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With limited time, what you do with your visit to Orange County depends on the type of travelers. Families should undoubtedly hit up Disneyland and California Adventure, while adults and couples should make a trip out to Catalina Island.
Sure, there are Disney attractions in Orlando, Paris and even Japan. But the Anaheim location is the original Disney theme park, so if you’re by Anaheim with your family, it should be on your radar. If you have time, you can also hop over to Disney’s California Adventure, a theme park that specializes in more intense rides and is the new host to Disney’s Electrical Parade, a nighttime event that showcases light-bulb-encrusted Disney floats. Knott’s Berry Farm is another fun diversion for the family with rides and games. Catalina Island is a place that locals and tourists both love. Though it doesn’t have the white sand and blue-green water of typical island vacation spots, it has a charm of its own and deserves a visit. The island’s landscape is identical to the mainland, with the dry, chaparral topography that characterizes most of Southern California. You’ll see more craggy cliffs and shores than wide-open beaches, and the water is a deep navy blue where it meets the island’s edge. So while it may not be a sunbathing hotspot, Catalina’s warm, clear water (with temperatures in the mid to high 60s) and scenery make it ideal for kayaking, windsurfing, scuba diving and snorkeling. The island’s hilly landscape also provides excellent terrain for hiking, bicycling and horseback riding.
While Avalon is the most populous section of the island, you may opt to go northwest of the city to Two Harbors for camping. Here, you can also go on a safari that takes you to the island’s canyons in hopes of spotting some buffalo, which were originally placed on the island during 1920’s film shoots, and have since been allowed to become permanent residents.
A drive that starts and ends at the St. Regis Monarch Beach is a perfect way to experience Orange County in a day. Start with breakfast at Motif at the St. Regis Monarch Beach (our world-famous brunch if you’re visiting on a Sunday!) and drive north to Laguna Beach, where you will peruse art galleries, chic boutiques, enjoy a bite at a delicious casual eatery – all against a beautiful Pacific Ocean backdrop. Next, head a bit further north on Pacific Coast Highway to Corona del Mar, an enchanting village offering yet more lovely shops and ocean view strolling opportunities, as well as Sherman Library and Gardens. Don’t miss Balboa Island — a wonderfully quaint residential island with a charming main street and views of the world-famous Newport Harbor. Take a shopping jaunt at Fashion Island and South Coast Plaza. In the evening, attend a Broadway show at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts and then head back to the St. Regis Monarch Beach to enjoy a nightcap at the Lobby Lounge — the perfect end to an idyllic day in Orange County!