We live in an Information Age, a fact that is clear no more so than in travel planning, with public evaluation sites fighting for our attention and social media blasts from friends and the followers. Fortunately, one group of experts goes beyond public assessment and virtual shout-outs: travel influencers. Like a finely written article in the Sunday travel section, the best bloggers and vloggers combine seasoned judgment with visuals, information, and well-placed opinions. Three of the West Coast’s premier travel bloggers recently landed in Orange County, California to dine, shop, and play. Here’s what they discovered.

Former Tufts Traveler editor and National Geographic intern Kelley Ferro has built a trusted, award-winning brand of short travel films that blend outdoor recreation with favorite foodie haunts. Her self-produced videos have appeared on many of America’s most trusted travel and news websites including CNN, Esquire, and Huffington Post.

Kelley’s first stop in Orange County was naturally the beach, where she and her husband grabbed paddleboards and took off to explore some of the 42 miles of shoreline with La Vida Laguna outfitters. Their guide not only provided instruction but also described the natural history of the Southern California coastline. After an oceanfront brunch, Kelley took in the Laguna Art Museum to add some cultural history to her natural investigations.

Blogger Jade Broadus decided to bring her young family along to discover several Orange County towns, including Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, and Costa Mesa. She tasked herself with following a comprehensive geographical itinerary without exhausting herself and her family with lengthy travel times. Jade and her family chose Huntington Beach, Surf City as their base, where an easy-going beach vibe meant casual walks by the water while the central location allowed for a multitude of family-friendly experience throughout Orange County.

Jade got the lay of the land (or water) with a Duffy Boat tour of the Newport Beach Harbor on her first morning, pointing out sea lions to her young daughter and learning about the area’s maritime and cultural histories. The Newport Beach historical Ferris wheel added a little thrill to the late morning for Jade’s family before they went for a bike ride around nearby Balboa Island.

Luxury and fashion blogger Quigley (Casey Carlson) arrived in the O.C. ready to run the boutiques dry and shop ‘til she dropped—and she did, at least according to her “Officially Quigley” blog and Instagram account. A self-professed Upper Midwesterner, Quigley still isn’t quite used to the sublime SoCal winter, even after eight years of living in L.A.

Quigley reveled in the Orange County sunshine recently when she discovered that The Spa at Pelican Hill perfectly complemented lounging by the Coliseum poolside, which, as she discovered, is one of the world’s largest circle pools!

Quigley’s meteoric Instagram rise (going from 2K to 30K followers in one calendar year!) is well-documented, so our smartphones definitely perked up when she deemed the Lido Marina Village “Most Instagram-able” in the entire O.C. After taking a dip in the pool for an impromptu modeling session, Quigley went on a store safari, gushing over Serena & Lily (“Super cute home goods”), LE LABO (“The BEST fragrances”), and Elyse Walker (“An assortment of designer clothing and accessories that will make you swoon”).

While Kelley and her husband spent most of their time biking the Irvine trails, strolling the sands, and staring out at the Pacific from their beachside hotel, they definitely made time to locate some of Orange County’s most distinctive eateries. After biking for over two hours on protected trails with e-bikes from Pedago Electric Bikes, Kelley found herself at the Anaheim Packing House, a food hall packed with an eclectic blend of grills, sweet shops, bars, and even the southern-themed Georgia’s.

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SF Gate By StoryStudio