Things to do in Orange County

Orange County Beaches

Go coastal in Southern California, where Orange County beaches offer sun and unforgettable scenic adventures onshore and in the surf.

Orange County's coastal allure is undeniable. With nearly endless, picturesque beaches stretching along the Pacific Ocean, visitors and locals alike flock to its shores. If you're looking for a way to cool off, a seaside excursion offers abundant activities and fun things to do in Orange County.

Grab your towel and sunscreen because we're about to journey through the area's best beaches.

Dana Point

Dana Point boasts 7 mi. of coastline and some of the most accessible beaches in Orange County. It’s also considered the whale-watching and dolphin-watching capital of the world, offering unbelievable sun, surf, and sand.

1. Baby Beach

Sheltered by the Dana Point Harbor, the aptly named Baby Beach is ideal for families with small children. In the summer, lifeguards are on duty, increasing safety for younger kids or inexperienced swimmers.

Baby Beach is a popular spot for paddleboarding and kayaking, and restrooms and outdoor showers are readily available. It also features family-friendly amenities, such as playground equipment for the kids, marine life encounters, and nearby restaurants and shops.

The beach is pet-friendly, so you can even bring your furry family members as long they remain on a leash.

2. Capistrano Beach Park

Capistrano Beach Park, a gem within the Orange County, California, beach system, opened to the public in 1980. It's easy to access from the parking lot and offers an unexpected blend of leisure and sports activities.

The combination of rugged beauty and recreational facilities, such as basketball courts, cycling paths, and volleyball nets, make it a favorite for those seeking a versatile destination. While the park has limited amenities, portable washrooms are available.

3. Doheny State Beach

Donated by oil tycoon Edward Doheny in 1931 and officially renamed in 1963, Doheny State Beach was the first state beach in California. Since its establishment, it has become one of the area's most popular stretches of coastline.

Spanning 62 ac., it boasts a picnic area, volleyball courts, and day-use surfing on one end and an idyllic campground next to the shoreline on the other. Surf fishing is also available, and the interpretive center offers insights into the local ecosystem and marine life.

This beach is handicap accessible, allowing visitors with disabilities to enjoy many of its amenities and the stunning ocean view. The California State Park Lifeguards patrol the shores year-round and man the lifeguard towers from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend.

4. Salt Creek Beach

Orange County negotiated the acquisition of Salt Creek Beach, including acreage for parking and the beach itself, in 1971. However, delays plagued the project, and construction wasn’t fully completed until 1976. Today, it's popular among surfers and boogie boarders, and the sandy shores see tons of visitors annually.

Families are drawn to this beach for its wide, soft, sandy shore, which is perfect for lounging and playing. The beach is nestled beneath a grassy park with winding trails offering a panoramic ocean view. This scenic backdrop makes the private party area a spectacular option for get-togethers.

Bluff Park at Salt Creek Beach has a family picnic area with food concessions, showers, and restrooms at the bottom of the access road.

Photographer: T M

Huntington Beach

Although Santa Cruz snagged the Surf City nickname in 1927, Huntington Beach officially adopted the moniker in 1991. This city and its many beaches capture the quintessential Southern California surfing culture, with expansive shores and legendary spots to hang ten.

5. Huntington City Beach

Huntington City Beach is a 121-ac. paradise. It has a dreamy stretch of sand and one of the longest piers on the West Coast. The pier stretches 1,850 ft., offering breathtaking views and authentic ocean sounds. We like to think of it as nature’s poetry.

Be prepared for an out-of-this-world experience on par with one of our groundbreaking performances. This beach is wheelchair accessible and has numerous amenities, including public restrooms, outdoor showers, RV camping, surfboard and bicycle rentals, and 100 bonfire rings.

Breathe in the amazing ocean breeze and prepare to be swept away by the peaceful surroundings.

6. Huntington Dog Beach

Huntington Dog Beach is a coastal heaven for your furry, four-legged family members. Your dog’s joy will be palpable as they freely frolic through the sand and surf without a care in the world.

This beach offers pups a chance to romp through paradise, chasing balls across the silky sand and creating unforgettable memories with their favorite people. Human amenities include restrooms, food vendors, and picnic tables.

Dog waste bags are provided to ensure you have a sanitary way to clean up after your pup. The beach is wheelchair accessible—but if you don't want to load yours into your car, wheelchair rentals are available at one of the concession stands.

Photographer: Ryan Zazueta

Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach is an exciting coastal city renowned for its artistic spirit and stunning marine reserves. It's also home to some of the best parks in Orange County.

Photographer: Derek Liang

7. Crystal Cove State Park

Crystal Cove State Park is a pristine slice of natural beauty. It spans 2,791 ac., including a 12-ac. historic district in its coastal portion. This spot is rich in scenic views and historic significance.

Its 46 vintage cottages, originally built in the 1930s and 1940s, are among the remaining examples of Southern California’s early coastal developments. You can even rent one of these abodes for an overnight stay.

Visit the cove's rugged cliffs and wooded canyons. You can also take a backcountry hike, explore the tide pools, and engage in various aquatic sports. If you aren't feeling active, find a spot in the sand to relax and enjoy the serenity of this inspiring place.

8. Main Beach

Main Beach is a hub for beachgoers, located in the middle of the city. Its central location makes it convenient for accessing nearby art galleries, shops, and restaurants. It offers a fantastic place for swimming, sunbathing, and bodyboarding. Amenities include basketball and sand volleyball courts, playgrounds, outdoor showers, and restrooms.

9. Table Rock Beach

Climb down a surreal staircase to the isolated cove at Table Rock Beach for a day of peaceful engagement with nature. This hidden gem's distinctive landscape, including large rock formations and tide pools, provides a wonderful backdrop for photography.

Escape the hustle and enjoy a tranquil respite that lets you form a deeper connection with the natural world. Here, you can relax and enjoy the solitude as you listen to the ocean whisper secrets only you can hear.

10. Thousand Steps Beach

The journey may sound daunting, but Thousand Steps Beach is worth every step as you descend the long staircase leading to a secluded stretch of sand. Its beauty is indescribable, much like the physical prowess and artistry of our performers.

As you stand in awe at the bottom of the steps, bordered on two sides by sandstone cliffs, close your eyes and feel the warm breeze on your skin. It’s one of the most exhilarating OC beaches.

Thousand Steps Beach also offers several vigorous recreational activities. Bodyboarding and bodysurfing are popular pursuits, but you can also explore the caves and tide pools. If you aren't feeling adventurous, lay your towel on the sand and enjoy the majestic seaside escape.

11. Treasure Island Beach

Treasure Island Beach may not hide a bounty of monetary value, but it’s one the most astounding Orange County beaches. To access this shore, take the ramp at Montage Resort. Although it’s a relatively large area with lots of sand, it can get crowded on hot summer weekends. We recommend arriving early to claim your spot.

Enjoy a day of swimming, skimboarding, skin and scuba diving, and snorkeling. This beach is particularly popular among those who enjoy a blend of natural beauty and conveniently close amenities, including restrooms and outdoor showers.

It’s also dog-friendly, so you can bring your four-legged best friend—but you have to keep them on a leash.

Photographer: Sarah Sheedy

12. Victoria Beach

Victoria Beach offers a tranquil atmosphere with breathtaking sights. We recommend using the public transportation system to get here. The stairs that lead to the beach are in a residential neighborhood, so public parking is scarce.

As you dig your toes in the soft, white sand, feast your eyes on the unique castle-inspired tower built against the beach’s cliffs. However fanciful it appears, this structure is actually an enclosed staircase often mistaken for a lighthouse.

Built in the 1920s, Victoria Beach's La Tour offered the owner of the home above it a way to get down to the beach. It makes an intriguing backdrop for a selfie or souvenir photo. You’ll also see several memorable mansions.

Despite the marvelous views, the trek deters many prospective beachgoers. Once you get there, you'll likely find Victoria Beach relatively deserted, making it the perfect place for a serene afternoon surrounded by nature's beauty.

If you want to cool off without all the hassle, the water parks in Orange County offer an unbeatable wet and wild adventure.

Newport Beach

The charming Newport Beach community stands out for its sophistication and spectacular stretch of beaches, offering everything from serene sands to gorgeous views.

13. Corona del Mar State Beach

This Newport Beach oasis offers a half-mi.-long sandy shoreline. Despite its small size, Corona del Mar State Beach is popular among swimmers, surfers, and divers. It fills up quickly on summer weekends. If you don't want to be shoulder-to-shoulder with other people, we recommend getting there before the crowds arrive.

If space allows, take a short run on the softly packed sand and enjoy views of the houses built on the cliffside. The perfect coves dotting the beach make cozy picnic areas and great places to enjoy a stunning sunset.

Corona del Mar hosted the Pacific Coast Surf Riding Championship in 1928, the first major surfing competition in Mainland America.

Photographer: Danny Ball

San Clemente

San Clemente enchants visitors with its Spanish colonial-style architecture and laid-back vibe, which enhances the city’s sun-kissed beaches.

14. San Clemente State Beach

San Clemente has been a state beach since 1937, and like most Orange County beaches, its popularity lies in aquatic sports. However, the fascinating sandstone crags along a rugged hillside make it popular among campers.

The well-maintained campground at the historic San Clemente State Beach features scenic views and lots to do, making it a versatile mile-long beach. Invigorating biking and hiking trails, geocaching, and wildlife viewing, coupled with aquatic sports such as surfing, windsurfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, and swimming, quickly fill your day with fun.

15. Trestles Beach

Trestles Beach is part of San Onofre Beach, both of which are havens for surfing enthusiasts. Discovered in 1933, Trestles was closed to the public between 1942 and 1971 when it served as Base Camp Pendleton for the Marine Corps.

Once it reopened as a public beach, it became one of the best places for surfing in San Clemente. It stretches 3.5 mi. along the shoreline and has five surf breaks that never disappoint diehard surfers. It even serves as a stage for major surfing competitions.

Discovering the Beauty and Vitality of Orange County's Coastal Treasures

The area's beaches provide spectacular views and plentiful outdoor activities. Our shows offer a wild alternative to the laid-back coastal experience when you’re ready to let your spirit soar. We weave compelling, character-driven storylines through clever choreography, haunting musical scores, and unbelievable special effects.

Watch as our dancers twirl across the stage and our acrobats perform unimaginable gravity-defying feats that test the limits of human ability. When you come to our shows, you're in for a heart-pounding adventure as you journey into our world, where there are no limits, and anything is possible.

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