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Orange County: A SoCal Paradise
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Orange County: A SoCal Paradise

With temperatures hovering around 75 degrees year-round, the cities of Orange County are sun-soaked oases tucked between large SoCal cities.

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5 min read

March 25, 2022

With temperatures hovering around 75 degrees year-round, the cities of Orange County—or the O.C.—are sun-soaked oases tucked between the metropolises of Los Angeles and San Diego. With an array of pristine beaches, coastal trails, thrilling water sports, kid-friendly activities, and cultural attractions to choose from, visitors will find a variety of ways to stay entertained.

Things to Do in O.C. California

Beach Activities to Enjoy in Orange County

Are you up for a challenge? Riding the waves in O.C. is as good as a challenge can get.

Most O.C. visitors want to hit the beach as soon as they arrive. Who can blame them when the county has the best beaches in the region? Most beaches in this SoCal paradise offer opportunities for sunbathing, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, tide-pool exploration, and of course, surfing.

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Surfing

A mecca for surfers, the O.C. boasts several beaches with options for surfers of all skill levels. Huntington Beach is one of the more well-known  California surfing hot spots—it isn’t called “Surf City USA” for nothing; in fact, the sport’s impact on the city’s culture is evident in everything from the International Surf Museum, to the life-sized statue of legendary surfer Duke Kahanamoku, to the Surfing Walk of Fame. In Newport Beach, skilled surfers should look no further than The Wedge, famous for having the largest swell in Southern California. Meanwhile, beginners should hit Dana Point’s Doheny State Beach, the first California state beach.

Kayaking

Thanks to the beautiful views, paddling through the O.C. waters is both a water sport and an unforgettable sightseeing experience.

Kayaking is a must-try activity in O.C. California, mainly because the beaches allow for paddle sports, and because it’s best to do the shoreline sightseeing from the depths of the ocean. Laguna Main Beach might not be convenient for surfers, due to its small surfs, but it’s perfect for kayaking—it’s the only way to enjoy the beautiful rock formations and caves. Upper Newport Bay is another excellent spot to kayak and birdwatch, considering it is a protected wetland.  

Tide-pooling

There are certain places to go in Orange County where tide-pooling is the go-to activity. Thanks to the county’s rocky shorelines, tide pools here are abundant and diverse. At any given time you can see dozens of families on the shore exploring life under the sea. Little Corona has the best tide pools in all of SoCal, with plenty of rocks to explore. Sea cucumbers, sea urchins, starfish, and a variety of small fish keep visitors busy at low tide. Another terrific spot for tide-pooling is Dana Point Marine Protected Area—you’ll even have docents and volunteers to guide you during weekends.

Things to Do in Orange County outdoors

Challenge your boo to a game of golf in one of Orange County’s pristine golf courses.

Non-beachgoers can also savor the great outdoors through numerous activities. It is as if Orange County, California takes everyone’s interests into account—whether it be through having the best hiking trails in California, the most awesome golf courses, and thrilling amusement parks, O.C. has it all. 

Hiking

Laguna Beach’s Crystal Cove State Park is one of the county’s largest open spaces and natural seashores, providing visitors with 18 miles of trails through 2,400 acres of wilderness next to the Pacific Ocean. Nature lovers may want to explore Irvine, too, which has more miles of trails than any other city in the O.C. Bommer Canyon is a popular choice for hikers and bikers, offering numerous nature trails that go past sycamore trees and wildflowers. Another notable spot is the San Joaquin Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary, encompassing more than 300 acres of restored coastal wetlands that are rich with wildlife. 

Golfing

Those who love the great outdoors and enjoy an active lifestyle know that the Orange County golf courses bring them the best of both worlds. If you trust in your swing, Pelican Hill Golf Club will give you a good challenge, on both its north and south courses—the architect designed it to be a visual masterpiece and a tactical challenge at the same time. Another bucket list-worthy golf course is Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club. For all of the 18 holes, you’ll have breathtaking views of Orange County to take your focus away, and for 10 of them, you’ll have magnificent water views as well. Beautiful and challenging, Orange County’s golf courses are some of the best in Southern California. 

Visiting Theme Parks

Visit one of the O.C.s awesome theme parks and let your inner child come back to life.

Thrill-seekers, however, must head to Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park. California’s first theme park offers shows, special events, and numerous rides—including the West Coast’s tallest, fastest, and longest wooden roller coaster—inspired by the Golden State’s history and culture. Anaheim’s Disneyland Park and Disneyland California Adventure Park are other iconic destinations that will satisfy both the young and the young at heart with exciting attractions and experiences. The admission-free Balboa Fun Zone in Newport Beach is another family-friendly option, featuring a waterfront Ferris wheel, arcade games, and a nautical museum.

Shopping and Dining in Orange County

For those who just want to relax and partake in some retail therapy, the O.C. can satisfy any desire. Shopping is a given in the charming county, and so are dining, and touring the famous cultural attractions. 

Shopping

Shop in style in Orange County. The county has an array of trendy retail shops to choose from.

For an unforgettable experience, browse for gifts and artisanal goods on Forest and Ocean avenues in Laguna Beach.  If you’re all about the latest fashion trends, a visit to Lido Marina Village in Newport Beach will bring you face to face with all the latest. And if you prefer a high-end experience, South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa is the answer—here shoppers can find 250-plus stores, concierge services, and personal shoppers. 

Dining

To some shopping is the best therapy, to others dining is, and to the best, both go hand in hand. Luckily, amazing Orange County restaurants are everywhere—they can be on the beach, in your favorite shopping mall, or in your golf club of choice. No matter where you turn, you’ll find an eaterie worth trying.  Khan Saab Desi Craft Kitchen in Fullerton, Costa Mesa’s favorite French restaurant Knife Pleat,  and Tim Ho Wan, the Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant in Irvine, are all can’t-miss O.C. diners.

Enjoying The Culture


Costa Mesa is known as the “City of the Arts”, so culture buffs have their pick of shows, plays, and concerts at various venues—South Coast Repertory and Segerstrom Center For The Arts are top picks. Other cultural attractions in the O.C. include the Laguna Art Museum, Orange County Museum of Art, Huntington Beach Art Center, Noguchi Museum, and Mission San Juan Capistrano—dubbed the “Jewel of the Missions” for its architecture and lush gardens.

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