Things to do in Orange County

Viewpoints in Orange County

These viewpoints in Orange County take you up to high altitudes, down to sea level, and everywhere in between.

Orange County is known for its natural beauty, which can be found everywhere, from the heart of its major cities to its expansive nature preserves. On land and under the sea, ethereal worlds wait to be explored if you know where to find them.

While looking for things to do in Orange County, add visiting the area's best viewpoints to your list. We’re particularly fond of the region's natural splendor. It’s a lot like the settings we create, where strange and mysterious flora and fauna erupt around you.

There’s a certain degree of natural artistry to be found within these sights, and we’re thrilled to share our top picks for the best viewpoints in Orange County.

Laguna Beach

Beyond amazing art galleries in Orange County, Laguna Beach offers some of the most amazing viewpoints.

1. Top of the World

In Laguna Beach, you can reach the Top of the World. You won’t be at the highest altitude possible in the state, but you’ll feel like it as hills roll out and the sea and sky blur together on the horizon. On a clear day, you can see Catalina Island and Saddleback Mountain in the distance.

The hike is quite steep, and it takes a few days to reach the top. The simplest is to hike from Alta Laguna Park, but many people park on Canyon Acres Drive. A marked trailhead ushers you through a tree-lined path that takes you into Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park.

Take the main path toward the Top of the World, marked with a large antenna. When the Canyon Acres Trail ends, turn right at the marked split and continue walking up the hill. The hike takes under an hour if you don’t take any breaks.

Once you reach the top, sit down on the bench and enjoy one of the best viewpoints in Orange County. You’ve earned it.

Photographer: Derek Liang

2. Alta Laguna Park

If you don’t feel like hiking up to the Top of the World, you can enjoy a similar experience at Alta Laguna Park. It’s a good compromise if you have little kids but want to enjoy the sights. You can marvel at breathtaking views while they run around on the playground.

You won’t be able to see quite as far, but you’ll have incredible views of canyons, the ocean, and Orange County sprawling in the distance. You’ll also be perfectly poised for a short but steep hike up to Top of the World from the northern trailhead connecting to this park.

3. Crescent Bay Park Point

Visit Crescent Bay Park Point to enjoy an accessible seaside destination with panoramic views of Crescent Bay Beach. This park has paved paths surrounded by beautiful landscaping that lead up to its best vistas.

It’s one of the most popular areas for sunset watching in Laguna Beach, thanks to its romantic vibe. This blufftop park is surrounded by flowers, and their sweet scents mingle with the briny breeze.

4. Heisler Park

More blufftop adventures await at Heisler Park. Not only will you get stunning views of the sea, but you’ll also find a beautiful park with plenty to do. Its elegant surroundings make it a popular destination for local weddings.

Walking trails meander through vibrant gardens. Green spaces stretch out across the park, and they’re popular for lawn bowling and picnicking. On the shore, tide pools filled with marine life invite exploration and discovery of native species protected by law.

5. Crystal Cove State Park

At Crystal Cove State Park, beachside views take you through dunes, rocky and sandy shores, and undeveloped woodlands. Many opt to bike or ride a horse through the extensive trails to appreciate the views.

If you’re an experienced hiker, take the Moro Canyon Trail. It takes you through 5 miles of backcountry to a ridge with breathtaking ocean panoramas that include Laguna Beach and Crystal Cove. The lookout provides views of Newport Beach and Huntington Beach.

For a more leisurely expedition with equally amazing views, try Crystal Cove Trail. Most of the path is paved, making it suitable for a stroller or wheelchair. This marine-protected area also attracts scuba divers who venture into kelp forests and coral reefs. Marine animals, such as garibaldi and bat rays, can be found in those underwater ecosystems.

Photographer: Patrick Nguyen

6. Treasure Island Beach

Treasure Island Beach is as much a gem as the name implies. Pristine shores along the crescent-shaped bay promise the perfect setting for sunbathing, swimming, and enjoying the sights. Magnificent views of the ocean greet you from the shore, and sunset views from this spot are particularly stunning.

Rocky outcroppings stretch into the sea, creating optimal viewing conditions for undersea sightseeing. It’s a preferred destination for snorkeling and scuba diving, but swimming conditions can be rough for beginners. A coral reef attracts rays and guitarfish, while crevices in the rocks shelter lobsters and moray eels.

Photographer: Joshua Sukoff

Newport Beach

Upscale adventures and unforgettable vistas abound in Newport Beach.

7. Inspiration Point

Between multimillion-dollar mansions and the sea, Inspiration Point attracts people looking for fantastic sunsets paired with an extravagant coast. If you like your beach views without sand, the grassy outlook atop the cliffs creates a cozy picnic point.

Benches line paved paths, where you can admire the sights and sounds on your way to sea level. Seabirds tend to perch on the dramatic rock formations jutting into the sky, seeking out morsels from unsuspecting picnickers.

If the tide is low, look down to find tide pools bustling with protected marine life.

8. Lookout Point

In the Corona del Mar neighborhood, Lookout Point faces a stretch of Newport Harbor, and its entrance connects to the Pacific Ocean. Beyond the rocky formations, the Balboa Peninsula, and sandy beaches, you may even catch sight of dolphins and whales.

The trail from the parking lot to the beachfront is lined with native plants, and the occasional tree provides shade when you need a break from the sun. Follow the trail to Little Corona Beach and Pirate’s Cove in Corona del Mar State Beach.

9. Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort & Marina

We love subverting expectations and defying conformity, and Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort & Marina does exactly that. While you might not associate a recreational resort with beautiful views, you’ll find them here.

This 110-ac. beach resort surrounds Back Bay, which opens to the sea. With so much to do, it’s one of the best Orange County attractions. The Bay Loop Trail wraps around the bay and grants scenic vistas that highlight its beauty.

It also provides access to the Back Bay Science Center and the Peter and Mary Muth Interpretive Center, where you can learn more about the estuary and discover native species.

Sands dotted with palm trees surround the bay, where aquatic sports are at the forefront of excitement. The resort offers kayaks, paddleboards, pedal boats, and 21-ft. electric boats for rental.

You’re welcome to spend an afternoon exploring, but the fun continues if you camp in an RV or one of the beachfront cottages. Once the sun sets, settle around a firepit for marshmallow roasting.

10. Galaxy View Park

Galaxy View Park is smaller, but it packs a big punch with its stellar vistas. Surrounded by green spaces, carefully cultivated trees and gardens create a tranquil setting to relax or take a leisurely stroll. From the park, you can admire the lower part of Newport Bay.

Sunset and nighttime views are particularly attractive as the city’s skyline sparkles in the distance. Despite its urban setting, the atmosphere is generally quiet. Permits are required for large groups, which cuts down on the noise.


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11. Panorama Nature Preserve

Despite its urban location in the suburb of Fullerton, which is just north of Anaheim, Panorama Nature Preserve offers a quick getaway from concrete and skyscrapers. Here, you'll find sweeping views of Orange County and the San Gabriel Mountains.

Several hiking trails lead to some of the city's best vistas. For example, the 2.5-mile Panorama Trail, best suited for intermediate hikers, begins on the East Coyote Hills.

The trek along the Steep Canyon Loop takes you on a gravel and paved path leading to a picnic area with amazing views and access to the clifftop.

12. Arboretum and Botanical Garden at Cal State Fullerton

The Arboretum and Botanical Garden at Cal State Fullerton is the largest botanical garden in the county. It houses over 4,000 unique plant species spread across several habitats. Four major collections, the Cultivated, Woodlands, Mediterranean, and Desert Collections, showcase a range of awe-inspiring viewpoints.

As you explore the biomes, you’re greeted by the diversity of local flora, from woolly sage to fishtail palms. Extensive trails wander through the arboretum, passing ponds, themed gardens, and various facilities.

Heritage House, which dates back to 1894, sits within the gardens, adding to the picturesque environment. This Victorian-style structure has a white picket fence and a wraparound porch surrounded by native plants.

Huntington Beach

Surf City, as it’s affectionately called by locals, brings beachside beauty.

13. Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve

The coastal estuaries of Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve protect several local habitats. Its trails lead you through mudflats, salt marshes, coastal dunes, and riparian zones.

Over 200 avian species, including a few rare reddish egrets, have been spotted here. It’s particularly popular with photographers and bird watchers seeking some of the region's most elusive species. For the best views, consider taking a free guided tour.

14. Huntington Beach Pier

As storytellers, we can appreciate the tales of perseverance behind the iconic Huntington Beach Pier. It’s undergone several reconstructions after unfortunate run-ins with storms and earthquakes. During World War II, it was seized by the military to serve as a lookout and equipped with a large-calibre gun.

Despite repeated reconstruction, the Huntington Beach Pier has remained an Orange County icon. It juts 1,850 ft. into the Pacific Ocean and is the longest pier of its kind on the West Coast.

This busy location is often filled with fishers hoping for a big catch and people admiring the sights. From the end, you’ll spot Catalina Island and Newport Beach to the south and Long Beach and San Pedro to the north.

Broad Street Oyster Co. sits at the end of the pier. This popular red-roofed restaurant serves fresh seafood, burgers, and drinks.

Photographer: wolterke

15. Bolsa Chica State Beach

After your Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve adventure, cross the Pacific Coast Highway. Bolsa Chica State Beach features a pristine coastline. Thanks to optimal conditions, it often attracts surfers, bird-watchers, and fishers in spades.

It’s a great destination for appreciating the area's natural beauty and watching the sunset erupt from the horizon. If it’s a bit chilly as night falls, visit one of the over 200 fire rings for a beachside bonfire. The extensive amenities include outdoor showers, sports courts, RV camping spots, and barbecue grills.

Dana Point

Known as the Dolphin and Whale Watching Capital of the World, Dana Point promises awesome exploration and marvelous views of the sea.

16. Harbor Point Conservation Park

The Dana Point Headlands Conservation Area consists of four parks. All are amazing, but the Harbor Point Conservation Park stands out above the rest if you’re looking for unforgettable vistas.

This short loop trail brings you to a platform overlooking Dana Point Harbor. On clear days, panoramic views extend from Palos Verdes in the north to La Jolla in the south. People favor it for sunsets, but it’s worth checking out any time.

Stay on the path while you might see people deviate from the paths to sit closer to the cliffs’ edges. Posted signs warn that the cliffs are unstable. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the park rules, as many actions are restricted, including bringing pets or riding bikes.

Photographer: Spencer Bergen

17. Salt Creek Beach Park

Salt Creek Beach Park overlooks Salt Creek Beach and offers vantage points that are hard to forget. Sprawling greenery attracts families looking for sand-free picnics. While dogs aren't allowed on the beach, they’re welcome in the park.

A path from the park offers beach access, where the sights get even more memorable. Watch the surfers as they try to stay on their boards and keep an eye out for wildlife. Whales frequently swim past the area, and you might find tide pools filled with sea urchins and crabs on the shoreline.

Discover Breathtaking Scenery at Orange County’s Premier Viewpoints

The best viewpoints in the region offer breathtaking scenery that will have you gasping in awe. Cap off your scenic safari with our shows, and you’ll uncover otherworldly settings where anything is possible.

We’ll greet you with unparalleled special effects, dazzling costumes, and epic performances. Our story unfolds as our performers defy conformity with unbelievable skill and precision.

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