All Stories from Orange County

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    Whale Watching from Shore

    It’s gray-whale season again! The best way to see our majestic Baja-bound friends is, of course, by boat, but sharp eyes can spot them from shore too. Get in a good hike while admiring this great annual migration. One of the best shorebound spots is the 6-mile (round-trip) Bluff…

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    Arboretum Season

    All is not always calm this time of year, but peace reigns at Fullerton Arboretum, a quiet 26-acre oasis in the middle of urban Orange County. It’s on the campus of Cal State Fullerton, and with most of the campus closed for the holidays, this is the perfect time to take a stroll…

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    A Pirate’s Cave for Me

    The sea caves of Dana Point may not hold any gold or gems (that we know of), but Pirate’s Cave is a treasure in and of itself. This 1.2-mile (round-trip) out-and-back trail along a rocky coastline is only accessible during low tide and threads between towering cliffs and crashing…

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    Laguna Low Down

    Looking for the best tide pools in Orange County? Grab your water shoes and a tide chart, and head to Crescent Bay in Laguna Beach! The mix of shallow and deep pools provides a perfect home for all sorts of sea creatures such as mussels, barnacles, sea stars, urchins, clams, and…

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    Down Doheny Way

    For the best beach camping in SoCal, come down Doheny way, where everybody’s gone surfin’, surfin’ USA! Doheny State Beach, that is, situated on 62 acres of coastline in Dana Point, and California’s first official state beach. Though immortalized in the Beach Boys’ 1963 hit, the…

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    A Valido Point of View

    When you reach Aliso Peak via Valido Trail in Laguna Beach, you’ll be close enough to the blue Pacific to see the detail of the waves crashing upon the shore, but high enough for a sweeping perspective on the grandeur of the SoCal coastline. This lightly trafficked, 1.1-mile (one…

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    An Orange Shade of Red

    Which is closer: Zion or Orange County? For a quick red-rock fix, we vote for the OC. Namely, Red Rock Canyon in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park—a 4.2-mile (round-trip) out-and-back trek that gently gains 420 feet along Borrego Trail and Red Rock Canyon Trail. The trailhead for…

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    Owl the Best of Santa Ana

    Old town, new spirit! Historic downtown Santa Ana is home to the first craft distillery in Orange County. Blinking Owl Distillery, named for a once-iconic bar on the corner of Birch and 3rd Streets, has a walk-in tasting room—plus it’s a great launch pad for exploring old Santa…

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    Extra Sweet Hike

    A weekend adventure along the Ortega Highway feels like a romantic road trip, even if you aren’t driving far. The road twists and turns and reveals breathtaking views and charming stops as you head toward a hike in Ronald W. Caspers Wilderness Park in the Santa Ana Mountains. Put…

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    Mediterranean Diet

    Niguel Botanical Preserve features a variety of vegetation, both native and from the similar climates of Australia, Chile, South Africa. It's also got a cool little labyrinth.

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    Little Corona’s Crown Jewels

    Everything is just a bit different at Little Corona, a secluded cove ideal for snorkeling just south of its glamorous neighbor, Corona Del Mar Beach (aka Big Corona). No glitz, no crowds. No long staircase to the beach—instead, a paved downhill path. It’s not a see-and-be-seen…

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    Send in the Eels!

    What can you see in the water at Shaw’s Cove in Laguna Beach? For starters, eel grass, rock formations, urchins, anemones, and many types of fish—including the California state fish, the garibaldi. In short, Shaw’s Cove has the best snorkeling on the Southern California mainland…

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    Ramakrishna Monastery

    The Ramakrishna Monastery, perched on a foothill above Trabuco Canyon, accepts all religions as divinely inspired. For this reason, monks created the Shrine Trail, a mile-long loop around the monastery (open to the public) along which are erected altars honoring the world’s major…

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    Stranded in Dana Point

    The key to finding an uncrowded beach in Orange County? Be willing to hike! Dana Point’s Strand lies beneath a protected coastal promontory called the Headlands, surrounded by rocky bluffs and elegant homes. Getting there (and back!) is a challenge—exactly why it’s such a great…

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    Bag Los Pinos

    A peak all to yourself? Three words: Bag Los Pinos! This 4,500-foot peak in southeastern Orange County’s Cleveland National Forest is pleasantly private, perhaps because reaching it is a grind! But worth the workout when you peak at panoramas that’ll knock your boots off. The…

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    Hugging the Coast in San Clemente

    San Clemente is always a treat, but never more so than with Mom on a 4.6-mile (round-trip) stroll on the town’s lovely Beach Trail. The dirt path is surrounded by succulents and native flora, and hugs the coastal train tracks all the way. Should your toes seek a sandy respite…

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    A Thousand Steps to Paradise

    A picture is worth a thousand words, but is a gorgeous beach in Laguna worth a thousand steps? The answer is yes, though the question is moot, because it’s only 223 steep steps down to the 400-yard stretch of sand known as 1000 Steps Beach. Why the exaggeration? Originally, maybe…

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    Black Star Canyon

    A hike to the roaring Black Star Canyon Falls in the heart of the Santa Ana Mountains is not for the faint of heart nor the weak of ankle. This waterfall in the Santa Ana River is flowing stronger than it has in years! And it’s reachable via a challenging and exciting 7-mile out…

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    Lake Forest Footwork

    Want to try something new, just for kicks this holiday season? Try a game of foot golf at Orange County’s first and only foot golf offering, Lake Forest Golf and Practice Center just west of the Saddleback Mountains at the intersection of the 5 and 405 Freeways. This par-2…

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    Electric Company

    New tech meets pedal power for a jazzy boost to your next scenic bike ride with family and friends. Rent an electric bike from family-owned Pedego Irvine Electric Bikes and tour Irvine’s network of paved bikeways. On this 10-mile loop ride, you’ll trace water channels, wind…