Surf, sun, and fun—what more could a tourist want? Maybe some top-shelf cannabis. Luckily, Orange County, California has all of the above. Where should you start on your Orange County vacation? That depends on whether you prefer the outdoors, the indoors, or gourmet eats. It’s almost too much to handle, but stay chill: People’s has the lowdown on what to do in the OC.
California’s best known for its surf, sun, fun, and the best cannabis in the world. So where to begin your California getaway—a hike at the Dana Point headlands? Perhaps you’d prefer some gourmet eats instead. Figuring out what to start with is almost too much to handle, but it’s chill: People’s is here to help.
Things to Do in Orange County, With or Without Weed
In a post-2020 world where bar hopping and tightly-packed concerts have gone temporarily extinct, you can still enjoy year-round Southern California sun! Whether you’re on a runner’s high, waiting for the high tide, or just like to sight-see while high, there’s still plenty to do in Orange County. The best part is the price—as most of these activities are free!
Find a Higher Tide at Orange County’s Best Beaches
There’s nothing better than heading down to the shore, especially in Southern California. Clean water and salty air meets perfect weather almost every day of the year down here. Trying to figure out which famous spot to hit first? Visit one of these Orange County beaches:
- Bolsa Chica State Beach. Located on the north side of the county in Huntington Beach, this spot is surrounded by a vibrant downtown. See the sights, then stop by Beach City Provisions for socially distant live music and pork belly pizzas to deal with your munchies.
- San Onofre Beach. A local gem that’s near impossible to find, San Onofre beach waves are always up for a good surf. Follow the beautiful graffiti murals down to the shore, then use the fire pits for an outdoor bonfire or take your surfboard out for a spin. When you’re done, refuel at the excellent Hawaiian joint Hapa J’s. It’s got some of the best poke bowls in Orange County, which is high praise.
- Blackie’s. This beach is a must-visit for surfers. Parking is a bit tough on the Balboa Peninsula, so plan ahead! In addition to your surfboard, it might be a good idea to pack a bike or skateboard for the expedition from your parking spot to the beach. If the munchies hit hop over to the Dory Deli, which is right on the boardwalk. Fresh cookies, mortadella sandwiches, and excellent lattes are among their many offerings.
- Thousand Steps Beach. Right down the Pacific Coast Highway in stunning Laguna Beach, this stop is both work and play. It’s named after the long staircase you’ll have to take to the bottom, which isn’t literally a thousand steps, but sure feels like it might be. Jog down or take it slow, then cool off in the clear ocean water. Grab some frozen yogurt or an acai bowl at Active Culture while you’re there!
- Crystal Cove. Want to see Orange County’s best tide pools and support your local parks program at the same time? Crystal Cove is perfect for you. Vibrant starfish and sea urchins adorn the small pools at low tide. Just step carefully—sea anemones can be pretty well-camouflaged.
Conquer the Orange County Outdoors with Cannabis-Optional Activities
Aim high while high. At Alta Laguna Park, better known as “Top of the World,” you can see most of Orange County (on days when the LA county smog is light). This hike is great for beginners, with a well-worn trail to follow and plenty of places to rest your weary feet. To further elevate the experience, try a sun-grown cannabis pre-roll from Cali Fresh before or after your hike.
If you’re more of a laid-back type, check out the drive-in movie theater at the Irvine Spectrum. Offerings range from classic, fun-for-all movies like Zootopia to raucous live comedy nights. If you go on the weekends, the admission price includes a $20 gift card that can be used to buy dinner or snacks before the movie. Order to-go from one of the Spectrum mall’s delicious and diverse restaurant options. Whether you’re into Lebanese food, Cuban dishes, or classic steakhouse fare, it’s all available. Yum!
Mall Munchies: Where to Eat in Orange County
We know what you’re thinking. Mall food? Trust us. Malls in Orange County have restaurants that far exceed your typical food court fare. Fashion Island’s Great Maple restaurant offers parmesan truffle fries and charred cauliflower hummus, which make a great start to your meal. Keep going with a juicy steakhouse burger or a spicy fried chicken sandwich, or go for the brunch menu instead, which includes a Cajun shrimp biscuit Benedict, healthy vegan hash, and indulgent fried chicken & doughnuts.
At South Coast Plaza, you have to visit Din Tai Fung. It sounds crazy to say that some of the best Taiwanese food in Orange County can be found inside a mall, but it’s true. Small plates and dumplings come hot and ready as you order them, and while it may take some time to prepare, it’s worth the wait. The Xiao Long Bao (a specialty dumpling) is excellent, and so are the vegetarian mushroom buns. Top off your meal with the eight-treasure sticky rice, Taiwanese hot tea, or a lychee slush.
Go Green With Fresh Veggies, Cannabis, and More
Cannabis is technically a vegetable, but it’s always a good idea to get some extra greens in your diet. After toking up, grab a ride over to one of Orange County’s farmers’ markets. On Sundays, you can check out the offerings in front of the Newport Beach pier or browse the massive Great Park Farmers’ Market in Irvine, which even has a fresh tamale vendor. During the week, hotspots include the Irvine Towers and the Orange County Fairgrounds. Make a tour out of it!
We’ve told you all about the places you can enjoy with cannabis, but where can you get it? Visit one of Southern California’s premier dispensaries, People’s! Located right by the Santa Ana airport, People’s is the best place to shop for everything from CBD gummies to potent vape carts and top-shelf cannabis flower. Buying cannabis can be intimidating, but People’s makes it easy with an efficient downstairs ordering system and friendly Guides to answer all your questions. Even better, you can order your marijuana online for free pickup or delivery, which makes getting your favorite cannabis products faster than ever.
Learn More About Visiting Orange County
Want to learn more about visiting the best place in Southern California? Look out for the next article in our Orange County Travel series, highlighting our favorite towns. See you soon!