15 Things to Do in Orange, CA

Orange is a city of more than 130,000 residents located approximately 40 kilometers southeast of downtown Los Angeles in Orange County, Southern California.

Unlike other cities in the area, Orange has primitive communities where homes built when the city was founded over 100 years ago can be found.

Although there is a lot to do in and around Orange, California. Visitors also have easy access to many of Los Angeles’ most famous attractions, as well as some of the Golden State’s most scenic Pacific coastlines in the southwest in Huntington, Newport and Laguna Beach.

1. Hilbert Museum of California Art

Hilbert Museum of California Art

Located on the campus of Chapman University in Orange, the Hilbert Museum of California Art houses one of the region’s most impressive collections, inspired by the wonders of the Golden State.

The Hilbert Museum has been around since 2016, thanks to a large collection of valuable art donated by a charitable local couple, which launched in 2014.

The museum’s works are created using a variety of mediums, and they capture scenes ranging from industrial sites and pristine beaches to mountains and frontier-era ranch life.

There’s also a gallery dedicated to the animation and film industries, which have been drivers of the state’s arts and economy for more than a century.

2. Contra Coffee and Tea

Contra coffee and tea

Hipster and busy Californians who rely on caffeine for a good time consistently rank Contra Coffee & Tea as Orange’s top destination for great service and high-quality beverages.

Considering the competition in Orange County, that’s a pretty decent endorsement.

Located on North Orange Street, Contra offers a menu of old favorites and some handcrafted modern concoctions you won’t find in most of its competitors.

Some of their internationally sourced beverages such as iced coffee made from Vietnamese beans are among their most popular offerings. They also offer juices, decaffeinated beverages, and a variety of baked goods.

3. Convenience Park

Picnic in the park

The humble municipal park is often overlooked by travelers determined to cram as many tourist attractions as possible into their itineraries.

But for those looking to stretch their legs and enjoy the outdoors without spending a dime, they are a valuable community resource that cannot be ignored.

Handy Park is located on the southeast corner of East Collins Avenue and the Costa Mesa Freeway in Orange. It offers a variety of amenities for sports enthusiasts, walkers and picnickers.

In addition to baseball, soccer, and volleyball fields, the park features restrooms, a covered seating area with barbecue grills, and a playground that is popular with the little ones.

4. Orange Hill Restaurant

Orange Mountain Restaurant

California is known for its cutting-edge fusion cuisine. Hungry travelers in and around Orange have a variety of dining options at their fingertips.

Orange Hill Restaurant is located on East Chapman Avenue in Orange; it is one of the premier restaurants in northern Orange County.

Its menu ranges from fresh seafood and premium bets to healthy salads and mouthwatering desserts. It is located on top of a scenic hill and offers guests some fantastic views.

Orange Hill is more formal and upscale than many of its competitors, so consider wearing clean pants and a collared shirt before heading out.

5. Orange Public Library and History Center


When it comes to fun vacation spots, public libraries tend to rank low behind dentist offices and police stations.

But for savvy travelers on a budget, they can be a great place to spend a few hours studying, reading, or taking part in the activities they often offer.

In addition to its role as a traditional public library, the Orange Public Library and History Center houses an impressive collection of nearly 150 years of history.

The historic center is regularly open to the public and its collection includes newspapers, maps, photographs and first-hand accounts of the area’s first inhabitants.

6. Disneyland


Disneyland in Anaheim, a 15-minute drive northwest of downtown Orange, opened in the mid-’50s. Since then, it has been one of the biggest family fun spots in Southern California.

Located in one of two parks in the Disneyland Resort, it is where many visitors with children spend most of their vacations.

The park spans over 150 acres and includes extensive rides, live entertainment, kid-focused activities and numerous dining options.

Over the years, it has attracted more visitors than any other park in the world, and it tends to get very crowded during peak hours.

7. Tutto Fresco

toast with wine

Located on North Glassell Street in Orange, Tutto Fresco is one of the city’s most popular Italian restaurants.

Previous guests have noticed that Tutto Fresco is clean, comfortable and well managed, and the portions are so large that many of them end up taking home leftovers.

They are known for their pasta, but their menu also includes seafood, chicken and salads. Everyone gets free olive oil focaccia to get them through until their main course arrives.

Tutto Fresco is open for lunch and dinner. After a long day at Disneyland, this is the perfect place to stop and dine – it’s only 15 minutes away.

8. Yorba Regional Park

Yorba Regional Park

In nearby Anaheim, Yorba Regional Park is a great escape destination for those interested in enjoying the outdoors without having to travel to the larger state and national parks north of Los Angeles.

Located in Santa Ana Canyon, about 15 kilometers from Orange in Anaheim, it covers more than 130 acres, most of which runs along the course of the Santa Ana River.

The park has an extensive trail network, plenty of picnic tables and built-in grills, and many shaded seating areas with stunning views.

Fishing is a popular activity, and energetic cyclists can follow the longest trails all the way to the Pacific Ocean.

9. Anaheim Packing District

Anaheim Packing District

A few decades ago, much of downtown Anaheim’s business district was filled with packhouses that processed and packaged most of the citrus fruit and other produce grown in Southern California.

Now, the Anaheim Packing District is a renovated and rejuvenated hotspot popular with the artsy and bohemian crowd for its trendy restaurants, outdoor activities and live entertainment.

Many restaurants in the area serve international cuisine from far-flung exotics such as Vietnam and India, and some of them serve vegetarian dishes made with fresh local ingredients.

Just a 10 or 15 minute drive from Orange, nearby Farmers Park has a weekly farmers market and outdoor movies on weekends.

10. Limestone Canyon Nature Reserve

Limestone Canyon Nature Reserve

About 20 kilometers southeast of Orange, Limestone Canyon Nature Reserve is another convenient outdoor recreation destination for those tired of the hustle and bustle of the city.

Characterized by deep canyons, babbling springs and dense oak forests, the reserve is home to a variety of animals.

Limestone Canyon is popular with mountain bikers, hikers, walkers and amateur wildlife photographers. It is common to see a wide variety of animals such as eagles, coyotes and snakes along the trail.

Docent-led nature walks are also often offered, but prior registration is required if you want to participate.

11. Irving Barclays Theatre

Irving Barclays Theatre

While it’s often referred to as community theater, the Irvine Barclay Theater in Irvine takes the concept to a whole different level.

Its Cheng Hall seats nearly 800 guests and is equipped with one of the most advanced sound systems in the region, typically only found in larger venues.

The theater is managed by Irving in partnership with the University of California. It offers a variety of productions throughout the year, including traditional and contemporary music, dance and theatre.

Irvine Barclay is about 15 kilometers south of Orange, and tickets for popular shows need to be purchased in advance.

12. Oak Creek Golf Club

Oak Creek Golf Club

With plenty of sunny days and cool breezes that often blow inland from the nearby Pacific Ocean, there’s no better way to spend a few mornings or afternoons than at one of Orange County’s many golf courses.

Oak Creek Golf Club was designed by world-renowned golf course architect Tom Fazio. It is dotted with sparkling lakes, tricky bunkers and narrow fairways leading to tiered greens.

Just a 15-minute drive from Orange, the course is open year-round and features five sets of tees per hole to accommodate players of all ages and ability levels.

13. Noguchi Garden

Noguchi Garden

While not huge by botanical garden standards, the two-acre Noguchi Gardens (or California Scenario as it is commonly called) is one of Southern California’s most spectacular attractions, and it has won awards to prove it.

The gardens have been around for over forty years and consist of six distinct areas with hundreds of local and regional plants.

Most guests will spend an hour or two strolling the garden’s paths and enjoying its tranquility. Since it’s conveniently located between Orange and Newport Beach, it’s a great place to stop on the way.

Noguchi Gardens is located on Anton Avenue in Costa Mesa, about 15 kilometers southwest of Orange.

14. Irvine Museum

art gallery

The Irving Museum is definitely worth the 15-minute drive from Orange, especially for fine art lovers interested in seeing one of Orange County’s most impressive collections of Californian and Western-style art.

Many of the museum’s most outstanding works were created by famous artists of the Impressionist period of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Featuring permanent and rotating exhibits, the museum offers a variety of programs throughout the year, including lectures and field trips by local students.

Docent-led tours are offered, and private tours can be arranged for those interested in visiting with a large group.

15. San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary

San Joaquin Wildlife Refuge

The San Joaquin Wildlife Refuge is located on 300 acres of marshy riparian land along the San Joaquin River in Irvine.

The reserve’s undisturbed natural environment is home to a variety of predatory, wading and migratory birds. Many of these are easily visible from the well-marked boardwalk and trails that stretch for more than ten miles.

It’s a popular spot for photographers, nature lovers, and those traveling with animal-loving kids who need a place to stretch their legs.

The reserve is located on Riparian View Road in Irvine, less than half an hour’s drive from Orange, subject to traffic.

Where to Stay: Best Hotels in Orange, CA
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