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34 Things to Do in Orange County for a Magical Time 

Orange county, OC

Orange County is more than just a collection of suburbs.

The area boasts lovely beaches and quaint coastal communities with stunning harbors, art galleries, and tree-lined bays that shade fine yachts.

The OC is home to some of Southern California’s most renowned landmarks, from surf towns along the Pacific Coast to Anaheim’s endless amusement parks.

Orange County, California, is an excellent destination for a quick break.

Here are 34 things you must do in this gorgeous coastal town. So pack your bags and prepare to have a wonderful time in the sun!

Contents

General Things to do in Orange County

1. Explore Downtown Disney District

 Downtown Disney District

The best thing about Downtown Disney District is that there’s something for everyone! 

If you’re looking for some fun, check out the World of Disney store, where you can find all your favorite Disney merchandise. 

Or take a ride on the Disneyland Railroad and see the park from a whole new perspective. 

For something a little more low-key, enjoy a leisurely stroll down the Dining, Shopping & Entertainment Promenade, where you’ll find plenty of places to eat, shop, and be entertained.

Disneyland Hotel, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa, and Disney’s Paradise Pier are all connected by Downtown Disney

No matter what you’re looking for, you’re sure to find it in Downtown Disney District!

2. Learn About Nature at the Fullerton Arboretum 

Fullerton Arboretum

The Fullerton Arboretum is a 26-acre botanical garden that is home to more than 4,000 different kinds of plants. 

The Arboretum also has a variety of gardens, including a rose garden, an herb garden, and a Native California Garden. 

In addition, the Arboretum contains an orange grove, which is one of the largest collections of citrus trees in the world

You can take part in a number of activities, including guided tours, educational programs, and picnicking.

The Fullerton Arboretum is an enjoyable place to spend an afternoon exploring the many different kinds of plants that call California home.

3. Bike Around Balboa Island

Balboa Island

Balboa Island is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. 

Located in Newport Beach, the island is home to a variety of shops, restaurants, and attractions. 

One of the most popular things to do on Balboa Island is to take a walk or ride a bike around the perimeter of the island. 

The island is also home to a number of parks, perfect for picnicking or playing games

You can also enjoy the many art galleries and museums located on the island. And of course, no visit to Balboa Island would be complete without taking a ride on the famous Ferris wheel. 

With so much to see and do, it’s no wonder that Balboa Island is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Orange County.

4. Tour the Animal Enclosures at Santa Ana Zoo

Santa Ana Zoo

The Santa Ana Zoo is a great place to visit if you’re looking for a fun and educational experience. 

The zoo is home to over 150 animals, including lions, tigers, and bears

You can also find reptiles, birds, and amphibians. In addition to the animals, the zoo has a variety of interactive exhibits. 

For example, you can participate in a “behind the scenes” tour of the animal enclosures. The zoo also offers educational programs for both children and adults.

 If you’re looking for a unique way to spend a day, the Santa Ana Zoo is definitely worth a visit.

5. Enjoy a Nature Walk at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve 

Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve

If you find yourself in the Orange County area and are looking for something to do, why not check out the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve? 

This unique wetland is home to a variety of plants and animals, making it a perfect place for a nature walk. 

You can also go bird watching, as the reserve is home to over 200 different species of birds

And if you’re feeling adventurous, you can even go kayaking or stand-up paddle boarding in the reserve. 

So whether you’re looking for a peaceful nature hike or an adrenaline-pumping water activity, the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve has something for everyone.

6. Picnic Among the Birds at Shipley Nature Center

Shipley Nature Center

Shipley Nature Center is a beautiful oasis located in Huntington Beach, California. 

The nature center is home to a variety of plant and animal life, including many endangered species.

You can explore the nature center’s grounds through a network of hiking trails, and you can also enjoy picnicking and bird watching

The nature center also offers educational programs for all ages, making it the perfect place to learn about the local environment. 

In addition to its natural beauty, Shipley Nature Center is also a great place to spend time with family and friends. 

Whether you’re looking for a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of city life or an exciting adventure in nature, Shipley Nature Center is sure to disappoint.

7. Pamper Yourself at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

Need a magical vacation? Then look no further than the Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at Disneyland Resort. 

This luxurious AAA Five-Diamond Award-winning hotel will make all your dreams come true. 

From the moment you step into the grand lobby, with its soaring ceilings and massive fireplace, you’ll feel like you’re in a fairytale. 

The expansive grounds include Alice in Wonderland-themed gardens, a sparkling pool, and a private entrance to Disney California Adventure Park

And when it’s time to retire to your room, you’ll find yourself transported to an elegant oasis decorated with rich woods and plush furnishings. 

So what are you waiting for? Book your stay at the Grand Californian Hotel & Spa today!

8. Discover Hiking Trails at Oak Canyon Nature Center

Oak Canyon Nature Center

One of the best places to explore nature in all its splendor is the Oak Canyon Nature Center in Anaheim, California. 

The center comprises 160 acres of biologically diverse land, including riparian woodland, oak savanna, and chaparral habitats. 

You can explore the many hiking trails, go birdwatching, or take part in one of the many educational programs offered by the center. 

Whether you’re a nature lover or just looking for a place to get away from it all, the Oak Canyon Nature Center is sure to please.

9. Feed Your Inner Artist at Laguna Beach Art Galleries

Oak Canyon Nature Center

Set upon a picturesque coastline, Laguna Beach is home to a renowned art scene that includes a variety of galleries showcasing works by both local and international artists. 

A visit to the Laguna Beach Art Galleries is a must for any art lover, as it provides the perfect opportunity to view a wide range of styles and genres in one place

From contemporary to traditional, there is something for everyone at the Laguna Beach Art Galleries. 

In addition, the galleries offer a unique opportunity to meet and interact with the artists themselves, many of whom are happy to discuss their work with visitors. 

Whether you are an experienced art collector or simply someone who appreciates beauty, a visit to the Laguna Beach Art Galleries is sure to be an enjoyable and enlightening experience.

10. Catch a Baseball Game at the Iconic Angel’s Stadium

Angel's Stadium

There’s something about watching a baseball game at the historic Angel’s Stadium in Anaheim that just feels like summertime. 

Maybe it’s the warm California sun or the smell of hot dogs in the air, but whatever it is, it’s definitely worth checking out. 

Even if you’re not a big baseball fan, there’s plenty to keep you entertained at the stadium

Between watching the players on the field and catching up with friends over some good food and drinks, you’re sure to have a great time. 

So whether you’re a die-hard fan or just looking for a fun summer night out, be sure to head to Angel’s Stadium in Anaheim for a truly unforgettable experience.

Amusement Parks in Orange County

11. Soak Up the Magic at Disneyland Park

Disneyland Park

So you’re finally going to Disneyland! You’ve waited your whole life for this moment, and you want to make sure you make the most of it. 

Here are a few things you should definitely do while you’re there: First, go on all the classic rides like Pirates of the Caribbean and Space Mountain.

Second, make sure to get your picture taken in front of the castle! 

And third, don’t forget to eat all the delicious food; Mickey-shaped pretzels, churros, and Dole Whip are all must-haves. 

Fourth, don’t forget to pick up some souvenirs for your friends and family back home. 

Fifth, and most importantly, have the time of your life! Disneyland is the happiest place on Earth for a reason, so soak up all the magic and enjoy every minute.

12. Let Your Inner Child Run Wild at Disneyland Resort

Disneyland Resort

Disneyland Resort in Anaheim is the perfect place to let your inner child loose. 

With so many things to do, it can be hard to know where to start. Here are a few of our favorite activities:

If you’re looking for thrills, head to one of the resort’s world-famous theme parks, Disneyland, or Disney California Adventure. 

From classic rides like the Matterhorn Bobsleds to newer attractions like Guardians of the Galaxy; Mission: Breakout!, there’s something for everyone.

For a more relaxing experience, take a stroll down Main Street, U.S.A., or explore one of the resort’s many hotels and restaurants. 

Don’t forget to grab a treat from one of the iconic ice cream parlors!

And of course, no visit to Disneyland Resort would be complete without meeting some of your favorite Disney characters

Keep your eyes peeled—you never know who you might run into!

13. Experience the Magnificent Knott’s Berry Farm

Knott's Berry Farm

Knott’s Berry Farm is a theme park located in Buena Park, California.

The park features a variety of rides, shows, and attractions based on the history and culture of the region. 

You can explore the Old West in Ghost Town, ride roller coasters in the Boardwalk area, or take a scenic train ride through the Wilderness Territory. 

There is also a water park, an arcade, and a variety of shops and restaurants. Whether you’re looking for thrills or just a fun day out, Knott’s Berry Farm is sure to please.

14. Beat the Heat at Knott’s Soak City

Knott's Soak City

Knott’s Soak City in Buena Park is the perfect place to beat the heat this summer! 

With over 20 rides and attractions, there’s something for everyone. From tube slides and water coasters to a lazy river and wave pool, there’s no shortage of ways to cool off.

And if you’re looking for a little adventure, be sure to check out the Soak City Thunderdome, where you can race your friends down a 300-foot waterslide. 

When you’re ready for a break, grab a bite to eat at one of the park’s many restaurants or take a stroll through the on-site shops. 

With so much to see and do, Knott’s Soak City is the perfect place to make a splash this summer!

15. Tour Orange County Parks at Irvine Park Railroad

Irvine Park Railroad

Irvine Park Railroad is the perfect place for a day of family fun! 

The park features a variety of rides and attractions, including a train that takes you on a tour of the beautiful Orange County parks.

There are also carousels, Ferris wheels, and other rides for children of all ages. 

In addition, the park offers a variety of food options, so everyone is sure to find something to enjoy. 

With so much to see and do, Irvine Park Railroad is the perfect place to spend a day with the family.

16. Enter a Fantasy Paradise at Disney California Adventure Park

Disney California Adventure Park

California Adventure is one of the most popular theme parks in the world. 

Every year, millions of people flock to the park to experience its unique blend of rides, shows, and attractions. 

Located in Anaheim, California, the park is home to some of the most iconic Disney characters and stories

Guests can explore different lands, such as Cars Land, Grizzly Peak, and Pixar Pier. 

There are also plenty of things to do for kids of all ages, making California Adventure the perfect place for a family vacation. 

So if you’re looking for a fun-filled destination, be sure to add California Adventure park to your list!

17. Feel the Nostalgia at Balboa Fun Zone

Balboa Fun Zone

The Balboa Fun Zone is a historic amusement park located in Newport Beach, California. 

The park first opened in 1936 and was a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. 

Today, the park is home to a variety of rides, games, and shops. 

You can take a spin on the Ferris wheel, ride the carousel, or play arcade games

The Fun Zone also features a number of restaurants, including an ice cream parlor and a pizzeria. 

With its seaside setting and nostalgic atmosphere, the Balboa Fun Zone is a great place to spend a day with family and friends.

Parks in Orange County

18. Enjoy the Splendor of Crystal Cove State Park

Crystal Cove State Park

Crystal Cove State Park is a must-visit for anyone who loves the outdoors. 

The 3.2 miles of coastline offer stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, and the 2,000 acres of backcountry provide plenty of opportunities for hiking, horseback riding, and picnicking. 

Crystal Cove is also home to a variety of wildlife, including dolphins, seals, and marine birds

You can take part in ranger-led programs to learn more about the park’s ecology, or simply enjoy the quiet beauty of this special place. 

Whether you’re looking for a day of adventure or a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life, Crystal Cove State Park is sure to deliver.

19. Go Fishing at Eisenhower Park

Eisenhower Park

Eisenhower Park is a beautiful Orange County gem. 

Situated atop rolling hills, the park offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside. 

You can enjoy hiking and biking trails, picnic areas, and a playground. There is also a lake for fishing and boating. 

Eisenhower Park is the perfect place to spend a day exploring nature

With its scenic views and abundant activities, the park is sure to please visitors of all ages.

20. Relax in Nature at Santiago Oaks Regional Park

Santiago Oaks Regional Park

Santiago Oaks Regional Park is an oasis of wilderness in the heart of Orange County. 

With over 1,000 acres of oak-studded hillsides, hiking and biking trails, and a sparkling creek, the park is a perfect place to escape city life

The park also offers a variety of educational programs, including nature walks, bird watching, and stargazing. 

Whether you’re looking for a day of adventure or a peaceful stroll in nature, Santiago Oaks Regional Park is sure to please.

21. Watch the Sunset at Heisler Park

Heisler Park

Heisler Park is one of the most popular destinations in Laguna Beach.

With sweeping ocean views, dramatic cliffs, and a variety of plant life, the park provides a breathtaking setting for a variety of activities.

You can stroll along the paths, have a picnic on the lawn, or simply sit and enjoy the views. 

Heisler Park is also a popular spot for whale watching, as the migratory route of gray whales intersects with the California coastline.

In addition, the park is home to a variety of birds, including pelicans, seagulls, and cormorants. 

With so much to see and do, Heisler Park is a must-visit destination for anyone visiting Laguna Beach.

22. Wander Around The Great Park 

The Great Park 

The Great Park in Irvine is a must-see for any nature lover. 

Spanning over 1,000 acres, the park is home to a variety of wildlife, including countless species of birds, mammals, and reptiles

There are also miles of hiking and biking trails, making it the perfect place to get some fresh air and exercise. 

In addition, the park features a number of educational exhibits, providing you with an opportunity to learn about the local ecology. 

Whether you’re looking to take a hike or simply soak up some sun, the Great Park is sure to provide an enjoyable experience.

23. Spend a Day With family at Irvine Regional Park

Irvine Regional Park

Irvine Regional Park is one of the best places to visit in Orange County. 

The park is huge, and there is so much to do. You can go hiking, biking, horseback riding, or even just take a leisurely walk. 

The scenery is beautiful, and you can really get a sense of nature

The park also has a playground, picnic areas, and a fishing lake. 

It’s a great place to spend a day with family or friends. 

And best of all, it’s free! So if you’re ever in Orange County, be sure to check out Irvine Regional Park.

Museums in Orange County 

24. Explore the Mission Grounds of San Juan Capistrano 

Mission San Juan Capistrano

Mission San Juan Capistrano was founded in 1776, making it one of the oldest missions in California. 

The mission was named for Saint John of Capistrano, and it was originally established as a place for the Luiseño people to convert to Christianity.

Today, the mission is a museum that is open to the public. 

You can explore the grounds of the mission, which include a church, a cemetery, and some of the original buildings

The museum also has exhibits on the history of the mission and the Native American people who lived there. 

If you’re interested in California history, then a visit to the Mission San Juan Capistrano Museum is a must.

 25. Visit Richard Nixon Library & Museum

Richard Nixon Library & Museum

The Richard Nixon Library & Museum in Yorba Linda is a must-see for any history buff. 

Located on the site of President Nixon’s birth home, the museum offers a comprehensive look at his life and presidency. 

You can explore exhibits on Nixon’s early life, his time in politics, and his infamous Watergate scandal. 

The museum also houses the world’s largest collection of presidential papers, providing an invaluable resource for researchers

Whether you’re a fan of Nixon or not, the Richard Nixon Library & Museum is an insightful and educational experience.

26. Go Back in Time at Bowers Museum

Bowers Museum

The Bowers Museum is one of the premier museums in Southern California. 

Located in Santa Ana, the museum is home to an impressive collection of art and artifacts from around the world. 

Highlights of the collection include ancient Egyptian sarcophagi, Chinese jade carvings, and Pre-Columbian pottery

In addition to its permanent collection, the Bowers Museum also frequently hosts traveling exhibitions. 

Recent exhibitions have featured the works of Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, and Rembrandt. The Bowers Museum is a must-see for anyone interested in art or history.

27. Take the Kids to Pretend City Children’s Museum

Pretend City Children’s Museum is a one-of-a-kind educational facility in Irvine, California. 

The museum is designed to look like a small city, complete with streets, buildings, and parks

You can explore different parts of the city, including a grocery store, a post office, and a fire station. 

The museum also offers a variety of interactive exhibits and programs. 

Pretend City Children’s Museum is the perfect place to take kids of all ages for a day of learning and fun.

28. Explore the Wonders of Our Universe at Discovery Cube 

Discovery Cube 

Discovery Cube Orange County is a must-see for any family looking for an educational and fun day out. 

With over 100 hands-on exhibits, there is something for everyone. 

The whole family can learn about the science of vaccines, explore a replica of a NASA space shuttle, and even race cars down a 30-foot track. And that’s just the beginning! 

Other highlights include the Dinosaur Quest exhibit, where you can search for fossils and learn about these amazing creatures, and the Young Explorer’s Gallery, designed specifically for toddlers and young children. 

Discovery Cube Orange County is also home to a state-of-the-art planetarium and an IMAX theater, making it the perfect place to spend a day or two exploring the wonders of our universe.

29. Admire the Architecture of the Old Orange County Courthouse

the Old Orange County Courthouse

The Old Orange County Courthouse is a must-see for anyone visiting Santa Ana. 

Built in 1901, the courthouse is a beautiful example of Mission Revival architecture.

This granite and sandstone structure has traditionally housed County administration. The 30,000-square-foot structure has been renovated to look much as it did at the beginning of the century. 

Today, the courthouse houses a museum that tells the story of the trial, as well as the history of Orange County. 

You can also take a self-guided tour of the courthouse, which is a great way to learn about its fascinating past.

Beaches in Orange County 

30. Go Swimming at Huntington State Beach

Huntington State Beach

Huntington State Beach is a must-visit for any beach lover. 

Located in Orange County, this beautiful state beach stretches for over 2 miles along the coast

You can enjoy a variety of activities such as swimming, sunbathing, fishing, and kayaking. 

There are also several restaurants and cafes located nearby, making it the perfect spot to spend a day with family or friends. 

Best of all, Huntington State Beach is just a short drive from Los Angeles, making it the perfect getaway for city dwellers looking to escape the hustle and bustle. 

So, whether you’re a local looking for a day trip or a tourist looking to explore everything that California has to offer, be sure to add Huntington State Beach to your list.

31. Catch Some Waves at Doheny State Beach

Doheny State Beach

Doheny State Beach is one of the most beautiful places in Dana Point, and it’s well worth a visit. 

The beach is situated on a stretch of coastline that offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, and it’s perfect for a day of swimming, sunbathing, or just relaxing. 

There are also plenty of amenities nearby, including restaurants, shops, and hotels. 

Whether you’re looking for a place to enjoy the great outdoors or just want to soak up some sun, Doheny State Beach is the perfect destination.

 32. Watch the Sunset at San Clemente Pier Beach

San Clemente Pier Beach

San Clemente Pier is one of the most popular beaches in California, and it’s easy to see why. 

The pier offers stunning views of the ocean, and the beach is perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and surfing

The best time to visit is during the summer months when the weather is warm and sunny. 

However, even during the off-season, San Clemente Pier beach is still a beautiful place to spend a day. 

So whether you’re looking for a place to relax or an adventure, be sure to add San Clemente Pier Beach to your list!

33. Take in the Scenery of Bolsa Chica State Beach

Bolsa Chica State Beach

Bolsa Chica State Beach is a great place to visit if you’re looking for a little bit of everything. 

The beach has a wide variety of activities to keep you occupied, including swimming, sunbathing, fishing, and hiking. 

There’s also a variety of different shops and restaurants nearby, so you can grab a bite to eat or do some shopping in between activities. 

So whether you’re looking for a fun-filled day at the beach or a chance to learn about Orange County’s history, Bolsa Chica State Beach is the perfect place to visit.

34. Enjoy a Day of Fun at Corona Del Mar State Beach 

Corona Del Mar State Beach 

Corona Del Mar State Beach is one of the best places to visit in Orange County. 

The beach park offers beautiful scenery, with a sandy beach that stretches for miles. 

There are also plenty of activities to keep visitors entertained, including swimming, sunbathing, fishing, and picnicking. 

The park is also home to a variety of wildlife, making it a great place for nature lovers. 

In addition, the beach is located close to many popular tourist attractions, such as Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm. 

Corona Del Mar State Beach is the perfect place to enjoy a day of fun in the sun.