Southern California is a travel destination for thousands each year who are looking to soak in the sunny weather (available almost year-round!) and explore some exciting new destinations. But, thinking of fun new activities for the whole family to enjoy can even be difficult for natives and residents. To help you decide what to see and do while in Orange County, we reached out to Shea Homes Orange County homeowners to see what their favorite things to do are and put together this list below from their recommendations. Depending on what your family enjoys take a look at this list of locals’ favorite things to do in Orange County and start planning your vacation, or just your weekend to-do list if you live in the area.
Spend the Day Spectating
Have a few sports fanatics in your household? Try snagging a few stadium seats some of Anaheim’s finest.
- Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Despite the somewhat confusing team name, the Angels are in Anaheim and ready to hit it out of the park every baseball season. In the off season, you can enjoy an open air concert in the wonderful Southern California weather or sign up for a stadium tour. Fun fact, the “Big A” in the stadium’s parking lot is 230 feet tall and was the tallest structure in Orange County when erected in 1979!
- Anaheim Ducks. A welcome respite to any too-warm spring days, sitting center ice at an Anaheim Ducks game is a great way to beat the heat and create some family memories. If your little ones aren’t ready to sit through a sporting event, head to a theatrical ice skating performance – don’t forget to get a snow cone in a souvenir cup!
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While your kiddos may not want to “learn” anything while they’re out and about, these experiences will impart some new knowledge on them – without them even realizing it!
- Discovery Cube. With experiences available for all ages of children, this science center is an ideal destination for the family to enjoy together. Permanent exhibitions include an Eco Challenge, Dino Quest, Boeing Rocket Lab and Science of Hockey – perfect if you stopped by to watch a Ducks game earlier in your Orange County adventures!
- Mission San Juan Capistrano. Take a step back in time at one of California’s oldest Spanish missions. Tour the museums, church and grounds and learn about the Mission’s history through experiential activities.
Soak in the Sea Breeze
You can’t enjoy the California Coast without making it to some of Orange County’s fine seaside sights! Some of our locals’ favorites include:
- Whale Watching off of Dana Wharf. Already counting thousands of whale spottings for the 2014-2015 season, it’s likely you’ll spot some sea life during your seafaring excursion.
- Crystal Cove State Park. From bike riding to bird watching, hiking to tidepooling, this park is filled with at least a day’s worth of exploration. You can even book a cottage or campsite so your family can spend the maximum amount of time in the area.
- Beach bonfire at Huntington Beach State Park. Not all of California’s beaches allow for bonfires, so arrive early for a day of fun in the sun and to stake out your fire pit early. Don’t forget the hot dogs and marshmallows!
Set a Course for Exploration
While each section of Orange County offers its own excitement, sometimes exploring beyond your own neighborhood is in order. These options lend to a quick, weekend or day trip that can be fun for the whole family.
- Catalina Island. About an hour long boat ride off of the coast, this island offers snorkeling, shopping, golfing and delicious dining. What’s more – the primary mode of transportation is golf carts – what kid wouldn’t love that?
- Coast along the coast. Stretching from San Diego to Santa Monica, your family can hop on the Amtrak train and see what the Southern Californian coast has to offer. Feel free to stop and get off to explore certain stops and hop back on – just don’t miss the last train home!
- Road trip. Highway 1 offers gorgeous views throughout Orange County and lots of dining options and prime beach locales to make a pit stop at. If mom and dad want to splurge on a bit of fun, consider renting a “cool car” for a day and putting a few miles on it along the coast.
Take in a Theme Park
With a few options within a relatively small radius, if your family relishes in the excitement of fast moving rides and funnel cake, these are must-see spots.
- Disneyland. It’s the Happiest Place on Earth, who wouldn’t want to visit? Pro tip – pack a cooler and leave it in your car for a cheaper lunch option. It’s also a great time for any tired tots to take a break from the day’s excitement in a familiar place.
- Disney California Adventure. Highlighting what makes California special, this park is located right across the way from Disneyland. Visiting both parks in the same timeframe may also give you a tiny price cut on ticket prices.
- Downtown Disney. Steer clear of entrance fees while still getting some of the excitement of Disney with a trip to this lively promenade. Bonus tip: they really go all out with decorations when the holidays roll around!
- Knott’s Berry Farm. Billed as America’s First theme park, Knott’s has a few more “big” roller coasters than the Disney parks offer for older or more daring family members. Some local tips: head to the Ghost Town Shops and get your family portrait done in Wild West style and follow up a long day with a filling meal at Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant.
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Are you an Orange County native or considering moving to the area? Leave us your recommendations on fun things to do, or questions about family activities, in the comments below.
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