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CaliforniaTravelTravel TipsUSA

Orange County California Travel Guide

By April 6, 2018 No Comments

Orange County is the ultimate vacation destination. Whether you’re seeking adventure or relaxation, the OC has you covered. Orange County is the home to Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm, as well as over 30 miles of beautiful coastline. With great food and even better weather, a visit to the OC should be high on your list.

{What to Expect in Orange County}

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Orange County is just outside of the craziness that is LA, which allows for a more laid back, slower pace than the big city. The OC has all your best beaches, theme parks (Disneyland heehee) shopping and acai bowls. The community is alive and thriving and the people are warm and welcoming.

{Getting Around}

Traffic isn’t as bad in Orange County as it is in LA, but rush hour can get pretty congested, especially on the freeways leading to and from the beach. Uber will be your best bet getting around and is pretty inexpensive.

If you’re going to LA, the train from Orange to Union Station is a great option to avoid traffic!

{Stay}

Budget Friendly Accommodation

  • Air Bnb is going to be your best bet for inexpensive accommodation. I would check out options in Anaheim or Costa Mesa!

Luxury Accommodation

  • House on the beach: Wake up to the sound of the ocean and have your morning cup of coffee with your toes in the sand. Sometimes you can find a pretty good deal to rent a house on Newport Beach or San Clemente.
  • The Resort at Pelican Hill: Perched along the coastal beauty of Crystal Cove State Park, a stay at The Resort at Pelican Hill will be the most refreshing retreat. Private Villas and Bungalow guest rooms are spacious, elegant and perfect for a beach getaway.

{Eat}

 

Brunch:

 

Snooze A.M. Eatery: Don’t press snooze the day you go here for breakfast because their food is worth getting out of bed for! An amazing selection of pancakes, eggs benedict, omelets and more!

Bosscat Kitchen and Libations: If you’re feeling a little extra, go here because this is the craziest brunch you will ever eat. Fruity Pebble French Toast, Cinnamon Bun Hamburger, Blue Velvet Pancakes with peanut butter sauce, banana cream filling and bacon… I won’t judge if you order them all… You might want to make a reservation though because they fill up!

 

Lunch/Dinner:

True Food Kitchen: Incredibly yummy, healthy meals made from local produce! One of my FAVORITE restaurants in all of Southern California. Inside out quinoa burger, spaghetti squash casserole, and bison burger are a few of my favorites.

Smoqued: Belly up to a finger lickin good BBQ meal. Smoqued has the juiciest meats, amazing sides and great craft beer. I get the same thing every time. BBQ Pulled pork with skillet mac and cheese, green beans and corn bread. It will change your life.

Rutabegorz: The cutest old house turned into a restaurant, Ruta’s menu goes on for DAYS. I can’t get over their massive salads, filled with all the goods, but they’re famous for their enchiladas. Soup, Salad, Sandwiches, Bagels, Wraps, Pasta, they have everything!! Don’t forget to grab a cookie for the road!

Bruxie: Gourmet waffle sandwiches. Think of a sandwich, now take out the bread and swap it for a savory waffle. That’s Bruxie. Amazing custard and milkshakes too!!

Bear Flag Fish Co: Some of the best seafood by the beach I’ve ever had! They have amazing, salmon and poke and are famous for their guac. (There’s one right by Crystal Cove State Park so if you hike that, you can stop here when you’re done!)

Urth Caffe: This is your stop for great coffee and tea. Super fun, organic options for lunch with a wide variety of yummy pastries.

Saddle Ranch Chop House: This restaurant is WILD. If you want free food, go here. I’m not kidding, every time I go here I’ve gotten something for free. One time it was an appetizer, another time it was S’mores and another time it was a giant cotton candy tower! They also have a mechanical bull, just saying…

In-N-Out: There’s nothing more Californian than an In-N-Out Burger. Grab some fries, animal style and a thick shake to wash it down!

Dessert: 

Cauldron Ice Cream: Cauldron is mixing up some amazing things with their liquid nitrogen and if you ask them to turn it into a flower they will make you an ice cream rose! (do it for the gram)

Sidecar Donuts: Feast your eyes on these beautiful donuts and snap a pic before they’re gone!! This place is a California classic

 

Creamistry: If you want to customize your own flavor and then see your ice cream transform before your eyes, creamistry is your place. They use liquid nitrogen to make your flavor right when you order it and it’s the creamiest ice cream I’ve ever had. Super fun experience. I always get the cookie butter with brownies.

Sprinkles Cupcakes and Ice Cream: The original cupcake bakery. Their ice cream and cupcakes are a match made in heaven, so make sure you go to a location that has the ice cream! Oh and they have great cookies and brownies too.

{Do}

Hike Crystal Cove: Crystal Cove State Park is one of Orange County’s largest remaining examples of open space and natural seashore.

  • Hike into Moro Canyon and then take in a beautiful ocean view on your way down or walk Cliffside on the dirt trail above the ocean.
  • Parking is $15.

 

Driving Tip:

As you come down South on 73 take the McArthur exit or else you’ll have to pay a toll. Your GPS will then take you all the way to PCH (Pacifc Coast Highway, AKA the most beautiful drive on the face of the earth) and you will drive down a windy road with the beach on your right until you hit Crystal Cove State Park.

 

Anaheim Packing House: Anaheim Packing House is all of Orange County culture under one roof. This hipster indoor food court has a variety of American and ethnic foods to choose from. They have live music in the evenings and comfortable seating for a fun evening out.

Old Town Orange: I’ve never experienced a community like Orange. This quaint little town is filled with the most eclectic restaurants, antique shops and little boutiques.

  • “The circle” which is the giant roundabout in the middle is where they filmed Parks and Rec and the bench scene from Forrest Gump
  • Smoqued, Burger Parlor, Pizza Press, The Filling Station, Rutabeorz, The Pie Hole LA, Growl and The Perfect Circle Cupcakery are some of my favorite foods there

Beaches:

Huntington: That beach from Hollister. Huntington is definitely the biggest and most popular beach filled with surfers, shops and good eats. Walk to Ruby’s at the end of the pier for a classic diner milkshake or check out the Bungalow for great nightlife!

Newport: A less crowded, cleaner version of Huntington in my opinion. Newport beach is my favorite because there’s a pier and a great path along the sand that’s perfect for riding bikes.

Laguna: Even more secluded than Newport. If you’re looking for a peaceful afternoon at the beach, this is where you need to be. It’s stunningly gorgeous making it the ideal place to relax and recharge.

Disneyland: I have whole articles about this magical place. Check them out here.

1 day in Disneyland – The Best Route

The Ultimate Disneyland Snack Guide

Downtown Disney Food Recommendations:

  • The Jazz Kitchen: Get a taste of New Orleans at this lively restaurant serving the best cajun cuisine. This might be my favorite restaurant in all of Southern California, and I’m a sucker for their shrimp and grits and gumbo. The best part is you get free beignets of your birthday!
  • Tortilla Joes: GREAT Mexican food. Ask for the tableside quac and they’ll come make it right in front of you!
  • La Brea Bakery: Follow your nose and you’ll arrive at La Brea Bakery. Famous for their fresh, homemade bread, this craftsman-style café has artisanal sandwiches and fresh California cuisine.
  • Sprinkles Cupcakes: The original cupcake bakery. Your trip to California isn’t complete without a famous Sprinkles cupcake. Good luck trying to choose from their long list of irresistible flavors!

Enjoy your trip to my second home!

Check out my other guides for Southern California to help you plan your trip!

The Ultimate Travel Guide to Los Angeles

Hiking to the Hollywood Sign

xx Nicole #DoStuff

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NicoleERenard
Author NicoleERenard

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