20 Best Things to Do in Orange County, CA

Orange County, CA
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Beautiful beaches, gorgeous hikes, and breathtaking sunsets make Orange County one of the best places in California.

Besides its captivating natural attractions, the county is also a hub for entertainment.

It's home to many museums, a sports stadium, and exciting theme parks that include Disneyland and Knott's Berry Farm.

A perfect place to visit with the whole family, Orange County has something to offer to tourists of all ages.

Ready to start planning your trip?

These are the best things to do in Orange County, California:

Visit the Award-Winning Bowers Museum

Entryway of Bowers Museum
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The Bowers Museum is one of the most acclaimed museums in America, making it one of the top tourist attractions of Orange County.

The American Alliance of Museums has awarded the museum full credit for its fantastic collections.

Teeth necklace from the 17th century displayed in Bowers Museum
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Established in 1936, the Bowers Museum still stands proudly, preserving California's valuable art and culture.

The museum receives huge crowds every day and occasionally hosts special exhibitions.

Polynesian daggers exhibit in Bowers Museum
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Live the Beach Life at Crystal Cove State Park

The beach of Crystal Cove State Park
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One of the best beaches in Orange County, Crystal Cove State Park extends across 3 miles.

If you want some peace amid the hustle and bustle of the Californian lifestyle, this beach is the best place to spend a peaceful day.

A picnic table under a shed near the beach of Crystal Cove State Park
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There are a lot of adventurous hiking trails here.

Want to feel the sea wind against your face?

You can go cycling along the beach, too.

A person riding a bike along Crystal Cove State Park
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Enjoy the Scenic El Moro Canyon Loop Trail

Scenic view from El Moro Canyon Loop Trail
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Orange County is an incredibly beautiful place.

The El Moro Canyon Loop Trail is one of the many places that prove this.

Located beside Laguna Beach, the location is quite exotic.

View of the Pacific ocean from El Moro Canyon Loop Trail
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The trail goes around in loops, making it more fun for those who want to trek along.

Even if you don’t want to walk, you can hire a horse and venture along the trail on horseback.

The scenic trail offers views of the beautiful ocean, and you will see flowers blooming all around you.

Have Fun at Huntington City Beach

Surfing at Huntington City Beach
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You might know Huntington City Beach as California's "Surf Capital."

It is one of the most incredible beaches in Orange County, if not the very best.

Want to play a game of beach volleyball?

Lifeguard station of Huntington City Beach
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This is the best place to do that.

They say Californian sunsets are something that you can never forget in your entire life, and the Huntington City Beach sunset is a prime example.

In addition to the sunset views, the beach serves some of the most incredible views at night.

Gorgeous sunset over Huntington City Beach
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Witness the Magic of Shipley Nature Center

Direction sign of Shipley Nature Center
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Do you want to be closer to the magical world of nature?

Shipley Nature Center, located close to Huntington Beach, provides you the opportunity to do so.

There are plenty of attractions that you could check out at Shipley Nature Center.

Entrance gates of Shipley Nature Center
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For starters, there's a lovely butterfly house.

Want to go on a hike?

There are plenty trails to choose from here.

If you're visiting during the summer, there are a lot of festivals, concerts, and other events that are celebrated here.

Pathway lined with trees in Shipley Nature Center
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Watch a Baseball Game at Angel Stadium of Anaheim

Exterior of Angels Baseball stadium
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Want to catch a live baseball game?

Head over to Angel Stadium of Anaheim and catch an exciting Los Angeles Angels game.

A baseball game held in Angel Stadium of Anaheim
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Thousands of people crowd the stadium during baseball season.

It's an exciting experience that you will not get to enjoy elsewhere.

If you happen to be visiting during baseball season, don't forget to book your tickets in advance, as they sell out incredibly quickly.

Aerial view of Angel Stadium of Anaheim's field
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Spend an Exciting Day at Disneyland

People at Disneyland
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Disneyland is a place that does not require any introduction.

It's a name that brings smiles to adults' faces and makes kids scream in delight.

Disneyland is the ultimate tourist attraction in the OC.

The theme park is often described as a wonderland, and there's no place in the world that's quite as magical.

Exterior of sleeping beauty's castle in Disneyland
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People of all ages rush to this place, and there's never a day when Disneyland is empty.

Along with the old classics, there are new rides and attractions added to the mix every now and then.

If you've already been to Disneyland, you certainly won't regret visiting again, for there might be new things for you to enjoy.

First-timer?

Don't waste any more time—go and book your tickets to the happiest place on earth.

Jolly Holiday bakery cafe in Disneyland
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Take the Kids to Knott’s Berry Farm

Ride at Knott’s Berry Farm
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Knott’s Berry Farm was an ordinary farm once upon a time.

While it was just a farm in the 1920s, more attractions were added to the property in the years that followed.

Eventually it became the full-blown amusement park that people know it to be today.

You can easily spend an entire day enjoying the place with your friends or family.

Rollercoaster ride in Knott’s Berry Farm
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The theme park is massive, with a lot of rides for you to check out.

They also recreated a ghost town, which is quite a thrilling place to explore.

Tired after a long day of theme park fun?

Eat at their very own in-house diner, where they serve organic and homemade delicious goodies.

Supreme scream ride in Knott’s Berry Farm
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Spot Dolphins at Doheny State Park

Big wave crash unto shore in Doheny State Park
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Doheny State Park is another fantastic beach to visit in Orange County.

It's home to diverse flora and fauna.

For this reason, the land is protected and well-maintained.

People playing volleyball on Doheny State Beach
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Here, you get to see a whole lot of fish, such as bass and starfish.

If you look closely enough, you can also see dolphins jumping in and out of the water.

You can spot hummingbirds and pelicans here, too.

Colorful sunset over Doheny State beach
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Witness the Historic Mission San Juan Capistrano

Exterior of Mission San Juan Capistrano
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Mission San Juan Capistrano was established by Father Lasuen in 1775 and is considered the birthplace of Orange County.

It served as an educational institution, teaching the ancient people the ways of life for 240 years.

Entryway and bells of Mission San Juan Capistrano
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The mission played an essential role in the preservation and conservation of its ideals.

Not just a church, Mission San Juan Capistrano is also a historical landmark and museum.

It comprises a picturesque garden as well.

The beautiful garden of Mission San Juan Capistrano
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Tour Orange County's Best Breweries

The OC is blessed with some of the best breweries in California.

As there are so many delicious flavors to choose from, it's a challenge to be able to taste all of them.

This being said, it's highly recommended to join a brewery tour, so you don't miss out on all the OC's best breweries.

OC Brewery Tours is known to offer some of the top brewery tours in the county.

They know all the best places and their best spirits.

The tour packages are quite affordable, considering the amount of fun you will have.

Pay a Visit to the Home of Richard Nixon

Exterior of Richard Nixon's house
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Orange County served as the birthplace of the 37th President of America, Richard Nixon.

There is a museum entirely dedicated to this great man.

The Richard Nixon Library and Museum contains all of his life’s works and documents.

If you go through the permanent collection, you will be able to see more than 70 artifacts and displays.

Exterior of Richard Nixon's library and museum
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They also allow you to visit Nixon's actual birthplace.

It is a beautiful farm, and you'll get to see all the original items they were able to preserve.

Learn more about President Nixon's personal life, the rights he fought for, the things he decided, and even his wrongdoings.

His whole life story is beautifully portrayed here.

History plaque of Richard Nixon's house
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Go Surfing at Salt Creek Beach Park

Scenic view of Salt Creek Beach Park
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How about surfing in the blue ocean?

Head over to Salt Creek Beach Park, the epitome of true Californian beach life.

Located beside the Pacific Coast Highway, the beach is extremely popular among locals as well as tourists.

Sunset over Salt Creek Beach Park
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Beach lovers favor this beach since there are many water-related activities to enjoy here.

Surfers shouldn't miss out on an opportunity to ride along the waves, as this is one of the best surfing points in California.

There is also a reef beside the beach, where you can partake in more adventure activities.

Aerial view of Salt Creek Beach Park
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Ride the Waves at the Wedge

Surfing at Wedge in Orange County
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Want to go surfing in an artificial harbor?

In Orange County, it's possible.

The Newport Harbor used to be prone to storms, and so a lot of accidents took place in the area during such calamities.

To address this, alterations were made to a rock jetty in the harbor.

Body surfers on the waves of the Wedge
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The Wedge is a by-product of the renovations that took place here.

Now, the Wedge features some of the most powerful waves you'll find in California.

The waves can go as high as 30 feet.

You might recognize Wedge, as it has been featured in a lot of Hollywood action movies.

Surfer riding the Wedge's waves
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Fall in Love with Nature at the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve

Footbridge at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve
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Have you ever visited a coastal estuary?

Orange County is home to one of the biggest coastal estuaries in the United States: the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve.

You can see a lot of animals on this land.

Flock of birds over Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve's wetland
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If you are a bird lover, Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve will be like a slice of heaven for you, as it's home to the biggest number of bird species in the Orange County area.

It is said that more than 200 species of birds reside in the reserve.

Besides spotting wildlife, you can also explore the reserve's hiking trails.

Super bloom at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve
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See Vintage Aircraft at the Lyon Air Museum

An aircraft displayed in Lyon Air Museum

Founded by Major General William Lyon in 2009, the museum's collection focuses mainly on World War II-era aircraft, vehicles, and associated artifacts.

The Lyon Air Museum has a collection of famous Globe War II-era aircraft and automobiles worldwide.

A car displayed in Lyon Air Museum
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The displays are both visually appealing and thought-provoking.

It also explains how airplanes and military vehicles worked in the 20th century and what they were utilized for.

In addition to seeing the Lyon Air Museum's displays, you may also catch a screening of educational World War II movie clips.

Aircraft displayed in Lyon Air Museum
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Have a Blast at Adventure City

Adventure City is a theme park for the whole family, with rides, games, and other fun activities.

There are attractions for all ages, hobbies, and interests.

Enjoy small rollercoasters and climbing walls, as well as an arcade and party stations in this amusement park.

Theme park favorites like ice cream, corn dogs, churros, pizza, and more are available for customers to savor after a long day of fun.

Shop with a View at Irvine Spectrum Center

A ferris wheel at Irvine Spectrum Center
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The Irvine Company owns Irvine Spectrum Center.

Between 1995 and 2006, it was constructed as an outdoor retail center.

Irvine Spectrum Center is one of California's most unique shopping destinations.

It's a great spot to relax, have fun, and take in the beautiful scenery.

Shops along Irvine Spectrum Center
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One of the most incredible things to do in Orange County at night is to visit the center.

The Grand Wheel can be seen from a considerable distance at night, and the site is constantly crowded.

See a live performance at the mall's movie theater.

Check out the Hello Kitty Café after you've finished your meal for custard tarts, macarons, and other delicious treats.

Irvine Spectrum Center's plaza
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Satisfy Your Curiosity at the Discovery Cube Orange County

Aerial view of Discovery Cube Orange County
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Formerly known as the Taco Bell Discovery Center Scientific Center, the Discovery Cube Orange County is a must-see attraction.

This science museum is dedicated to enhancing young visitors' educational experience.

Exterior of Discovery Cube Orange County
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It encourages hands-on learning in STEM programs.

As a parent or guardian, you're sure to have a blast since it's one of the best things to do here with kids.

Visit the Dino Quest to discover more about ancient species and their lives before extinction.

Front entrance of Discovery Cube Orange County
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Surround Yourself with Unique Plants at the Fullerton Arboretum

Welcome sign of Fullerton Arboretum
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California State University, Fullerton faculty, and students collaborated in 1976 to create the Fullerton Arboretum, which aims to preserve species of plants that are now extinct.

The arboretum is a great site to learn about the history of agriculture since it has more than 4000 species, many of which are uncommon.

Exterior of a victorian house at Fullerton Arboretum
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As an added bonus, the Fullerton Arboretum is a fantastic venue for nature-related activities at a reasonable price.

Cycling and bicycling are two examples of these pursuits.

Take a stroll around the arboretum, which is committed to preserving the agricultural heritage of Orange County.

Desert collection of Fullerton Arboretum
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Final Thoughts

Orange County is where you can experience the quintessential Southern California lifestyle, with its casual elegance, magnificent beaches, iconic amusement parks, and infinite possibilities for fun in the sun or cultural discovery.

Orange County, California, a recognized historic landmark, is definitely worth visiting.