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.
The Ocean Institute is located in beautiful Dana Point Harbor and offers ocean science and maritime history programs perfect for kids and adults alike. See hundreds of marine animals in aquariums, watch animal feedings, experience ocean-themed exhibits, and have fun with hands-on activities. For an extra charge, take a tall ship or a whale watching cruise. The Dana Point Marine Protected Area is steps away from the Institute.
The area is 900 acres (364 hectares) of estuary, marsh, and coastal sage scrub habit, and it is home to several endangered bird species. Seventy species of fish use the bay and during winter migration thousands of shorebirds and ducks either visit or spend the winter here. Kayak, canoe, walking and electric boat tours are offered and a state of the art Interpretive Center is located at 2301 University Dr., Newport Beach.
Sherman Library and Gardens is located on Pacific Coast Highway and has extensive botanical collections with examples of plant life from desert regions to tropical regions. It is a veritable outdoor museum of plants. Walk along the paths and smell the fragrant flowers and listen to the bubbling fountains. It really is an oasis that will take you away to a calmer, more peaceful place. The place also has a library on site which a delight for art lovers and bibliophiles.
Housed in the only remaining Carnegie Library building in Anaheim, this museum deals both with the rich cultural history of Anaheim and of the world. The volunteers who work there value educating the younger generation about their fine city, which was founded in the mid-1850s by German winemakers who wanted to sell their product to citizens of Los Angeles. Muzeo also features rotating strange and wonderful exhibits that make this a truly fascinating museum.
A short walk from the bustling downtown Laguna Beach, this park is an amazing hidden oasis. The grassy bluff and the sandy beach with giant rocks and hidden caves makes this park a favorite spot for photographers, sunset watchers, picnickers, and even sea birds. There are also a variety of art stands selling local artwork.
Honoring the Buddha's teachings in the Pure-Land and Zen sect, this temple located in Irvine is a member of the American Lotus Buddhist Association. This religious and educational center strives to impart a better understanding of Buddhism to all its visitors. The temple is used for various ceremonies and events throughout the year as well as regular services and classes. Be sure to visit the website for more information.
Tustin Library is located in the heart of the city and is the perfect place for anyone looking for peace and serenity. The library has a large collection of books, magazines, DVDs, audiobooks, and other electronic media as well as access to computers and free Wi-Fi. The staff is very friendly and always happy to help with any questions you may have.
Peppertree Park is a popular park in the city, not so because of its amenities but for the many events that take place throughout the year. Kids can run around or swing in the playground. Horseshoe pits and a softball field will keep you engaged. Picnic spots with barbecue pits are a hit among families in the area. Annual programs such as summer concerts, Lobsterfest and musicals keep it always buzzing.
The Colonel Bill Barber Marine Corps Memorial Park has facilities to hold barbecue picnics and community events and to practice team sports. It houses the Deanna Manning Stadium, an amphitheater, six tennis courts and three playgrounds, soccer and softball fields each. It also has cycling trails.
In the heart of historic Santa Ana, along West 2nd Street between Birch Park and Main Street, this little part of town is often considered a hidden gem of an upscale flea market. All along the mini walkway, traffic is closed in order for people to wander in and out of the galleries, bars and restaurants. Some of which include Lola Gaspar, C4 Deli, Grand Central Art Center, The Estate on Second and the O.C. Center for Contemporary Art. A walk here is definitely a superb way to spend the day away from the beaches and theme parks.
Inside California's oldest courthouse, which was built in 1901 in the Romanesque Revival style, guests will find a museum, the O.C. History Center and the library of the Pacific Coast Archaeological Society. The museum presents exhibits about local history and the development of Orange County. Much of the building has been restored to its original state, including the original early 20th century courtroom and judge's chamber that are open to the public. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the building itself is a true Californian treasure.