Come for the magic of the Disneyland® Resort, stay for the beaches. Orange County has the Magic Kingdom® Theme Park and the best surfing on the West Coast.
The excellent waves and golden sands of Orange County’s beaches make it hallowed ground for surfing, but it’s no sleepy beach community. The “O.C.” as it’s affectionately called, is home to some of the most affluent suburbs in Southern California. Theme parks like the Disneyland® Park and Disney’s California Adventure® Park and Knott’s Berry Farm bring family fun, and there are plenty of sophisticated activities to be found in Orange County as well. Enjoy ballet or an orchestra at Segerstrom Center for the Arts, or inspiration of a more spiritual nature at the Crystal Cathedral. These are just a few of the diverse activities you’ll find in the picturesque coastal area covering almost 1,000 square miles (2,500 square kilometers) between Los Angeles to the north and San Diego to the south.
In picturesque Laguna Beach, you’ll have no trouble seeing why impressionist Norman St. Clair and so many other artists have found this spot so inspirational. By 1920, half the residents here were artists. Today the creative community continues to thrive. Create your own masterpieces at one of the art classes held every Friday and Saturday at Sawdust Studios at Laguna Beach.
Santa Ana offers many activities suited to families. The Bowers Museum is small in size but big on educating visitors about present and past cultures, with a special section for kids. Get hands-on at the Discovery Science Center, known for its exhibits simulating rocket flights and earthquakes. At the Santa Ana Zoo there is a special focus on monkeys thanks to a requirement by the founder of the zoo back in 1952.
A drive 30 minutes south from Santa Ana takes you to Mission San Juan Capistrano. Learn the story of this historical and religious site founded in 1776 by a Spanish Catholic priest. More history awaits at Medieval Times where you’ll be treated like royalty as you feast at a banquet and watch jousting tournaments.
Beaches are what Orange County does best, so make like a local and head to one of the glorious stretches of soft sand and sky-blue water. Huntington Beach’s nickname “Surf City U.S.A.” says it all, while its wealthy neighbor, Newport Beach, is home to shopping paradise, Fantasy Island. If you prefer simple pleasures, walk the trails of Crystal Cove State Park. Here the views of the coastline offer perfect photo opportunities for your California adventure.