1. Balboa Beach
400 Main St, Newport Beach, CA 92660 · 949-673-5245
One of Orange County's most popular beaches. Its historic pavilion has been a tourist attraction for scores of families over the years. Covered by a cupola and famous for its steep gables, the pier dates from the early 20th century and has worn many hats in its time: terminal point for the Pacific Electric Red Car, venue for Big Band acts in the 20s and 30s (ever heard of the "Balboa Hop"?), bathhouse for vacationing well-to-dos from L.A., and departure point for whale-watching and sightseeing cruises. Meanwhile, Balboa Fun Zone (circa 1936) is a classic beachside amusement park that boasts its original Ferris wheel and merry-go-round.
2. Crystal Cathedral
121414 Lewis St, Garden Grove, CA 92840 · 714-971-4013
Designed in the shape of a four-pointed star, Garden Grove's Crystal Cathedral is a sight to behold. This impressive structure is comprised of more than 10,000 panes of glass. The congregation, more than 10,000 members, enjoys visits by scores of tourists each Sunday (services are at 9:30am an 11am) as well as guest-speakers ranging from the Lakers' Derek Fisher to Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Crystal Cathedral because provides the backdrop for Reverend Robert A. Schuller's popular "Hour of Power" weekly television broadcast.
3. Edison International Field of Anaheim
2000 Gene Autry Way, Anaheim, CA 92806 · 714-634-2000
Baseball greats like Rod Carew and Reggie Jackson once trod this field and wowed fans with their heroics, paving the way for the modern generation of Angels. Until 1995, the NFL Rams shared the stadium, but after they moved to St. Louis, the Angels became the sole resident. A massive renovation project gave the entire structure a much-needed facelift, adding terraced bullpens, the Nestle Family Zone, the interactive Pepsi Perfect Game Pavilion, a handful of restaurants, and the KnotHole Club sports bar. Contact the ticket office for game times and ticket prices.
4. Orange County Marine Institute
24200 Dana Point Harbor Dr, Dana Point, CA 92629-2723 · 949-248-0503
Hop on the "Pilgrim" and prepare to be amazed by the diversity of California's marine life! For a small fee, you can learn about life aboard a 19th century sailing vessel, explore a real tidal pool, and take part in the marine lab's open house. If you want to experience something a little wilder, then make arrangements to take one of their cruises, which range from the Bioluminescence Night Cruise to the Marine Wildlife Cruise. Snorkeling excursions to Catalina or San Clemente are also available.
5. Orange County Zoo
1 Irvine Park Rd, Irvine Regional Park, Irvine, CA 92862 · 714-633-8072
Once home to the dearly departed Samson the Bear, the Orange County Zoo is a terrific place to spend the afternoon with the family. On the one hand it's inexpensive, and on the other it's a terrific place to get up close and personal - at a safe distance, of course! - with some of California's famous wildlife, from harbor seals and North American beavers to mountain lions and black bears.
Top Weekend Getaways And Day Trip Excursions:
1313 S Harbor Blvd, Anaheim, CA 92802-2309 · 714-781-4565
The happiest place on Earth! This world-renowned theme park features great rides, games, and thrilling shows. With eight individually themed “lands,” this park offers plenty of fun for the entire family. Walt Disney’s favorite was Fantasyland, but you may prefer the futuristic adventure of Tomorrowland, the outdoorsy fun of Critter Country, or the zany shenanigans at Mickey’s Toontown. Rides, shows, shops and restaurants are located in each section of the park. You could easily spend several days here without doing the same thing twice, but even if you’ve only got one day, don’t miss Disney!
2. Downtown Disney
1510 S Disneyland Dr, Anaheim, CA 92802-2319
Downtown Disney provides a fun, adult-friendly alternative to mouse ears and high-octane rides with its bustling nightlife and restaurant scenes. Spanning more than 20 acres, this area in between the Disney resort hotels and the theme park gates bustles daily and nightly. Guests browse through its myriad shops, stop off for cocktails, brews, or tunes at ESPN Zone and the House of Blues, dine at unique restaurants, and dance the night away at trendy discos. Those wanting to "take it easy" should check into catching a flick at the 12-screen AMC movie theater.
3. Disney's California Adventure
1313 S Harbor Blvd, Anaheim, CA 92802-2309 · 714-781-4565
Disney’s California Adventure celebrates the Golden State, with themed attractions like a replica of the Golden Gate Bridge, a Hollywood Pictures Backlot, and Paradise Pier, which celebrates the state's old oceanfront amusement parks. Children love “A Bug’s Life” themed rides and shows, like Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train, and on a hot day, Princess Dot Puddle Park can’t be beat. This place isn't just for the kids, though. In addition to the expected pizza, burger, and hot dog stands, there is a winery and several adult-oriented restaurants, plus rides and other attractions just for grown ups.
4. Knott's Berry Farm
8039 Beach Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90001 · 714-220-5200
Billed as America's first theme park, Knott's has 150-acres of thrill rides, live entertainment, historic exhibits, and world-class dining that are divided into six themed areas. One favorite is Ghost Town, an 1880s Western boom town with cowboys, gun fights, stagecoaches and gold panning. Boardwalk resembles a coastal amusement park of the 1920s. Wild Water Wilderness and Camp Snoopy are children's top picks. You'll also want to see the full-size replica of Independence Hall or hear a major performer at the Good Time Theatre.
5. Universal Studios
100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, CA 91608 · 818- 622-3036
This world-renowned theme park features exciting attractions representing popular movies and television shows. The park houses thrill rides, great attractions and terrific live shows year-round. Attractions include a replica of the famous "Psycho" house, "Jaws" adventure ride and "King Kong" adventure. Located off the 101 Hollywood Freeway.