(Credit: Visit Huntington Beach)
In a place filled with sunshine and warm weather almost all year long, Orange County is ideal for outdoor cardio. While there are endless gyms, yoga studios and indoor fitness classes in Southern California, there are also plenty of perfect places to get your workout out in the fresh air. Whether you choose to run, walk, bike, hike or even partake in some cardio-filled water activities, these top spots are sure to get your heart pumping and your blood moving.
Huntington Beach Bike Path
Toes on the Nose
21500 Pacific Coast Highway
Huntington Beach, CA 92648
One of the absolute best spots for outdoor cardio is the bike path in Huntington Beach. The two-way trail takes bikers along the beach with spectacular ocean views along the way. Coming in at over eight miles in Huntington alone, the trail connects to Sunset Beach as well as Newport to the south. Ride past the pier, watch the surfers atop rolling waves or simply savor the wind in your hair as you get your cardio in for the day. This is an easy, relaxing path but it does have a few hills to get your legs pumping as well. Rent bicycles from the Hyatt Regency’s Toes on the Nose shop then take their private path over PCH directly to the trail.
Huntington Beach Harbor
Aloha SUP Rentals
16732 Pacific Coast Highway
Sunset Beach, CA 90742
A nearby spot that is also great for cardio is the Huntington Harbor. Nestled near the ocean but with calmer waters, it’s the ideal spot for stand up paddleboarding. Many don’t realize just how much of a workout paddleboarding can be. Keeping your balance while paddling is a total body workout that helps tone muscles all over your body. But in addition to balance and strength, stand up paddleboarding can be a fantastic cardio workout. As long as you’re moving fast enough, you’ll keep your heart rate up. Aloha SUP Rentals in Sunset Beach allows you to reserve your boards online before heading out to the harbor.
Peter’s Canyon Regional Park
8548 Canyon View Equestrian Trail
Orange, CA 92869
Whether trail running or simply hiking, Peter’s Canyon is one of the most picturesque spots in Orange County. Various shrubs and grasses blend seamlessly with the cotton blowing through the air from the park’s cottonwood trees and the shady portion of the lakeside loop trail that passes beneath a variety of other trees. Paths wind around the lake, up and down hills, over ridges and along a stream in the canyon and hikers get the best of all worlds. Keep a quick pace, even if you’re walking, to get your daily cardio workout. It’s not too hard to do with all of the hills, but the gorgeous scenery makes it all worth it.
Corona del Mar State Beach
3100 Ocean Boulevard
Newport Beach, CA 92625
Corona del Mar is ideal for two different types of cardio: swimming and climbing. The jetty protects the cove-shaped beach, creating smaller waves that are perfect for swimming. There are also markers to show you how far it is safe to swim out to avoid the boats that tend to weave through the waters offshore. Head out to the buoys and swim side to side; you’ll be a ways from the coastline so you avoid both the children playing and the crashing of the waves. Corona del Mar also has some cliffs that separate the main beach from a smaller cove. You can get some cardio in by climbing these rocks as well.
Thousand Steps Beach
Pacific Coast Highway and 9th Avenue
Laguna Beach, CA 92652
Los Angeles has the famous Santa Monica Stairs and the Culver City Stairs. Well, the OC version of that is in beautiful Laguna Beach. Reach Thousand Steps Beach via an outdoor staircase that is perfect for cardio workouts. The staircase is somewhat steep so make sure you’ve got good balance before you try to run either up or down them—and watch out for the trees overhead so they don’t take you down. Though it doesn’t actually have 1,000 steps, it does have over 200, which can seem like just as much. Go up and down a few times to get your workout in before relaxing on the beach or keep the cardio going by taking a swim in the ocean.
Kayaks on the Water
5411 East Ocean Boulevard
Long Beach, CA 90803
A low-key way to get some serious cardio is by kayaking. Keep a steady pace and you’ll hardly even feel your heart working as you paddle through the water. Alamitos Bay has calm water that makes it a great space for kayaking. You can also paddle throughout the neighboring Naples canals while admiring the waterfront homes that lie here. These recreational areas have limited boat use so you won’t have to watch out for them plus you can reach some retail spots via the bay to get a smoothie before heading back on the water. The best place to rent a kayak near Alamitos Bay is Kayaks on the Water, a rental shop located right on the beach.
Fullerton Loop Trail
1275 North Berkeley Avenue
Fullerton, CA 92832
Located right in the heart of Fullerton, this 12-mile trail winds through residential areas as well as undeveloped parts of the city. It’s a lengthy loop that is ideal for mountain biking, but it’s also beginner-friendly so those of any skill level can explore the area. Because it’s so long, there are parts of it that overlap with other trails; choose which way is best for you as different trails serve as less difficult alternatives to the main trail. One of the best things about this loop is that it levels out at the end so it has a built-in cool down. But, don’t worry. Before that, you’ll have plenty of hills to get your heart rate up.
Orange Coast College
2701 Fairview Road
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
There are a few different running tracks in the area, but your best bet for track and field cardio is at the Orange Coast College track. Located right next to their football stadium, it’s easily accessible and perfect for outdoor runs. The track was updated a little more than a decade ago with a state-of-the-art polyurethane surface that makes it even easier to run on, allowing runners to increase their speeds. The weatherproof surface means you can get your run in even if the rain is coming down, which is beneficial as well.