Fun in the Sun Orange County with Kids

Abundant surf, sun-soaked beaches, and world-class theme parks draw visitors year-round to Orange County, California. Explore family fun in the sun in Orange County with kids.

Abundant surf, sun-soaked beaches, and world-class theme parks draw visitors year-round to Orange County. ‘The OC’ is it’s lovingly known, is located between Los Angeles and San Diego in California. Disneyland and amusement parks may be the main attraction for families visiting The OC, but the fun doesn’t have to end when you leave the Happiest Place on Earth. Here are some great places to soak up family fun in the sun in Orange County with kids. Before, after, or instead of a trip to Disneyland.

Abundant surf, sun-soaked beaches, and world-class theme parks draw visitors year-round to Orange County, California. Explore family fun in the sun in Orange County with kids.

The Best of Orange County with Kids

Visit the Beach

Along Orange County’s 42 miles of coastline, there are quiet secluded beaches, expansive surfing beaches, and loads of beaches in between. Here are a few family-friendly beaches to help you get started exploring Orange County’s beaches with the family.

Surf, sun-soaked beaches, and world-class theme parks draw visitors year-round to Orange County, California. Explore family fun in the sun in Orange County with kids.

Hang Ten in Surf City

For surfing, the community of Huntington Beach, also known as Surf City USA, is the place to be. Bring your board or rent a board and take a lesson from one of the local surf schools. Riding the waves here should be anyone’s California road trip goal, and remember that kids will have an easier time getting up than adults.

Families interested in a surfing vacation may want to stay at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort and Spa. With pedestrian overpass access to Huntington Beach, Tose on the Nose surf program, and beach cruiser bikes, the resort is well-suited to families wanting to explore the community’s five beaches – Huntington State Beach, Huntington City Beach, Huntington Dog Beach, Bolsa Chica State Beach and Sunset Beach. Want more Huntington Beach inspiration? Check out this great post by our friends at Luxe Travel Family!

Abundant surf, sun-soaked beaches, and world-class theme parks draw visitors year-round to Orange County, California. Explore family fun in the sun in Orange County with kids.

Beach Combing in Orange County

The coves and natural arches along Laguna Beach are a fun place to wander at low tide. Bring your pails and buckets to discover this fun part of Orange County with toddlers. The sand at Laguna Beach is perfect for castles and hours of sand play.

For luxury oceanfront accommodation in Orange County, consider staying at Montage Laguna Beach. Families will appreciate the direct access to child-friendly Laguna Beach, Paintbox activities-based program for children aged five to twelve, and the opportunity to explore the coastline by kayak. Click here to learn more about the Montage Laguna Beach resort.

Beach BBQ

Arrive early (especially on weekends and holidays) and claim one of the 500 bonfire pits lining Huntington Beach. From here you can join a volleyball game, splash in the surf, and stroll the 10 miles/km of uninterrupted coastline. When the sun begins to set or if you feel like some more heat, light a fire in your complimentary bonfire pit. Firewood is available at local grocery stores. It’s also available seasonally at beach concession stands located along the bike path.

Apart from the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach, there are a few more AAA Four-Diamond Hotel and Resorts located along Pacific Coast Highway in Huntington Beach, California.

Consider the Kimpton Shorebreak surf-inspired boutique hotel. Or the new Pasea Hotel & Spa with 250 guest rooms and suites.

Go Boating in Newport Beach

The yacht-filled community of Newport Beach has boats available in many shapes and sizes, along with various options for getting out on the water.

orange county with kids

Drive Your Own Boat

For a self-directed (and skippered) day on the water, rent a Duffy boat from Balboa Boat Rentals. Pack a picnic or partake in the Dock and Dine Program that welcomes boaters to dock in front of Newport’s waterfront restaurants, and order food and drinks to go.

Duffy boats are electric, and operators don’t require a special license to take one out on the water.

Thinking of visiting during the holidays? Check out our guide of things to do in Newport Beach at Christmas

Go on a Cruise

If you want someone else to captain the ship, consider booking a cruise with Hornblower. Hornblower Cruises & Events operate multi-level yachts that cruise Newport Harbor. Begin with the day with a Hornblower Champagne brunch, book a dinner cruise, or participate in one of the special event cruises. Visit the Hornblower website for more information.

Consider booking a room or suite at the Hyatt Regency Newport Beach. The resort offers bicycle rentals, tennis courts, kid-friendly swimming pools, sand volleyball, and a giant outdoor chess board. Families wanting a luxury stay in Newport Beach should plan a stay at chic and stylish Lido House.

Immerse in History at the San Juan Capistrano Mission

Visit Mission San Juan Capistrano, known as the birthplace of Orange County. Tranquil gardens, a koi-filled pond, museum, and the newly conserved Serra Chapel offer a rich historical and cultural experience for children and adults.

Tour the Mission’s exhibits and museum rooms with a Docent guide or explore the 10-acre grounds with a garden tour. Visit the Mission San Juan Capistrano website for more information.

Mission San Juan Capistrano is located in the picturesque community of Los Rios. If you’re on a California road trip, it’s easily accessible by car, or by train from Los Angeles and San Diego,

Experience World-Class Shopping

Visit luxurious South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa – it’s the largest mall on the West Coast of the United States. And it’s gorgeous. With over 250 boutiques, restaurant options ranging from quick bites to fine dining, and the Segerstrom Center for the Art, South Coast Plaza is a world-class destination. Out-of-state and international visitors can stop at the South Coast Plaza Concierge to receive a VIP Passport. This provides special offers at over 100 stores and restaurants.

Stay close to South Coast Plaza at The Avenue of the Arts Costa Mesa, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel. And plan to dine at the award-winning Silver Trumpet Restaurant and Bar, located inside the Avenue of the Arts Hotel.

Dine at Anaheim Packing House

A historic landmark, the Anaheim Packing House dates back to 1919. Back then, it was a commercial citrus hub. Farmers would travel to the Packing House to unload fresh picked citrus for grading, packing in wooden crates, and shipping nationwide via railway.

Today, the multi-level Anaheim Packing House is a light-filled food hall. Over 20 cafes and kiosks surround a central atrium and communal dining space. You can also enjoy your meal in an outdoor garden or on a porch overlooking Farmers Park, an open-air marketplace.

Great pools, sun-soaked beaches, and world-class theme parks draw visitors year-round to Orange County, California. Explore family fun in the sun in Orange County with kids.

Where to Stay in Orange County with Kids

There are hundreds of accommodation options to consider when you are planning your vacation to soak up the sun and family fun in Orange County in southern California. For accommodation at or near Disneyland, check out the Visit Anaheim website. It has a helpful and comprehensive list of hotels and resorts throughout the other OC communities.

orange county with kids

How to Get to Orange County

The cities and towns of Orange County are serviced by the excellent and modern John Wayne Airport (SNA). It’s located between cities of Costa Mesa, Irvine, and Newport Beach, and provides international access to Orange County, California. Family-friendly John Wayne Airport recently ranked highest among large airports in North America in a J.D. Power passenger satisfaction study.

Pin for Later

Abundant surf, sun-soaked beaches, and world-class theme parks draw visitors year-round to Orange County, California. Explore family fun in the sun in Orange County with kids.

About the author: Nancy Besharah is a freelance writer and luxury travel blogger. Nancy loves to travel the world with her husband and two boys. You can read more about their adventures at Luxe Travel Family. 

Photo Credits: Nancy Besharah; Visit Huntington Beach. 

Disclosure: The Travelling Mom thanks Orange County tourism for hosting Nancy on her discovery of The OC. As always, the writer’s opinions are honest and her own. This post contains affiliate links that help fund this site. Thank you for your support.

15 thoughts on “Fun in the Sun Orange County with Kids”

  1. Pingback: Things to do in Newport Beach at Christmas | The Travelling Mom

  2. umiko Silalahi

    Wow! There’s so much to do and see in OC. I’ve been to Disneyland only and the rests, I’ve been probably seen them through tv. I think I have to go do it by myself. πŸ˜‰

  3. I LOVE all the beaches along Orange County! Laguna has the best tide pools, hidden beaches, and nearby wilderness area, but Huntington and Seal come in close 2nd and 3rd.

  4. Harmony, Momma To Go

    Ive been to Disneyland, but have not spent much time in the OC. and i watch a lot of the reality shows set here, so I really really want to visit!

  5. When people say the OC I just think of the TV show but clearly there’s lots to do in the area. A beach BBQ and a day in the sun sounds amazing. Especially after all this rain and cold of the winter.

  6. Agness of eTramping

    Orange County seems like an astonishing travel destination, Claudia. Loved your pictures. You obviously had a great time there. Would you recommend Orange County as a good summer destination?

  7. Renata Green

    I haven’t been to California forever and reading this post makes me missing it. I love the activities that you are mentioning like the barbecue, the beach combing – aaah, makes me longing for summer on the beach.

  8. Tracie Howe

    I haven’t spent much time in the OC at all, but it sounds like there is plenty to do besides visiting Disneyland. The Mission San Juan Capistrano is beautiful and sounds like a unique thing to see while down there. Of course after getting some necessary beach time! πŸ˜‰

  9. Eric Gamble

    When I lived in San Diego, I would love to drive my car up the PCH through all of Orange County. I loved all of the pocket beach towns like San Clemente, Huntington Beach, Seal Beach, etc etc…You are right it was always so warm and happy.
    The beaches were the same up there as in San Diego but I used to love the little beach communities too where i could soak up my vitamin D as I explored their shops and food.
    As for Mission San Juan Capistrano, what a great place. My friend got married and had his reception there and it was really awesome!

  10. Archana Singh

    California is such a beautiful sunny state. Love the vibe of Orange County. I have never been there but reading your post I get an impression it’s a perfect getaway for a family. Would love to travel there next time I am in the area

  11. Orange County really does have it all! I would love to bike along the beach, have a beach BBQ and then maybe do some shopping – at least window shopping! Glad to see there are a ton of family friendly opportunities here.

  12. The Laguna Beach looks amazing. Orange County is such a famous place but outside of the USA, not much is known about it. Happy to learn about all the experiences you can have like beach barbeque. I have had barbeques in jungles, in deserts but never on a beach. I should put it in the wishlist.

  13. I remember hearing about Orange County long back in a tv series called The OC, more than a decade ago πŸ™‚ I did visit California about 5 years back but didn’t get a chance to actually explore Orange Country. We did Disneyland and Universal Studios and we also went to San Diego from LA but somehow, never spent any time in the OC. Your post has actually brought back memories of the TV series, I remember those kids going for surfing or soaking up the sun on the beaches that you’ve mentioned here πŸ™‚

  14. Megan Indoe

    You have some great suggestions on here! I live in OC and it was nice to see some of our familiar places mentioned! I love the mission at San Juan Capistrano too! It’s so interesting and I’ve been meaning to go back! Thanks for the reminder!

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I’m Claudia, an adventurous mom who loves to explore the world and travel with my family. This site shares modern-mom-tested family travel sanity tips, destination advice, and inspiration to stay ever curious and create lifelong travel memories.

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