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By Caroline July 2, What comes to mind when you think of Orange County? The OC offers something for everyone, whether you are looking to hit the beach in one of the beach cities such as Laguna BeachSan Clementeor Huntington Beach, experiencing the arts and the foodie scene in Costa Mesathe historic charm of San Juan Capistrano Things to do in oc, nature spots in Irvine, and more! I grew up and spent the first 23 years of my life in the LA area, and then lived in San Francisco for over a decade.
I never really saw myself living in the OC, mostly because aside from the beaches, it all seemed very cookie-cutter and kinda boring to me it just always seemed to be the complete opposite of what SF was. And then I fell in love with a boy from Orange County, and ended up flying there every other weekend. Spending so much time there, I came to realize that the OC had so much to offer and that there were so many amazing things to do in Orange County.
Almost two years later, I find myself making the move to the OC. In celebration, I came up with this Orange County bucket list, filled with over yes, — see, told ya there was a ton of cool things to do in Orange County! From beaches, hikes, foodie spots, shopping, and the arts, here are the things to add to your Orange County bucket list!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase or booking, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Cruise down the Pacific Coast Highway preferably in an open-top convertible — not only one of the best things to do in Orange County, but also one of the quintessential things to do in California!
Afterwards, eat a fried chicken dinner at Mrs. Watch some Things to do in oc and sword-fighting while eating dinner at Medieval Times. Buena Park. Visit the Fullerton Arboretuma acre botanical garden featuring plants from all around the world. Visit the redwoods at Carbon Canyon Regional Park. This is also where Nixon and his wife, Pat, are buried. Yorba Linda. Order the omakase at Sushi Noguchi, known to have some of the best sushi in all of Orange County. Embrace your inner kid at Disneyland and California Adventure. Ride all the rides, say hi to your favorite Disney characters, eat some Dole Whip and beignets, and catch the fireworks over the Sleeping Beauty Castle!
A definitely must on any Orange County bucket list! Stroll through the lively Downtown Disney district. Watch the Anaheim Ducks play hockey at the Honda Center. Attend the gospel brunch and feast on some Southern food or see a show at the House of Blues. Enjoy a decadent steak and get a true taste of the America West in a fine dining setting at the Ranch. Sip on some cocktails inside the Blind Rabbita secret speakeasy. Sample experimental barrel-aged and sour craft beer at the Bruery. You can also tour the breweries in the area on this craft beer tour! Sample all the eats at the Anaheim Packing DistrictThings to do in oc historic Sunkist citrus packing house turned dining hall.
One of the best things to do in Orange County for foodies! Grab a fried chicken and waffle sandwich at Bruxie. The historic sandstone and granite courthouse holds more than a century of history inside! Santa Ana. Check out the hands-on exhibits at the Discovery Cube. Grab a lavender latte and shop for some pretty dresses at Morning Lavender …or have the prettiest afternoon tea! They even have the prettiest to-go afternoon tea boxes which are absolutely perfect for a picnic. Go on a guided full moon hike from the Irvine Ranch Conservancy.
Pick your own strawberries and frolic through the sunflower fields at Tanaka Farms. Ride the Giant Wheel at the Irvine Spectrum, and enjoy the views from the top. During the holidays, you can ice skate in front of it and it is one of the best seasonal things to do in Orange County! Grub on some Korean-Mexican fusion Things to do in oc at Urban Seoul. Get a plate of Japanese curry at Coco Ichibanya. The katsu curry here is the best! Walk through the sunflower fields and pick your own flowers at Hana Field by Tanaka Farms.
Costa Mesa. Explore the UC Irvine Arboretum, featuring Slurp on a bowl of udon or soba at Fukuda.
Get a combination with a rice bowl! Hike through the golden wheat fields and enjoy the expansive views at Quail Hill. Grub on some Vietnamese food in Little Saigon. There are lots of amazing Vietnamese restaurants, but one of my absolute favorites is Brodard — be sure to order the nem nuong cuon, or pork spring rolls.
Have a beach bonfire — Huntington Beach or Bolsa Chica are both great spots for this. This has always been one of my favorite things to do in Orange County since high school! Take a surf lesson in Huntington Beach. Huntington Beach. Visit the International Surfing Museum. Watch a movie on the beach at Beachfront Cinema. Go bird watching in the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve. It is displayed at Olive Ave. Get closer to nature at the Shipley Nature Centerwhich has many trails, a butterfly house, and a native plant nursery, among other attractions.
Explore the Newport Back Bay Trail. The Grab your friends and rent a duffy boat to cruise around the waters of Newport Beach. Newport Beach. Grab a post-hike brunch at the Beachcomber Cafe or a cocktail at the Things to do in oc Bar. Eat fresh seafood at Bear Flag Fish Co. Take a ferry to Balboa Island, and spend the afternoon at the Fun Zone. One of the iconic things to do in Orange County! Take a gondola ride through the canals of Newport Harbor. Taste some wine and enjoy a cheese plate at the Orange Coast Winery. Eat some Things to do in oc rolls at Slapfish.
They also have some totally Instagram-worthy seasonal installations and displays!
Corona del Mar. Hike through the trails at Crystal Cove State Parkenjoy some epic coastal views, and explore the tide pools. Stay overnight at the Crystal Cove cottages. These historic cottages are super charming and right on the beach. Reservations are released 6 months in advance. Laguna Beach. Browse through the art galleries and sip on some wine at the Laguna Beach Art Walkheld every first Thursday of the month. Check out the California art at the Laguna Art Museumthe oldest cultural institution in the area. Check out all the art at the Art A Fair — and snap some photos in front of the rainbow murals outside one of the best photo spots in town!
See art come to life at the ant of Things to do in oc Masters. Hike through the trails of the Laguna Coast Wilderness Parkwhich lies within one of the only remaining coastal canyons in Southern California. The tower looks straight out of a fairy tale and is one of the most unique Orange County attractions!
Stay the night at the Montage …or just grab a drink at the Lobby Lounge or on the patio of Mosaic. Taste some wines at the Laguna Canyon Winery. Enjoy upscale cuisine with an ocean view at Driftwood Kitchen. Eat some fresh, upscale Things to do in oc food on the beach at Las Brisas — and order some mimosas! Photos by: s of Travel. Enjoy the ocean views and watch the sunset with a drink in hand at the Rooftop Lounge. Walk through and enjoy the views at Heisler Park.
Eat some upscale tacos at Taco Mariawhich have earned many accolades for their elegant, modern Mexican fare, made from pre-Hispanic ingredients and heirloom products. Admire the minimalist sculptures, intended to represent California, in the Noguchi Garden. Many baristas who once worked at Portola have also gone on to open some of the other great coffee spots in OC as well!Things to do in oc
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25 Best Things to Do in Orange County, CA — Top Activities & Places to Go!