In honor of National Aviation Day, here are twelve destinations to visit in Orange County, as it is the most traveled county in California! While Orange County is known for its many beautiful state parks and beaches, for this list, we will be covering specific places that you can visit and must check out in Orange County, California.
- Disneyland – Anaheim, CA
Built on July 17, 1955, Disneyland attracts approximately 18.6 million visits every year, making it the second most visited amusement park globally! Disneyland attracts visitors from all over the world who want to see the most magical place globally and for its themes of fairy tales, pirates, cartoons, and Disney characters. Disneyland contains many themed lands that have been added and renovated throughout the years, such as New Orleans Square, established in 1966, Critter County, established in 1972, Mickey’s Toontown, established in 1993; and most recently, Star Wars Galaxy Edge, established in 2019.
Other themed lands that tourists can visit are Main Street, U.S.A., a midwestern-inspired town, and Adventureland, an adventure-themed attraction. Disneyland is also known for the Disneyland Railroad, a mini train within the amusement park that people can get on to have an easier time visiting each themed land and all of the attractions. Throughout the amusement park, there is live entertainment. However, this is provided only on certain days and at certain hours throughout the amusement park. These are just a few things that you can visit in Disneyland, as there are many more attractions and themed lands to visit. There are also parades and firework shows at night-time.
While many amusement parks and attractions don’t usually have the best food or snacks, Disneyland is known for its iconic food and snacks trending on social media, such as their turkey legs at Edelweiss Snacks and their Dole Whip at Tiki Juice Bar, which is a pineapple soft-serve topped with pineapple juice. Their food is so good that it has been featured on talk shows and food articles, blogs, and magazines.
Disneyland is the perfect place for families with children looking to see magic and see their favorite Disney characters! Even if you don’t have a family, Disneyland is a location that you want to cross off your bucket list.
- Knott’s Berry Farm – Buena Park, CA
Knott’s Berry Farm is another amusement park located in Orange County. Once a berry farm now turned into an amusement park, Knott’s Berry Farm is home to the world’s most extreme rides, such as the GhostRider, which is the world’s best wooden roller coaster according to Tripadvisor and the Xcelerator, which is rated as the world’s best roller coaster according to Tripadvisor reviews. People can also see the Peanuts gang displayed, known as Camp Snoopy, which is also part of the attraction in the amusement park. The Berry Farm is also known for its boysenberry festival, which serves boysenberry-inspired foods, sweets, and drinks. You will find local merchants selling unique boysenberry items.
While not as famous as Disneyland in Anaheim, CA, Knott’s Berry Farm remains a popular theme park, and many travel to it for their extreme rides. While going on the Xcelerator, you may want to hold onto your pants.
- Shipley Nature Center – Huntington Beach, CA
If amusement parks aren’t for you, and you want the peaceful solitude of nature, then the Shipley Nature Center is the place for you.
The Shipley Nature Center contains many exhibitions, including a trail, butterfly house, and a native plant nursery. During the summer, they will even host live music.
Orange County is the place for you if you’re looking to get away from the pains of the world and just want to relax with nature and live music.
- Bowers Museum – Santa Ana, CA
Established in 1936, the Bowers Museum has been home to many artworks from around the world. It is a museum rich in history and culture. It is also accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, an honor that only 5% of museums get! Current works being displayed are art from the Pacific Islands, Ancient China, and Native American sculptures, art, and textiles.
The Bowers Museum is also the host of many glamorous events, including weddings.
- Mission San Juan Capistrano – San Juan Capistrano, CA
Mission San Juan Capistrano is a place of religious, historical, and cultural significance. It is also the birthplace of Orange County. Established by Father Lasuen on October 30, 1775, the place is currently 246 years old and is a chapel. The chapel was initially built as a community by Spanish Padres and Native Americans as a center for agriculture, industry, religion, and education. Today, over 300,000 visitors come to the Chapel, and visitors can get a guided tour and listen in on the history behind the place.
The place has been an inspiration for architects and photographers due to its unique architectural design. It has also featured art exhibits.
- Orange County Zoo – Orange, CA
For animal lovers and families, the Orange County Zoo is the place to be. Opened in 1985 and located inside the beautiful Irvine Regional Park, you can find animals such as bald eagles and mountain lions at the zoo. Many of the animals featured in the zoo are animals that the zoo has rescued.
The zoo also features many educational programs for children and toddlers, like feeding animals and also has a barnyard with goats, sheeps, pigs, and doves that you can pet and has a picnic area so that you can enjoy the view and the animals. It is also home to plants native in the Southwestern area of the United States. The admission fee even just costs $2!
- OC Brewery Tours – Costa Mesa, CA
Going back into the adult world, the OC Brewery Tours is a must-visit for beer lovers worldwide. Tourists and locals can enjoy various award-winning beers made across Orange County and can even request the beer to be delivered to their doorstep while on a guided beer tour!
What better way to have a fun weekend than to have beer?
- Fullerton Arboretum – Fullerton, CA
Located at CSU Fullerton, the Fullerton Arboretum is a botanical garden open to everyone situated on the northeast corner of the campus. Containing over 4,000 species of plants, it is the most extensive botanical garden in Orange County. It also specializes in saving plants from extinction.
Not only is it a relaxing sight to walk around the gardens, but it is also an opportunity for many to be educated on nature and its beauty. The Fullerton Arboretum is a must-visit for nature lovers and botanical enthusiasts.
- Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum – Yorba Linda, CA
Richard Nixon served as the 37th president of the United States of America. Many can learn about his legacy and history in his birthplace of Yorba Linda, California, at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum. The museum has over 70 exhibitions about Richard Nixon’s life, including films and interactive exhibits. Tourists and locals can also visit the farmhouse next door where he was born. The museum allows you to learn about the beginning of Nixon’s presidency and the Watergate scandal that ended his presidency.
- The Ranch Restaurant – Anaheim, CA
While expensive eating may not be for everyone, the Ranch Restaurant is trendy among locals and is deemed one of California’s finest restaurants.
Known for their wines, steaks, seafood, and farm-to-table, the Ranch Restaurant provides a fine dining experience while offering country music at the Ranch Saloon next door.
They also feature over 14,000 wines from across the world! Now, that is something to have a big appetite for! For food snobs and enthusiasts alike, the Ranch Restaurant is a must-visit.
- Old Orange County Courthouse & Museum – Santa Ana, CA
If you want to learn more about the history of Orange County, look no further than the Old Orange County Courthouse Museum. Built in 1901, the Old Orange County Courthouse is Southern’s California oldest court building and currently contains many exhibits relating to Orange County’s and California’s history.
Within the museum are the Orange County Archives, the Orange County Historical Center, and the Pacific Coast Archaeological Society Center. The Courthouse is also a popular event venue for events like private parties and weddings.
The Courthouse is a must-visit place for history enthusiasts and scholars, alongside the Richard Nixon Presidential Library.
- Balboa Island – Newport Beach, CA
Balboa Island is an island located in Newport Beach, California. The island is known as a harborside community filled with local shops and eateries where you can try the island’s two most famous desserts: the Balboa Bar and the Balboa Frozen Banana. You can also eat fresh seafood near the water, a wonderfully unique experience that the island offers.
To get to Balboa Island, you must take a ferry from Newport Beach, California. This island is a place you don’t want to skip.
Did you enjoy these destinations? Which one was your favorite? Which destinations do you think we missed? Let us know in the comments section down below, and be sure to follow Limon on Instagram, Linkedin, Facebook, and our newsletter!