Everyone wants to visit Orange County, but knowing where to take visitors can be a hassle. No matter the tourist in your life, Orange County has lots of history, and of course, no visit would be complete without a day or more at one of the area’s white sandy beaches. These are the must-see places to take any visiting family member.
Los Rios Historic District
San Juan Capistrano Historical Society
31831 Los Rios St.
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
While it is a short distance from the popular Mission San Juan, Los Rios Historical District does not have the crowds and is not on every tourists’ must-see list. There is one main unpaved street along which most of the quaint cottages and 200-year-old adobes are nestle among the willows, bougainvillaea and cacti. Some of the houses are still lived in and not open for visits, while others are used as restaurants or art galleries. Still others reflect the history of the area. Among these is the Great Stone Church that displays the mingling of the cultures of the Acjachemen Indians and the Spanish. The Museum, which was once a private home built in 1880, now houses the offices of the SJC Historical Society. There is also a park where historic photographs are displayed on the garden wall.
701 S. Glassell St.
Orange, CA 92866
Hart Park in Orange is the oldest and largest park in Orange County and a good place to take guests with very active kids. Its 45 acres boast an array of facilities to keep even the most active child entertained. There are tennis courts, a swimming pool, baseball, softball and soccer fields, sand volleyball courts, swings for the littlest ones, a picnic area with barbecue pits for you to relax and enjoy a picnic lunch, and in the summer, local performers put on a series of concerts in the park.
San Clemente Pedestrian Beach Trail
North Beach Road
San Clemente, CA
Out of town guests can enjoy a walk along one of the most picturesque shorelines in Southern California, San Clemente’s 2.3-mile Pedestrian Beach Trail, which shares the corridor with Amtrak and Metrolink. On one side is the hillside of the town, and beyond the train tracks is the shoreline where waves gently wash ashore, or come crashing in, depending on the weather. Walkers can leave the trail when it reaches the San Clemente Pier and take a walk to the end to watch locals fishing. The Pedestrian Beach Trail can be used anytime during the year, by joggers, casual cyclists and dog owners, who are allowed to walk their pooches on a 6-foot or shorter leash.
Molly Bloom’s Irish Bar & Restaurant
2391 S. El Camino Real
San Clemente, CA 92672
Get away from the kitchen for a night out with visiting guests at Molly Bloom’s Irish Bar & Restaurant for a taste of Ireland in the Southland. If you are Irish, enjoy Molly’s traditional corned beef and cabbage or the bangers, beans and mash, washed down with genuine Guinness or one of its Jameson Irish whiskeys. For the little ones with you, Molly has a special children’s menu and on Mondays, the kids eat for free. Wednesday nights are comedy night with live music on the weekends, and sports fans need not miss their favorites as sports are covered all of the time.
Pacific Coast Highway
Dana Point, CA
The Pacific Ocean plays a large part in the life of all residents in Southern California, where on any day of the year people can be seen on the white sandy beaches. It follows that a day at the beach is always foremost for visiting guests. One of the least known among the popular places to swim is Capistrano Beach. This beach is not as wide as many of the others, but it is less crowded with all of the fun things to do. There are restrooms as well as public showers to wash off the sand, a basketball court, fire pits and a concession building that rents beach necessities such as chairs and umbrellas, bicycles, rollerblades and surfboards, although the waves here are not very large. Be sure to stay until sunset so guests can see one of Southern California’s spectacular sunsets. The concession stand is only open in the summer months. Parking is either at meter spots or local residents can purchase a parking pass.
Mona Graham is a freelance writer, writing for Examiner.com. Mona has lived in Orange County since 1958 and has a great familiarity with the area. Her hobbies are travelling, writing and photography. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.