Summer Weekend Getaways: Orange County

Even though the long summer vacations of your childhood have been replaced with endless days and nights at the office, you can still carve out a little time to enjoy that much-deserved break this year. Just outside your door in Orange County is a world of activities and adventures waiting to be explored. From close encounters with wild animals to surfing to wine tasting, here are a few of the best weekend getaways in Orange County.

Catalina Island- Rich in history and offering many new things to discover and explore, Catalina Island is the perfect escape for visitors from Orange County with its quick and easy access via boat or plane. Catalina Island’s wide variety of diving locations makes it ideal for scuba diving for all levels of experience. If you aren’t comfortable diving or snorkeling, there are also glass bottom boat tours and submarine tours available. If you are more inclined to stay on land, Golf cart rentals, bicycle rentals, interior tours, walking and hiking trails, camping, zip lining, shopping, hotels and day spas are all available for your perfect weekend getaway. You have the choice to do everything or nothing at all, it’s up to you!

Costa Mesa- Spend a day in this O.C. town where indie shopping and the food scene have come into their own. Experience world-class shopping at South Coast Plaza. Indulge in sumptuous dining at top restaurants like Seasons 52– a contemporary American restaurant serving steaks, seafood and more, with a seasonally changing menu and no dish over 475 calories. Enjoy award-winning Broadway productions and concerts at Segerstrom Center for the Arts. With all that Costa Mesa has to offer, you have some decisions to make about what to do.  The best part? You’re just minutes from the beach.

Dana Point- Lacking the bling of Newport and the art legacy of Laguna, Dana Point is the often-overlooked stepsister along the Orange County coast. Its humble charm and ocean-oriented character have much to offer ― quiet tide pools, a busy marina, and a sport fishing wharf. Dana Wharf’s whale watching cruise is absolutely awe-inspiring. Be sure to check out all things from the sea at the casual bluff top restaurant with panoramic views- Cannons Seafood Grill. 

Huntington Beach- Whether you carve up the waves or watch from the sand, Huntington Beach will work its classic beach-town charms on you. A surfing lesson in Surf City USA makes for a fun afternoon and a great workout. So why not take a surf lesson? The surf butler at Shorebreak can arrange it. Not up for the surf? Watch the pro. The US Open of Surfing is August 2–8, when the world’s best compete for titles. After a long day in the sun, carbo load on lobster tacos with an ocean view at the new Sandy’s Beach Grill.

Laguna Beach- Just 50 miles south of Los Angeles and 75 miles north of San Diego, this California town is built for quiet, romantic getaways. Laguna Beach, and its gorgeous coves and sunsets, is one of the first beach resort areas in Orange County. Laguna is still considered an artists’ colony:  The county’s very first art museum, founded in 1918, still stands sentinel at the city’s northern entrance as the Laguna Art Museum. Scores of art galleries dot Pacific Coast Highway. Not into art? No worries. Laguna has plenty of other fun, too.  Like a true hidden treasure, Treasure Island is an exquisite crescent-shaped beach with a view of the Pacific must be seen to be believed.  Evenings get hopping with the date-night crowd who pop in and out of the downtown bars. Even though it’s just down the street, it makes you feel like you’ve traveled to a remote ocean village, complete with charming cottages, romantic coves and a laid-back, artsy feel.

I’m sure I’m leaving some fun out here, but there are just so many options to choose from! Gone are the days of long 2 week vacations, but you don’t need that! All you need for some much needed R&R is a few days in one of these Orange County towns.
Do you have other weekend getaway ideas in Southern California? What’s your favorite summer vacation in the OC?
Amy Johnson

is UDR’s budding social media guru, and has been instrumental in constructing the brand’s content strategy. After graduating from University of Colorado- Boulder, she started working for UDR as a marketing intern. When she isn’t perusing the web for the perfect pins and Facebook posts, she can be found hiking somewhere with her dog Rory.

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