Nestled just south of Los Angeles and north of San Diego, Orange County in Southern California is best known as being home to the happiest place on earth: Disneyland. But there are more jewels in the crown of Orange County than just that. With over 42 miles of beaches, 34 cities, and near-perfect weather all year round, this paradise is a treasure trove of charming ways to be entertained and exciting places to visit. But don’t take our word for it. We asked three of our favorite travel bloggers where to go and what to see when heading to this SoCal paradise.
For Family-Friendly Fun:
Jade Broadus, who heads up the incredible travel blog Vagabond3, has the perfect itinerary for you if you’re heading to the OC with the kiddos in tow. She and her constant companions—husband Bobby and adorable daughter Augustine—had a whirlwind family adventure in Orange County that included something for everyone.
Their first stop was Newport Beach, where they hopped onto the kid-friendly Duffy Boat tour of the harbor, which is dotted with seven small man-made islands. The tour of the harbor provides families with a fascinating in-depth history of the area. It’s also a great way to spot sea lions sunning on the docks! If your family likes a more active start to the day, Broadus recommends biking around Balboa Island.
Next up for the Broadus family was a short drive to Irvine, where they headed to Pretend City, a museum that offers kids “the world in a nutshell.” Designed to teach children ages 1 through 5 how the real world works, this pint-sized museum lets kids use their imaginations. Your kid can dress up like a pilot, plant a garden, or steer their own ship as they learn more about the world around them.
No kid can visit Orange County without stopping for a visit to Disneyland in Anaheim. Broadus suggests getting there early to beat the lines, which are much shorter before lunchtime. Her top tip is to buy the Max Pass and download the app. With it, you can get Fast Passes to your favorite rides, identify key attractions, and get all your character photos automatically synced to your phone!
As culture gurus and with a background in theater studies, a visit to Orange County’s premier performing arts center was a must. Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa presents an annual Broadway season from September to May, including an extensive family series. Plus, with the opening of the new Julianne and George Argyros Plaza, a calendar of free interactive and entertaining events are scheduled all year long. A great way to experience the City of the Arts™ is to follow the Costa Mesa Art Walk, with a series of one-of-a-kind sculptures and public art spaces including the scenic outdoor sculpture garden California Scenario.
The perfect way to end the day is with a Waterfront Adventures bonfire concessionaire package in Huntington Beach, where a beach butler sets up a bonfire, complete with firewood, comfy chairs and s’mores. Take a family photo as the sun sets over the iconic Surf City USA pier and 10 miles of beachfront to capture the final moments of your excellent OC vacation. You can check out Jade’s trip and list of recommendations on her blog here!
For the Outdoor Adventurer, Food Lover, and Culture Vulture:
If you’re looking for an active adventure, delicious food, and a healthy dose of culture, blogger Kelley Ferro has the itinerary for you. An explorer at heart, Kelley’s vlog makes it clear that she relishes the chance to travel anywhere and everywhere.
Kelley recommends starting your OC experience with a paddleboarding adventure with a little help from La Vida Laguna in Laguna Beach. Paddleboarding is the fastest-growing water sport in the world, and when you try your hand at it with the help of La Vida Laguna’s guides, you get not only info on the water, wildlife, and history of Laguna Beach but also gorgeous panoramic views of Orange County’s coastline.
The ocean isn’t the only way to enjoy an outdoor experience in Orange County. Kelley also recommends renting an electric bike from Pedego Electric Bikes in Irvine and setting off on one of the many bike trails that pepper the area. You can see a range of scenery from mountain tops to tree-covered trails to perfectly manicured OC neighborhoods.
SF Gate By StoryStudio