We are incredibly lucky here in Orange County. We have access to the California shoreline and some of the most beautiful beaches in the world within a few minutes’ drive of most cities. If you’re visiting, it is imperative that you see at least one or two and no doubt, this is already something on your “To Do’ list. Here are some facts and tips about some of the best beaches in OC:
1. Laguna Beach: Laguna Beach tops my list as the best beach town in Orange County. Besides boasting some of the coast’s most beautiful shoreline, the town has managed to retain some of its original charm despite being overrun by mostly wealthy professionals. Summer months are crowded and parking can be tricky, especially near Main Beach and downtown, however there are many other access points to the beach along Pacific Coast Highway if you travel south. Downtown Laguna Beach has many art galleries, boutiques and excellent restaurants not only on PCH, but down several side streets as well. The Sawdust Festival opens June 30th and runs through August 28th and is a must see event if you’re visiting. Other events include the Summer Jazz Series, art lectures and classes, theatre productions, exclusive art shows and art walks. Laguna offers something for everyone from kayaking and surfing to shopping, dining and art viewing and is even a popular vacation spot for local Orange County residents.
2. Huntington Beach: Known as Surf City, Huntington Beach is a laid-back beach town with more than ten miles of coastline. The downtown has been renovated over the past ten years and now features shops, restaurants and art galleries. A weekly Farmer’s Market takes place on Tuesday evenings as well as weekends and an Art Walk on the first Thursday of the month from March through October. Huntington has a great pier with a Ruby’s Diner at the end where you can watch the many surfers ride the waves below. Huntington Beach is California’s premiere surf spot with a rich history of the sport that dates back to the 1800’s. Visit in late July-early August to watch the world’s largest surfing competition, the US Open of Surfing. The city offers the best in surfboards, wetsuits, board shorts and apparel, and the surfing lifestyle as well as many cultural museums, collections and displays dedicated to the sport. Huntington also is rich in natural beauty and wildlife, so don’t miss seeing the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve or the Huntington Beach Wetlands.
3. Newport Beach & Balboa Island: I grew up visiting Newport and Balboa. There’s the swanky side of Newport with Fashion Island and high-end restaurants, but it’s the other Newport that I remember. The beach is beautiful and you can pick up some nice seashells there, but parking is very difficult, so get there early or find a spot on one of the many one-way side streets. The Dory Fleet Fish Market is open early morning til noon Wednesdays through Sundays and offers the best fresh fish, crab, squid and more as well as close-up encounters with huge pelicans. Newport Beach is also one of the best places to catch a whale watching boat and tour to see gray whales from December to April and massive blue whales from May to November. All year long you can see dolphins, seals and other sea mammals and birds. Head over to Balboa Island for some old-fashioned fun like the old arcade and Ferris wheel and the iconic treats the Balboa Bar and Frozen Bananas.
4. Dana Point: Dana Point is another surf town and also a great place to catch a whale watching boat. Dana Point is one of the more southerly beach towns in Orange County. The best place to visit is the Dana Point Harbor with its many shops and restaurants and access to fishing boats, Doheny State Beach and Catalina Island. Dana Point is home to the Ocean Institute where you can learn about local wildlife or even book pirate cruises or wildlife boat excursions.
5. San Clemente: Having lived in San Clemente for ten years, I am partial to its laid back, unpretentious vibe and location at the very south end of Orange County. San Clemente holds tightly to its small beach town reputation despite the fact that a huge outlet mall just opened there this year. Downtown you’ll find unique restaurants and shops and at the pier you can watch surfers or talk to local fishermen. The San Clemente pier is also home to Fisherman’s restaurant and bar where you can enjoy delicious seafood and drinks while listening to the surf. At the south end of town you’ll find Big Helyn’s, a biker bar that is popular with local riders and military men and can get quite rowdy, so enter at your own risk.
Summer is the perfect time to rent a motorcycle and visit our beautiful beach towns that can all be accessed while taking in the stunning beauty of Pacific Coast Highway. It is possible to visit all these cities in one day, but in order to properly explore them, a weekend visit is recommended. Give OC Motorcycle a call and reserve a bike or two and see all that Orange County has to offer!
OC Motorcycle is your premiere source for rentals, service and sales in Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, Corona Del Mar, Huntington Beach and all of Orange County! OC Motorcycle is now an authorized Moto Guzzi dealership in addition to already offering the most diverse line of used motorcycles including Harley-Davidson, Indian, BMW, Ducati, Triumph, Honda, Kawasaki and more!