Crystal Cove State Park spans 3.2 miles (5.15 kilometers) of beach and over 2000 acres (809.37 hectares) of wilderness. Visitors to the park can relax on the beach, hike or go horseback riding on the many trails that criss-cross the verdant landscape. Explore tide pools and hidden coves as well as canyon flora and fauna. Finally, the crystal clear waters have been designated as an underwater park and are great for scuba diving, skin diving, and underwater photography, thus covering all aspects of outdoor exploration.
If you are driving south along the coast for the day from L.A., this gallery is ideally situated near the popular Fashion Island shopping center, not even a mile from the Pacific Coast Highway. The subject of much controversy among Orange County's art crowd over the past few years, the museum expanded to almost double its original size when the Newport Harbor Art Museum (same location) and the Laguna Art Museum consolidated to form this larger complex, scandalizing the art-loving Laguna Beach community. The permanent collection focuses on late 20th-century and California art, but the museum enjoys exhibitions that have included works from artists such as Rico Lebrun and Pablo Picasso. The Plein Air Café serves lunch, and a meal will earn you free admission to the museum.
If the air inside one of the area's many malls seems too stuffy for you, head to Newport Pier for a day of shopping and dining right on the water. Whether you are in search of a quick buy for a day out on the beach, or are looking for souvenirs to bring back home, you can find it among the many shops and restaurants in this bustling oceanfront area. Here you can pick up an OC sweatshirt to properly emulate those moody walks by the waves, or get the kids some toy shovels to built expert sand castles. Then stop by one of the many kiosks for a fruit smoothie for the ride home, but before you go make sure to walk out to the end of the pier for some great views of Catalina Island and the surrounding beaches.
Historic Mission San Juan Capistrano is a California icon. Perhaps most famous for visits from its annual guests of honor, the swallows, the Mission means many things to many people. For Californians, it is a powerful symbol of the state's complicated colonial history. For Catholics, it is a profound religious site, indicative of the Church's own complex heritage. History buffs spend hours reveling in the facility's many exhibits and displays, connecting viscerally with the sights, sounds and feelings of generations long past. For visitors of any background, it is an undeniably gorgeous place to spend an afternoon-replete with striking architectural elements and lovingly cared-for gardens.
Irvine Park Railroad is located in beautiful Irvine Regional Park. The one-third scale train takes visitors on a scenic, 12-minute ride through the 477-acre park. Other park attractions include pony rides, the Orange County Zoo, walking trails, horseback riding, snack bars and more. You can rent paddle boats, bikes, and horseshoe and volleyball sets. Annual Irvine Park Railroad events include the Pumpkin Patch, Christmas Train, Easter Eggstravaganza, California History Education Program and Anniversary Celebration. School field trips are available. You can also reserve space for private parties.
Founded in 1932, this is likely the best all-around museum in Orange County. The complex has particularly come into its own since its re-opening in 1992 with expanded and improved exhibition spaces. Created with funds donated by Charles Bowers, the complex was built in the style of the California Missions, and is adorned with murals honoring that motif. Originally intended by Mr. Bowers to focus on local history, the museum has since enlarged its focus to incorporate artifacts from the cultures of Southeast Asia, Oceania, Mexico and Native America.
Main Beach is probably the most photographed, and definitely the most visited beach in the city. Right in downtown, the location could not be more convenient. Most of the local attractions and popular eateries are within walking distance. While admiring the azure waters and sunbathing is the most popular activity, the beach park itself has a bunch of facilities such as volleyball and basketball areas, picnic tables, a children's play area, and protected tide pools where you can enjoy some of the cleanest water on the Pacific coast.
Get to know Laguna Beach by going on this interesting tour. Laguna Beach Walks is a pleasant 2 hour walking tour where you walk along the coastline and explore the downtown area. You'll see landmarks, public art, charming houses and delightful boutiques. As you walk you'll learn about the area from your knowledgeable and friendly guide. Make sure to wear your walking shoes!Please note that the different themed tours often met at different times and locations.
Laguna Beach has long been a center for art. Creative types flocked here in droves to work their magic along Laguna's pristine shores. The Laguna Art Museum continues this proud heritage with an impressive list of year-round exhibitions and programming. Within these hallowed halls, you'll find classic and contemporary works by artists both fledgling and world renowned. An emphasis is placed on artists hailing from California, but the museum's scope is global nonetheless.
Since 1963, Laguna Sea Sports has trained, certified, and served many local and visiting divers. The shop is small but fully equipped with all kinds of gears for rent or purchase, and a private swimming pool for training. Within walking distance, there are a few excellent diving sites: Shaws Cove, Fishermans Cove and Divers Cove, and more are just short distances up and down the coast. Diving trips to more remote sites and foreign sites are also scheduled year around.
Cress Street Beach is a popular beach destination for both locals and tourists. The beach is great for surfing and body-boarding when the waves are strong. However, during gentle waves, experienced swimmers can also go snorkeling or scuba diving as there is an exposed coral reef close to the shoreline. There are also some interesting rock formations on the beach that children love to climb. The best time to visit is during sunset when the crowds thin down and you can enjoy the marvelous views in solitude.
Orange County is not known for wine production. However, Laguna Canyon Winery stands as proof that with the right measure of tender loving care, enological brilliance can be squeezed from a region previously untapped. First and foremost, the operation is a small one, allowing for an attention to detail not possible in big-time wineries. Another important secret is that the grapes do not actually come from Orange County. Instead, vintners truck in the finest product from points north. Finally, the winery's fruit-forward approach to the craft results in bottles that mesh perfectly with the warm and sunny climate.