Vacation in Orange County, California

Thursday, September 29, 2011

With its temperate weather, beach lifestyle and a wide variety of attractions and activities, Orange County is a premier vacation destination for both couples and families. Situated in Southern California between Los Angeles and San Diego, Orange County covers nearly 1,000 square miles, stretching from the Santa Ana Mountains to the east to 42 miles of Pacific Ocean coastline. Orange County’s intense car culture of course requires car insurance, so visitors are advised to shop for cheap auto insurance for a truly stress-free vacation.

Tongva, Juaneño, and Luiseño Native Americans inhabited the area before the Junipero Serra’s 1769 Spanish expedition discovered the area. Serra named the area Valle de Santa Ana, or Valley of Saint Anne – the city of Santa Ana is the county seat. Native American artifacts are on display at Santa Ana’s Bower Museum, which also features notable traveling exhibits.

The numerous acres of orange groves that inspired the county’s name have all but disappeared, but the agricultural community’s heritage is still represented by Knott’s Berry Farm. The amusement park began as a restaurant that showcased pies made from locally grown boysenberries, baked by the wife of the park’s founder, Walter Knott. Knott’s Berry Farm includes many attractions that pay homage to the west’s frontier days, although today the park is more known for thrill-seeking roller coaster rides.

The most famous attraction in Orange County is the Disneyland Resort, founded in 1955 by Walt Disney. A second park, California Adventures, was built on the original Disneyland’s parking lot. Guests to both parks are now shuttled in from off-site parking lots. In addition to some of the most imaginative rides and attractions in the world, visitors can expect long lines at both theme parks – tourists typically spend several days to explore both parks.

Huntington Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Orange County, due to its reputation as “Surf City.” Visitors are advised to arrive early to get a parking spot. In addition to surfing, the beach is popular for swimming, sunbathing and people-watching. The most popular spot for surfing is right next to the pier. Visitors can stroll out on the pier and watch, and catch a meal at the popular red-roofed Ruby’s Diner at the end of the pier.

Nature-lovers may enjoy a day trip to the Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary. Owned and operated by Fullerton’s California State University, the 12-acre nature preserve is located in near Modjeska Canyon in the Santa Ana Mountains, adjacent to the Cleveland National Forest. Tucker’s facilities include a small natural history museum and a bird observation porch, picnic areas and a few easy hiking trails, offering visitors a glimpse of what life was like in Orange County before Father Serra discovered it.

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