Playland of the Pacific: Anaheim to Buena Park

Theme parks, beaches, sun—welcome to the ultimate place to let yourself go.

Trip length: 3-4 days
Total distance: 105mi/168km

ANAHEIM. Zoom and vroom at Radiator Springs Racers in Disney California Adventure Park’s awesome Cars Land . In Disneyland Park , visit Belle and other princesses at new Fantasy Faire. INFO Anaheim/Orange County Visitor & Convention Bureau

IRVINE (17mi/27km; 24min). Rise up in a tethered hot-air balloon at Orange County Great Park . Visit Irvine Spectrum for top shopping. INFO Destination Irvine ; 949/660-9112

DANA POINT (23mi/37km; 29min). Rent a sailboat or electric Duffy boat to poke around Embarcadero Marina. Try an ahi tuna burger at The Shwack Beach Grill . INFO Orange County Visitors Association ; 949/336-7210

LAGUNA BEACH (8mi/12km; 14min). Walk through rolling hills to ocean views at Laguna Coast Wilderness Park . Rent snorkeling gear to explore underwater (get tips and gear at Laguna Sea Sports ). INFO Laguna Beach Visitors Center ; 949/497-9229

NEWPORT BEACH (10mi/16km; 16min). Explore in a kayak from Newport Aquatic Center (naturalist-led kayak tours on weekends with Newport Bay Conservancy). Reel in Bear Flag Fish Company’s  panko-grilled fish tacos. INFO Visit Newport Beach ; 800/942-6278

BALBOA ISLAND (3mi/5km; 10min). Power up with juicy burgers at Wilma’s Patio . Glide across Newport Harbor with Island Paddle Board . Bask on Balboa Beach. INFO Visit Newport Beach ; 800/942-6278

COSTA MESA (8mi/13km; 16min). Find shopping nirvana at South Coast Plaza , with some 250 boutiques and 30 restaurants, like chef David Myers’ Pizzeria Ortica , serving wood-fired pizzas topped with Parma ham and wild arugula. INFO: Costa Mesa Conference & Visitors Bureau ; 888/588-9417

HUNTINGTON BEACH (8mi/13km; 8min). Tour Surfers’ Hall of Fame ; get the look at Huntington Surf & Sport . Relax at The Longboard Restaurant & Pub . INFO Huntington Beach Visitors Bureau ; 800/729-6232

SUNSET BEACH (6mi/10km; 10min). Play beach volleyball and body surf. Crack open Alaskan king crab legs at Captain Jack’s Prime Rib & Seafood Restaurant. INFO Huntington Beach Visitors Bureau ; 800/729-6232

BUENA PARK (21mi/33km; 27min). Swashbuckle at Pirate’s Dinner Adventure or thrill to jousting at Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament . Play on Knott’s Berry Farm’s revamped Boardwalk. INFO Visit Buena Park ; 800/541-3953