Stunning coastlines and parks, picture-perfect weather, cultural attractions, luxury retail outlets and world-renowned theme parks are just some of the reasons why Orange County should be your next vacation destination.
Feeling a bit depressed now that summer and Eid are over? Well, the best way to feel better is to start planning your next family getaway. Home to manicured oceanfront towns with amazing views and weather that makes it feel it’s forever summer, Orange County quickly envelops you in the ultimate dreamy Southern California lifestyle.
There seems to be something for everyone in the family in “The OC,” one of Calfornia’s most iconic destinations. Whether it’s the world-renowned theme parks like the original Disneyland Resort or Knott’s Berry Farm to amp up the fun metre, some cultural exploration or nature-inspired adventures, there’s never a dull moment. Plus, of course, there’s the chance to pamper yourself at the multi-awarded five-star beach resorts and spas found along the 68 kilometres of beaches, as well as indulge in gourmet experiences that are as tasteful as they are artistic. What’s more, the abundance of designer stores and outlets make shopping in The OC an attraction in itself.
Here are eight family-friendly activities to inspire you for your next vacation:
8. CRYSTAL CATHEDRAL AT GARDEN GROVE
Designed in the shape of a four-pointed star and comprised of over 10,000 panes of glass (and coincidentally boasting 10,000 members), Crystal Cathedral is a sight to behold. Plus, it’s not unusual to see guest speakers ranging from professional athletes to actors like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Self-guided tours of the cathedral are available during the week.
7. PAGEANT OF THE MASTERS
If you’re planning ahead for next summer, Pageant of the Masters is one of those seasonal events you won’t want to miss. As part of the Festival of Arts summer programme in Laguna Beach, it features nightly 90-minute shows in an outdoor amphitheatre that recreate some of the world's most famous classic and contemporary paintings. Just imagine art coming to life as real people pose in "living paintings". The elaborate costumes, set design, technical components, music and narration all help make it so life-like. It’s tradition for every show to end with da Vinci's "The Last Supper."
6. CATALINA ISLAND
Looking for somewhere to unwind and disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life? Catalina is that haven and it’s just 35 kilometres from shore. Whether you want to frolic in the ocean, play a round of golf, or enjoy discovering the local shops and boutiques, the friendly, relaxed and carefree atmosphere will charm you. As it’s just an hour to get to by boat, it should be on every visitor’s to-do list.
5. CRYSTAL COVE STATE PARK AT LAGUNA BEACH
If your family members are outdoor enthusiasts, this beautiful park offers a wide variety of landscapes for physical activity, as well as some spectacular lookout points for sightseeing. If you prefer to stay on firm land, you can make your way around on foot, horseback or bikes, while water enthusiasts can scuba dive, surf and look for marine life in the tide pools. For sunset, you can head to The Beachcomber Café, but make sure to make a reservation, or if you’re looking for a casual meal, Ruby's Shake Shack is highly recommended.
3. KNOTT'S BERRY FARM AT BUENA PARK
Billed as America's first theme park, Knott’s Berry Farm is still just as thrilling as when it first opened. As well as the exciting rides, the complex features live entertainment, historic exhibits and dining. The five themed areas allow you to relive different eras in the US, including Ghost Town, an 1880s Western boom town with cowboys, gun fights, stagecoaches, gold panning and Wild West stunt shows in Wagon Camp. Boardwalk, a coastal amusement park of the 1920s, is another option. If your kids are very young, Camp Snoopy, where you’ll find over 30 Peanuts themed rides and the 2,100-seat Charles M. Schulz Theatre, is where you should be heading.
2. MISSION SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO AT SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO
San Juan Capistrano dates back to 1776, making it one of California's oldest Spanish missions. Impressively, it still features a variety of adobe foundations and a few working buildings. Although you can’t visit the once-majestic Great Stone Church anymore, the intimate Serra Chapel, with its baroque altar, is still in use. The mission is also known for its legendary swallows, which are said to arrive every year on St. Joseph's Day. There are seasonal art and cultural activities, including Battle of the Mariachis.
1. DISNEYLAND RESORT
Who doesn’t want to visit the happiest place on Earth? This theme park, which features adrenaline-pumping rides, enticing games and thrilling shows, continues to be one of the best loved in the world. What’s more, it’s not just a fun day out for the kids. With its eight individually themed "lands," Disneyland® offers plenty of fun for the entire family. Whether it’s to explore the futuristic adventure of Tomorrowland, Frontierland's outdoorsy Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island, or the zany shenanigans at Mickey's Toontown, you shouldn’t miss Disneyland, where you can spend several days without doing the same thing twice. As well as the rides, there are shows, shops and restaurants in each section of the park.