Fun Family Vacations in Orange County
Including Popular Beach Towns
Does your family all have different ideas about where to go this summer? Family vacations can be planned to include activities for everyone! The Orange County communities of Dana Point, Laguna Beach, Newport Beach and Huntington Beach, California make up a series of unique and gorgeous beach towns, each only about a 20-40 minute drive from Disneyland in Anaheim, California. Orange County is one of California’s more popular vacation spots. As a result, it is easy to combine beach vacations, golf vacations and Disney vacations all in one trip. There is no longer a need to choose between spending time at “The Happiest Place on Earth” and enjoying a sunny golf course or playtime next to the ocean. Here are some of the vacation ideas you can look forward to if you decide to combine your Disneyland vacation with time in one of the nearby Orange County resort communities!
Orange County Seaside Villages:
There are miles of beaches along the Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach, along the shores of Huntington Beach and Laguna Beach, and even a small sandy area for children in the Dana Point Harbor.
The town of Huntington Beach actually is the world famous Surf City that the Beach Boys sang about in the 1960's. It is a great place to practice surfing, build a sand castle or just swim. In addition, you can also enjoy these same aquatic activities in Laguna Beach and along the BalboaPeninsula in Newport Beach. The small beach at the Dana Point Harbor is ideal for families with young children.
There are numerous charming shops on Balboa Island and at the Dana Point Harbor, as well as in downtown Laguna Beach. Dana Point Harbor also boasts an Ocean Institute, as well as a couple of beautifully restored antique sailboats.
The Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach has a fun zone with arcade games, T-shirt shops, restaurants and the opportunity to take harbor cruises or even a day cruise to Catalina Island. You can also rent an electric Duffy boat and drive around the bays and islands that make up much of the waterfront.
The streets of Laguna Beach are lined with numerous art galleries and an art museum. In addition, the town also hosts several art festivals during the summer.
If you are interested in shopping, Newport Beach is home to Fashion Island with a wide selection of department stores and boutiques which are popular with both locals and tourists.
Orange County Golf Courses:
Golf is a popular activity for both Orange County residents and the tourists, and nearly all of the local communities have a wide selection of golf courses which are open to the public. They range from the affordable Arroya Trabuco Golf Club, the moderately priced Strawberry Farms Golf Course and Oak Creek Golf Club in Irvine, to the exquisite Pelican Hill in the Newport Coast area of Newport Beach. All of these golf courses have websites, and you can also learn more about many of the Orange County golf courses at www.playocgolf.com.
Disneyland’s Magic Kingdom is world famous for it’s variety of rides and attractions including Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion, the Jungle Cruise, Splash Mountain and numerous other popular rides and attractions. A day in the Magic Kingdom can be delightful for visitors of all ages, but especially for young children and their families!
Disney’s California Adventure is a separate theme park, next to the Magic Kingdom. It is possible to buy park hopper tickets that will allow you access to both parks on the same day. Disney’s California Adventure park contains an additional selection of rides and attractions, many with a California theme, such as Soarin’ Over California, Toy Story Mania, the Paradise Pier, the Ferris Wheel, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, the Hollywood Pictures Backlot and many other rides and attractions. The new nighttime show, World of Color, is spectacular.
Downtown Disney is located next to both California Adventure and the Magic Kingdom. It is open to the public without a ticket into Disneyland. It is a great place to meet up with friends or family members who are spending time in the amusement parks while you have been lying around the beach or catching a round of golf. Downtown Disney has a variety of hotels, shops and restaurants which are enjoyable by themselves, including the Rain Forest Cafe, and House of Blues.
Sometimes it is cheaper to buy your souvenirs before you arrive in California. You may also wish to get your children a few things after you return home. If you wish, you can use this direct link to Disney souvenirs from Amazon.com.
Orange County, California Hotels:
Where can you stay? There are hundreds of hotels in Orange County, starting at the southern end of this string of beach towns with the Ritz Carlton and St. Regis hotels in Dana Point. Laguna Beach, just north of Dana Point, contains a variety of beachfront hotels including the spectacular Montage Hotel and the charming, historic Laguna Beach Hotel. Newport Beach has the Balboa Bay Club and is also a wonderful place to stay.
If you would like to find vacation rentals, many beachfront homes and apartments are available. Huntington Beach also has a number of hotels, both large and small, that only require you to cross the street or take a short drive to be right on the sand. Most of the beaches have abundant parking available.
Because of the availability of beach parking, you might also decide to stay in Anaheim, where there are numerous hotels in virtually every price range, including the hotels that are connected with Disneyland such as the Disneyland Hotel, Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel and Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa. You can also choose to stay in one of Disney’s Good Neighbor Hotels, a selection of over 40 hotels near Disneyland which are linked to the Disney website. You may be able to get special vacation packages in Anaheim that include your multi-day Disneyland pass. However, comparison shop with the hotels and resorts in the different beach communities, as well .You may be able to buy your Disneyland pass separately, and still save time and money by staying near the ocean.
Only you can decide where you are likely to spend the most time during your Orange County vacation! The advantage of staying in one of the beach towns is the proximity to the ocean and several gorgeous golf courses, such as the spectacular Pelican Hill in Newport Beach, which overlooks the Pacific. The advantage of staying near Disneyland is that you will have a room where you can go and relax during your long day in the park. Some guests may want to split up their trip … spending a few days near the beach followed by a night or two in a hotel near Disneyland.
Wherever you decide to stay, and however you decide to occupy your time, Orange County, California is an ideal location for family vacations!
Orange County Restaurants:
There is almost no end to the selection of Orange County restaurants from which to choose. Downtown Disney has restaurants which include Goofy’s Kitchen, where you can enjoy lunch or dinner with the Disney characters, without having to pay to enter either of the Disney Parks. There are also a number of restaurants which are fun for the entire family, such as the Rain Forest Café. House of Blues is a wonderful spot for mom and dad, if they can get off by themselves one evening.
The beach towns have a wide selection of restaurants, as well. At the south, the Dana Point Harbor and Mariners Village is a delightful place to stroll, look at the tall-masted sailing ships, visit the Dana Point Ocean Institute, and eat outdoors in any of a number of waterside restaurants such as The Harbor Grill and Harpoon Henry’s Seafood Restaurant. Laguna Beach has everything from exquisite dining at The Studio in the Montage Hotel, to casual dining at the Corner Greeter next to Main Beach. Las Brisas in Laguna Beach is popular with our family both for the seafood menu and the fabulous ocean sunsets! As you travel north along the PCH, Newport Beach has restaurants everywhere! You can visit the shops and restaurants at the Fashion Island shopping center, or drive onto quaint Balboa Island or the Balboa Peninsula for a wide selection of everything from Italian to seafood. Taking the PCH further north, you will continue to pass a large selection of restaurants in Huntington Beach, until the road eventually turns inland.
There is no reason to go hungry when you visit the OrangeCounty beach communities.Hope you and your family enjoy planning your California vacation!
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