The 5 Best Beaches in Orange County, CA

Palm trees on the coast at sunset, like you would see on one of the 5 best beaches in Orange County, CA.

What are the 5 best beaches in Orange County, CA? It’s an excellent question, but not an easy one to answer given the OC’s incredible stretch of coastline. Thankfully, in spite of the difficulty, we have taken it upon ourselves to answer this question on behalf of the great people living south of LA and north of San Diego. (And all the other people out there who love the OC.) So, grab your floaties, put on your goggles and get yourself ready for the preeminent list of the 5 best beaches in Orange County. In no particular order, of course.

Incredible Beach #1: The Wedge

For our first beach we’ve selected is a strip of coastline at the end of the Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach that is known simply as ‘the Wedge’. The Wedge is famous for having the biggest waves in the area and draws thrill seekers from all over SoCal. (And the country, really.) When the conditions are just right, the Wedge is said to have waves reaching 30 feet high. (We’ll stay on the shore when that happens but you’re welcome to go in.) So, if you enjoy surfing, or watching surfers, this is definitely the place for you. Not only that, you can also sit back and watch all manner of incredible boats coming in and out of Newport Harbor. When you’ve had enough, you can enjoy the quaintness of Balboa Island or, for the Arrested Development fans out there, take a short drive to the original Frozen Banana stand which is nearby. Final note, the Wedge is where John Wayne injured himself while swimming, which led to his losing his football scholarship which led to his dropping out of school which led to his getting a job at a movie studio which led to his movie career. So be careful for goodness sake. And if you get hurt get a job at a movie studio for sure.

Be sure to check out the video below for some incredible footage of surfers enjoying the Wedge.

The Wedge is one of the best beaches in Orange County for sure. Just check out those incredible waves.

Incredible Beach #2: Crystal Cove State Park

Crystal Cove State Park is a special stretch of Laguna Beach which is far less crowded than most of the coastline. Boasting 3.2 miles of shoreline and over 2,000 acres of open space, the park can satisfy both your itch for the sand and your need for the quiet wilderness. The coastline itself is beautiful, and frequented by scuba divers, surfers, and swimmers. There are tide pools you can investigate in the morning, hiking trails for an afternoon jaunt, and stunning sunsets on the water come evening. There is also the Crystal Cove Historic District comprised of 46 vintage cottages originally built in the 30’s and 40’s providing a glimpse of California in days gone by. Sidebar: for those looking for a truly exciting experience you can rent cottages for overnight stays. As if that wasn’t enough, the park also offers guided hikes both in the interior and along the tide pools, and there is food available at the Beachcomber Café. This is not a beach to miss so get there as soon as you can. Check out the video below to learn more.

A great introduction to incredible Orange County beach #2: Crystal Cove.

Incredible Beach #3: Huntington Dog Beach

The Huntington Dog Beach is the only official dog beach in Orange County. There are a few other beaches that allow dogs during certain hours of the day during certain months of the year, but that doesn’t really count. Not only that, but the word on the street is that as long as everyone is well behaved, you can take your dog off of his or her leash. (You definitely can’t do that anywhere else.) I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of much of a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than catching some rays with my good friend Rufus. And, as if that wasn’t enough, it’s Huntington so between the pier and all of the great restaurants and shops nearby there is never a shortage of things to do. Our advice is to grab your pooch and head down immediately. Don’t even finish the article, just go. Maybe bring the cat along too.

Bring your dogs to Huntington dog beach for a day of fun. This guy’s definitely having fun!

Incredible Beach #4: San Clemente Pier Beach

San Clemente Pier Beach is a lovely stretch of beach on the southern tip of Orange County. A bit off the beaten path, it is a bit quieter than some of the more northern beaches, but its popularity has really grown in recent years. It boasts a great pier with several restaurants where you can dine while looking out over the water, a cute commercial district walking distance from the waves, and a lovely stretch of shoreline great for long strolls and relaxation. It also boasts a stop on the Pacific Surfliner train line, making it particularly convenient if you don’t want to be bothered by Southern California’s well documented traffic. (There is also a large and very convenient parking lot just off of the beach, but expect a lot of competition for spots on weekend afternoons.) Overall, it’s a great place to relax and recharge, particularly if you are in South County. Oh yes, and be sure to grab some ice cream right across from the pier.

Want to learn more? Check out the video below.

Incredible Beach #5: Laguna Beach Main Beach

This is it ladies and gentlemen, our last beach. And for this we are heading back to Laguna, the only town with two beaches on our list, but it’s Laguna, what do you expect. The Main Beach is the beating heart of Laguna and has been an Orange County destination for as long as Orange County has been a destination. You’ve got everything from gelato, to coffee, to live music and fabulous art galleries at your fingertips, not to mention a vintage movie theatre and great stores for casual shopping. And of course, the beach itself is stunning, filled with beautiful rock formations, and awash with tide pooling opportunities. Oh yes, and Laguna has several restaurants with absolutely striking views – literally some of the best in the county. Perhaps a victim of its own success, Main Beach does get busy, particularly in the summer, so parking may take a minute. (Our favorite time to head down is in the off season, but to each his own.) If you’re looking for a great day (or weekend), you can’t go wrong with Laguna’s Main Beach – head down today! (And check out the video below for more.)

So, there you have it. Our list of the 5 best beaches in Orange County, CA. It wasn’t an easy task, but we did our best to do it justice. We’re sure we’ve enraged some of you with our choices, so feel free to let us know how you feel in the comments. Enjoy the beach everyone!

Want to learn some more great stuff about Orange County? Check out our post on the 5 biggest tourist destinations in Orange County or the 5 best hiking trails in Orange County. Or, if you are the entrepreneurial type and looking for something entirely different, be sure to check out our guide on starting a new business in the OC.

You might be wondering who we are. We’re My OC Bookkeeper – Orange County’s best bookkeeping and business advisory firm. We love everything about Orange County, from going to the beach to helping great Orange County businesses with their books. So if you’re looking for someone to help with your bookkeeping or accounting give us a call. And if you’re looking for more great articles on everything from life in Orange County to doing business here, check out our blog. Click on the surfers below to learn more!

The 5 Biggest Tourist Destinations in Orange County, CA

A sunny beach filled with people that represents tourist destinations in Orange County, CA.

Our List of Orange County’s Best Tourist Destinations

With famous theme parks, historic sightseeing, and a wealth of sunshine Orange County is a great destination for tourists of all interests. Orange County stands out as one of the must-visit destinations on various travel lists. That is why it attracts approximately 40 million visitors annually.

In Orange County, you will find everything you need for the perfect family holiday or adventurous weekend trip. From beaches and shopping malls to museums and restaurants, Orange County offers something for everyone. No wonder it is one of the most iconic destinations in California. That is why Orange County was featured numerous times in films and television series.

Trying to sum up the best tourist destinations in Orange County is not an easy task. However, we did our best to come up with this list of the biggest tourist destinations in Orange County. We made sure to put something for everybody and to reflect the true California experience.

Here is our list of the 5 biggest tourist destinations in Orange County.


You cannot go to Orange County and miss the chance to meet Mickey Mouse in person. The county of oranges doesn’t just have sunny beaches and great weather. It is also the home of “The Happiest Place on Earth”, Disneyland.

Long before the multiple parks and resorts that exist today, the first Disneyland amusement park opened here in Anaheim by Walt Disney himself back in 1955. Till now, the Disneyland amusement park is still considered one of the highlights of visiting Orange County. With thrilling, magical attractions and favorite cartoon characters coming to life, Disneyland provides an unforgettable experience for people of all ages.

Check out the video below for an awesome tour of Disneyland Park.

Huntington City Beach

Surfing is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Orange County. That is why “Surf City USA,” Huntington Beach landed 2nd place on our list. The world-famous surfing beaches of Huntington Beach draw about 4 million people annually.

Huntington Beach has also received many awards, including “Best Family Beach from OC Parenting Magazine.” It is because Huntington Beach provides numerous outdoor activities for everybody. Besides surfing, you can also play volleyball, soak up the sun or eat some food. The three and a half miles of sand provide room for all beach games and relaxing, fun activities.

Surprisingly, visiting Huntington Beach might be even more pleasant at night. You can enjoy the beautiful California sunset on the famous Huntington Beach Pier. This Orange County landmark is located off Main Street. There you can fish, ride a bike, walk or enjoy a delicious meal. Whatever you do, make sure not to miss the sunset there!

Want to see Huntington Beach up close? Click the video below.

Balboa Island

Sunny beaches are not the only tourist attraction in Orange County. This man-made island in Newport Beach is a vacation destination for many. Like other places in Orange County, Balboa Island offers something for everyone. It features big and small delights.

You can go shopping at the local boutique shops, eat at restaurants or enjoy a romantic gondola ride. There is also an amusement park on Balboa Island. For a one of a lifetime experience, do not miss the whale-watching cruise. All these adventures and more make Balboa Island one of the best destinations to visit in Orange County.

Do you remember the frozen banana stand from Arrested Development? That was in Newport Beach too. Take a look at the video below to see Balboa up close. (Unfortunately the banana stand may not make an appearance.)

Discovery Cube Orange County

Inspire, educate, impact that is the mission of the Discovery Cube Orange County. That is why any family vacation in Orange County should include this award-winning science extravaganza. Visiting the Discovery Cube Orange County will help your children uncover the potentials of their minds.

This science museum features a huge collection of varying exhibits, tours, galleries, research stations, and engaging activities for children of all ages. The attractions in the Discovery Cube Orange County cover topics like space, water conservation, and good eating habits. As a parent, all you need to do is just sit back and relax. Let your children explore and follow their imagination, curiosity, and senses. They will be amazed by the world around them.

Formerly known as the Discovery Science Center and the Taco Bell Discovery Science Center, the Discovery Cube Orange County is located in Santa Ana, California. In 2013, the Discovery Cube Orange County received the National Medal for Museum and Library Services. This is not just a great place to visit with your children. You can also celebrate their birthday parties there. In all cases, adding the Discovery Cube Orange County to your must-see list will make your trip to Orange County unforgettable.

Crystal Cove State Park

With about 2,500 acres of land and over 3 miles of beach, Crystal Cove State Park is one of the largest remaining natural seashores in Orange County. Crystal Cove State Park is the go-to destination for those who love bike riding, camping, trekking, or even equestrian sports.

For those who love water, Crystal Cove State Park offers great activities above and under the water. You can take a surfboard or a kayak or go scuba diving. There is never a dull moment in Crystal Cove State Park. You can check the tide levels on the park’s website before you go.

Visitors can also enjoy the historic part of the park. Crystal Cove State Park contains a federally listed Historic District. There is also an old seaside colony of picturesque cottages from the mid-20th century.

Picking the 5 biggest tourist destinations in Orange County, CA was no easy task. So, tell us what other attractions you think should be added to our list? We would love to hear from you in the comments.

Orange County isn’t just known for its tourist destinations and beaches, it’s also filled with thriving, innovative businesses. At My OC Bookkeeper, we understand the challenges of running such businesses and help companies from Orange County, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Riverside to achieve their boldest business dreams. Our services include accounting, bookkeeping, outsourced CFO, and financial model development. Click on the surfers below and check out our website to learn more.