Orange county is often associated with beaches, theme parks, and, of course, Disneyland. People often visit this area and do not realize the number of activities they can do to make the most out of their time. When we go places, we want to make sure that we have a reason to be there. Whether you are a beach person who loves to tan and swim, an artsy-fartsy food-lover that loves to explore new snacks, or a sports enthusiast that enjoys physical activities, there is always something for you to do in the OC. If you are interested in finding out what OC has to offer, this article is for you. Let’s list down the different things to do in Orange County that you will most definitely get a kick out of.
What to Do in Orange County
Visit Beach Cities in LA
When you are in Orange County, you may want to take a day trip to the city beaches in Los Angeles, such as Venice Beach, Santa Monica, Manhattan Beach, and Malibu. The beach cities in LA offer stunning ocean views where you can enjoy taking pictures or simply walking with your partner, family, or friends.
Joshua Tree National Park
The magnificent desert landscapes of the Joshua Tree National Park has so much to offer. You can go hiking, rock climbing, and even stargazing when you visit the park, so don’t forget to drop by during your next visit. You can easily schedule a day trip to this park by setting your visiting hours, paying their entrance fees, and coordinating with the parks organization.
Have Some Wine at Temecula Valley
One of the locals’ favorite things to do in Orange County is to go wine-tasting in Temecula Valley. Besides enjoying the delectable wine mixes that they have to offer, you can also enjoy a day tour in the area, so do not have to worry about driving.
The best time to enjoy whale-watching in California is from December to April, as whales travel from Alaska to Mexico and back all year round. You can enjoy watching one of the most breathtaking wildlife migrations on Earth by visiting different areas in California, such as Newport Beach or Dana Point.
Visit Catalina Island
While you are in Orange County, swing by Catalina Island and explore the previous homeland of Native Americans known as Tongvas or Gabrielinos. Catalina island has had a rough history as it has been visited by various individuals, from smugglers and pirates to explorers and hunters. You can take a trip to the island by renting a ferry boat.
San Clemente Beach Trail
If you prefer a more laid-back activity by California’s beaches, you can take a walk along the San Clemente Beach Trail. Walking this trail allows you to enjoy the beautiful beach views and the trains passing by since it is located along the railroad tracks.
Visit Heritage Hill Historical Park
Say you take an interest in historical figures and stories of specific places that you visit. If so, you may want to take a trip to the Heritage Hill Historical Park in Orange County. This park allows you to explore historical homes that have been restored. While wandering the historic homes, you can learn about the history of Orange County.
Explore Mission San Juan Capistrano
The Mission San Juan Capistrano is also known as the “Jewel of the California Missions”. This tourist spot hosts up to 300,000 guests each year as it features one-of-a-kind artifacts, treasures, and paintings. The Mission San Juan Capistrano also allows you to witness the swallows coming back home every year in March.
Drive Along the Ortega Highway (State Route 74)
While in Orange County, if you are looking for a little extra thrill, you may want to take a ride along the United States’ most dangerous highway, which is the Ortega Highway. Give your life the extra excitement it deserves. Just remember to stay safe at all times and not to go too overboard with dangerous adventures such as this.
Visit Limestone Canyon
Are you looking for an adventure during your visit to Orange County? Try visiting the mini Grand Canyon at OC, the Limestone Canyon. You can enjoy hiking activities held every two months by the Irvine Ranch Conservancy. This tourist location in California surely deserves a spot on your bucket list.
Segerstrom Center of the Arts
Are you into theatre and arts and would rather watch a good production rather than walk around all day to different places? The Segerstrom Center of the Arts showcases various indoor performances such as Ballet recitals, Broadway productions, or a symphony performance.
Get Coffee at Portola Coffee Roasters
If you are a coffee enthusiast, you will love sipping some coffee at Portola Coffee Roasters in OC. Several baristas that used to work at this little coffee shop have now started their own coffee brewing business and have opened up coffee spots around OC as well.
Costa Mesa Art Walk
Have you ever heard of the famous Costa Mesa in Orange County that tourists and locals enjoy visiting all the time? Well, it has just the perfect offer for individuals who personally want art pieces and creations. The Costa Mesa Art Walk features art to the public and is one of the best places to visit in OC free of charge and takes place outdoors.
Indulge in CAMP
Are you a food enthusiast and love to munch on a snack during tours and adventures? Go and visit CAMP the next time you’re in town. CAMP serves boutiques and eateries that most people would be interested in.
Enjoy Tacos at Taco Maria
Feel like getting some tacos? Try visiting Taco Maria for only upscale tacos. Taco Maria has been well-known for its elegant Mexican Fare that is made out of pre-Hispanic ingredients and heirloom products.
Explore Heisler Park
While in California, you can transport yourself to Hawaii by visiting and walking through Heisler Park. The Heisler Park offers lush and tropical vibes that are sure to make you feel as if you are in a whole other place–like Hawaii!
South Coast Plaza
For all shoppers out there, unleash the shopaholic in you by taking a trip to South Coast Plaza. This is the largest shopping center on the West Coast, so shop until you drop and do not leave any item unseen!
Enjoy A Night at Sandpiper “Dirty Bird”
Looking for a place to spend the night listening to music and drinking? Go and visit Sandpiper “Dirty Bird”. You are sure to enjoy the live music and strong drinks here while enjoying the beautiful scenery of Laguna Beach.
Release the artsy-fartsy person in you and check out all the art pieces and works at the Art A Fair. You can enjoy the different art that this place has to offer and while you’re at it, take some pictures at the rainbow murals just outside.
Support Local Artists at Sawdust Art & Crafts Festival
If you are super into art and want to try something different, the Sawdust Art & Crafts Festival features the works of local artists all year round. Also, you can participate in the classes and workshops they offer!
Snorkel in Laguna Beach
If you are looking to do some fun beach activities, you can go snorkeling at Laguna Beach. A few of the best spots to go snorkeling in are Shaw’s Cove, Diver’s Cove, and the southern area of Thousand Steps Beach.
Go Hiking at Crystal Cove State Park
Enjoy the beautiful views and explore the tide pools in California by hiking through the trails at Crystal Cove State Park. This activity will surely not disappoint as Crystal Cove State Park is one of the most beautiful places in California.
Go Hiking at Laguna Coast Wilderness Park
Your hiking options are not over yet! Enjoy an adventurous day trip through the trails of the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. This hiking trail resides within one of the remaining coastal canyons in Southern California.
Sherman Library & Gardens
The Sherman Library and Gardens allow you to admire the beautiful blooming flowers in the horticultural oasis. Take pictures for the gram and appreciate the beauty of nature by visiting this place in Orange County.
Take A Trip to Balboa Island
By taking a Ferry boat ride to Balboa Island, you can enjoy your afternoon at the Fun Zone and treat yourself to some snacks at the banana stands. Spending the day at Balboa Island is such a classic Orange County activity, and you will surely love it!
Grab A Bite at Pizzeria Mozza
The Pizzeria Mozza offers some of the most delectable pizzas. The chefs of this pizzeria are the team behind the renowned Osteria Mozza located in LA. These chefs include Nancy Silverton, Mario Batali, and Joe Bastianich.
Spend the night at the Crystal Cove
Are you tired of all the exploring and hiking from the different sceneries of California? Spend the night at the Crystal Cove cottages right by the beach. These historic cottages are well-known, so be sure to reserve a hut at least five months before your visit!
Tour the Laguna Beach Art Walk
Another favorite spot of artists is the Laguna Beach Art Walk. This spot in Orange County lets you enjoy different art galleries while sipping some delicious wine. You are sure to enjoy your time here at the Laguna Beach Art Walk, especially if you enjoy the arts!
Are you looking to travel to Orange County with a couple of friends? No worries, there are several activities you can enjoy if you are traveling in a large group, and this includes renting a Duffy boat and cruising around the waters of Newport Beach.
Enjoy the Newport Back Bay Trail
Are you thinking of doing some more physical activities while touring Orange County? You can enjoy the 10.5-mile trail loop s at the Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve and Ecological Reserve. This trail is excellent for hiking, running, or biking.
Reconnect with Nature
Do you want to get back into nature and appreciate the beauty of the Earth? If so, take a trip to the Shipley Nature Center. This spot in Orange County features a butterfly house and a native plant nursery you are sure to enjoy.
World’s Largest Surfboard
One thing you can’t miss while you’re in Orange County? The world’s largest surfboard! You can see this surfboard displayed at 410-498 Olive Avenue in Huntington beach. The surfboard is said to have supported 66 people at once!
Van’s US Open of Surfing
Attending the Van’s US Open of Surfing allows you to witness some of the world’s best surfers in action. The event also offers several vendors, live music, and overall a lot of summertime fun. The Van’s US Open of Surfing will surely make your summer in Orange County worthwhile.
Learn to Surf at Huntington Beach
Are you looking for something new to try while you’re down by the beaches at Orange County? Look no further because Huntington Beach is known as Surf City USA. Huntington Beach is the best place for you to take surfing lessons.
Grab Some Vietnamese Food in Little Saigon
Are you looking for something a little different? Grab a Vietnamese snack in Little Saigon! This place has numerous restaurants that serve Vietnamese cuisines and snacks that you are sure to enjoy. Some of these include Garlic & Chives, and Brodard.
Enjoy Views at the Great Park Balloon
One of the best ways to enjoy the scenery Orange County has to offer is by going up in the air on a giant balloon. These helium-powered balloons allow you to have a 360-view of the whole coast and see all the beautiful sights California has to offer.
Hike Through the Quail Trail
The Quail Hill provides you an expansive view of Orange County. You can go hiking through the golden wheat fields that connect with dozens of other trails in the San Joaquin hills, which also connect to Crystal Cove. Snap a quick photo for the ‘gram while you’re at it!
Have A Bonfire
Beach bonfires are always a classic in Orange County. There is nothing quite like enjoying the view of the night sky, good times with friends, and maybe even jamming to some music while staying warm by the beach bonfires at Huntington Beach or Bolsa Chica.
Morning Lavender Cafe
Have you ever heard of a lavender latte? Sounds delicious, doesn’t it? You can grab yours at the Morning Lavender cafe while shopping for some pretty dresses. The cafe also serves go-to afternoon tea boxes that you can take on picnic dates whenever you like!
Pick Some Strawberries
Not too fond of all the physical activities that require too much effort? You can always go strawberry-picking at the Tanaka Farms in Orange County. This farm also lets you frolic through beautiful sunflower fields.
Enjoy some adorable macarons at the Honey and Butter cafe while you are traveling in California! Their macarons are designed to look like different kawaii or cute anime characters such as Pokemon, Sailormoon, and Totoro.
Learn About Orange County History
While you’re in Orange County, it wouldn’t hurt to learn about the history of the place. You can do so by visiting the Bowers Museum, which is the largest museum in the area, or the Old Courthouse Museum that holds over a century of historic figures and information.
Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth
Craving for something sweet after all the hiking and touring? Grab a treat at the LOOP Handcrafted Churros that have several branches all over Orange County. Snap a picture of your churro or ice cream to share on Instagram and brag about your adventures in California.
Embrace the Foodie in You!
You may be one of those people that just has to try the food in every city they go to. If you are, you may want to head down to the Anaheim Packing District. This historic Sunkist citrus packing house was turned into a dining hall for you to enjoy the different foods OC has to offer.
Fine Dining at the Ranch
After all the adventure and touring, you can have a fancy dinner at the Ranch. Order their classic decadent steak to get a true taste of the American West and enjoy the thrill of fine dining after exploring the different parts of Orange County during the day.
Disneyland and California Adventure
Embrace the child in you and go on different rides at Disneyland and California Adventure! Meet your favorite Disney characters and enjoy some Dole Whip and beignets while enjoying the fireworks by the castle of Sleeping Beauty! This place is a sure item on everyone’s bucket lists.Medieval Times Restaurant
Add some twist to your dining experience while in California by having dinner at the Medieval Times restaurant. This restaurant lets you enjoy your meals while watching some jousting and sword-fighting.
K-Pop Dance Classes
Korean pop has been a big thing all over the world lately. Korean idols perform different songs with distinct dance routines all the time. If you are a K-pop fan, you will want to try taking a K-pop dance class in the OC KPOP Academy to unleash the K-pop idol in you
Experience the Wild West
The Knott’s Berry Farm in Orange County allows you to enjoy different rides and experience what it is like to be in the Wild West. This is located in Buena Park way and you can also enjoy some delicious fried chicken at Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner restaurant.
Cruise the Pacific Coast Highway
Cruising down the Pacific Coast Highway is one of the best things you can do to enjoy the sights of Orange County. You can rent a convertible during your stay in the area, better if it has an open top, to enjoy different sights and have the breeze flow through your head.
Everyone knows that California has a lot to offer. From snacking on the tastiest meals to hiking through beautiful nature reserves, there are over a hundred things to do in Orange County. California activities are more than just Disneyland and beaches. You can make the most out of your stay in California by planning your day out in advance and managing your time well. Whether you’re traveling alone or in a group, you are sure to enjoy the different activities that OC has for you.
About The Author
As a writer at many renowned websites Krizzia Reyes has covered a wide range of topics in many industries. It has been her passion to only deliver the truth and nothing but the truth.