park into a haunted mansion with scary walkways and Halloween rides.
2.7. Knott’s Soak City
Knott’s Soak City Water Park is an adventure water park adjacent to Knott’s Berry Farm in Orange County, Buena Park. The park comprises an area of 15 acres, providing attractions and activities for whole family entertainment.
It offers visitors about 23 water slides, a wave pool, a lazy river called the Sunset River, rental cabanas, hotels, and dining restaurants. Tourists can experience the utmost fun at both parks (Berry Farm and Soak City) in one visit.
2.8. Huntington Beach
Huntington Beach is one of the most impressive seashores in California. It is a lovely point to watch iconic waves. Hence, it’s called “Surf City USA.” Stretching up to 10 miles, it is a family-friendly beach for dogs, surfers, and couples. Also, there are various recreational and outdoor activities with oceanfront resorts.
Huntington Beach International Museum is an interesting museum in Orange County, Huntington Beach, California. It is a non-profit museum that preserves the historical collection of surfers, like surfboards and various other artifacts.
Another attraction at Huntington Beach is the Huntington Beach Pier. It is 1850 feet long and situated on the west side of the Pacific Coast and Main Street. Huntington Beach Pier is one of the lengthy piers on the West Coast.
Huntington City Beach is a sandy waterfront part of Huntington Beach, extending up to 3.5 miles, and is known for fishing, surfing, volleyball, swimming, and sunbathing. It is the best point to watch the California sunset.
Huntington City Beach and Huntington State Beach together comprise 6 miles in length along the shoreline.
2.9. Crystal Cove State Park
Crystal Cove State Park is one of the great and most lovely nature seashores in Orange County. It covers 2500 acres of greenery and 3.2 miles of shoreline along the Pacific Coast Highway. Biking, hiking, trekking, and other sports are basic activities that you can enjoy at Crystal Cove State Park.
There are 18 miles of hiking trails, and a well-known hike is the dog-friendly Moro Canyon hike, which is 3 miles along the shores. Park Perimeter Loop is another good trail of 9 miles encircling the park. Water freaks can explore activities offshore, underwater, and on the beach.
The Crystal Cove Historic District allows you to explore the history and get views of beach houses and around 45 vintage rustic cottages at the mouth of Los Trancos Creek, taking back to the era of the 1930s and 40s.
2.10. Orange County Zoo
Orange County Zoo is a small zoo inside Irvine Regional Park in Orange County, California. It comprises of 8-acres within the Irvine Regional Park, which is 477 acres.
The zoo is home to animals and plants of Southwest USA. The animals found in the Orange County Zoo are black bears, bald eagles, coyotes, ocelots, owls, porcupines, and mountain lions. Also, some animals in this zoo are injured, abandoned, or harmed.
Experienced guides take thorough tours inside the Orange County Zoo, introducing wildlife and educational programs for kids, toddlers, and children. Visiting the zoo is one of the fun things to do in Orange County.
2.11. Pretend City Children’s Museum
Pretend City Children’s Museum is a non-profit museum for children in Orange County, Irvine, California. It is a creative environment for kids to engage in educational and real-time world interactive tasks to enhance their skills in reading, Maths, problem-solving, teamwork activities, and more.
Young minds can develop their skills using their imagination, like going to work, visiting a physician, shopping for groceries, going to the bank, and money withdrawal from ATMs. Also, they can explore career roles like a doctor, construction worker, banker, farmer, or the profession they like.
Exploring Pretend City Children’s Museum is one of the fun things to do in Orange County for children. Children’s skill development and getting a glimpse of the future are the best benefits of visiting Pretend City Children’s Museum.
2.12. Laguna Beach
Laguna Beach is a tiny coastal shore in Orange County, California, along the scenic Pacific Coast highway, eminent for art galleries, museums, restaurants, beaches, tide pools, shopping & tours, hiking, coves, and art festivals.
The must-visit art galleries at Laguna Beach are the Cove Gallery, Kush Fine Art, and Laguna Gallery of Contemporary Art, with more than 100+ art galleries. In these galleries, there are displays of photographs and acrylic paintings.
Apart from galleries, Laguna Beach is also renowned for festivals like the Sawdust Art Festival, Festivals of Arts, or Laguna Art-a-Fair, with workshops, art classes, pottery and sculpture classes, live music, and other events on the go. Artists set forth their artwork, handicrafts, jewelry, and photographs.
Heisler Park is an attractive public park in Laguna Beach on the cliffs above the beach. Located on the Oceanfront, the park offers scenic views of Laguna Beach with walking trails and park gardens with flowers, plants, and palm trees.
2.13. Laguna Coast Wilderness Park
Laguna Coast Wilderness Park is one of the fabulous parks in San Joaquin Hills, Laguna Beach, California. It has an area of 7000 acres comprising coastal canyons, ridgeline scenic views, natural lakes, and trails.
Walking trails in this park are 40 miles through woodlands of willow, oak, and sycamore trees to hilltops and slopes. One of the beautiful hiking trails is El Morro Loop Trail.
2.14. Dana Point Harbor
Dana Point is a dockyard in South Orange County prominent for boating, dolphins, and whale watching, ferrying to Catalina Island, fishing, sailing, kayaking, and paddleboarding. Dana Point Harbor has an alternative name, “Dolphin and Whale Watching Capital of the World.“
Watching gray whales is prominent during winter, and blue whale watching is possible during summer and spring at Dana Point Harbor. Dana Point Harbor also organizes activities like shopping, yoga, waterfront dining, and other events.
2.15. Doheny State Beach
Doheny State Beach is one of the well-known clean beaches in Orange County, Dana Point, California, and a California State Park. It is a picnic location with a 5-acre plot of picnic tables for a whole family, a surfing spot, hiking, swimming, a camping site, volleyball courts, and an ideal place to watch and listen to beach waves and absorb the rays of sunshine.
Visitors can learn about marine life and biodiversity at Doheny State Beach with explanatory programs, maps, and other information on wildlife and the park from the interpretive center. The beach also offers an aquarium visit and programs for children.
2.16. San Clemente Pier
San Clemente, called “Spanish Village by the Sea,” is one of the lovely cities and a famous tourist spot in Orange County, California. San Clemente houses spectacular beaches with several shops, eateries, and other splendid views.
San Clemente Pier is a charming beach of 1300 feet that offers broad oceanic views. The other attractions at San Clemente Pier are biking along the coast trail, whale watching, and restaurants like Fisherman’s Restaurant and Bar and Pierside Kitchen & Bar.
San Clemente Pier Beach is a lovely location for surfing, swimming, watching waves and sunset, and sunbathing, stretching to four miles. Walking along the coast, views of San Clemente’s mountains and hills are visible.
2.17. Mission San Juan Capistrano
Mission San Juan Capistrano is a museum and iconic historical landmark in Orange County, San Juan Capistrano, California. Opened in 1776 by the Spanish Mission, Mission San Juan Capistrano has been recognized as the Birthplace of Orange County.
Father Lasuen built the San Juan Capistrano Mission in 1775, a place of historical, religious, educational, inspirational, and cultural significance for over 250 years.
This landmark exhibits art, a chapel, beautiful gardens, photography, filming, and a place for events and gatherings. It is an admiration by more than 3,00,000 visitors with school trips and guided or audio tours.
2.18. Shipley Nature Center
Shipley Nature Center is an alluring nature preserve set up in 1974 in Orange County, Huntington Beach, California. This 18-acre park is home to butterfly and hummingbird houses, walk trails, redwood trees, a blackbird pond, oak woodlands, meadows, Sycamores, Torrey Pines, California native animals, and plants.
The name “Shipley Nature Center” comes after Donald D. Shipley, who served as the former Mayor of Huntington Beach. The walking trails are 4,000 feet long and walk through exciting green natural habitats.
2.19. Bowers Museum
Bowers Museum is an impressive museum started in 1936 in Orange County, Santa Ana, California. It’s accredited and honored as the “Best Art Museum” in Orange County by the American Alliance of Museums.
Bowers Museum exhibits collections of over 100,000 objects and 150 diversified exhibits from far and wide. The noticeable artworks are from the Pacific Islands, Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, Ancient China, and Native Americans. The remarkable exhibits include the Jade & Gold Masterworks of Taiwan and “Her Photos” exhibits of Frida Kahlo.
Bowers Museum also highlights a botanical arcade and a first-class restaurant. Overall, this museum is a place that celebrates world history and culture through its international art.
2.20. Old Courthouse Museum
Old Courthouse Museum, or Old Orange County Courthouse, is one of the known historical sites in Orange County, Santa Ana, California. Hence, it is alternatively called SantaAna County Courthouse.
Established in 1901, it is the oldest courthouse in Southern California and developed into a museum where you can explore and learn some enticing history of the area and the state.
In an area of 30,000 square feet, it has astounding attractions like the Pacific Coast Archaeological Library, Orange County Archives, and Orange County History Center. The museum organizes various historical exhibits and interactive activities for tourists every year.
2.21. Discovery Cube Orange County
Discovery Cube Orange County is an educational science museum for children in Orange County, Santa Ana, California. It provides different exhibits, galleries, tours, research stations, and other innovative activities focused on children’s growth irrespective of age.
The notable hands-on science exhibits include space, the human body working, eating habits, water conservation, and electricity works. There are 100+ exhibits, of which “Physics Lab,” “Science of Hockey,” ” Bed of Nails,” “Aerodynamics Chamber,” and “Race to Recycle” are noteworthy.
The museum is the ultimate location for kids to work to explore their senses, imaginations, interests, and curiosity. The main three goals of this museum are Inspire, Educate, and Impact.
2.22. Fullerton Arboretum
Fullerton Arboretum is one of the enormous botanical gardens in Orange County, Fullerton, California, comprising 26 26-acre area. Arboretum refers to the greenery of trees and plants.
It includes 4000+ plant species worldwide and helps save those rare plant species from extinction. Fullerton Arboretum has a collection of plants for viewing in four defined categories: Desert, Mediterranean, Woodlands, and Cultivated.
Overall, this Arboretum is a good visit for families and children and an educational visit for students to learn about plants.
2.23. Fashion Island
Fashion Island is one of the local shopping malls in Newport Beach, California, launched in 1967. It is Orange County’s prime outdoor mall for first-class shopping and restaurants with a magnificent dining experience.
Surrounded by scenic ocean views and palm trees, Fashion Island characterizes numerous department stores, boutiques, and 30+ restaurants and dining areas. Visitors can shop their fancy brands and refresh themselves with eateries.
2.24. Lyon Air Museum
Lyon Air Museum is an aircraft museum in Orange County, Santa Ana, California. The museum emphasizes the equipment from World War II and showcases automobiles, military airplanes, vehicles, and motorcycles in an area of 30,000 square feet.
This museum also hosts the Annual Summer Car Exhibition, each year showcasing different cars based on a specified theme.
2.25. Santa Ana Zoo
The Santa Ana Zoo has its location in Prentice Park in Santa Ana, California. The zoo is 26 acres and houses animals and plants native to South and Central America. It is known for its monkey population of 50 monkeys. It also features a petting zoo with farm animals, a carousel, and a train ride.
2.26. South Coast Plaza
South Coast Plaza is a substantial regional shopping center in Orange County, Costa Mesa, California, on the West Coast of the USA. The mall features over 250 boutiques and retail shoppers of luxurious brands like Louboutin, Burberry, and Armani.
Apart from shopping, there are eateries like Tableau Kitchen and Bar, Antonello Ristorante, Seasons 52, and Corner Bakery. Moreover, the Segerstrom Center for Arts in this plaza features performing arts and live theater. It is one of the great things to do in Orange County.
2.27. The LAB Anti-Mall
The LAB Anti Mall is a modern and trendy shopping mall in Orange County, Costa Mesa, California. “LAB” is an abbreviation for “Little American Business,” remodeled from a goggle factory into a retail store.
The mall is an attraction for youngsters. It attributes several business stores, eateries, coffee shops, cafes, salons, and dining. The top stores in the mall are Buffalo Exchange, Habana Restaurant, and Urban Outfitters.
2.28. Orange County Great Park
Orange County Great Park is an excellent public park in Orange County, Irvine, California. It encompasses a 1,300-acre area with attractions like a sports and fitness complex, farmers market, art galleries, viewing pier, aviation exhibition, food & basketball courts, carousel, and walking trails.
Great Park Balloon Ride is a captivating tourist attraction in Great Park. You fly above 400 feet and get the world’s best view and landscape in an orange jumbo hot air balloon. It is one of the fascinating things to do in Orange County.
2.29. Richard Nixon Presidential Library
Richard Nixon Presidential Library is an archive and burial spot of Richard Nixon, former 37th President of the USA, and his wife, Pat Nixon. It details the President’s life, achievements, and career in an area of 9 acres.
Being a National Historic Landmark, it exhibits as a museum associated with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and the Richard Nixon Foundation to engage and immerse young kids in interactive technologies and learning.
3. Final Note
Every trip requires proper planning and research. Hopefully, the above article gives you all the answers to your question. From beaches and restaurants to parks, there is a lot to explore. So set your schedule, plan, and head on in your journey!