I am home from Hawaii and I have tons of posts coming your way! While I am getting those ready I figured I’d share another guest post from a fellow blogger Priya from Priya Creates! Thanks Priya!
Best Things to Do in Orange County
Hello there! It’s Priya from Priya Creates and I’m writing this post from sunny Southern California where I live. For any of those of you who are planning a trip in the near future or are dreaming of a future trip to this beautiful area, this blog post is for you! It’s an amazing place to live and an even better place to visit (trying to buy a house here can be crazy!).
Usually, people think of Disneyland when they think of Orange County, CA but there is so much more to this area. It’s sunny 284 days out of the year and there is so much to do! Everything from antique stores to beautiful beaches there is no end to things to do here that are not theme parks! I love my share of Disneyland, but sometimes you want to skip the lines and just enjoy nature and the culture of an area. Below are my top spots (I love this town so much, these are not in any particular order) that are must see spots, whether it’s a whole day or a visit for dinner. These areas won’t disappoint.
I’m a little partial to the Orange Plaza since it’s the original center of town where my husband and I grew up so I had to start my list here. Originally it was filled with just antique stores but in the last ten years new unique restaurants and bars have been popping up left and right. Eateries like The Pie Hole (sweet and savory pies), A La Minute (nitrogen blasted ice cream – my favorite!), Watson’s (an all-American restaurant that was once a turn of the century pharmacy) and so many more I can’t list them all. Stop here for an afternoon to walk the streets and experience the food. Experience a city favorite at the end of summer during Labor Day weekend when the streets are blocked off and fill with international foods and bands at the International Street Fair.
Anaheim Packing House
Originally built in the early 1900’s as a citrus packing house for the many local orange farmers, this is one of the few remaining packing houses left in Orange County. In 2014 it was reimagined into a giant food hall. Full of unique eateries from everything from coffee roasters to gourmet popsicles and Indian food this is a must see for a lunch or dinner. If you are in Orange County visiting some of those theme parks this is a nice departure from themed meals.
Insider Tip: This area gets extremely busy at night and on the weekends, pay the cost of valet or take an uber over. Also, there is so many different unique eateries, don’t be afraid to share.
Blalboa Fun Zone in Newport Beach
Located at the end of Newport Beach this should be at the top of your must see list. Spending an entire day here is easy. Rent a surrey bike to cruise the boardwalk and visit the pier. Take a boat to nearby Catalina Island (a day trip in itself). Visit Balboa Island on the dollar ferry or just hang out at the fun zone riding the ferris wheel eating corn dogs. This is California at it’s best.
Located between Newport Beach and Corona Del Mar this is one of my favorite places to visit when I truly want to relax, Crystal Cove is beautiful. There are 23 vintage cottages that you can rent through the state and take you back in time when things were simpler. At the back of the beach there are stairs that lead to the top of the cliff from the top you can enjoy stunning views at Ruby’s Shake Shack. Originally built in 1945 you can now enjoy burgers and shakes and enjoy the beautiful views of the beach.
I know, another beach! But Laguna beach is so much more than just a beach. This upscale downtown is filled with art galleries, amazing restaurants, beautiful hotels and Saturday farmer’s markets. Along with all the upscale shopping is the quirky artsy side of Laguna. Home to the annual Pageant of the Masters where works of art come alive and the permanent Saw Dust Festival coming to Laguna will give you an appreciation for everything from local handmade art to more well-known artists such as Wyland and Seuss. An amazing way to spend a day or a weekend, Laguna is a must see spot.
Huntington Beach Pier
Home to the annual US Open a legendary surf competition coming to Huntington is the epitome of visiting southern California. With a Ruby’s restaurant at the end of the pier, surf shops at the boardwalk, a large running path for riding rented bikes, this local surf spot is a really fun area to hang out. Don’t forget to wear your sunscreen since you could easily forget about time passing when you are relaxing at the beach.
San Juan Capistrano
Built around one of the 21 California Missions, San Juan Capistrano is a small city full of history, small restaurants and wine bars. With the train running right through the town you could enjoy a quick trip from San Diego or Los Angeles as well as a short drive from the center of Orange County. There is a local petting zoo which is so much fun, I took my kids there many times while they were growing up, within walking distance from the train. What a fun way to spend a day!
Orange County Parks
Not exactly one location, but many, orange county parks can be so fun and different to visit. For those nature lovers that want to experience more to California than just the beaches, Orange County has more than 24 county parks that are so different that you can’t just visit one. Irvine Regional Park is huge with lots of walking paths and a lake in the center. Santiago Oaks and Peters Canyon are great for mountain bike riding and hiking. And you can view the ocean from Laguna Coast Wilderness Park and Dana Point Harbor. Not to be left out and not to be missed are all the smaller city parks that host Concerts in the Park one day a week all through summer.
And that wraps up my top spots to visit in Orange County California. Once you throw in Los Angeles and San Diego you could easily spend the entire summer here and not run out of things to do. So, put the OC on your travel to-do’s and you won’t regret it and you will be dreaming about coming back over and over.