Orange County is a “chic” microcosm located in South Los Angeles where I have lived for 2 years. Composed of coastal cities, you will find what you are looking for if you want to spend a few relaxing days at the beach or if you are passionate about surfing. For each of the cities presented below, you will find ideas for activities and places to eat that will allow you to fully enjoy your stay.
Laguna beach: THE PRECIOUS
Laguna Beach is what Monaco is to France, a coastal city where you will find some “amazing” houses built in rocky hills with ocean views. The small-town center is very charming with its shops and art galleries, its beach a stone’s throw away but above all the best glacier in the area, Gelato paradisio. Be careful, the city is Smoke Free!
- Crystal cove state park: ($15 parking per car for the day): depending on the length of the hike you want to do, you will have the choice to take different paths in the canyon with the possibility of finishing with a very beautiful view of the ocean.
- 1000 steps beach: my favorite beach in the region (don’t hesitate to walk along the beach to discover small isolated coves).
- Take a brunch at the Rooftop Lounge, you will have a magnificent view of the ocean (no reservations, first come, first served).
- If you like basketball, you will find a beachfront field right next to the city center (you can’t miss it).
- For the French, if you are in a terrible need for a bakery, stop at Moulin for a butter ham sandwich or a pastry like at home.
Newport Beach: THE famous ONE
- Stroll on the peninsula, chill at the beach, have a drink at the Sharkeez or on the rooftop of the Blue beet.
- Take a walk around Balboa island, stroll down this small shopping street and if you want a good French dinner, I recommend Basilic.
- Feel free to book a whale watching boat tour, if you don’t see any whales you will see dolphins, birds, or sea lions.
- Take the ferry to spend a day on Catalina island.
- Rent a Duffy boat to watch the sunset from the marina.
=> To book your excursions, I suggest you consult Groupon, you will sometimes find offers at very good prices.
Costa Mesa : shopping et vie nocturne
- For shopping lovers and big brands, South Coast Plaza is the most famous mall on the West Coast. For the gourmands, I suggest a stop at Godiva shop to taste its strawberries with chocolates and swirl ice cream (vanilla/chocolate).
- Kick a few balls at the practice Orange County Golf.
For the nightlife, Triangle Square and the Camp offer different possibilities to eat and drink (special mention for la Vida Cantina for an aperitif followed by the Boulevard to continue the evening in a very local atmosphere).
Huntington Beach : THE surf city of Orange County !
Huntington Beach is THE surf city. A relaxed atmosphere, surf shops, bars and restaurants, a huge Californian beach, this small town has many assets.
- Stroll along Main Street, stroll through its surf shops and souvenir shops, the pier and the beachfront.
- Have a coffee and a bagel at HSS (Bagel works is my favorite), rent your boards and go and face the Californian waves alongside the locals.
- Take a walk in Pacific city, an outdoor mall a stone’s throw from the ocean (next to the pier), stroll through its shops and enjoy the little pleasures of the food court.
- Rent bicycles and go for a drink at Sea legs, a very nice spot on summer weekends, feet in the sand facing the ocean on a musical background of live bands (check if the place is open).
- Every Tuesday evening, take a walk to the local market on Main Street and let yourself be tempted by one of its food trucks.
- Admire the sunset while sipping a cocktail from the roof top of The bungalows or Tanners.
- Try the Banzai bowl for your breakfast and a Poke for your lunch (both addresses are excellent).
- For sushi lovers, sashimi, makis…. ! Ayce sushi restaurant, offers an all-you-can-eat card package for only $32! Unbeatable quality/price ratio.
- Enjoy a movie night at Bella Terra theater in XXL seats, lying down like at home!
- Spend an evening at the beach, admire the sunset around a fire (firepit available and free). Bring your picnic and your wood.
More activity ideas in Orange County
- Go-kart K1 speed in Irvine
- Observatory Concert Hall in Santa Ana
- Red Rock Canyon: small 1h45 trail from Lake Forest (a mini Utah nearby)
- If you want to eat Asian food: direction Garden Grove where you will find many possibilities. I suggest you to try Morangak BBQ which is a delight for a Korean barbecue.