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Michele W/Flickr

Orange County Whale Watching

Orange County Whale Watching
Join guided cruises in The O.C.

Join guided cruises out of Newport Harbor and Dana Point to explore remarkable marine habitat that’s home to huge numbers of whales, dolphins, and sea lions. The underwater Newport Canyon brings nutrient-rich waters close to shore, so you don’t have to travel very far before the show begins.

Prime time is during the annual migration of gray whales, December through April, though whales visit these waters year round. May to October you might see blue whales, which can grow more than 100 feet/31 metres long.

Some experts believe that Dana Point’s 200-foot-/61-metre-high cliffs serve as a landmark for migrating whales—making them a great place for humans to scan the seas for telltale blows. From Dana Point Harbor, Dana Wharf Whale Watching offers narrated 2-hour-long whale-watching trips all year, some aboard a 65-foot/20-metre catamaran. From Newport Harbor, Newport Landing Whale Watching offers cruises three times daily year round. While whales may be your focus, hundreds of bottlenose dolphins often often put on spectacular displays too. In Balboa, year-round, Davey’s Locker offers whale watching cruises several times a day year round; they boast a 95-percent success rate of seeing blue whales, gray whales, dolphins, and other whale species.

Inside Tip: Celebrate cetaceans during the annual Dana Point Festival of Whales, a leviathan-sized March event with lectures, whale-watch outings, and a parade.

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Scott Mansfield

Southern California

Discover Orange County

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23
June
Average (°C)
June - Aug
35°
High
11°
Low
Sept - Nov
31°
High
5°
Low
June - Aug
35°
High
11°
Low
Mar - May
26°
High
5°
Low

Whether it’s manicured beach towns or celebrated theme parks, all framed by oceanfront towns and luxury yachts, “The OC” stands out as one of the state’s most iconic destinations. The always-amazing Disneyland Resort, roughly a 1-hour drive south of L.A. and 2 hours north of San Diego, continues to be one of the best-loved theme parks in the world, while Knott’s Berry Farms and other OC attractions amp up the fun meter.

“Surfing is like golf. . . it keeps knocking you down. But when you stay with it and catch that wave. . . magic.”  --actor Dennis Quaid

Shop at spectacular South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, or get the surfer look in Huntington Beach, aka Surf City, USA. 

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Mission San Juan Capistrano, founded in 1776, was the first winery in California.
The magic of Disneyland, walking through the tunnel underneath the train station to Main Street, it just transports you to other places and other times.
John Lasseter
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Carsten Erler/Getty Images

Spotlight: Anaheim

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Amazing attractions, shopping and dining in the one-of-a-kind Orange County town

With its laid-back atmosphere and unbeatable attractions, this vibrant city on the north-west side of Orange County has become a popular...

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Myles Mcguinness

Trip 4-5 days 10 stops

Pacific Coast Highway - South

Beach Towns, Iconic Theme Parks
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Start your coastal cruise in this elegant city hugging the coastal mountains, where classic Spanish architecture gives the region a sun-washed European look straight out of the Riviera. The Santa Barbara, nicknamed “the American Riviera,” may have a burnished antique look of much of the...

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End your trip with at this sunny, waterfront city. Downtown, shop at Horton Plaza, or catch a baseball game at Petco Park. See the giant pandas at the San Diego Zoo. Next, explore one of the city’s diverse neighborhoods, Little Italy, North Park, South Park, East Village—pedestrian-friendly...

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Unleash the kid within at California’s ultimate playgrounds

From Disneyland classics to beachfront carousels, the Golden State’s best-in-class theme parks deliver something for everyone. Take a tram ride to tour movie back lots at Universal Studios...

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Lucas Himovitz
Orange County is the cultural center of the surf world and Huntington Beach is like the heartbeat.
Corky Carroll (Orange County surf legend)
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Harriot Manley/ Sunset Publishing

O.C. Shopping

Discover boutique brands and bargains

Shopping in The O.C. is almost as legendary as surfing. Start at expansive South Coast Plaza, California’s largest luxury shopping complex, with...

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Where to release your inner fashionista

Shopping is an art form in California. Whether you're in search of the perfect cocktail dress or an authentic Mexican piñata, you'll find it here. Want to sample fresh produce? Try our farmers...

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July/August

With a nickname like “Surf City, U.S.A.,” Huntington Beach is the obvious place for this 9-day, sun-and-wave extravaganza, the world’s largest surf event. Top pros including Kelly Slater and Rob...

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William Fovall/Flickr
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Courtesy of Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel

Orange County's Luxury Resorts

Live like a star at posh getaways

The good life might have been invented in “The O.C.”—especially when it comes to resort destinations. With spas, elegant dining, posh lodgings,...

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Get into the coastal vibe

Maybe it’s the sun-streaked hair, the frequent smiles, the eyes always gazing west, looking to the horizon to see when the next set might roll in. It’s the unmistakable look and vibe of a...

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Trip 5-7 days 10 stops

Highway One Classic

Take the trip that captures the heart and soul of the Golden State
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Discover the awesome sports scene in the Golden State

With nearly twice as many professional teams as any other state, California is big league all the way. But the state’s sports scene goes far beyond football and baseball, with a diverse line-up of...

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Christina Lauren/Flickr
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Harriot Manley/ Sunset Publishing

Crystal Cove State Park

Stroll a perfect beach with an intriguing past

In 1912, an early Laguna Beach artist described finding a rugged coastline “with cove after cove and headland after headland, golden cliffs and...

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From Gold Rush history to the 8th wonder of the world, visit these favorites

If there was ever a box of chocolates—and all of them delicious—it’s the rich collection of natural treasures, fascinating...

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Amy Meredith/Flickr
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Golf in Orange County

Tee up at top courses, with some ocean views

With ideal Southern California weather and some of the country’s most celebrated courses, Orange County justly earns the nickname “California Golf...

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Check these amazing experiences off your bucket list

Kiss a beluga, see cool movie props, and learn about Walt’s secret hideaway on exclusive and behind-the-scenes tours at California’s theme parks and attractions. Here’s a roundup of worth-the-...

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Michael Saechang/Flickr
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Courtesy of Orange County Great Park

Orange County Great Park

Explore an impressive urban park

Turning former military land into a roughly 1,300-acre/526-hectare green space, this Irvine park is as ambitious as it is...

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Every year, the Orange County Great Park Balloon dons a smiling jack-o-lantern mask, marking the unofficial start of fall in Orange County.