Activities

Play at the beach. Explore art, history and culture. Dine at award-winning restaurants. Listen to live entertainment. Catch a professional sports game. Swing for par on a breathtaking golf course.

Whatever you choose, you'll feel like you're walking on sunshine in Anaheim and Orange County!

Beach Cities of Orange County

Seal Beach Municipal Beach and Pier
At the end of Main Street & Pacific Coast Highway

Serving as the northern gateway to OC's 42 miles of beaches, this quiet community is the perfect escape. Wide, sandy expanses and several great surf spots make it a favorite among locals. Conditions are perfect for windsurfing, kitesurfing and building sandcastles. Stroll the Seal Beach Pier, the second longest wooden pier in California. Just off the beach, lining Main Street, the quaint downtown area is filled with shops and restaurants.

Surfside Beach and Sunset Beach
Pacific Coast Highway (between Anderson & Warner Ave.)
Sunset Beach, CA 90742
(949) 923-2290
ocparks@ocparks.com

Spanning a 3-mile stretch, Surfside Beach and Sunset Beach have excellent visitor amenities and provide ample space for recreational activities, including swimming, body and board surfing. A surfing zone is on the north end of the beach and lifeguard services are provided. Quieter beaches, less known to tourists. Close to restaurants along Pacific Coast Highway.

Bolsa Chica State Beach
17851 Pacific Coast Highway
(between Warner Ave. and Seapoint Ave.)
Huntington Beach, CA 92648

Stretching some 3 miles, this beach is popular with sunbathers and surfers throughout the year. It's also as popular by night as it is by day because of the fire rings used for after-dark bonfires. Amenities includes restrooms, concession stands and paid parking. Lifeguard patrols take place year round, but towers are staffed only in the summer. The Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve parallels the beach, across Pacific Coast Highway. Beachside RV camping is available at Bolsa Chica State Beach.

Huntington City Beach & Pier
Pacific Coast Hwy. & Main Street
Huntington Beach, CA 92646

Huntington Beach boasts some of the widest beaches in California. The City Beach is 3.5 miles long, sandwiched between Bolsa Chica State Beach and Huntington State Beach. You can enjoy an endless array of beach activities including boogie boarding, surfing and beachside bicycling. The local waves make Surf City USA the hub of surf activity in Orange County. In fact, the biggest surf contest in the world, the U.S. Open of Surfing, is held here in early August. Or you can pull up a patch of sand and watch beach volleyball or enjoy a warm beach bonfire and casual walks on the historic Huntington Beach Pier. If you can tear yourself away from the sand, you'll find swimwear and surf shops, restaurants and bars on Main Street, the Surfing Walk of Fame, Hall of Fame, and the International Surf Museum. The north end of the city beach (2 miles no. of the pier, between Seapoint Ave. and Goldenwest St.) is a designated Dog Beach, where your canine friends can run along the sand and splash in the surf as well. See www.dogbeach.org or call (714) 536-5281 for more details.

Huntington State Beach
21601 Pacific Coast Highway
(from Beach Blvd. to the Santa Ana River)
Huntington Beach, Ca 92646

The transition between City and State beach is almost imperceptible. It's one long stretch of beautiful wide beach. The bike/walking path extends along this beach to the Newport Beach border. In addition to sunbathing, this beach is also popular with surfers and anglers. It offers food concessions and fire rings for evening bonfires.

Newport Municipal Beach & Pier
Balboa Blvd., at Oceanfront & 21st Street
(949) 644-3309

This five mile stretch of fine, soft sand offers plenty of opportunity to enjoy Southern California's great climate. Surfers, swimmers and sunbathers flock to the beach in both summer and winter. The vibe on the Balboa Peninsula is youthful and fun. A lengthy bike trail, which extends around most of the Balboa Peninsula, also makes it an ideal place for cycling and skating. Skate, bike and board rentals are popular. Parking is limited and you might have to walk a few blocks to get to the sand.

Balboa Peninsula Beach & Pier
At the end of Balboa Blvd., west of Main St.
(949) 644-3309

A fun beach with nearby cafes and surf shops. Outfitters on the side streets rent rollerblades, beach cruisers and surfboards. The beach offers a small-scale surf break-rarely surfable, but a mellow place to get on a board for the first time. Across Balboa Blvd., next to the Balboa Pavilion, is the family-friendly Fun Zone. Just look for the Ferris Wheel and follow the scent of popcorn and cotton candy.

Corona del Mar State Beach
Marguerite Ave. & Ocean Blvd.
Corona del Mar, CA 92625
(949) 644-3309

Known as "Big Corona Beach," this is a half-mile long sandy beach framed by cliffs and a rock jetty that forms the east entrance to Newport Harbor. A great family beach and a popular place for swimmers, Big Corona is also popular with surfers, divers, volleyball players and sunbathers. Above the beach is a walking path along Ocean Blvd. and a lookout point to enjoy spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and Newport Harbor. On a clear day, you can see Catalina Island, some 25 miles away. And the sunsets here are incredible! On the other end of Ocean Avenue at Poppy is "Little Corona" is reached by a steep pathway (making it easy to wheel equipment right down to the beach.) The beach is relatively small, flanked on both sides with protective rocky reefs. Its seclusion and the kid-friendly tide pools are highlights. It's a popular diving and snorkeling spot and a great beach for families that don't want to worry about little ones.

Crystal Cove State Park
8471 N. Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
(949) 494-3539

One of Orange County's largest remaining examples of open space and natural seashore, Crystal Cove State Park offers rolling surf, wide sandy beaches, tide pools, along with deeply wooded canyons and ridges. From the El Moro Canyon parking lot, backcountry trails are open for hiking, bicycling and equestrian use. Beachgoers can enjoy seven separate coves along 3.2 miles of beach. Sunbathing, swimming, surfing, diving and tide pool exploring are all popular activities. Explore the Crystal Cove Historic District-a favorite with artists and as a location for many early films. Dine within feet of the water at The Beachcomber Café. (Be prepared to wait! Or catch a faster bite at the Shake Shack on the bluff above.) For nearly 100 years, Crystal Cove has been a popular place to pitch a tent or rent a beach cottage. Bluff top camping is now available once again, complete with stunning ocean and sunset views. Or rent an historic beach cottages (they rent six months in advance) and enjoy one of California's quintessential beach experiences.

Laguna Beaches

Laguna Beach offers seven miles of soft sand and the sound of the surf from oceanfront accommodations. The coves in north Laguna are favored for scuba diving and tide pool exploration. Lively Main Beach is crowded and busy, but within steps of many restaurants and shops in this historic and art-infused downtown. But Laguna offers 20 distinctive beaches along the most dramatically beautiful stretch of the Orange County coast. Check the Visitor Bureau's website to discover the personality of each. You're sure to find one that fits your idea of the perfect OC beach experience.

Aliso Beach County Park
31131 S. Pacific Coast Hwy.
Laguna Beach, CA 92652
(949) 923-2280
southcoastops@ocparks.com

Aliso Beach features sandy beaches, rocky promontories, and scenic coastal foothills. The park is in two sections-the beach and an inland area that includes coastal chaparral and Aliso Creek. Swimming, surfing, skin diving and paddle boarding all take place in the waters off Aliso Beach.

Fishing is available off the Aliso Pier. A concessionaire offers fishing gear rental and sales, food and beverage and beach supplies. A marine life refuge borders to the north and south; rocky outcroppings mark the park boundary.

Salt Creek Beach County Park
33333 S. Pacific Coast Hwy.
Dana Point, CA 92629
(949) 923-2280
southcoastops@ocparks.com

Salt Creek offers access to 18 acres of public beaches. It is a popular surfing location, with a small, offshore reef that creates some of the best left swells along the entire shoreline. Swimming, body surfing, sunbathing and tide pool exploration are other beach activities. The parking is located on the bluff above the beach; the beach can be reached via a set of stairs or a funicular.

Doheny State Beach
25300 Dana Point Harbor Drive
Dana Point, CA 92629
(949) 496-6172

California's first state beach, Doheny covers 62 acres of scenic oceanfront. Beach activities include volleyball, swimming, sunbathing, kayaking, windsurfing and tide pool exploration at low tide. This is a great beach for beginning surfers; surfing is restricted to the day-use beach north of San Juan Creek. Doheny's westerly swells are best during the summer months. Beachside tent and RV camping is available. With over a mile of sandy beach and some of the warmest water in California, Doheny was voted OC's "best camping site" for 14 consecutive years. Popular events at Doheny include: Doheny Blues Festival (May), Surf-a-Rama (surf expo, June) and Battle of the Paddle (surf contest, October).

Capistrano Beach County Park
35005 Beach Rd.
Capistrano Beach, CA 92675
(949) 923-2280
southcoastops@ocparks.com

Enjoy volleyball, basketball and other beach activities. During the summer months, a concession building offers fishing gear rental and sales, food and beverages, and beach supplies.

San Clemente Beach (City)

San Clemente offers 20 acres of sandy beaches. North Beach is a kid-friendly area, with playground equipment, beach volleyball, a snack bar and snorkeling gear rentals. The main City Beach runs north and south of the 1,200-foot-long fishing pier. The south side of the pier is ideal for bodyboarding and swimming. Pull up a patch of sand, or stroll the coastal trail that goes a mile or so north and south of the pier, near the railroad tracks that run along the beach. Friendly sidewalk cafes and seafood restaurants with great views can be found at the base of the pier. Trafalgar Street Beach (known as T-Street) is one of the busiest seashores in town, popular with both families and surfers. A large sandbar creates a shallow area for young beachgoers. Food stands, picnic tables and board rentals are also available.

San Clemente State Beach
3030 Avenida del Presidente
San Clemente, CA 92672
(949) 492-3156
www.parks.ca.gov

The beach stretches between tall sandstone bluffs and the rolling surf. Trails provide easy access to the beach from the day-use parking area. Swimming, body surfing, board surfing, snorkeling and sunbathing are equally popular. While experienced surfers appreciate the challenging surf break, the beach also accommodates beginning surfers. A picnic area delivers sweeping vistas of the Pacific Ocean from the bluffs 150 feet above the ocean. A family campground also sits high atop the bluff, offering some of the best beach camping in the county. RV hookups are available.

San Onofre State Beach
San Clemente, CA 92672
(949) 492-4872
www.parks.ca.gov

San Onofre State Beach sits at the edge of a 3,000 acre scenic coastal canyon area. Native Acjachemen, Spanish missionaries, rancheros, caballeros, the United States Marines and surfing legends have all made history at San Onofre. The diverse recreational and natural offerings of this park's three distinct sections-San Onofre Bluffs, San Onofre Surf Beach and San Mateo Campground-make it one of the most popular state parks. Campers can enjoy two separate campgrounds (San Mateo and San Onofre Bluffs) and hikers can enjoy miles of backcountry hikes from San Mateo Campground. Non-surfers can picnic, swim, walk or sunbathe. But San Onofre is a boarder's dream. Two of the West Coast's famous surfing haunts-Old Man's and Trestles- attract expert wave riders. Two pro surfing competitions take place here: Nike 6.0 Pro (May) and Hurley Pro (September).

OC Harbors

Huntington Harbour
Pacific Coast Highway at Warner Ave.
Huntington Beach

Situated in the city's northwest corner, Huntington Harbour encompasses five man-made islands, connected by a network of navigable channels, and the land surrounding them. The waterways are lined with contemporary multi-million dollar homes, private docks and luxury yachts. There are multiple marinas that capture the feeling of seaside resort, with restaurants, boutiques, boat rentals, and services for boaters. This is a great place to try stand-up paddleboarding or kayaking in calm waters and there are a number of rental places along Pacific Coast Highway, in Sunset Beach, that can provide you with gear for a great experience on the water. Huntington Harbour is only 15 minutes from the open water of the Pacific Ocean. It connects with Anaheim Bay via a waterway that passes under a bridge on Pacific Coast Highway and passes the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station and Anaheim Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Marinas include: Peter's Landing Marina (guest slips, charter boats, and electric boat rentals), Huntington Harbour Marina, and Sunset Aquatic Marina Regional Park, that features a boat ramp and guest slips. This harbor hosts a festive boat parade during the holidays.

Newport Harbor
Newport Beach
(949) 923-2290
northcoastops@ocparks.com

With over 9,000 boats, Newport Harbor is one of the finest and most scenic small boat harbors in the world. Take a harbor cruise and enjoy a waterside view of the luxury homes and yachts that line the shore. Or take things at your own speed--rent a kayak, stand-up paddleboard, sailboat, or Duffy Boat (invented in OC) for a fun afternoon on the water. Other adventures, including charter fishing boats, whale watching boats and the Catalina Flyer, depart from the historic Balboa Pavilion. The harbor extends inland to Newport Dunes, a favorite gathering place for water-oriented family fun. RV camping is available at the Dunes, along with a calm water beach that is great for sunbathing and swimming with the kids. Newport Harbor hosts multiple events during the year, including the famed Newport-Ensenada Race, the Christmas Boat parade and multiple regattas.

Upper Newport Bay
Newport Beach

On the inland side of Pacific Coast Highway lies one of the largest coastal wetlands in Southern California. The quiet wilderness of Upper Newport Bay presents a pristine estuary where fresh and salt water mingle. Throughout the nearly 1,000 open acres that make up Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve and Ecological Reserve, hundreds of species can be found resting on the banks or swooping in for a catch in the calm waters. Many will be gone as soon as the warmer, longer days of spring arrive. It's a terrific place to kayak, bicycle and bird watch.

Dana Point Harbor
Dana Point

This attractive harbor accommodates 2,500 boats and shops and restaurants line the wharf. In Dana Point Harbor, you can catch a charter fishing boat, a whale watching boat, or hop the Catalina Express for a fun day or weekend on Catalina Island. Boat and kayak rental facilities are also available. The Ocean Institute is on the far end of the harbor, at the foot of the Dana Point headlands; be sure to check out their marine exhibits and their two tall ships, or join an ocean-going expedition to see local marine life. The harbor area is the site for many community events and celebrations, including the Festival of Whales (March) and the Tall Ships Festival (September.)

Parks

Irvine Park

Attractions at this 477-acre park include the Orange County Zoo, nature center, lagoon, mini railroad, pedal boats, bike rentals, picnic areas with barbecues, and several miles of hiking, mountain biking, and equestrian trails. Facilities include four ball fields, a volleyball court, and eight horseshoe pits. (1 Irvine Park Road)

Pitcher Park

Pitcher Park was formerly the home of Henry and Grace Pitcher beginning in 1912, and the property was gifted to the City of Orange in 1988. The park features stone pathways through the property which lead you around clumps of trees, a lively flower garden, and vegetable plots, and stone tables – some of which have inlaid checker/chess boards. Pitcher Park is also home to the Honey House and Orange Fire Museum. Unlike your typical park, bike riding, skateboards, rollerblading, and picking fruit are prohibited at Pitcher Park. (204 S. Cambridge)

Santiago Oaks Regional Park and Nature Center

Situated in east Orange astride Santiago Creek, this 350-acre wilderness park has five miles of hiking, mountain biking, and equestrian paths, which access 10 miles of trails to the adjoining Anaheim Hills. The park originally consisted of two purchases commonly know as the “Blome” and “Rinker” properties, and these two parcels constituted a ready-made park atmosphere with its variety of trees, creek, nature trails, and wildlife habitat. The Nature Center features natural history exhibits. (2145 N. Windes Drive)

Orange County Fun for Children

Orange County, California is as kid-friendly as a destination can get! Attractions like Disneyland and Knott's Berry Farm (home of Camp Snoopy) top the list, of course. Plus endless beach activities like kayaking and other water sports and park recreational fun can occupy much of your trip. Add to that water parks, skate parks, interactive museums and discovery centers, go-kart racing, bowling alleys, ice skating & roller skating, shopping malls , kids concerts and shows and much, much more - and you've got yourself a fantastic family getaway!

Beyond amusement parks and beaches, Orange County offers lots of fun-filled experiences for children and their families. Check out our " Best Of The OC " section for the Best Places to Find Great Experiences For Kids!

Looking for even more fun? See below for links to more kid-friendly OC itineraries and additional insider suggestions on things to do for the whole family!

Anaheim Family Fun
Buena Park Family Fun
Costa Mesa Family Fun
Dana Point Kids Events
Huntington Beach Kids Activities
Irvine Kid-Friendly Things To Do
Laguna Beach Family Itinerary
Newport Beach Family Itinerary
San Juan Capistrano Kids Activities

 

 

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