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Best Tourist Attractions In Orange County Worth The Hype

Disneyland 610 Staycation header km
(credit: Kristi Marcelle)

Planning a vacation, only to be underwhelmed by lackluster sites, can be quite a disappointment. A visit to Orange County, however, can excite, educate and entertain with plenty of must-see attractions. Whether it's performing arts, whimsical fantasy or scientific exploration, these sites you'll see while touring Orange County will leave lasting memories and make you want to come back for more. Pack up the family and get your camera ready for one of the hottest spots to see in So Cal.


Disneyland Resort
1313 Disneyland Drive
Anaheim, CA 92802
(714) 781-4565

A trip to Orange County just isn't complete without a visit to the Disneyland Resort. In addition to the world famous Disneyland and California Adventure theme parks, the Downtown Disney District boasts fine dining, shopping, music and cocktails in an outdoor promenade setting. The Grand California lodge also has its own rugged ambience, and is a self-contained attraction all in itself, with exquisite cuisine, a cocktail lounge and stellar accommodations. The Disneyland Hotel and Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel, complete with beautiful views from a rooftop pool, also make a visit to the Disneyland Resort convenient, memorable and wonderfully fun.

AquariumKelpForest_Randy Wilder
(credit: Randy Wilder)

Aquarium Of The Pacific
100 Aquarium Way
Long Beach, CA 90802
(562) 590-3100

Penguin chicks and a new baby seal are just two of the many amazing marine animal exhibits at the Aquarium of the Pacific this fall. Permanent exhibits include the Shark Lagoon, the Sea Otter Habitat and the Lorikeet Forest, where visitors can hand feed these colorful birds as they perch on your arm, head or wherever. In addition to all of the hands-on exhibits within the aquarium, it is situated near some outstanding restaurants and shopping - not to mention whale watching tours. All in all, a trip to the Aquarium of the Pacific is a must, with enough activities for an entire weekend of excitement.

Queen Mary
1126 Queens Highway
Long Beach, CA 90802
(562) 435-3511

Boasting a long list of tours, exhibits and dining options, there is something for everyone aboard the Queen Mary. Visitors can relax in the Tea Room, enjoy five-star dining at Sir Winston's and enjoy a walk through history while learning about Princess Diana or the World War II legacy of the Queen Mary. As the darkness creeps in at night, so do the spirits as séances and spooky twilight tours investigate the haunted past of this luxury cruise liner. Sleep, if you can, in one of the ship's stunning staterooms or suites after a full day of touring aboard this famous and beautiful ship.

Related:  Best Permanent Museum Exhibits In OC

Discovery science center - Cube Staff Showing Off Bugs
(credit: Discovery Science Center)

Discovery Science Center
2500 N. Main St.
Santa Ana, CA 82705
(714) 542-2823

Recipient of the 2013 winner of the National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the Discovery Science Center is an award-winning science extravaganza. Permanent exhibits include the Science of Hockey and Dino Quest, where kids can become researchers with their own transmitter through which they can receive special assignments and complete research missions. Other interactive exhibits include the Shake Shack, Hurricane Simulator and Rock Wall. While touring through this two-story scientific hot spot, you can refuel at the on-site Taco Bell restaurant before heading back to explore the Science of Ripley’s Believe It or Not exhibit – a special exhibit available now through January 5, 2014.

Segerstrom Concert Hall

Segerstrom Center For The Arts
600 Town Center Drive
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
(714) 556-2787

With eight venues, including the Segerstrom Concert Hall, the Samueli Theater and the Dodge Education Center, the Segerstrom Center for the Arts is the heart of the Orange County performing arts scene. During the holiday season, visitors can enjoy "Evita," Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concert or the "Beach Boys Christmas Show." Children will love a special "Nutcracker for Kids" in December, and after the shows are done, there is dining at Leatherby’s Café Rouge or other nearby restaurants, including Morton’s Steakhouse or the Capital Grille.

Related: Best Bars For Foodies In Orange County

David McDonald is a freelance writer covering all things Orange County. His work can be found on

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