One of the more pleasant spots to vacation here in the United States is Southern California. This statement is especially true for Orange County. Situated just south of Los Angeles, Orange County is home to a great number of attractions that promise to get you out of the house and in to the wide open spaces of nature. Some of the more touristy places include Disneyland, Anaheim Stadium (home of the L.A. Angles), and Huntington Beach, but these attractions tend to be densely populated, and have, for me at least, left me desiring a little more freedom, and a little more nature.
Other outdoor attractions, that may prove to be a little less formidable include, the many public parks and outdoor malls, the Santa Anna Zoo, and Balboa Island. These are sure to please any finicky teenager while allowing your whole family to get out of the Hotel, and into the sun. No need for that iPod either, because these areas have more than enough to entertain each member of the family.
The public parks and open-air malls are a great way to introduce your family to the idea of being in the sun. These places are home to street performers, and shops that will excite and entice you to think outside your usual box. And once you get your feet wet, as it were, you can casually make your way to one of the best little zoo’s in California.
Though the Santa Anna Zoo isn’t as big as the San Diego Zoo (Thank God!) you will have no trouble seeing how valuable it is as a vacation destination. From petting areas for the little ones, to a Bald Eagle exhibit that will stir the patriotism in every American, this zoo is sure to please. The open concept allows the patron to walk through exhibit after exhibit and see exotic animals from all over the world. Monkeys, wolves, birds, and reptiles all share their uniqueness with each visitor, and the ability to stay as long as you want makes this destination attractive for any schedule.
In my opinion, the best place to get away from the city, or the mundane routine of life is Balboa Island. It offers amazing sand, warm sun, and most of all, the deep blue waters of the great Pacific Ocean. Without a doubt, Balboa Beach is my favorite beach in Southern California.
Though it is really not an island, the peninsula juts out beyond the city and offers travelers a unique look into the past. When California was being built, this was one of the first places to see a rush of people. As a result, the homes here are small, quaint, and offer a unique beach view that is difficult to describe.
There are no giant tourist spots, nor are their any chain hotels in the area, only small beach cottages and family run shops. These shops are easily navigated as you walk along the miles and miles of sandy beaches. Parking is easy to find after you take the short ferry ride across the sound. Sea Lions and other marine life are sure to excite each member of your family, and the ability to get in the same water with these creatures may have your heart pounding, but when you look across the sand at the rushing waves of the Pacific, your anxiety will begin to be washed away by the pounding surf.
The water here is cold. It’s cold even on the warmest of days, but if you want to get away from the humdrum of your office, what better way to do it than to make your way from warm sand to refreshing water and back?
I have never found this beach, or the parking lot for that matter, to be crowded. Even during local school holidays, we have been able to find a great spot to sit and warm ourselves after a brisk dip in the beautiful water.
After a few hours of building sand castles or soaking up the sun, you can wet your whistle at any of the local food and drink stations dotting the coastline.
Periodic public bathrooms and showers help to end the day with ease before retreating to your hotels with a warmed heart and a wider smile.