Break open the brie, pop open the apricot preserves and pour a glass of sparkling cider at one of Orange County’s beautiful parks this summer. Instead of following routine the next time hunger strikes, throw a blanket in the car and think of OC’s 27,000 acres of open space lands as your dining canvas. Start at the county’s best spots for a picnic.
505 Forest Ave.
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Price: $3 parking for three hours
Perhaps one of the most treasured beaches in all of Orange County, Treasure Island rivals some of the best beaches in the world. Located just north of Aliso Creek Beach, it is most easily accessed by the ramp at the southwest corner of Montage Resort. In it’s own little cove, the walk winds through lush, manicured greenery leading to long, wooden picnic tables and park benches. Give yourself a few hours to enjoy this sanctuary, and pack your swimsuit and sunscreen to enjoy tempting emerald water.
Crystal Cove State Park
8471 N. Coast Hwy.
Laguna Beach, California 92651
Price: $15 for a one-day parking pass
On 3.2 miles of beach and 2,400 acres of undeveloped woodland Crystal Cove State Park is a sanctuary that takes eating on a blanket to a whole new level. With a section of the park listed on the National Registrar of Historical Places, enjoy a backdrop of unique cottages originally built in the 1920s and now made available for public reservation. Enjoy the private beach feel, and reminisce of a time gone past. The Beachcomber Café is located right on the beach and makes for a great venue to cater your picnic. Grab a bite to go and head to the sand for your private picnic retreat.
Carbon Canyon Regional Park
4442 Carbon Canyon Rd.
Brea, CA 92823
Price: $3 parking during the week/$5 on the weekend
There are, in fact, redwoods in the middle of Orange County — an unlikely 10-acres of coastal redwoods (Sequoias), some 100 feet tall, sit in the heart of Carbon Canyon Regional Park. While there’s a mile hike to reach these fabulous trees, the reward is worth it: This distinctive glimpse into nature can typically only be found north of Monterey. With dozens of picnic benches in fabulously shady spots, memories made on the natural breeze bound within 124 acres these splendid trees cannot be brought. Feel free to bring the pup to this popular pooch destination.
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Corona Del Mar State Beach
at Marguerite Avenue and Ocean Boulevard
Corona Del Mar CA 92625
Price: $15 parking or free parking on the street
Pack the grilling utensils, prepare a few shish kabobs and head to Corona Del Mar State Beach for a chance to grill in the sun. With public grills readily available, feast in the grassy outdoors by day and roast marshmallows by night. Beach fire pits make this one of the only places to night picnic with the smell of firewood under star-drunk sky. Avoid crowds by skipping holiday weekends and going during the week.
Doheny State Beach
25300 Dana Point Harbor Dr.
Dana Point, CA 92629
Price: $15 parking
As one of the only parks on the beach to allow alcohol — with a special permit in place — Doheny State Beach can accommodate groups up of to 500 with reservation. While you will need to reserve in advance and pay a fee, there’s no better place to host a special a picnic-style celebration. One of the area’s largest picnic area, 30 picnic tables, three shade canopies, one large fire ring, a barbecue grill, sink, counters, cold drink bins and even electrical outlets mean endless possibilities for an amazing gathering. Large group reservation fees range from $125 to $1,200 but vary greatly depending on the time of year and time of week.
Jessica Blotter, a Los Angeles Travel Examiner and contributor to popular travel and golf publication, Fairways + Greens Magazine, was a former associate publisher to national hip lifestyle publication, 944 Magazine, within both Los Angeles and San Diego markets. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.