9 May 2018
Orange County, California is one of the most populous (and popular) places in the United States. People come to the area — both on vacation and to relocate — for its great weather, access to the ocean, laid-back vibe, and amazing theme parks. As you can imagine, the area's biggest attractions can get crowded, especially during holidays. So, it's sometimes nice to escape to Orange County's lesser-known spots — between days at Disneyland, of course.
We put together some of the must-see "secret" spots in Orange County, where you can beat the crowds but still be close to your vacation rental.
The California Scenario is a hidden sculpture garden designed by famous Japanese-American artist Isamu Noguchi. The peaceful garden is located in Costa Mesa near the South Coast Plaza. The sculpture garden is free and open to the public between 8 a.m. and midnight.
The 60-foot Pirate Tower is located on Victoria Beach outside Laguna Beach. The tower was built in 1926 as a way to reach the beach from the house on the bluff above. The beach itself is quiet and secluded — a great place to relax. You can only get to the Pirate Tower at low tide, so make sure to check the tide charts before you go.
Located in Anaheim, the Oak Canyon Nature Center is less than 15 miles from Disneyland! There are hiking trails, a stream, canyons, wildlife and lots of peaceful places to relax. In addition, the John J. Collier Interpretive Center, which is within Oak Canyon, has live animals and exhibits for a well-rounded, educational experience.
The Fullerton Arboretum is a 26-acre nonprofit garden with walking trails, lawns, ponds and lakes, a children's garden and, of course, endless trees and flowers. The arboretum hosts many events and workshops throughout the year, and there are tours (both guided nature tours and Heritage House tours) daily.
Orange is a city in the Anaheim / Tustin area. Despite its size, it has a small-town feel with a historical Main Street and beautiful Old Town District. Enjoy fun shopping and dining, or just strolling through the residential sections of town and enjoying the many styles of architecture.
Silverado Canyon is an old mining town — now unincorporated community — in the Cleveland National Forest. You can access lots of hiking from nearby (like in the Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park). Or, get to know the locals at the Silverado Cafe downtown.