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Best Historic Locations in Orange County

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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.

Stretching 1853 feet (564.80 meters) into the Pacific Ocean, the Huntington Beach Pier is one of the West Coast's longest piers. This attraction is visited by millions of people each year, creating an eccentric crowd. It is home to several important events, such as the U.S. Open of Surfing in July, Kite Party in February and Huck Finn Fishing Derby in August. You’ll also find excellent oceanfront dining at both ends of the pier.

Take a leisurely walk through Orange County's past. Your path will take you through four buildings, each one a history lesson. The first is a building from the Rancho Canada De Los Aliso owned by the Serranos, who were cattle ranchers in the 1860s. Next you have the El Toro Grammar School, built in 1890, a one-room school-house just like in the Little House on the Prairie books. Then there is the St. George Episcopal Mission, built in 1891. Finally, there is the Bennett Ranch House built in 1908. The tour is free of charge, and reservations are not required unless you have a large group.

Opening its doors in 1990, this complex was established to celebrate former President Nixon's accomplishments as a peacemaker and an international statesman. From the humble farmhouse built by his father in 1912, to priceless gifts from heads of state, to the peaceful memorials of the President and Mrs. Nixon, the museum and its beautifully landscaped grounds and gardens trace the long road from Richard Nixon's past. In addition to the 22 permanent galleries, the museum has expanded adding the Katherine B. Loker Center and Annenberg Court. At the center of the 47,000 square-foot expansion is a full-size replica of the elegant White House East Room.

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