What are the five best things to see and do in Orange County?

Believe it or not, Orange County is so much more than a mass of suburbs and housewives. The area flaunts wide, beautiful beaches and charming coastal towns with gorgeous harbors (Newport), art galleries (Laguna) and tree-lined coves shading beautiful yachts (Dana Point). If you can’t see it all, spend a day at Catalina Island or Balboa Island, peruse the shops in downtown Laguna Beach or famous mall Fashion Island and be sure to bring your kids to the original Disneyland.

1. Catalina Island. Avalon is located on Catalina Island and is the perfect escape, whether it’s for a weekend or an afternoon. You can walk around the tiny charming town in less than an hour, and it’s filled with cute seafood places and quirky little shops.

2. Art galleries in Laguna. If you love art, you’ll want to stop and peruse all the charming little galleries that fill the downtown Laguna area. The best way to see them is on a Friday night when they all throw open their doors and host free wine and cheese receptions.

3. Shop. Get your shopping fix at one of the most popular shopping centers in Southern California. The retail mecca, Fashion Island includes more than 200 stores, a large food court (with an alfresco dining area) and several upscale chain restaurants, including China Grille and Fleming’s. Major department stores include Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdale’s, while shops range from Anthropologie to Urban Outfitters.

4. Balboa Island. This tiny, densely populated man-made island is one of Orange County’s most popular attractions. You can drive onto the island via Jamboree Road or hop the ferry from Balboa Peninsula. The pretty island has some of the most expensive real estate in the country and the main street, Marine Avenue, is lined with boutiques, restaurants and ice cream shops selling the popular Balboa Bars, vanilla ice cream dipped in chocolate and then covered with nuts or candy, or the frozen chocolate bananas.

5. Disneyland. What’s a trip to Southern California without visiting the Happiest Place on Earth? Disneyland is a must on your travel itinerary if you have kids —or even if you don’t. The park is divided into seven lands; each packed with fun-filled rides, games and, of course, your favorite Disney characters.

  • On March 13, 2013
    Steve Friedlander answered the question: Steve Friedlander

    Where can I go to watch sports in Orange County?

    The Pelican Grill at Pelican Hill Golf Club has a lounge with two nine-foot TVs for sports viewing. It’s a very popular spot for watching golf, among other sports. Menu specials in the Lounge include the Kobe burger, bourbon-smoked barbeque beef brisket and the crab cake BLT sandwich, plus chilled beers, California wines and specialty cocktails.
  • On March 13, 2013
    Steve Friedlander answered the question: Steve Friedlander

    What is the best time to visit Orange County?

    Any time of year is a good time to visit, if you like sunshine. Our mild, Mediterranean climate means that most days are bright and sunny. Newport Beach, for example, averages 340 days of sunshine every year. If you’re seeking spectacular coastal sunsets, we get them all year long, but the fall months in particular bring breath-taking views of the sun sinking down over the Pacific Ocean.
  • On May 27, 2012
    The St. Regis Monarch Beach answered the question: The St. Regis Monarch Beach

    What is Orange County’s restaurant scene like?

    Orange County’s restaurant scene has matured and now rivals that of any other major city; albeit, the restaurants are more spread out geographically. Fare ranges from the very casual Slater’s 50/50 Burgers in Orange and House of Big Fish and Cold Beer in Laguna to the outposts of famed chefs, including Charlie Palmer’s at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, Mario Batali’s Pizzeria Mozza in Newport Beach and Michael Mina’s Stonehill Tavern at The St. Regis Monarch Beach.
  • On May 27, 2012
    The St. Regis Monarch Beach answered the question: The St. Regis Monarch Beach

    What are the best Orange County food experiences?

    Orange County is foodie heaven, with so many good options that it’s difficult to narrow down the field. Of course, any gourmet will want to dine at Michael Mina’s Stonehill Tavern at The St. Regis Monarch Beach. Other highlights include Nancy Wilhelm’s Tabu Grill and Starfish (two separate restaurants) in Laguna Beach — both are a short drive from the resort. Other exceptional dining experiences are 370 Common in Laguna and a casual yet time-honored tradition — a homemade milkshake at Ruby’s Shake Shack in Crystal Cove!
  • On May 27, 2012
    The St. Regis Monarch Beach answered the question: The St. Regis Monarch Beach

    Which five Orange County restaurants are best for brunch?

    Being from the home of the best Sunday brunch in Southern California, I can only say that Motif at The St. Regis Monarch Beach is the winner, hands down. Motif is known for the Sunday Champagne Brunch, which offers unlimited champagne and an array of eclectic, international and traditional dishes, and striking Pacific views for both terrace and indoor dining.
  • On May 27, 2012
    The St. Regis Monarch Beach answered the question: The St. Regis Monarch Beach

    What are the five best romantic restaurants in Orange County?

    Orange County is an incredibly romantic location, set against a backdrop of ocean, coastline and endless blue skies. One of the most romantic restaurants in Orange County is Stonehill Tavern at The St. Regis Monarch Beach. The romantic ambiance offers a one-of-a-kind dining experience, with modern American cuisine that features seasonal ingredients and contemporary twists on classic tavern dishes. Other romantic dinners can be enjoyed in Laguna Beach at French 75, Starfish, Tabu Grill and Sapphire. 
  • On May 27, 2012
    The St. Regis Monarch Beach answered the question: The St. Regis Monarch Beach

    What are the best kid-friendly restaurants in Orange County?

    The St. Regis Monarch Beach is a very family- and kid-friendly resort, especially when it comes to dining at Motif restaurant. A wonderful kids menu and attentive service greet families here, along with a world-famous Sunday brunch. Off-property, kids enjoy the 1950s-style diner Ruby’s (several OC locations) and the Beachcomber restaurant on the sand in Crystal Cove. 
  • On May 27, 2012
    The St. Regis Monarch Beach answered the question: The St. Regis Monarch Beach

    Where can I go to watch sports in Orange County?

    Are you a sports fan? If so, you’re in luck in Orange County, especially if you’re staying at The St. Regis Monarch Beach. Just a short drive away, you can watch the Anaheim Ducks take the ice at the Honda Center, or watch the Los Angeles Angels take the field at Angels Stadium.
  • On May 27, 2012
    The St. Regis Monarch Beach answered the question: The St. Regis Monarch Beach

    Where are the best places to hear live music in Orange County?

     In addition to live music on Friday and Saturday nights at the Lobby Lounge at The St. Regis Monarch Beach, you can take in music at a variety of venues in Orange County. If you’re looking for a large-scale concert by some of the world’s top artists, you’ll want to check the schedules for the Verizon Amphitheatre and the Honda Center while you’re in town. For smaller acts, try the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano, the Grove in Anaheim and the House of Blues in Anaheim.
  • On May 27, 2012
    The St. Regis Monarch Beach answered the question: The St. Regis Monarch Beach

    What is the best Orange County nightlife?

    While you’re in “The OC,” you’ll want to plan a Friday or Saturday evening (or both!) out for a delicious meal followed by cocktails and live music. The St. Regis Monarch Beach Lobby Lounge is always a good bet, offering delectable food and drinks along with live music and dancing on Thursday nights. Also worth noting is Mozambique restaurant in South Laguna for live music on Friday and Saturday nights. 
  • On May 27, 2012
    The St. Regis Monarch Beach answered the question: The St. Regis Monarch Beach

    What are the best Orange County museums?

    Orange County is fortunate to have numerous world-class art museums, including:
     
    The Laguna Art Museum in Laguna Beach, for historical and contemporary art as well as regionally important influences like the car and surf culture.
     
    The Bowers Museum in Santa Ana for Orange County's largest museums and offers exhibitions, lectures, art classes, travel programs, children's art education programs, and other special community programs.
     
    The Orange County Museum of Art in Santa Ana for the premier visual arts organization.
     
    The International Surfing Museum for all things dedicated to preserving the past, participating in the present and influencing the future of all aspects of the surfing culture worldwide.
Next