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Fun Activities To Do On Your Day Off In Orange County

Let's face it — living in Orange County isn't always cheap. But, that doesn't mean it's not worth it. As we work the days away, we have to make sure to take the time to enjoy living in such an amazing place as well. Right next to the gorgeous California coastline, there are plenty of ways to eat, shop, play and learn in O.C. Next time you have a day off of work, hit the streets and try some of these stellar activities for yourself.
Visit Crystal Cove
Crystal Cove-J. Christopher Launi : Crystal Cove Alliance - verified ashley
(Credit: Christopher Launi / Crystal Cove Alliance)

Crystal Cove
35 Crystal Cove
Newport Beach, CA 92657
(949) 494-3539

Crystal Cove is one of the most beautiful places along the Orange County coastline. But, beyond the stunning views and golden sunsets, it has a lot to offer when it comes to full-day exploration. The park's hiking trails wind along the cliffs for miles, heading inland and looping back around to the coast. Get some exercise then spend some time in the cold Pacific afterward. The Crystal Cove Conservancy also hosts special events at the park's restored beach cottages (where you can even spend the night if you don't have to be at work too early the next day!) including painting sessions, sea glass wrapping classes and walking tours.

Eat at the Anaheim Packing House
Anaheim Packing House-Anaheim Packing District - verified ashley
(Credit: Anaheim Packing District)

Anaheim Packing House
440 South Anaheim Boulevard
Anaheim, CA 92805
(714) 533-7225

Originally a packing house during Orange County's agricultural era, the Anaheim Packing House now makes the perfect spot to enjoy a meal—and maybe dessert and cocktails—on your day off. Open at 9 a.m. for breakfast at Pandor, guests can dine on pastries or crepes while sipping coffee. The majority of other vendors within the building are open for lunch and dinner, giving you a choice of everything from Mexican food to Indian food and grilled cheese. Stop by Hans' Homemade Ice Cream afterward for a cool treat, or stop by one of the bars within the food hall. BXCR Wine Bar is an upscale option while secret speakeasy The Blind Rabbit requires a password and advanced reservations.

Go Snorkeling
SoCal Snorkeling Tours - verified ashley
(Credit: SoCal Snorkeling Tours)

Various Locations
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
(949) 287-3813

With our proximity to the water, your days off should be spent one way—cooling off in the waves. While stand-up paddleboarding can be pretty tough, and kayaking doesn't offer the same closeness with wildlife, snorkeling is a great, low-impact option that anyone who can swim can do. Strap on some flippers and pull down your googles before slipping into the water in this Marine Protected Area. You're bound to spot some colorful fish and waving sea anemones, but don't be surprised if you see some rays and dolphins and, possibly, even a whale. Few experiences are more magical than seeing marine animals up close and enjoying a morning or afternoon in the salty sweet ocean water.

Go Golfing
Pelican Hill Golf-The Resort at Pelican Hill - verified ashley
(Credit: The Resort at Pelican Hill)

The Resort at Pelican Hill
22800 S Pelican Hill Road
Newport Beach, CA 92657
(866) 921-3139

If hitting the surf isn't your thing, but you still want to enjoy the sweeping ocean views that are rampant along the O.C. coast, considering stopping by the Pelican Hill Golf Club for the day. With a variety of courses to choose from, guests can tailor their experience. The Ocean North Course has plenty of elevated plateaus, open canyons and panoramic views while some of the holes dip down the cliffs difficultly. The alternative, the Ocean South Course, is filled with bunkers and deep chasms that should be avoided with careful concentration. The property also features locker rooms with complimentary shampoo, conditioner, lotion, shaving cream, hairdryers and more so guests can primp after they finishing swinging.

Watch the Sunset—With Cocktails
Rooftop Lounge-The Rooftop Lounge - verified ashley
(Credit: The Rooftop Lounge)

The Rooftop Lounge
La Casa del Camino Hotel
1289 South Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
(949) 497-2446

The sunsets all over the region are beautiful, but there's something especially magical about Laguna Beach at twilight. As the sun sinks into the expansive sea, watch it from The Rooftop Lounge, a laid-back bar perched on the top of the La Casa del Camino Hotel. As it dips behind a distant island, enjoy the warm weather and special happy hour prices. The bar specializes in mojitos, of which they offer many flavors, but they also offer special seasonal drinks as well. On top of the cocktails, you'll find a great menu filled with small plates and sharable appetizers to pass around with your friends as you delight in the beauty of the evening.

Visit the Muckenthaler Cultural Center
Muckenthaler Cultural Center-Muckenthaler Cultural Center - verified ashley
(Credit: Muckenthaler Cultural Center)

1201 West Malvern Avenue
Fullerton, CA 92833
(714) 738-6595

While many will flock to the Bowers Museum or the Orange County Museum of Art, there's another special place in O.C. that doubles as a great way to spend your day off. The Muckenthaler Cultural Center is housed in a 1924 home on a hill in Fullerton. On the National Register of Historic Places for nearly 20 years, the center is known for its varied gallery exhibits, musical performances and unique festivals. Whether it's a jazz event or a car festival, there is always something new and exciting happen at The Muck. And if your day off doesn't align with any of their special events, you'll still be able to enjoy the stunning architecture and the museum galleries, whether they're focusing on watercolors, ceramics or youth artwork

Go Surfing
U.S. Open of Surfing
(credit: Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)

Huntington State Beach
21601 Pacific Coast Highway
Huntington Beach, CA 92646
(714) 536-1454

Huntington State Beach is a great place to ride the waves. After all, what's a better surf spot than Surf City U.S.A.? On your next day off, grab your board or pick up a rental and head to this famous surf location. You're best heading out in the early morning, but Huntington has a steady stream of surfers no matter what time of day it is. You'll get a great workout while staying cool in the hot sun, and, afterward, you can lounge on the sand to dry off. Once your day at the beach comes to an end, you'll be within walking distance of downtown, where you'll find plenty of happy hour drink specials and delicious meals to fill your belly after your workout.

Spend Your Day Shopping
Fashion Island-The Irvine Company. © The Irvine Company LLC 20 - verified ashley
(Credit: The Irvine Company. © The Irvine Company LLC 2016)

Fashion Island
401 Newport Center Drive
Newport Beach, CA 92660
(855) 658-8527

Costa Mesa's South Coast Plaza is the obvious place for luxury shopping in Orange County, but Fashion Island has a completely different vibe. Ditch the upscale in favor of the relaxing, outdoor complex, where you can enjoy a little bit of sunshine on your day off. The waving palm trees, fountains and ocean views aren't bad either! While they may not have stores as fancy as Burberry and Tiffany's & Co., Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdale's offer a little bit of luxury at Fashion Island. On top of that, you can enjoy a variety of unique restaurants, a movie theater and things like free yoga classes on weekends.

Go for a Drive Up Pacific Coast Highway
Go for a Drive on PCH-Ashley Ryan - verified ashley
(Credit: Ashley Ryan)

Various Locations

If you're the type that doesn't like to make plans and would rather just take off, then head north. A drive up Pacific Coast Highway is one of the most amazing things our region has to offer. If the weather's right, you're in for sweeping ocean views, expansive blue water and, if you get far enough, a blanket of green pines and towering redwoods. It's only a few hours to the sleepy coastal towns of Central California, where you'll find elephant seals lounging on the beach, Hearst Castle and plenty of teeny tiny cafes to grab a sandwich at. While a spur-of-the-moment road trip may be too adventurous for some, others will love spicing up their day off with some unplanned exploration before heading back to the office.

See a Movie in a Historic Venue
newport beach film festival  - verified ashley
(Credit: Newport Beach Film Festival)

Lido Theater
3459 Via Lido
Newport Beach, CA 92663
(949) 673-8350

After closing and reopening, it's a pretty safe bet that you never know how much time you'll have left to see a film at Newport Beach's historic Lido Theater. Having been around for decades, the stunning pale pink building has gone through various renovations but it remains one of the most iconic structures in town—especially for fans of art and culture. The theater doubles as the home of the Newport Beach Film Festival so you may catch a movie you've never heard of before, a documentary about local surf culture or many other myriad things. If it's not the right time of year for the festival, they'll still be showing new movies so stop by and see what's playing. It's a great way to beat the heat and enjoy a little piece of history at the same time.

Ashley Ryan is an Orange County native that loves traveling, live music and photography. She blogs at Pure Wander and freelances for a variety of publications including Newport Beach Magazine and Laguna Beach Magazine.


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