Orange County is both blessed by its location and yet sometimes overshadowed. Situated right in the heart of world-renowned Southern California – or “SoCal” as the locals lovingly call it – it shares many of the attributes which the name evokes. Fantastic warm weather all year round with very little rain. Miles and miles of shoreline dotted with wonderful beaches. A long history of agriculture foundations giving way to urban growth. Professional sports teams, a thriving music scene, great food, and more.
However, what Orange County doesn’t have might just make it more alluring than its close cousin counties. For example, the air quality in Los Angeles is never anywhere near as good as in Orange County. Unlike LA, the region doesn’t trap pollutants into a valley structure, allowing for far healthier lungs. Then, there’s the traffic. Oh, Orange County has its fair share. Yet, it’s nothing next to the legendary gridlock in the City of Angels. The same goes for San Diego, which gets more congested by the day. There’s just a lot more open land in Orange County and more to explore than one would think at first glance.
Several amazing coastal beach towns can be found within Orange County. On the northern end of the county, beach lifestyles are on display in Long Beach. Flip flops are more common than shoes, tank tops overtake collar shirts and fish fries may well outnumber burger joints. Down the coast at Newport Beach, the party scene amps up. Pubs and clubs are scattered around the beach where celebrities and locals mingle to catch the awesome waves and sample local wines. Tucked away a little further down is the artsy Laguna Beach, an unforgettable getaway. And at the southern end of the county is Dana Point, another surfer’s paradise and the launching point for dolphin and whale watching adventures.
Further inland, residents have an incredible array of parklands to explore and leisure in. Limestone Canon Regional Park is a sublime wilderness preserve with hiking trails leading up to amazing views and perfect opportunities to view wildlife. Silverado Canyon features long walking paths with winding creeks and a few small waterfalls. There are even natural hot springs that can be found around the county. With so many natural retreats so readily at hand, it’s no wonder that locals seem always at ease, smiling and relaxed, without giving up any of the creature comforts of the modern world – of which there are plenty!
Away from the embracing warmth of nature, Orange County is pumping with amazing cultural scenes that truly define this area. Cities like Garden Grove, Santa Ana and Mission Viejo boast excellent restaurant and gastropub scenes. There are tapas bars, sushi restaurants, taco stands, pizza places and French bistros which rival those in LA and San Diego, often attracting top chefs to showcase their concoctions for discerning diners. That can all be washed down with local wines – yes, Orange County has some amazing wines! And of course, the burgeoning craft beer industry here is just as popular, as some of the best California IPA’s are being brewed right here.
However, a night out is going to be more than just about eating and drinking. Orange County residents have an incredible array of options when stepping out on the town. The music scene here is on the rise. Major venues and local clubs alike attract both top talent and tomorrow’s emerging stars. Don’t forget, the OC is where artists Gwen Stefani came from. There’s also two major league sports teams here – the Anaheim Ducks and the Los Angeles Angels (don’t ask why they’re called “Los Angeles,” it’s a long story). Finally, there is plenty of shopping to be done from local curiosity shops to the legendary Fashion Island.
More to Love
For all of its wonderful attractions (we haven’t even touched on the theme parks), Orange County is a lot less populated than Los Angeles and even San Diego. This means more free space for folks to discover. Exploring the OC means finding small towns that still have cool vintage stores. It means finding beaches without too many crowds, tucked between the larger tourist hotspots. Restaurants aren’t booked up nearly as often, and you can always find a place to park your car whether visiting shops, restaurants, or parks. To live here means to enjoy all of the benefits of SoCal with a lot less hassle.