Orange County, famous for its citrus namesake, has a huge amount to offer for residents and tourists alike.
With a diverse population and a young, hip scene thriving, what does this gem in Southern California have to offer?
We’ll give you a glimpse behind the Orange Curtain today with a snapshot of 5 must-sees.
5 Great Places to Visit in Orange County
- Newport Beach
- Disney California Adventure Park and Disney Resort
- Heisler Park
- Carbon Canyon Regional Park
- The LAB
1) The Wedge at Newport Beach
The Wedge at Newport Beach is studded with upscale waterfront homes that cost millions yet look more like a scattering of beach cottages.
Whether you’re on OC local or you’re a surfer from overseas looking to ride some serious waves, Newport Beach sits at the far end of the Balboa Peninsula.
Those waves are truly impressive. Incoming swells bring 30-foot waves breaking just 25 feet in front of you. When the water gets really choppy, it’s commonplace to see hundreds of people relaxing on the sand and watching those waves smash in.
Whether you’re there to get amongst the action or to enjoy a picnic and the sunset, you can grab plenty of Insta-worthy snaps. Just don’t forget to take the time to disconnect and drink in the Orange County beauty all around you.
2) Disney California Adventure Park and Disney Resort
What remains to be said about the House of Mouse?
Here in Orange County, you’ll find the original Disneyland Park right next to Disney California Adventure Park. If you can’t stand the thought of Disney, run a mile. If you’re a fan – and, let’s face it, most of us are – enter the realm of fantasy and lose yourself for the day.
If the idea of queuing all day puts you off, the FASTPASS+ system (best used in tandem with MaxPass on your smart device) lets you sidestep the waiting.
The resort is zoned into themed areas – “lands” – where you’ll find rides, attractions, and shows in line with that theme. Rides range from classics like the Mad Hatter’s Tea Part with whirling teacups to more vigorous adventures like the Galaxy Mission: BREAKOUT! experience with free falling thrills and intertwining narratives.
There is, of course, plenty of Mickey. There’s also a dedicated Star Wars land where fans can pilot a virtual Millennium Falcon.
3) Heisler Park
Right in the heart of Laguna Beach, Heisler Park offers a stunning view of the California coastline and the majestic Pacific ocean.
You can take a gentle path right down to the beach. Here, the waves aren’t too rough making it the ideal spot for young swimmers to get their water wings safely.
If you’re not a swimming fan, there’s plenty to explore in the park itself. Head to the tidal pools in the coves scattered along the water. These are always filled with wildlife so you can give the kids a live nature lesson in a fun setting.
Take advantage of the BBQ grills and whip yourself up some snacks or enjoy a picnic in one of the many grassy areas Heisler Park has to offer.
4) Carbon Canyon Regional Park
For many tourists, towering redwood trees are one of the first things that spring to mind when they think of California.
In Carbon Canyon, you can see redwoods standing 100 feet tall on the mile-long nature trail. This trail is gentle enough and short enough for all the family.
When you want to get away from everything and unwind, this regional park is well worth a few hours of your time.
5) The LAB
When the LAB opened back in the 90s grunge era, it billed itself as the anti-mall.
That lowkey and downbeat aesthetic is still in evidence today. Tucked away in a secluded Orange County enclave, the LAB is easy to miss, but well worth going out of your way to find.
With the outward appearance of an industrial park, you’ll find this mall with a twist at the end of a small and shaded pathway.
The central marketplace is packed with restaurants, art galleries, and boutique shops.
There’s often live music, and occasional poetry readings. Keep your eyes peeled for seasonal festivals, too.
All businesses are locally-owned so you’ll get the true essence of Orange County at the LAB.
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