Posted on 19 Mar
From breathtaking beaches to world-famous frozen bananas, Orange County boasts more than its fair share of road trip-worthy attractions. Below is our pick of six awesome day trips in Orange County.
MISSION SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO - The oldest of all the missions still standing in California, this historic landmark, referred to as The Jewel of the Missions, is the birthplace of Orange County. Today, it serves as a stunning monument to California’s multi-cultural history, showcasing rare artifacts and paintings, ruins of the Great Stone Church, and the newly conserved Serra Chapel. Its oldest and most treasured tradition, the ringing of the historic bells, takes place on select dates throughout the year. And in summer, the mission hosts live concerts under the stars.
CRYSTAL COVE STATE PARK - Showcasing three miles of pristine beach and 2,400 acres of backcountry wilderness between Corona del Mar and Laguna Beach, Crystal Cove is one of Orange County’s most pristine examples of open space and natural seashore. From mountain biking along its sloping hills to scuba diving, swimming and surfing in its waters, the park offers endless fun for outdoor enthusiasts of all stripes. If a day simply isn’t enough, Crystal Cove Historic District is home to 46 vintage, rustic coastal cottages originally built in the 1930s and available for overnight rental through the parks department—just be sure to book ahead.
1000 STEPS BEACH - Located at Paradise Bay in South Laguna and named for the hefty flight of stairs one must inevitably ascend on their way back to reality, this pristine beach is home to 400 yards of golden sand, vibrant tide pools, volleyball courts and even a secret cave. Bordered to the north and south by stunning sandstone cliffs, the beach is a classic summer staple for locals but still feels relatively undiscovered, making it the perfect place to while away a So Cal day.
NIGUEL BOTANICAL PRESERVE - A hidden gem four miles inland from the Pacific Ocean, this stunning botanical garden features over 18 acres of gardens and 2,000 plant species, with various sections representing regions from around the world, including Australia, South Africa, Chile and the Mediterranean. Hiking trails lead to breathtaking views of Mission Viejo and Saddleback Mountain.
GREAT PARK BALLOON & CAROUSEL - Orange County Great Park’s iconic attraction, this giant, orange balloon carries passengers 400 feet above the ground, serving as a stunning public observation deck for the Great Park’s development and showcasing 360-degree views spanning 40 miles on a clear day. The adjacent Great Park Carousel is a classic amusement for children and adults of all ages, and particularly striking at night.
BALBOA ISLAND - This quaint, man-made island in Newport Beach is a world unto itself. Park your car and grab a frozen banana (or signature Balboa Bar) from rival stands Sugar N Spice or Dad’s before perusing the charming mom-and-pop shops along Marine Avenue. Then, hop on the $1 ferry and enjoy a quick trip across the water to the iconic Balboa Fun Zone, where you can stroll along the bayside boardwalk, ride the old-timey ferris wheel, play vintage arcade games and pretend it’s the sixties again.