Introducing Orange County
What, exactly, lies beyond the ‘Orange Curtain’? More than Disneyland, it turns out. Orange County occupies one of the most inviting stretches of the Southern California coast, especially at Laguna Beach, where hills, canyons and dramatic bluffs meet a sparkling blue Pacific. Huntington Beach is the cradle of California’s surf culture, while Newport Beach, its more affluent neighbor to the south, has put the finishing touches on the attitude of entitled nonchalance that defines the SoCal beach scene. And don’t miss San Juan Capistrano. While many of California’s missions are poured concrete re-creations, this one is the real McCoy - and lovely to behold.
Angelenos came up the ‘Orange Curtain’ to distinguish themselves from their neighbors to the south (whom they see as neo-cons in Hummers, with Stepford wives riding shotgun). There’s no denying either the county’s long history of reactionary politics or its distinctly sanitized aesthetic; it prizes shiny malls and easy parking over messy city life. To get up to speed on the ‘hurray for me, screw you’ attitude of the county’s wildly affluent beach towns, check out the TV series The OC - an over-the-top (but often dead-on) take on life in the rich lane.
As you move back from the coast, the social reality grows more complex and, depending on your tastes, more interesting. Just south of Disneyland lies Santa Ana, whose overwhelmingly Latino population supports a vital downtown - and regularly votes Democratic. Just up the road is Westminster, known as ‘Little Saigon’ due to its largely Vietnamese-American population.
Still, Mickey and the gang are far and away the county’s biggest draw. Whether you’re a true believer or merely an aficionado of kitsch, Disneyland is the OC’s must-see.
Highlights of the California Mission Trail
Before surfers, gold miners, or even B movie stars made the scene, spiritual seekers were drawn to California - but for 18th century California dreamers, it was no relaxing yoga retreat. To reach higher ground in California, first they had to survive trans-Atlantic pirate traffic that would make today's LA freeways seem kind.
Need to know
Orange County destination guides
Full-Day Deep-Sea Fishing Cruise from Newport Beach
Enjoy a day of deep-sea fishing off the California coast and try to catch a coveted yellowtail or white sea bass. This full-day cruise from Newport Beach will take you into fish territory, where you’re likely to find the most prized catches.
Half-Day Deep-Sea Fishing Cruise from Newport Beach
Spend a fun-filled half day on the ocean waters just off the coast of Newport Beach on this deep-sea fishing cruise. Rod and tackle equipment is included, so come with your family and friends, and see who can catch the most fish! No experience is necessary – the ship’s experienced crew will be there to help people of all skill levels catch a fish.