Orange County Attractions

Orange County Attractions

Beaches (Newport Coast, Laguna, Huntington, Dana Point)

Orange County is ripe with beach destinations. Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, and Dana Point are just a few of the most classic beach scenes in the county. Huntington Beach, dubbed “Surf City USA,” is the summer hot spot for any beach sport on the sand or in the water. Downtown Huntington hosts a lively center of bars, restaurants and shopping venues on Main Street that leads directly to the pier where one can get a closer look at surfers dropping into waves or may catch a glimpse of dolphins doing the same. Laguna Beach is located along some of the most beautiful beaches in California. A unique feature that Laguna has to offer is the lush tidepool communities found interspersed along the rocky coves. Main Beach is where tourists and locals come together for the basketball courts, volleyball courts, downtown shops and restaurants. Crystal Cove State Park is just south of Newport Beach, featuring a more rustic nature that is prime for overnight camping, mountain biking, and scuba diving.

Disneyland (from above)

Once an island in a sea of orange groves, the original Disneyland opened in 1955 and to this day upholds Walt Disney’s vision of “The Happiest Place on Earth.” As the world’s first family-oriented theme park, there is no better place to take young children for a truly memorable experience. Roller coasters like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, the Matterhorn Bobsled ride, and Space Mountain offer classic thrills that each tells a story of its own. The Disney Parade marches day and night, featuring characters like Donald Duck, Mini Mouse, and the Master of Ceremony, Mickey Mouse. For the grand finale at the end of a magical day is a sparkling firework show that lights up the park.

California Adventure

Disneyland’s sister theme park California Adventure offers a diversity of games, rides, shows and things to do that are great for children and captivates teenagers. All the activities are California-themed, such as the Mulholland Madness ride that simulates driving on the precariously windy Mulholland Drive, and the Grizzly River Run that is based on a Sierra Nevada mining adventure. Soaring Over California is a hang gliding escapade that soars over California landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Yosemite National Park, Lake Tahoe, and much more. Keep an eye out for subtle historical artifacts, such as the Native American rock paintings at the Grizzly River Run. Live entertainment shows are held throughout the day and night such as Aladdin’s musical and Disney’s Electrical Parade. This theme park accentuates the fantasies of living in California, and these moments can be captured by sending a postcard to loved ones from the entrance.

Downtown Disney

Aside from rides and story book adventures, the 2001 unveiling of Downtown Disney revealed a shopping and entertainment district located in the midst of the Disneyland Resort. This entertainment complex offers a more adult-oriented pastime from stores, restaurants, street performers, a twelve-screen movie theatre, ESPN Zone, and the House of Blues.

Knott’s Berry Farm

While Disneyland is the undisputed number one tourist attraction in California, another appealing amusement park is Knott’s Berry Farm located in Buena Park. This theme park is geared toward the older kids and teens who crave faster roller coasters and spotlights characters such as Snoopy and the Peanuts Gang. Around Halloween, the park morphs into Knott’s Scary Farm where teens can find ghoulish thrills of werewolves, blood suckers and creatures lurking around corners and throughout mazes after the sun goes down.

Knott’s Berry Farm offers live performance shows, such as Native American dance and music, the Fool’s Gold Stunt Show, and Native American story telling in the Mystery Lodge. Shops are open year-round and offer goods like Knott’s Berry Farm’s notorious jams and jellies from the Berry Market to one of the west coast’s largest selections of decorative collectibles, such as Lladro figurines or the idealistic paintings of Thomas Kinkade at Virginia’s Gift Shop. Gift packs and mail orders are available, and the staff will handle all shipping needs.

Soak City

When the summers get hot, there is no better place to cool off than at Knott’s Soak City, a full-fledged water park in Buena Park. With over a dozen rides to choose from, they range from a mild pool for young children to high speed slides for adrenaline junkies. There are lockers available to store belongings, a surf shop with seasonal merchandise, and food that ranges from a snack stand to a sit down restaurant.

Angels Baseball

The Angel Stadium of Anaheim has been the home to the Angels baseball team since 1965. Today, the newly renovated Angel Stadium can seat 45,050 fans and offers terraced bullpens in the outfield, new restroom and concession areas, family-oriented seating sections, landscaped courtyards, three full-service restaurants, and modernized press box and broadcast booths. Ticket prices range from $16 to $235 depending on where the seating arrangement is. So come buy some peanuts and Cracker Jacks and enjoy a day at the ‘ol ball game.

Crystal Cathedral

The Crystal Cathedral is an impressive Protestant Christian church located in Garden Grove that has become an architectural landmark in Southern California. This building was founded in 1955 and uses over 10,000 panes of glass which are not bolted, but glued to the structure. This and other design features are used to help the building withstand an earthquake. The building can hold over 2,900 people and is known for its 273 rank five manual pipe organ, which is one of the largest in the world. It is also known for the “Hour of Power” show, which is a televised program of church services and has an estimated weekly following of 20 million viewers. Tours of the Crystal Cathedral are offered Monday through Saturday, from 9am to 3:30pm.

Mission San Juan Capistrano

Mission San Juan Capistrano was the seventh California Mission founded in 1776 settled by Father Fermin Lasuen, Father Presidente Junipero Serra, and Father Gregorio Amurrio. In the eyes of the Catholic Church, the mission was considered to be a success, where thousands of Native American souls were saved and embraced a Catholic faith and lifestyle. Today, Mission San Juan Capistrano serves the community as a historic landmark and museum, providing a look at California’s history and culture. In mid-March, come greet the swallow’s return from their impressive flight from Argentina. Come explore the 10-acres of gardens, fountains, and 200-year old adobe structures. The Mission provides docent-guided or audio tours, education booklets and historical re-enactments of what life was like in Southern California two hundred years ago.

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