With 42 miles of sandy coastline and a string of small, eclectic beach towns, Orange County delivers the quintessential Southern California experience. Sandwiched between San Diego to the south and Los Angeles to the north, “The OC” blends a casual, active lifestyle with laid-back sophistication. Catch a famous surf break, sunbathe, visit nearby family attractions, or shop near these top Orange County beaches.

 

Huntington City Beach, Huntington Beach

The flat, wide beaches and desirable breaks along Huntington Beach gave this town its “Surf City, USA” nickname in the 1950s when the Vans U.S. Open of Surfing first took place. Today, Huntington remains a wave-riding mecca and the most popular of the well-known beaches in the country—but surfing is not the only game in town.

Corona Del Mar State Beach, Newport Beach 

In addition to Newport Beach’s pristine sandy beaches, the Orange County gem is known for its restaurants, nightlife, and waterfront shopping, including recently opened luxury destination Lido Marina Village. Newport also offers multiple off-shore activities like Hornblower’s whale-watching and cocktail tours, as well as trips to the island town of Avalon via the Catalina Flyer.

Victoria Beach, Laguna Beach

The allure of Victoria Beach lies in its natural beauty and isolated location. The Instagram-popularspot takes effort to find, but the payoff is significant: a nestled cove with a front-row seat to waves crashing against beautiful rock formations, a salt water pool, and a castle-like tower called “La Tour.”

Salt Creek Beach, Dana Point

If you’re traveling with kids, Salt Creek Beach makes beach-going simple. There’s plenty of available (paid) parking, lifeguards on site, a concessions stand, and a grassy area with picnic tables and a basketball court. Salt Creek is a popular boogie boarding and surfing spot, with a variety of breaks for every level (rent a surfboard or standup paddleboard from nearby Infinity Surfboards).