Planning an Orange County vacation? We’re here to help!
Ah, The OC, land of sand, surf, and sunshine, where everyone spends their days hanging out at the beach or shopping up a storm in super-shiny malls. Well, that’s the image of this southern California county on TV, anyway – but is that what it’s really like? Well, kinda. Obviously, there are jobs to go to (for most people), and sometimes it isn’t sunny (though really not often), but when OC folk have leisure time, they make the most of their enviable location. Orange County is the sixth most populous area in the US – 42 miles of coastline, endless summer and a close proximity to one of America’s most exciting cities (L.A. is just up the Pacific Coast Highway, of course) will do that for a place. Add the power of Disneyland, plus a couple of other theme-park highlights, and you’ve got one helluva vacation destination.
Theme park fun
Want to send your kids crazy with excitement? Tell them you’re taking them to Disneyland. Walt Disney’s original world of wonder, opened in 1955, is still ‘The Happiest Place on Earth’ for small folk from across the globe, who flock to Anaheim in their droves, parents in tow. Of course, there’s something for everyone, big kids too, from Ariel’s Undersea Adventure and Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters to the Indiana Jones Adventure and Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!
Right next door is Disney California Adventure, where you can indulge in even more Disney-themed fun. Perhaps you’d like to have breakfast with Mickey Mouse? Hang with Spider-Man? Polish up your skills with a bit of Jedi training? Meet a host of Disney princesses in Sleeping Beauty Castle? There’s all of this, plus jazz shows, live performances of Frozen, an ESPN Zone Sports Arena and lots more. Clear some space in your vacation diary – you’re gonna need a while to do Disney.
If, on the other hand, foodie adventures are more your thing, then you should pay a visit to Knott’s Berry Farm and its crazy-good fried chicken. Mrs. Knott opened her Chicken Dinner Restaurant around 100 years ago, and when her husband sought ways to amuse lines of hungry diners, a family-friendly theme park began to take shape. Her signature chicken dinner and boysenberry pie are still must-dos for any visit, but there’s tons of other stuff to whet your appetite too.
The scream ’n’ splash 2,100-foot waterway of the Timber Mountain Log Ride is perennially popular, and a wide assortment of rides includes merry go rounds for the little ones, plus HangTime, the first dive coaster on the West Coast (which promises to give the sensation of floating thanks to negative G-force), and a VR Showdown in the park’s Wild West Ghost Town. And when the sun’s at full beam and bathing suits are your best bet, Knott’s Soak City is a water park just across the street, where 15 acres are home to 22 slides, a huge wave pool and the Beach House full of water guns, nozzles, and sprayers.
For a taste of theme park nostalgia, though, you can’t beat Balboa Peninsula and Balboa Island, in Newport Beach. Though the historic skeeball, pinball, and Zoltar fortune teller are no longer in residence at the Balboa Fun Zone, the Ferris wheel, built in 1936, still stands, and you can take a ride before hopping on the ferry to Balboa Island for that famous sweet treat – a chocolate-covered, nut-encrusted frozen banana.
Best of the beaches
When you’ve had your fill of rollercoaster thrills and bonding with your favorite cartoon characters, southern California’s beautiful State Parks are ready and waiting to show you Orange County’s wild side. With some 2,500 acres and more than three miles of beachfront, Crystal Cove State Park, near Laguna Beach, is one of the largest remaining natural seashores in Orange County. Ramble along some of the 18 miles of hiking trails, or head to Moro Beach, Reef Point or Pelican Point for sunbathing, bodyboarding, stand-up paddle boarding, and kayaking. There’s also a Historic District where you can stroll past coastal cottages originally built as a seaside colony in the 1930s and ’40s. Top off a day of walking, hanging at the beach and old-world wanderings with an awesome burger and fries at Ruby’s Shake Shack, a classic diner overlooking the ocean.
For a mix of leisure and learning, head to Doheny State Beach, near Dana Point. Donated by oil tycoon Edward L Doheny for public use in 1931, this was California's first state beach and is one of the most popular. It’s a great spot for surfing, beach volleyball, and picnics, but there’s also an aquarium with a tide pool, where visitors can learn more about the local sea life and the Dana Point State Marine Conservation Area, which works to conserve and restore ocean wildlife and habitats.
Experience the luxury of our Orange County vacation rentals
In Orange County, prime oceanfront real estate is what it’s all about, and from ‘Surf City USA’ AKA Huntington Beach in the north, to Laguna Beach further down the coast, we’ve hand-picked perfect properties for a vacation to remember.
Homes in Newport
Newport Beach is a beguiling combination of old California charm and modern glamour, where oceanfront mansions sit around the corner from atmospheric beach bars. Our Newport villas offer a taste of Orange County living, with views of the ocean from graceful terraces, so you can wake to the California sun than sit and watch as it sinks into the Pacific at the end of a fun-filled day.
Homes in Laguna
Elegant architecture and a thriving arts scene mark out this stretch of OC coastline, and our Laguna beachfront rentals offer the ideal base for taking in some cool California culture. Choose an architect-designed clifftop estate complete with guest residences and steps down to the ocean, big enough to sleep 24, or perhaps a modernist 3-bedroom beach house. Either way, wide-open ocean views come as standard.
Homes in Corona Del Mar
For that seaside village vibe, with a very chic edge, try one of our Corona Del Mar vacation rentals. Make the most of the weather with breakfast, lunch, and dinner on your pergola-shaded terrace, or stroll the short distance to the beach for a bracing Pacific dip.