5 Reasons to Visit Orange County, CA (Disney Not Included)

Orange County sits between Los Angeles and San Diego counties and is the smallest county, land mass, in California. Orange County may be slight size wise, but it offers wide-ranging outdoor activities. Amusement parks are only a tiny piece of what the OC has to offer. With fair weather all year Southern California is an ideal utopia for those of us who like to play outside and Orange County has many options. With beaches, canyons, and wilderness areas there are outdoor opportunities for everyone.

What to do in Orange County, California

With more than forty miles of coastline, it offers plenty of space for water sports. Moreover, Orange County has a fantastic county park system, state parks, miles and miles of trails with more being added each year. Most importantly, you can do all these outside activities year-round.

On Land

Coastal Camping

The California Pacific Coast is covered with well-placed state parks and most have extremely busy, but nice campgrounds, some with views and some without. Orange County has hundreds of campsites and they all provide easy access to the beach and ocean, which is where you want to be when the sun is shining in the middle of summer. Read more about beach camping, with travel tips, here.

Hiking Orange County


From beach trails to county parks, state parks and national forest, exploring on foot is easy to do. With seasonal waterfalls, peaks, and miles and miles of hiking trails your options are vast. Read here about where to hike in Orange County. The travel tips still stand true today.

Mountain Biking

Mountain biking is extremely popular in Orange County and there are hundreds of miles of trails, many of which interconnect between parks providing unlimited fun for hours. Orange County even has a few Mountain-to-Sea-trails. There are opportunities for all riders with levels of difficulty ranging from beginner to advanced. If road cycling is more your thing, well you can do that here too.

Additionally, cruising is popular in the coastal towns where the land is flat with paved bike trails close to the ocean allowing for a relaxed day of playing outside, dining, and beaching it.

On Water

SoCal Surfing


Along the western border of Orange County lies the Pacific Ocean and Southern California's biggest playground with miles of sandy (and rocky) shoreline to explore. Like anything in nature, the ocean, beaches, tides, weather, and wave patterns are ever-changing offering a new experience every time you visit. Surfing is a lifestyle and culture deeply rooted in the coastal towns and they are a charming place to visit if you wish to get your feet wet.


Both Newport and Dana Point Harbors have vendors offering lessons, charters, and tours that range from a few hours to overnight trips. Offshore there is abundance of marine life to see and along with a gorgeous coastline. Try taking a sunset sail with a loved one for a relaxing Pacific adventure.

What to do in Orange County

Bonus outdoor adventure ideas:

  • Fishing — Offshore (deep-sea fishing) types of fish available depend on the season, onshore, pier, kayak fishing, etc.

  • Whale and marine mammal cruises — winter months Gray whale migration and in the summer months it's the Blue whales turn

  • Kayaking

  • Stand-up paddle boarding

  • Scuba

  • Snorkeling

  • Exploring the tide pools

The next time you plan your trip to the third most populous county in California; spend the day on hiking and biking trails, beaches, and in the cool water. Come by yourself or bring and friend and family and spend time outdoors together exploring Orange County's outdoor playground.TeamSierra
Visit Orange CountyNeed the Gear? Shop Now:
Stand-Up Paddle Boards
posted by
Traci Lehman
Blogger at Walk Simply
Traci Lehman is an IT Analyst by trade and when she's not in the office she shares her walking and outdoor adventures on Walk Simply. Based in Southern California, Traci hopes to inspire others to go outside, enjoy the little things, and view our world up-close. Follow along on her adventures and keep up on her newest contributions here, on her own blog or on Twitter.
Join the Conversation