The Best Things to Do in Orange County, California

There is so much to see in Southern California. With its year-round warm weather and beautiful beaches, the Golden State’s abundance of attractions and activities can make planning your next vacation easy.

One of my favorite destinations in the United States is Orange County, California. This area is full of spectacular beaches, natural wonders, luxury resorts, and amusement parks. If you are ready to travel to Southern California any time soon, these things to do in Orange County can’t be beat. 

Whale Watching at Dana Point Harbor

Dana Point Harbor is the perfect place for all things aquatic. Whether you like to parasail, paddleboard, dive, or fish, Dana Point has the perfect activity for you. One of Dana Point’s more unique opportunities is found in their whale watching ocean adventures and tours. Known as the “Whale Watching Capital of the World,” don’t miss the opportunity to come face-to-face with Dana Point’s whales or dolphins in the underwater viewing pods provided by some whale watching boats.

Catalina Island

You can’t run out of things to do in Orange County. Jump on the Catalina Express at Dana Point Harbor to discover Catalina Island, which offers unique adventures such as bison tours, ziplining, and other aerial adventures. On Catalina Island, enjoy activities such as biking trips, days spent on quiet beaches, and hikes through Catalina’s botanic garden.

Downtown Disney

If you’re traveling with kids or just love all things Disney, consider stopping by the Downtown Disney District in Anaheim. While Disney parks will not be fully open in the near future, Downtown Disney is open for themed outdoor dining, select retail shopping, and for anyone who wants to enjoy their beautifully-lit promenade at nighttime.

Heisler Park

Heisler Park is the perfect place to enjoy the true beauty of Southern California. Enjoy access to several gorgeous beaches featuring works of modern art, coves and tide pools, large grass lawns for picnicking, and unbeatable views of the sparkling Pacific Ocean. Exit the gardens of Heisler Park to step onto the legendary Laguna Beach, or even rent a surfboard to hang ten on some easy waves.

Chino Hills State Park

At the foot of the Santa Ana Mountains lies a beautiful destination for lovers of all things nature. Walk loop trails around the green canyons of Chino Hills State Park, or go horseback riding through the biodiverse landscape that houses thousands of plant and animal species within the wildlife refuge. Visit during the daytime, or camp overnight for just $30 per vehicle.

Crystal Cove State Park

All beaches, coastal terraces, and hiking trails at Crystal Cove State Park are currently open. In Crystal Cove’s unique tide pools, take the opportunity to observe the unique underwater creatures of the California coast. While it may seem like there are fewer things to do in Orange County because of COVID, the California Shelter in Place order allows outdoor activities that contribute to positive mental health and well-being. To keep your expeditions safe and fun, make sure to wear a mask and remain at least 6 feet apart from other outdoor adventurers.

The Canals at Huntington Beach

While your trip to Venice, Italy may have to wait another year, you can still sail through the canals of Huntington Harbor at Huntington Beach. Paddle through the city of waterfront homes and manmade islands, or visit its warm and shallow beaches.

Newport Beach

If you visit the oceanfront town of Newport Beach, don’t forget to stop by Balboa Island, the home of gourmet restaurants, personal electric boat rentals, and a quiet escape from the chaos of the mainland. Visit popular retailers, specialty boutiques, or even book ahead to enjoy activities such as private beer or wine tours.

Whatever you choose to do in Orange County, there’s no doubt you’ll enjoy the gorgeous weather, friendly people, and stunning beauty of one of California’s most attractive regions.

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