Nestled in the heart of Southern California, Orange County is a hub of vibrant activities that cater to all ages and interests. The region boasts a plethora of top-notch theme parks, pristine beaches, lively art scenes, and upscale shopping establishments that are sure to delight visitors. Whether you’re seeking adrenaline-pumping rides, serene nature walks, or cultural immersion, Orange County has it all. Read on for an extensive guide on the best things to do in Orange County this weekend.
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With 42 miles of breathtaking coastline, Orange County’s beaches are a top weekend destination. Feel the sand between your toes, go surfing, play beach volleyball, or simply relax and enjoy the refreshing ocean breeze.
Known as “Surf City USA,” Huntington Beach is a paradise for surfers and beachgoers. The pier is perfect for fishing, walking, and taking in the sights. Rent a bike and cruise along the boardwalk, play beach volleyball, surf the waves, or relax on the sand. At night, enjoy dinner and drinks on one of the restaurants along the pier while watching the sunset.
Newport Beach offers a more upscale vibe with high-end shopping and dining along the waterfront. Take a leisurely stroll along the Balboa Pier or rent a Duffy boat and cruise around the harbor. Visit the Fun Zone and Balboa Island for shops, restaurants, and old-school arcade games. Cap off the day by watching the sunset at Inspiration Point.
Boasting secluded coves, tide pools, and excellent surf, Laguna Beach is perfect for a more laidback beach weekend. Hike along the rocky bluffs and secluded beaches. Check the tide charts and explore the fascinating marine life in the tide pools. Grab lunch at one of the casual cafes and watch the surfers catch waves at the famous surf spots.
Offering kid-friendly beaches and majestic bluffs, Dana Point is ideal for family beach days. Take a whale-watching cruise or kayak tour to explore the harbor and coastline. Unwind on Doheny State Beach with some beach volleyball, surfing, or swimming. Afterward, grab seafood and drinks at Turtle Bay Restaurant while admiring the ocean views.
In addition to beaches, Orange County also offers plenty of outdoor recreation from hiking and biking to water sports. Enjoy the area’s beautiful natural landscapes and sunny weather.
With plenty of parks and nature preserves, hiking is a top weekend activity. Challenge yourself to summit Saddleback Mountain in Santa Ana or take a more leisurely coastal hike along the Laguna Coast Wilderness. Crystal Cove State Park is great for beachfront hiking and exploring tide pools.
Orange County has scenic bike trails along the coast and through inland parks. Cruise along the paved beach boardwalk in Huntington Beach or take mountain biking trails at Peters Canyon Regional Park. Take a leisurely bike ride among the eclectic beach cottages and art galleries in Laguna Beach.
Paddle through the calm harbors and along the shoreline in Newport, Dana Point, and Huntington Beach. For more adventure, try sea cave kayaking in Laguna Beach. Take a guided kayak whale-watching tour or rent your own kayak to explore the marine life below the water’s surface.
With consistent waves and surf shops dotting the coastline, surfing is hugely popular. Huntington Beach is known as “Surf City USA,” but beaches like Bolsa Chica, Newport Beach, and San Onofre also have great surf. Take a lesson or rent a board and wetsuit for the day.
Paddle through harbors or along the coastline while standing atop a board with a paddle. It’s suitable for all skill levels and many rental companies offer lessons. Newport Back Bay offers calm waters that are ideal for paddleboarding.
Home to Disneyland, Orange County is packed with world-class amusement parks perfect for adrenaline-pumping weekends. Scream your lungs out on rollercoasters and make magical memories.
No trip to Orange County is complete without a visit to the magical Disneyland. Enjoy thrilling rides like Space Mountain and Indiana Jones Adventure. Meet your favorite characters, watch parades, enjoy fireworks over the castle, and explore lands like Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
Just up the freeway from Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm offers rollercoasters, family rides, live shows, and more. Brave the steep drops on Hangtime or journey to the Old West at Ghost Town. Stop by Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant for famous fried chicken before heading home.
Right next to Disneyland, this park celebrates the culture and landscapes of California. Enjoy Cars Land, Toy Story Land, and the new Avengers Campus. Don’t miss classics like Soarin’ Over California and the fun Grizzly River Run. Cap off the night with the spectacular World of Color show.
Whether you love high-end boutiques or thrift shops, Orange County shopping covers it all. Score some retail therapy this weekend.
This massive luxury mall in Costa Mesa boasts designer boutiques like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Prada. The expansive dining options range from casual to fine dining and it even has a Carousel lounge for cocktails.
Also in Newport Beach, Fashion Island has elegant outdoor promenades lined with shops like Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, and Neiman Marcus. Grab lunch al fresco at a restaurant patio before hitting more shops.
For more laidback shopping, visit the shops and restaurants along this pier-front plaza. Find surf shop brands, souvenirs, swimwear and casual beachside eateries.
Laguna Beach is famed for its arts scene, with a walkable district of indie galleries, craft shops, jewelry boutiques and cafes. Browse and buy one-of-a-kind art from local artists. Stop for a coffee or snack between gallery hopping.
This historic district hosts a lively antique district, indie boutiques, restaurants and cafes. Spend the afternoon browsing antique furniture and vintage goods before grabbing dinner at one of the area’s bistros.
The idyllic landscape and sunny weather make Orange County ideal for vineyards. Spend a day wine tasting at these acclaimed spots.
Founded in 1917, it’s the oldest winery in Los Angeles and the last functioning winery along the historic Wine Trail. Their modern tasting room in Rancho Cucamonga pours wines like Syrah, Pinot Noir and sparkling wines.
This family-owned vineyard in Silverado Canyon offers tastings in a charming Tuscan-style farmhouse. Their estate-grown wines, like Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, pair perfectly with the tranquil canyon views.
Nestled in Sunset Beach, it has a cozy tasting room that looks like a country farmhouse. Sit in their beautiful rose garden while sampling delightful estate-grown wines like Grenache Blanc and Pinot Noir.
Right along the Santa Ana Mountains, this charming vineyard in Rancho Santa Margarita focuses on Rhône-style wines with a modern twist. Don’t miss their estate Viognier, Rosé, and Red Blend.
Located in an industrial center in Brea, their no-frills tasting room pours impressive wines at affordable prices. Try wines like Sangiovese, Chardonnay, Petite Sirah and Zinfandel.
From fine dining to casual cafes, Orange County’s dining scene has it all. Enjoy delicious eats at one of these fantastic restaurants.
Located at South Coast Plaza, this high-end French bistro serves exquisite dishes like Duck Confit and Bouillabaisse in a cozy dining room. Extensive wine list.
Right on the Balboa Pier, it offers stellar waterfront dining with upscale seafood dishes, steaks, and chill vibes. Reserve a patio table for sunset views.
For amazing Mexican food and margaritas in a festive setting, don’t miss this popular restaurant in Costa Mesa. Fish tacos, enchiladas, burritos and more at affordable prices.
This casual seafood spot on Pacific Coast Highway in Newport Beach has insanely fresh and delicious fish and lobster rolls, ceviche, fish and chips. Grab-and-go or order at the counter.
Located at Huntington Beach’s lively 2nd Street, this cozy Italian joint serves homemade pastas, pizzas, seafood dishes and more. Save room for tiramisu.
When the sun sets, Orange County heats up with trendy bars, buzzing clubs and chill lounge vibes. Here are top nightlife spots:
This lively sports bar near Huntington Beach pier has over 50 beers on tap, yummy pub grub and plenty of TVs for game watching. Score a spot on their dog-friendly patio.
For an upscale lounge experience, hit this sleek rooftop bar in Santa Ana. Sip cocktails and wine while grooving to live music performances and DJs.
In Newport Beach, Muldoon’s draws crowds with live music, DJs, karaoke and an awesome selection of Irish beers and whiskey. Nosh on pub favorites like fish and chips, shepherd’s pie and bangers and mash.
For family-friendly fun at night, this interactive dinner show features live pirate battles, circus stunts, and a multi-course meal. It’s located at the Orange County Fair & Events Center.
Dance the night away at this vibrant nightclub in Huntington Beach. Guest DJs spin everything from Top 40 to Latin beats across two floors and three rooms playing different music. 21+ only.
When you need a culture fix, Orange County’s vibrant performing arts scene delivers top-notch live entertainment.
This acclaimed performing arts complex in Costa Mesa presents Broadway musicals, concerts, ballets and operas in multiple stunning theaters. Their gift shop also sells cool artsy gifts.
Catch comedy shows, musicals, dance performances, family shows and more at this state-of-the-art theater located at UC Irvine. Their diverse programming has something for all ages.
This intimately-sized theater in Fullerton stages fun improv comedy shows every Friday and Saturday night. Enjoy side-splitting humor with a beer or glass of wine.
Housed in a historic train depot, this local theater company puts on musicals, dramas and children’s shows. Enjoy affordable tickets for quality productions.
For belly laughs, don’t miss this comedy club in Huntington Beach. Catch improv shows, standup comedy and open mic nights with up-and-coming comedians in an intimate club setting.
From educational activities to whimsical adventures, Orange County offers endless family fun on the weekends. Here are top family-friendly options:
With engaging hands-on exhibits on science, technology, nature and more, kids love this educational museum in Santa Ana. Try fun experiments and enjoy seasonal programs.
Take a free tour of this working farm in Irvine to see harvests, farm animals, a pumpkin patch, and farmer’s market. Seasonal activities like corn mazes and peach picking.
Through art and cultural exhibits, this museum in Santa Ana teaches kids about history, world cultures, and more. The kid-friendly hands-on Kidseum space is a big hit.
Quack along Newport Harbor and beaches in a fun amphibious WWII vehicle. An engaging narrated tour teaches families about the area’s history, landmarks and fun facts.
Designed for younger kids, this children’s museum in Irvine has imaginative roleplaying activities like markets, hospital, construction zone and more.
With its gorgeous coastline, wealth of amusement parks, top shopping destinations, art scenes, vineyards and endless outdoor recreation, Orange County truly offers nonstop weekend fun for all ages and interests. Explore the enchanting allure of Broken Bow as you take your pick from a myriad of activities, whether it’s unwinding on family-friendly beaches, experiencing adrenaline-pumping adventures, indulging in upscale shopping and dining reminiscent of Newport Beach and Laguna Beach, enjoying captivating shows at Segerstrom Center for the Arts, or embarking on outdoor escapades such as hiking, surfing, and kayaking along its scenic landscapes. Whether you’re traveling solo, with friends or family, you’re sure to make unforgettable memories during your weekend in vibrant Orange County.
What is the best way to get around Orange County?
Having a car is ideal for getting around Orange County efficiently, especially for hitting multiple cities like Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, and inland attractions. For a slower-paced weekend, you could also rent a bike or use Uber/Lyft to get to the different neighborhoods and points of interest.
What is there to do in Orange County when it rains?
If there’s rain in the forecast, plan a weekend of indoor activities like visiting museums (Discovery Cube, Bowers Museum, etc), shopping at South Coast Plaza or the boutiques in Laguna Beach, catching a show at Segerstrom Center for the Arts or comedy at ImprovCity, or playing arcade games at Dave & Buster’s.
What is the best area to stay for beaches?
For the quintessential California beach town experience, stay in Huntington Beach or Laguna Beach where the oceanfront is easily walkable. Newport Beach offers luxury beachside hotels. Seal Beach and Sunset Beach also offer low-key accommodations right by the shore.
What is there to do at night besides going to bars?
For nighttime fun beyond the bar scene, catch a comedy show at ImprovCity or Maverick Theater, enjoy dinner and a show at Medieval Times or Pirates Dinner Adventure, play games at Dave & Buster’s, or catch a concert or arts performance at a local theater like Segerstrom Center for the Arts.
What are the best kid-friendly activities?
Top family-friendly activities include amusement parks like Disneyland, beaches, kayaking in Newport Beach, visiting Discovery Cube OC, Pretend City, or the Kidseum at Bowers Museum, taking a Duck Tour or whale watching cruise, picking fruit at Tanaka Farms, and hiking short coastal trails like Crystal Cove.