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People describe Orange Country as the paradise of Southern California. The hype has been heightened by the fact that it’s a favorite location for shooting Hollywood films, and popular TV including the reality show, The Real Housewives of Orange County.

The OC is a place known for its serenity and extensive beauty, and has become a major destination for many tourists from all over the world.

There are so many reasons why you should consider a visit here. Here are the top reasons as to why you should explore Orange County!

The Top 5 Reasons to Visit Orange County, California

California’s Best Parties and Nightlife

Orange County is famous for its nightlife. Year round perfect weather allows people to stay out late as they enjoy an energetic nightlife scene, and rub shoulders with some of America’s elite.

Party venues in Orange County, CA host some of the country’s most talked about parties, and are home to the most elite, exclusive, and edgy nightclubs. Keep your eyes peeled online for special ways to get on the guest list of major events. 

There’s also a fabulous nighttime atmosphere at the beach. You’ll find a more intimate and relaxed vibe here, with many couples and families enjoying the sunset, some nights see fire-twirlers, friends hanging out for a laid back night, and if you’re lucky, dolphins silhouetted on the horizon. 

The Beaches

Everyone loves a good beach. The Orange County provides the most beautiful beaches in California, which are extensive and kept very clean.

The main attraction of Californian beach life is the year round perfect weather. Orange County weather is known for its ideal year-round climate with an average daily temperature of 70 degrees. In the summer, enjoy sunny days with an average high temperature of a mere 79 degrees!

One of the most popular beaches in the OC is Crystal Cove State Park, which has an amazing 3.5 miles of pristine beachfront, and is one of the area’s last remaining examples of open space and natural seashore. Many people enjoy hiking; the park has 2,400 acres of backcountry wilderness.

Kid-Friendly Pursuits

Orange County is incredibly family friendly, and there are so many kid friendly pursuits. Obviously, you can’t beat a family day out at some of the most beautiful beaches in the country, but the area is also home the biggest family tourist attraction in the USA, California Disney. 

“Not far from Disneyland, in Buena Park, the Cedar Fairs Company operates Knott’s Berry Farm theme park with a great combination of rides for younger children and thrill seekers, and Knott’s Soak City, an adjacent water park.” There’s also the Discovery Science center, kayaking, two small zoos, and a huge range of smaller amusement parks.

If your kids are interested in wildlife, “whale watching is a great adventure to take them on. There’s no guarantee that you’ll actually see a whale, but chances are pretty good, especially in winter. Even if you don’t see whales, the pods of dolphins and the sea lions basking in the sun are also fun to see and just going out on the boat is an adventure.” – 

Disney World Castle

Good Food

The Orange County has a fabulous food scene, and is particularly famous for traditional American burger joints. For the best burgers in the OC head to Royal Hen, or The American Dream. 

The OC is also a hub for great seafood and it’s always served fresh. Most seafood restaurants are strategically located at places where you can also enjoy an outlook of the ocean and the beach. 

You also have some great options for Vietnamese and Chinese cuisines; the “pace of restaurant openings in Little Saigon is staggering, with new noodle shops and teahouses joining the fray almost every day.” – Brad A Johnson.

Seafood Pexels RF

Arts

You won’t be bored in Orange County if you’re a lover or the arts. A vibrant arts and culture scene is filled with unique festivals, museums, galleries, and many performing arts venues. 

Laguna Beach in particular has a thriving art community. “The art scene here dates back to the early 20th century, when the area’s sea cliffs became a popular setting for directors of silent films. Today, dozens of galleries dot downtown, including Kush Fine Art, Virga Gallery, and Laguna Art Lounge.

Every summer, the city also plays host to a handful of popular art festivals. The Sawdust Art & Craft Festival features local art including photography, jewelry, surf art, and hand-blown glass, while the Festival of Arts Pageant of the Masters pays homage to famous masterpieces with tableaux vivants (living paintings), where actors pose as the artworks.” – Visit California.

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Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; a website dedicated to opening your eyes to the wild & natural world.

Committed to bringing you the best in adventure travel from all around the globe, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on their list.

If you enjoy getting social, you can follow their journey on FacebookTwitterYouTubePinterest and Instagram.

    26 Comments

  1. I’ve always thought of Orange County as the place you go with the kids (Disneyland) and as a big kid at heart, I love going. I didn’t realize it’s a top place to party. I’ll definitely check out the party scene next time I’m in the region. A party on the beach sounds perfect.

    • We were in Laguna Beach a couple of years ago now, and really loved the nightlife scene at the beach. It was less of an organized party / event on the public beach and more of people chilling out, having a fabulous time. There were fire twirlers and people juggling etc, I fell in love with the atmosphere :)

      And I’m a MASSIVE Disney fan, so OMG I finally got to Anaheim at 25 and did not need an excuse to visit! Definitely a big kid at heart right here – when I have my own that’ll be one of our first family vacation spots :)

  2. I’ve not been to California yet Meg but the beaches seem spectacular. Cooler water too, super refreshing. I did become a huge fan of Baywatch during the Pamela Lee days decades ago so know a bit about the region LOL

    • Lol no blaming you there Ryan – Baywatch was probably an incredible marketing boost for California in its day! Hope you do have the opportunity to visit soon though, it’s a spectacular part of the States :)

  3. Living in Southern California, Orange County is like home to me.It’s about an hour away from where we live. We have some very good friends who live there and visit this area quite often. I find Orange County particularly attractive because of the artsy places around and the great beaches. I never experienced their nightlife though. I guess at my age you don’t party that much anymore, hahaha!

    • Fabulous Anda – so jealous, I would love to live in OC, or within close proximity! Such a stunning area.

      If you’re not into the party scene, there’s still a lot of very cool artsy nightlife around the beaches. We were in Laguna Beach a couple of years ago now and really loved the atmosphere at the public beach there – it was less of an organized party / event and more of people chilling out, having a fabulous time. There were fire twirlers and people juggling etc, I fell in love with the vibe :)

  4. It sounds like there’s so much to do! I’ve always wanted to go to Disneyland, but it looks like I’d need a lot more time to take in the other sights.

    • Absolutely – OC is such an incredible region – you’ll never be bored! When you do take in Disney, definitely set aside some extra time for the county at large :)

  5. I didn’t know much about Orange County, except that is what I saw on the tv programme The OC which I loved! I love that they have so much amazing food there, especially burgers which I will definitely add to my list and the seafood looks delicious. I would obviously visit the gorgeous beaches too!

    • I was totally addicted to the OC too – my husband loves Rachel Bilson lol! If you’re a foodie you’ll definitely fall in love with the region – hope you have the chance to visit soon!

  6. This has just given me a flashback to that teen drama, The OC! I remember the houses being pretty opulent on the show too. Of course, the beaches are what I’m drawn to. Crystal Cove State Park sounds like the perfect mix of beach and nature. I didn’t realise California Disney was in the OC; another reason I would love to visit! Thanks for the tips on where to eat the best burgers too – I do love a good burger! Looks like I’ll need to plan a visit to the OC soon ☺

    • OMG I loved the OC too! Sadly it may or may not have been one of the original factors which made me want to visit haha. We loved the hiking in Crystal Cove State Park – I didn’t realize how large the OC was either until I visited, I always thought of Disney as a county of it’s own lol but definitely within the OC! Hope you have the chance to visit soon :)

  7. Have read a lot and heard a lot about Orange County and its near-iconic status. But the place really seems to have something for everyone, from a vibrant and up-market nightlife to adventure and fun activities for kids and the entire family. With so many options Orange County makes for a really promising family getaway.

    • Definitely a place with something for everyone :) Hope you have the chance to visit soon!

  8. Ha when I hear OC the theme song for that tv show comes into mind. Eek. It’s funny you mention the beach at night. Not that the beach during the day but tanning isn’t fun or needed for me ;) For me it being on the beach at night, that’s my favourite time to be on the beach. That cool sea breeze, drinks and good times. I can only imagine how great the food . I’m going back to Cali, to Cali to Cali” …

    • I really love being on the beach at night too – it’s a whole different atmosphere, something totally relaxing about being by the sea come evening time :) Have an amazing trip back to Cali!

  9. We love visiting Disneyland in Orange County. But never thought about going to the beach there. We normally stop in Santa Monica to hang at the bear and enjoy the beach. We will have to check out the other beaches as well. The whale watching would be a great experience for us as well. Thanks for the ideas :)

    • Absolutely – if you have a couple of days spare on your next Disney trip, definitely set some time aside for the beach – Laguna Beach is my favorite personally :) And whale watching is a fabulous way to spend some time with the family. Glad we could set you up with some ideas for your next trip!

  10. I’m a beach girl, so I definitely want to go and check out the beaches. It’s good to hear that they’re kept so clean. I’d also want to check out the food. A burger after a day on the water sounds perfect!

    • California is your State if you’re into good beaches and good food! Hope you have the chance to travel soon :)

  11. I went to Orange County in California last April and instantly fell in love for the reasons you cited in your article. I mean who doesn’t like the sunny side of the US with fantastic beaches, art, and delicious food. I loved the whale watching. Not a big fan of Disneyland (yes, there exists people like me who are not fans :P ) so i missed that. Rest was all fun.

    • Haha every-time someone says that they don’t like Disney a fairy dies :D lol No but California is definitely a fabulous State, so glad you had a wonderful time in the OC on your last trip – isn’t the whale watching great!!

  12. I grew up in Southern California and, I’ll admit, I learned a lot in this post! Mike and I are road tripping to California this summer and I’m excited to go back and do the OC properly! I adore Laguna so I’ve taken him there, though, never really done the nightlife scene and or Crystal Cove State Park…love to do that, especially now that we have Buddy the Camper!

    • Awesome Anne! Glad we could tell you about some places you haven’t been yet :) Have an amazing roadtrip this summer – you’ll seriously love the OC! And yes, definitely set some time aside for exploring Crystal Cove State Park – it’s a truly stunning spot there :)

  13. I keep meaning to go hiking in Crystal Cove State Park. I never seem to manage to make it out there, but it is on my list. I want to camp near the beach and then hike in the mountains.

    • It’s such a fabulous place to hike, walks here were one of the highlights of our last trip :) Camping near the beach and then hiking in the mountains sounds like a great combination – hope you have the chance to travel soon :)

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