Things to Do in Orange County

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Top Things to Do in Orange County, CA

Huntington Beach Sunset
Photo © 2009 Kayte Deioma, licensed to

There are lots of interesting reasons to venture beyond the Orange Curtain to explore the many attractions in Orange County. Aside from famous theme parks, there are gorgeous beaches, world class shopping, sporting events and a thriving arts community. There are even things to do with kids.

Orange County - also known as OC, or the OC - is just south of Los Angeles County. Parts of Orange County are closer to downtown LA than some neighborhoods of the city of LA. Los Angeles and the OC have an interesting love-hate relationship. Half the population takes advantage of the vast entertainment opportunities in the neighboring county, and the other half looks disdainfully on the residents across the county line – in both directions. 

02 of 14

The Disneyland Resort in Orange County, CA

Cars Land at Disney California Adventure
Photo © 2012 Kayte Deioma, licensed to
1313 Disneyland Dr, Anaheim, CA 92802, USA
Phone +1 714-781-4636

Although people traveling from other parts of the country and the world consider the Disneyland Resort a Los Angeles attraction, as do a lot of LA locals, it's actually firmly across the Orange County line in Anaheim.

The Disneyland Resort includes Disneyland, Disney California Adventure and the Downtown Disney District.

03 of 14

Knott's Berry Farm and Soak City

Knott's Berry Farm Entrance
Photo © 2014 Kayte Deioma, licensed to
8039 Beach Blvd, Buena Park, CA 90620, USA
Phone +1 714-220-5200

Disneyland isn't the only popular theme park in Orange County. Knott's Berry Farm is another favorite for locals and visitors, with plenty of family fun and thrills for half the cost of Disneyland. The adjacent Knott's Soak City water park is a popular summer destination.


04 of 14

The Beach in Orange County

The Beach at Crystal Cove
Photo © 2004 Kayte Deioma, licensed to
Laguna Beach, CA, USA

With 40 miles of ocean-front, technically the beach is the largest attraction in Orange County, crossing through seven cities, changing personality along the way.

Learn about the many Beaches of Orange County

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05 of 14

South Coast Plaza

South Coast Plaza
Photo © 2007 Kayte Deioma, licensed to
3333 Bristol St, Costa Mesa, CA 92626, USA
Phone +1 800-782-8888

There are many amazing Places to Shop in Orange County, but the South Coast Plaza is the one where the Japanese and Chinese tour buses stop. It's Orange County's answer to Rodeo Drive, with many of the same high end designer shops in an indoor mall that crosses two city blocks, including more than 30 restaurants.

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Segerstrom Center for the Arts

Segerstrom Center for the Arts
Photo © 2013 Kayte Deioma, licensed to
600 Town Center Dr, Costa Mesa, CA 92626, USA
Phone +1 714-556-2787

If you're planning a shopping day at South Coast Plaza, you can stick around for a show in one of several theatres at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts across the street. Touring Broadway shows, ballet, family programming and other events keep their calendar full.

07 of 14

Laguna Beach Arts is a Top Orange County Attraction

Artist Michael Situ Painting at the Festival of Arts
Photo © 2014 Kayte Deioma, licensed to
606 Laguna Canyon Rd, Laguna Beach, CA 92651-1898, USA
Phone +1 949-497-2787

During the summer, Laguna Beach can almost compete with Disneyland for the number of visitors per square foot. Three simultaneous arts and crafts festivals and the famous Pageant of the Masters run all summer long.

The rest of the year, you can still visit dozens of galleries and artists studios, as well as the Laguna Art Museum. Catch a show at the Laguna Playhouse.

The beach is also one of the most scenic around.

More about the Laguna Beach Art Festivals

08 of 14

Huntington Beach - Surf City USA

Longboard Restaurant and Pub
Photo © 2009 Kayte Deioma, licensed to
Huntington Beach, CA, USA

You can surf all up and down the Orange County Coast, but Huntington Beach is known as Surf City USA for a reason. Its 8 miles of surf breaks are more accessible than some other stretches of sand, with plenty of public parking lots. Surf lessons are available and recommended for beginners to keep you from straying out of your league. For advanced surfers, stopping by local surf shops or surf bars to get the lo-down on the best breaks and intro into the local scene is a good idea.

Aside from the waves themselves, the International Surfing Museum, the Surfing Walk of Fame street plaques, the Surfer Hall of Fame with its statue of Duke Kahanamoku and bare footprints and handprints in the pavement, and a bevy of surf shops and surfer bars pay tribute to the city's favorite pastime.

The small-town feel of Main Street is giving way to more upscale dining and nightlife options around the city.

More on visiting Huntington Beach

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09 of 14

The Bowers Museum - A Top Orange County Attraction

Bowers Museum
Photo © 2008 Kayte Deioma, licensed to
2002 N Main St, Santa Ana, CA 92706-2731, USA
Phone +1 714-567-3600

The Bowers Museum in Orange County is a combination of art and history museum. They bring in world-class traveling exhibits to complement their own pre-Columbian, South Pacific, Chinese, Native American and California Art collections. 

More on Visiting the Bowers Museum

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Balboa Island and Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach

The Car Ferry to Balboa Island
Photo © 2014 Kayte Deioma, licensed to
Balboa Island, Newport Beach, CA, USA

Balboa Island is one of several islands in Newport Harbor. The other islands are purely residential, but Balboa Island has a quaint commercial zone along Marine Avenue with a few boutiques and restaurants, including a little piece of Switzerland, Basilic, one of the Most Romantic Restaurants in Orange County.

Marina Avenue is the only road onto Balboa Island from Pacific Coast Highway. You can also reach the island via the car ferry from Balboa Peninsula.

Most of the beach in Newport Beach is along Balboa Peninsula, which, being a peninsula, has limited access. During summer months, the road onto the peninsula can crawl to a standstill. That doesn't stop people from joining the throng.

The inside of the peninsula is lined with a small-boat residential marina, which is home to Newport Landing Whale Watching and Sport Fishing, Davey's Locker Whale Watching and Sport Fishing and the Balboa Fun Zone, with a few kiddie carnival rides. Boat rentals and the Catalina Flyer ferry to Catalina.

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Play a Round of Golf in Orange County

Pelican Hill Golf Course
Photo: John Connell/Getty
22800 S Pelican Hill Rd, Newport Coast, CA 92657, USA
Phone +1 844-878-0942

Orange County has some of the top golf courses in Southern California, including Pelican Hill Golf Club in Newport Beach, Monarch Beach Golf Links in Dana Point, Tustin Ranch in Tustin, Arroyo Trabuco Golf Course in Mission Viejo, to name a few.  

More LA and OC Area Golf Courses

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Explore Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve

Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve
Photo © 2013 Kayte Deioma, licensed to
18000 CA-1, Huntington Beach, CA 92648, USA
Phone +1 714-846-1114

Bird watching is the number one activity at the restored Bolsa Chica wetlands in huntington Beach, but it's also a popular place for walking and trail running. No dogs or bikes though.

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13 of 14

Attend an Event at the Honda Center

Honda Center in Anaheim
Photo © 2008 Kayte Deioma, used with permission
2695 E Katella Ave, Anaheim, CA 92806, USA
Phone +1 714-704-2400

The Honda Center in Anaheim is home to the Mighty Ducks hockey team and a line-up of top concerts and arena events like the Harlem Globetrotters and Ringling Bros Circus. 

See what's playing at the Honda Center

Check for discount tickets for the Honda Center at Goldstar or ScoreBig

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Take in a Baseball Game at Angel Stadium

Angel Stadium in Anaheim, CA
Courtesy of the Anaheim/OC VCB
2000 E Gene Autry Way, Anaheim, CA 92806, USA
Phone +1 714-940-2000

Take the whole family to a ball game at Angel Stadium, AKA the Big A, or just stop by for a photo op with the giant baseball cap. The fourth oldest active major league stadium in the country, Angel Stadium also offers stadium tours.

Check the Angels schedule.

Look for discount Angels tickets at Goldstar and ScoreBig.

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What to Do in the OC: Top Attractions in Orange County