Everything you imagine from a true California experience comes together when visiting Orange County.
Some of the most impressive cities in the state come together to make one of the most impressive counties.
This is a place for adventure and exploration.
It’s a place to let go and rediscover your youthful side.
This list will show you the best attractions, points of interest and fun activities in the OC.
Things To Do In Orange County
1. Huntington City Beach
Huntington City Beach is part of Huntington Beach, one of the four cities that comprise Orange County (or the OC).
Known as “Surf City USA,” Huntington Beach is one of the most impressive points of interest for any visit to Orange County, and Huntington City Beach might be the best beach.
Going to the beach takes on a whole new meaning at Huntington City Beach.
You can have fun in the sand and surf like never before. Amazing waves can be ridden if you’re into surfing.
It’s also the perfect setting for a game of beach volleyball.
The best time to visit Huntington City Beach might be at night, just as the sun is doing down.
That’s because it’s home to Huntington Beach Pier. Here you can catch a California sunset that will always stick with you.
Address: 315 Pacific Coast Hwy, Main Street & Pacific Coast Highway, Huntington Beach, CA 92648-5161, USA
If there weren’t enough reasons to visit Orange County, surely “The Happiest Place On Earth” is enough to convince you.
This legendary theme park in Anaheim has more than earned its reputation.
A trip with your family can be a highlight of your summer.
At Disneyland, you’ll experience some of the most thrilling and magical attractions, including Splash Mountain, Star Tours, and Space Mountain.
You can also meet some of your favorite characters, like Mickey Mouse.
It’s the kind of place that can make you feel positively enchanted.
To make getting around easier, consider booking a stay at a Disneyland Resort Hotel.
Give yourself plenty of time to plan so you get to see everything you want to.
Your experience at the Magic Kingdom should be one you look back on and smile.
Address: 1313 Disneyland Dr, Anaheim, CA 92802, USA
3. El Moro Canyon Loop Trail
California is one of the most scenic regions in all of the United States, and Orange County doesn’t disappoint in that regard.
The OC is filled with hiking trails that will keep your blood flowing and give you absolutely marvelous sites.
El Moro Canyon Loop Trail is one of the best places to go for any hiking enthusiast.
Located close to Laguna Beach, El Moro has a loop design, making it easy to get around.
At five miles in length, it’s not terribly difficult to navigate.
You can take a horse down this trail, or simply do the trek on foot.
Make sure that you have a good pair of hiking shoes and are guarded against the elements.
While on your hike, you can observe breathtaking wildflowers and the brilliant blue of the ocean.
The next time someone tells you to “take a hike,” you can see that as anything but an insult.
Address: 8471 N Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651, USA
4. Shipley Nature Center
One of the most magical things about Orange County is how it never lets you forget about your connection to nature.
There’s a lot of conservation and variety in exhibitions.
The Shipley Nature Center helps to connect anyone who wants to be closer to nature to the world around them.
Located in Huntington Beach, Shipley Nature Center features all kinds of attractions.
There are trails, a butterfly house, and a native plant nursery.
There’s even a maypole to dance around.
A great deal of emphasis is placed on culture at this OC nature center.
During the summer, you can catch events like live music.
It’s one of the best places to go for getting a better feel for all that nature has to offer.
Address: 17851 Goldenwest St, Huntington Beach, CA 92647, USA
5. Bowers Museum
There’s hardly a place finer to experience culture than a museum, and there’s hardly a more impressive museum in Orange County than the Bowers Museum.
Operating in its current form since 1992, the Bowers Museum has been designated as “The Best Museum in Orange County” for sixteen straight years by Orange County Register readers.
After a day spent here, you’ll likely agree with their adoration.
At the Bowers Museum is a deep reverence for what cultures, at home and abroad, have provided through their art.
Among the current works being displayed is art from the Pacific Islands, Ancient China, and Native Americans.
When you visit this museum, you can learn so much about what makes each culture distinct and beautiful.
If you have a glamorous event planned, this is the place in The OC to host it.
The Bowers Museum makes for a sublime wedding, bar/bat mitzvah, or any other event setting.
There’s so much history in these walls, and you should try to add your own.
Address: 2002 N Main St, Santa Ana, CA 92706, USA
Visiting other parts of California? Check out our lists detailing the top things to do in Palm Springs & things to do in San Diego!
6. Doheny State Beach
You might think that being surrounded by beaches would cause you to become fairly numb to the sound of waves crashing upon sand or the sight of the sun setting on the beach.
However, the beaches in Orange County are an entirely different, astounding beach.
Doheny State Beach gives you an in-person education like no other. At this OC beach, you can learn all about biodiversity.
This is namely in terms of the animals that live around here, soaring through the air and swimming through the sea.
There are dolphins, sea bass, and starfish to be found. You might also see pelicans, hummingbirds, and Egyptian geese.
Doheny State Park not only gives you a chance to see and learn about amazing animal species, but it also teaches all about the importance of conservation.
If we want to keep our oceans and land teeming with wildlife, we must respect them.
Events like a post-4th of July beach cleanup help show that Doheny State Park cares.
Address: 25300 Dana Point Harbor Dr, Dana Point, CA 92629, USA
7. Discovery Cube Orange County
Part of going on a family vacation should be letting your children be amazed by the world around them.
Their minds are developing, and you need to do your best to guide them in the right direction.
At Discovery Cube Orange County, you can help your children to see just how much potential their minds have.
One of the best attractions for families in the OC, Discovery Cube recently marked twenty years of innovation and excitement.
Among the attractions are ones that teach about space, water conservation, and good eating habits.
They’re designed in a way that lets your kids have fun and learn together.
Great events are offered, like the “Night at the Cube” overnight stay or the 50th anniversary of the first Apollo moon landing.
It’s a place of joy and delight. Best of all, it’s also a place of fantastic learning.
Address: 2500 N Main St, Santa Ana, CA 92705, USA
8. Old Courthouse Museum
Want to get a glimpse of Orange County history?
The Old Courthouse Museum is a place just for that.
When you visit California’s most historic courthouse, you can see all kinds of exhibits that show just how much has happened in the OC and around the state.
There’s more than a century of history in the Old Courthouse Museum.
Preservation has been done to give it a vintage, but never faded look.
With its sandstone and granite design, the structure Old Courthouse Museum is a solid as all the indispensable information inside.
Among the amazing things at this museum are the Orange County Archives, the Orange County History Center, and the Pacific Coast Archaeological Society’s library.
It’s one of the most special things to do if you have any regard for history.
Attractions like these show how important a community’s history is.
Address: 211 W Santa Ana Blvd, Santa Ana, CA 92701, USA
Traveling to other parts of California? Check out our lists detailing the top things to do in Sacramento & the best things to do in San Francisco!
9. Mission San Juan Capistrano
Religious devotion has inspired some of the greatest attractions in all of the world, from the Vatican to Notre Dame Cathedral.
Less-touted but no less worthy of admiration is Mission San Juan Capistrano.
Located in Orange County, this mission has close to 250 years of touching visitors.
Whether or not you’re religious or subscribe to Christian doctrine, you can get something out of your time at Mission San Juan Capistrano.
There are tours, either with a guide or through audio.
There’s also art on display.
Hosting events at this mission can also make your special moments feel even more special.
When you’re at this OC mission, it’s best to just stand back and look at the colonial architecture and how it sits against a cloudless blue sky.
When Father Lasuen first built the mission in 1775, he likely had no idea that it would be standing to this day.
You can show your faith or simply show admiration for beauty by visiting Mission San Juan Capistrano.
Address: 26801 Ortega Hwy, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675, USA
10. Orange County Zoo
The OC should be on the bucket list of anyone who loves animals, and that includes a stop at the Orange County Zoo.
All kinds of animals can be seen here, making it one of the best things to do in OC.
You can get close to species you might’ve previously only seen on a video screen.
Although this isn’t a particularly large zoo in terms of size, it’s definitely large in terms of heart.
Many of the animals here have been brought in after abandonment or serious harm.
The Orange County Zoo has given them a home that lets them know that there are people who care.
Some of the animals you can see here include mountain lions, coyotes, and bald eagles.
There are also activities for families, like feeding animals at the zoo’s barnyard.
You can have such a special time at this zoo.
Address: 1 Irvine Park Rd, Orange, CA 92869, USA
Going for an adventurous road trip around California? You’ll love our lists detailing the best things to do in San Jose & fun things to do in Monterey!
11. Laguna Beach Art Galleries
One of the best places to visit in California is Laguna Beach.
This area is full of galleries that tickle your eyes and mind.
There are also multiple art festivals that happen during the summer.
Galleries at Laguna Beach include the Laguna Gallery of Contemporary Art, Cove Gallery, and Kush Fine Art.
At these Orange County galleries, you’ll see works rendered in photographs, acrylics, and other mediums to provide the most resonant messages possible.
The artistic world is not separate from our natural world, and both must be preserved.
A weekend trip to the OC should include a stop at one of the Laguna art festivals.
You can’t pass up on a chance to see things like Laguna Art-a-Fair, Festival of Arts, or the Sawdust Art and Craft Festival.
Along with the art, there are also great activities, like workshops and events like live music to enjoy.
Address: 381 Forest Avenue, Laguna Beach, CA 92651, USA
Planning a road trip around California? Don’t forget to check out some of the things to do in Santa Barbara & things to do in LA!
12. Laguna Coast Wilderness Park
There are many places to visit in Orange County for experiencing nature, but Laguna Coast Wilderness Park is one of the best.
There are all kinds of hiking opportunities as well as opportunities to see some of the best California wilderness.
It’s not every day that you get to see a red-tailed hawk or a long-tailed weasel, among other animals.
How you choose to traverse this stunning OC park is not limited.
You could hike, take a bike, or even ride a horse.
Should you want to learn about the area, such as the biodiversity, you can take a tour.
As part of coastal canyons, Laguna Coast Wilderness Park lets you see some amazing formations.
Nature is here for us, and we need to make the most of it.
The activities in Laguna Coast Natural Park are perfect for staying active and mindful.
One of the best things to do in OC is getting a crew together for a weekend trip to Laguna Coast Wilderness Park.
Address: 18751 Laguna Canyon Rd, Laguna Beach, CA 92651, USA
13. The Ranch Restaurant
It might not be viewed the same as Texas, but California is out west, and that heritage has greatly influenced its culture.
The Ranch restaurant isn’t just a great place to eat in Orange County.
It’s also a great place to visit for a true taste of the American West.
This OC restaurant is on the first floor of the Extron Electronics building.
Here, you’ll have one of the heartiest meals of your life, with decadent steak and seafood just some of the options.
You can pair your meal with some extraordinary wine.
There are dozens upon dozens of fine wines to choose from.
No restaurant is complete without the right atmosphere.
The Ranch is one of the finest restaurants in all of California not only because of its food.
Space is used to maximum effectiveness, with installations like a bar with a marble finish that will make you feel so much elegance.
Address: 1025 E Ball Rd #101A, Anaheim, CA 92805, USA
14. Tide Pools
When you’re in the OC, you need to go to the pools.
We don’t just mean the ones at your hotel.
While those are lots of fun, you need to also check out the tide pools.
These are some of the most special natural sites in all of California.
Tide pools are areas of the ocean that are their own collection of seawater.
Found in shallow areas at low tide, these tide pools are easy to access.
A good deal of these can be found at Laguna Beach.
Some amazing marine animals can be found at these tide pools, including sea urchins, mussels, and hermit crabs.
You must show proper respect for these points of interest and not cause any harm to these species.
You should also be careful and not go into the tide pools during high-tide.
15. Crystal Cove State Park
You could spend an entire OC visit checking out various beaches and leave satisfied.
Crystal Cove State Park is another one of the county’s gems.
It’s several miles of beach and a couple hundred thousand acres of land.
It all adds up to something you have to see to believe.
There are so many great activities to be enjoyed out on and under the water at Crystal Cove State Park.
You can take a kayak or surfboard out or even go scuba diving.
The park’s website tracks tide levels, helping you make sure that your fun doesn’t take a bad turn.
If you prefer to stay closer to the shore, there are still all kinds of activities.
Some of the most fun things to do in Orange County can be found on dry land at Crystal Cove State Park.
You can go for a hike, bike ride, or even camp out.
Address: 8471 N Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651, USA
16. Pretend City Children’s Museum
Imagination is key for any child’s development.
At Pretend City Children’s Museum in Irvine, your kids can embrace their childhood while also getting an idea about what the future could have for them.
Your kids are growing up before your eyes, and this is the perfect place to realize that.
The different exhibits at this OC museum give your kids things to try out in terms of possible careers and what it might be like when they grow up.
They’ll get a feel of what it’s like to go to the bank or grocery store.
They can also take a glance at possible careers, such as being a doctor.
Going to the Pretend City Children’s Museum can be a highlight of your visit.
This is one of the best destinations for families with young children.
It’s one of the best places in the whole county when it comes to inspiring our youngest citizens.
Address: 29 Hubble, Irvine, CA 92618, USA
17. OC Brewery Tours
Today, microbreweries seem like they’re everywhere.
This isn’t far behind, as it has all kinds of breweries with distinct beers to try.
The breweries on this tour are must-visit destinations for anyone who loves beer.
There are so many breweries, and it can be hard to decide.
The great thing about OC Brewery Tours is that you don’t have to choose one.
These tours tie together visits to multiple breweries in the region.
Some of the destinations on these tours include Beachwood Brewing, Lost Winds, and All American Ale Works.
You can visit between two and three breweries.
On a weekend visit, there’s no better way to enjoy beer and the region’s culture.
18. Fullerton Arboretum
Some of the most impressive foliage can be found in the OC.
Fullerton Arboretum is one of the best places to visit for stunning views of trees and other plant life.
You’ll be looking high and low at all the diverse plant life.
When you think of endangered species, you might typically think of animals.
However, there are also all kinds of plants that are under threat of leaving our planet.
Part of what makes Fullerton Arboretum so important is that it provides a home for some of these plants.
You don’t need to be a botanist to get anything out of Fullerton Arboretum.
If any of your senses are working, be they your sense of sight, smell, or touch, you can get something out of this experience.
Arboretums are so greatly important to keeping nature thriving, and visiting Fullerton should be one of the highlights of your trip.
Address: 1900 Associated Rd, Fullerton, CA 92831, USA
19. Orange County Great Park
With a name like this, it had better live up to its name. Orange County Great Park is indeed one of the finest parks in all of California.
It has so many attractions and activities that chances are you may wonder how any other park back home could possibly compare.
Among the things you check out at this OC park include the sports complex, the farmers market, and the carousel.
To get a spectacular view, line up for the Great Park Balloon and observe the land from hundreds of feet up in the air.
Events like outdoor movies and gardening lessons also keep bringing people into Orange County Great Park.
If you want to play a game of pickup soccer, give your dog some exercise, or lie on the grass, losing yourself in a novel, this park is where to do it.
You can enjoy the splendor of nature as well as others who are getting fresh air.
This is what a visit to California is all about.
Address: 8000 Great Park Boulevard, Irvine, CA 92618, USA
20. Salt Creek Beach Park
Whoever first looked at a 20-foot wave and decided that they had to ride it was either brave, crazy, or both.
However, surfing is an integral part of California culture.
Salt Creek Beach Park is one of the best places in the state to catch waves.
The waves on this OC beach might be bigger than any you’ve ever seen.
Experienced surfers will find themselves enthralled by the chance to “hang ten” here.
If you’re not surfing-incline, you have fun doing things like swimming or boogie boarding.
Out of the water, you can catch some rays.
You can also have a picnic or have fun tossing a Frisbee around.
You just need to make sure you don’t aim the Frisbee too close to the water.
Address: 33333 Pacific Coast Hwy, Dana Point, CA 92629, USA
Visiting other parts of California? Check out some of the fun things to do in Long Beach!
21. Knott’s Berry Farm
Though its name might sound like a place to pluck some fresh fruit, Knott’s Berry Farm is actually one of the best theme parks in the country.
Since its inception as an actual farm, it’s become a place for thrills and smiles.
A day spent at Knott’s Berry Farm is never a day wasted.
Some of the fun things to do at Knott’s Berry Farm includes going on the various rides, such as the Timber Mountain Log Ride or the various rollercoasters, such as Silver Bullet and Xcelerator.
Even if you’re not into rides, you can still have a good time.
There’s a replica of a ghost town that you can tour.
There’s also delicious grub to be found at Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant.
You could come to Knott’s Berry Farm right when the gates open and still be there when night comes around.
That’s because of all the amazing attractions and how well designed they are.
Knott’s Berry Farm is sure to a place you’ll want to come back to next time you come to California.
Address: 8039 Beach Blvd, Buena Park, CA 90620, USA
22. Marine Room Tavern
This isn’t the best environment for the kids, but who said adults can’t have fun on their own?
Marine Room Tavern is one of the best places to grab a drink in Orange County.
Aside from its fantastic bar menu, it also has all kinds of neat events.
The first word that might come to mind when you enter Marine Room Tavern is “cozy.”
The warm lighting and lovely furnishings should make you feel like this is a place you can call home away from home.
Get one of your favorite drinks poured and take in the richness of the environment.
There’s also something special about seeing a live band play in an intimate setting.
Live music is Marine Room Tavern’s bread and butter.
Events like Country Night and Jazz Night show that diversity matters for this venue.
On any given night, you’re sure to see some phenomenal music.
Address: 214 Ocean Ave, Laguna Beach, CA 92651, USA
23. Knott’s Soak City
Located right by Knott’s Berry Farm is another one of the best places to visit if you’re looking for fun things to do in Orange County.
Knott’s Soak City immediately conjures up an image of water slides and other aquatic activities.
They fully deliver on that front, giving you some immense, water-based thrills.
Whether you want to go down a water slide, have a totally awesome swimming experience in a wave pool or chill out at one of the cabanas, Knott’s Soak City is one of the best things to do in OC.
Cooling off is rarely as pleasurable as it is here.
Make sure you have enough sunscreen, a good hat, and sunglasses, and come on down.
Address: 8039 Beach Blvd, Buena Park, CA 90620, USA
24. Balboa Island
Located in Newport Beach, Balboa Island is a lovely little haven in the OC.
It’s a spot of delights, both big and small.
On the larger end, you can go on a whale-watching cruise or check out art shows.
On the smaller end, you can chow down on a frozen banana or go jewelry shopping.
The scent of the fresh sea air and the sight of all the people moving about makes going to Balboa Island one of the best things to do on your trip.
Some of the highlights of your experience can come from buying souvenirs and taking photos on Balboa Island.
It’s definitely one of the destinations to jot down on your list.
25. Movies And Music At The Park
All kinds of tremendous parks are sprinkled around OC.
Thanks to the tireless efforts of the local parks department, people can have a trip to the park be one of the entertainment highlights.
Plenty of opportunities are available for seeing movies or live music at the park.
One of the greatest things to do is to get a picnic basket or lawn chair and watch a favorite movie or a great band with a crowd.
You can enjoy an amazing piece of entertainment while also getting to enjoy some very temperate weather.
Activities like these are fun for anyone who’s looking for a good time.
26. Old Towne Orange
It might sound like the name of a hot new rap song, but Old Towne Orange is actually a historic part of the OC.
Located in Orange, a city in the county, this is a wonderful place for shopping.
All kinds of charming knick-knacks can be found at these various stores.
There are things to do here even if you’re not into shopping.
If you’re staying in Orange and are wondering what to do, see if your trip lines up with various events around Old Towne Orange, such as Oktoberfest.
There’s history in this area, and you’ll want to keep it going.
Address: 75 Plaza Square, Orange, CA 92866, USA
27. Pageant Of The Masters
Have you ever gone to an art museum and desired to see the works recreated in person?
Even if your answer is no, you have to admit that it’s a pretty cool thing to consider.
The Pageant of the Masters is an annual event in OC that celebrates art in one of the most incredible ways.
As you see these paintings come to life, you might not believe your eyes.
These models are posing so deliberately, it feels real and unreal all at once.
Along with the accompanying music and narration, it’s the kind of show you’ll be so glad to have personally witnessed.
Address: 650 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, CA 92651, USA
Start Planning Your Trip To Orange County
There are so many fun things to do in Orange County.
OC is one of those destinations that you’ll never run out of things to do in.
There are so many things to do in California.
Even a weekend trip to one of California’s cities can be filled with fun events.
Make a list of what to do that’s most important, and plan a trip to these grand places around Orange County.
You can also look into travel tips and travel hacks to make your trip easier.
Should you love this California experience, you might also consider a trip to Santa Cruz.