Orange County’s Best Road Trip Spots
There’s something uniquely special about taking the whole day to explore the local landscape. Your sensory is heightened as secrets of the city make themselves known and each discovery opens you up to new flavors, sights, smells, and scenery.
Whether you’re a professional seeking respite after a long work week or a student with a light class load and some free time to kill, these Orange County hot spots are perfect destinations if you’ve got a set of wheels, a tank of gas, and a sense of adventure.
Laguna Coast Wilderness Park
Throw a pair of sneakers into the backseat, hitch up the bike, and start your morning off with sloping hills and oceanic views. Laguna’s coastal canyon park defines southern California’s landscape with miles of trails and native plant life.
Address: 18751 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach
Parking: Parking lot hours are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Trails open 7 a.m. to sunset. $3/day to park.
Santa Ana’s 4th Street
Visit the rooftop garden for a beer before you catch a classic film. Or grab a bundle of fresh fruits and veggies on Thursday afternoon. Quitter weekday nights give you an intimate look of the downtown scene and weekends reveal the hustle and bustle of Santa Ana culture.
Address: N. Bush Street and E. 4th Street, Santa Ana
Parking: Metered street parking and $1/hr parking structures along 3rd and 4th Street provide plenty of parking options seven days a week. Generally, parking is free after 8 p.m.
Old Towne Orange
This historic district boasts numerous antique shops, boutiques, and restaurants. Grab some made-to-order ice cream from á la Minute and take a stroll along the circle. The Plaza Park gives you the perfect view of the circle and all its specialty shops.
Address: 230 E. Chapman Avenue, Orange
Parking: Free parking along downtown streets and public parking lots extend just beyond the plaza. Drive around any corner and find lots on Olive Street and Orange Street. More free parking lots available within walking distance. Beware of parking in residential areas; non-permitted cars will be ticketed.
Anaheim Packing House
This restored orange packing warehouse is delicious food central, catering to every palate with a diverse selection of cuisines and desserts. The creative interior design and live music all weekend long makes this a great lunch destination on your OC road trip.
Address: 440 S. Anaheim Boulevard, Anaheim
Parking: Free lot parking along Claudina Street directly behind and across from the Packing House. Parking can also be found next to Anaheim City Hall further down Claudina Street toward W. Broadway.
Huntington Beach / Pacific Coast Highway
The PCH is a well known driver destination and, convertible or no convertible, you can’t help but roll the windows down and let the breeze blow your hair back. Take PCH along the Huntington Beach coastline and make stops at the pier and dog beach. Downtown Huntington, across from the pier, is a great stop-and-shop spot and the dog beach is perfect for dog lovers and beach goers wanting to get some sun and meet some pups. Need we say more?
Address: 2000 Main Street, Huntington Beach; 100 Goldenwest Street, Huntington Beach
Parking: Downtown/Pier – Metered parking along Main Street and free residential street parking just parallel to Main in the surrounding neighborhood. Dog Beach – Metered beach parking and free residential street parking across the beach at Goldenwest Street and in the surrounding neighborhood.
Crystal Cove Shake Shack
This haven along the highway is the perfect road trip stop. Quench your thirst, take care of that sweet tooth, and stretch your legs as you overlook one of Orange County’s most beautiful beaches. If you’re really hungry, the shack also offers classic burger and fry options and the shaded deck offers seating with a prime view of the coastline.
Address: 7703 East Coast Hwy, Newport Coast
Parking: Limited free lot parking once you pull off the highway, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. most days.