Local Fun on a Budget: Orange County CA Staycation Ideas
If this is your first visit to More with Less Today, let me say hello and welcome to my little corner of the blog world. I am blessed to live in Orange County, California and I love to share my favorite, inexpensive places to visit with friends, visitors, and readers.
Whether you have lived in Orange County for decades (like me), are new to southern California, or are just passing through, I hope my ideas will inspire you to get out and explore the OC and see our beautiful county through the eyes of a tourist. From the mountains to the sea, southern California has it all!
As gas prices climb higher this summer, (they almost always do), we don’t have to settle for staying home. It is easy to forget that we live in an amazing part of the country with so much to do, right in our backyard.
So get in the vacation mindset, take pictures, buy souvenirs, eat fattening vacation foods and make some memories!
Be sure and bookmark this page or pin it to your Pinterest board. I welcome your additions and comments for Local Fun on a Budget, Orange County, CA Staycation ideas!
Life in the OC – Known for More Than Bickering Housewives!
Most people know that the top Orange County attraction is Disneyland, followed by Knott’s Berry Farm and then our beautiful beaches. To help stretch your vacation dollars, be sure and visit some of our other lesser known attractions and enjoy all of what Orange County, CA has to offer!
My Top 3 Picks for Local Fun on a Budget: Orange County CA Staycation Ideas:
Riding the Balboa Ferry – You can walk on, take your bike, or drive your car onto the Balboa Ferry for a lovely, pleasant and cheap boat trip of 1,000 feet.
Downtown Disney District – just steps away from Disneyland, a lively promenade with great shopping, entertainment, restaurants, and a great place to watch the nightly Disneyland fireworks.
Fullerton Arboretum – A 26 acre botanical garden located on the campus of California State University, Fullerton.
Beaches and Beach Activities
Whale Watching -board a boat during the spring and summer at Newport Landing to watch Blue Whale migration.
Balboa Fun Zone – ride the waterfront Ferris Wheel, play arcade games, tour the nautical museum and enjoy a world famous Balboa Bar, (a chocolate dipped banana with toppings and worth every calorie.) This is also a popular place to rent bikes, take a harbor cruise, or catch a boat to Catalina Island. You can also reach the Balboa Fun Zone by the Balboa Ferry, mentioned in my top 3 favorites.
Catalina Island – 26 miles across the sea, Catalina Island is accessible by passenger ferries from Newport Beach and Dana Point. The trip takes approximately 1 hour. You can also take a helicopter from Long Beach or San Pedro. Activities include swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, fishing, horseback riding, or just enjoy strolling the quaint shops and galleries. You can ride the Catalina Express Ferry for free on your birthday but you must pre-register at www.catalinaexpress.com. Visit the CatalinaChamber.com website for more discounts and tours.
Rent an Electric Duffy Boat and tour Newport Bay with up to 12 people. You can tie up your boat and dine at several restaurants or bring your own food and beverages.
Sportfishing – Davey’s Locker, located in Newport Beach is a popular option for deep sea fishing trips, both full day and half-day as well as whale watching excursions and private boat charters.
Paddleboarding -the Newport Aquatic Center offers both paddleboarding and kayaking rentals and instruction. Located in the Back Bay of Newport Beach, the calm waters are a popular spot for paddleboarding newbies. This is on my bucket list for this summer! Stay tuned for what I am sure will be some funny photos.
Surfing – take a surf lesson and hang 10! Experts say that one of the best beaches for beginning surfers is Doheny State Beach located in Dana Point.
Rent a beach cruiser bicycle and ride around Balboa Island and the boardwalk. There are several places to choose from at the Balboa Pier.
Fairs and Festivals
Laguna Beach Summer Festivals – Get a Summer Passport to the Arts for unlimited summer admission. Take the free trolley which operates from June 26th to August 31st. It operates each day from 9:30 AM to 11:30 PM.
Pageant of the Masters – a magical, annual tradition. The Pageant of the Masters is a living tableaux with live actors recreating paintings and art work. You won’t believe your eyes! My tip – it can be a bit chilly – bring a wrap or coat.Get your tickets now for July 8 – August 31st.
Sawdust Art Festival – family friendly with free admission for kids 12 and under. It is open from June 26th – August 30th.
Art – a Fair – open daily from June 26th – August 30th, with live entertainment Thursday through Sunday. You can sign up for daily art workshops for all levels.
Summer Concerts, Theater and Live Performances
Pacific Amphitheater at the Orange County Fairgrounds – Summer Concert Series featuring current bands and nostalgic favorites.
Pacific Symphony – Summer Festival of Concerts at the Verizon Amphitheater in Irvine.
Segerstrom Performing Arts Center – see Broadway shows in a beautiful venue without driving to Los Angeles.
Shakespeare Orange County – performances are held at the Garden Grove Amphitheater over the summer.
South Coast Repertory – several summer productions geared toward the younger set.
These Orange County cities offer free summer concerts. Call city hall or search online for more specific schedules. Grab a picnic basket and enjoy a free concert!
Brea ~ Buena Park ~ Costa Mesa ~ Cypress ~ Dana Point ~Fountain Valley ~ Fullerton ~ Garden Grove ~ Huntington Beach ~ Irvine ~ Laguna Niguel ~ Lake Forest ~ La Palma ~ Los Alamitos ~ Newport Beach ~Orange ~ Placentia ~ Rancho Santa Margarita ~ San Clemente ~ San Juan Capistrano ~ Seal Beach ~Tustin~ Yorba Linda
Many movie theaters offer discounted prices for family friendly movies.
These Orange County cities offer free summer movies in a city park. Check the city websites for dates and times:
Brea ~ Dana Point ~ Fountain Valley ~ Irvine ~Lake Forest ~Placentia ~ Tustin
Museums and Art Exhibits
Brea – Art in Public Places – tour over 150 outdoor sculptures which are on permanent display throughout the city.
Dana Point – The Ocean Institute is a great place to learn about oceanography, view the tide pools, experience hand-on exhibits, plus it has beautiful views. Bring your own food and have a picnic on their benches and tables. A popular option is taking an evening Bioluminescence Cruise.
Fullerton’s First Friday Art Walks – from 6 to 10 pm., the free walk offer an evening of community and culture.
Fullerton Museum – View the works of the OC’s iconic guitar maker, Leo Fender in the Fender Gallery.
Irvine – Pretend City Children’s Museum – A great place to spend time with the little ones who love to pretend.
Laguna Beach Art Walk – the first Thursday of the month, member galleries offer a festive, cultural evening starting at 6:15 PM with a free shuttle from the Laguna Art Museum to the art walk.
La Habra Children’s Museum – a favorite for young children and toddlers with exhibits, hands on galleries, a caboose, a model train village, pre-school play park, science station and an outdoor dinosaur topiary. Through a grant from the Target Corporation, the first Sunday of each month is free.
Santa Ana -Bowers Museum – Through a grant from the Target Corporation, the 1st Sunday of each month is free.
Tustin – Marconi Automotive Museum – take self-guided tours of a car collection valued at 30 million dollars!
Don’t Miss These Additional Orange County day trips and Staycation ideas!
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim stadium tour – visit the press box, press conference room, visitors clubhouse, dugout and more.
The OC Zoo – located inside beautiful Irvine Regional Park in the city of Orange.
San Juan Capistrano Mission – an historic landmark and museum, you can take a guided tour, a self-guided tour, or reserve a tour with a docent.
Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace – located in Yorba Linda, on a beautiful nine acre campus. See the magnificent full size replica of the White House East Room and the humble birthplace of America’s 37th President.
National Register of Historic Places Listings for Orange County, California.
Find Farmer’s Markets and Food Festivals Happening in Orange County at Localharvest.org.
Sleep on the beach in a restored cottage at Crystal Cove Beach, reserve well in advance.
Be sure and ask for student discounts, AAA discounts, and senior discounts if they apply. With a little prior planing you can have local fun on a budget with an Orange County CA Staycation.
Did I leave out a favorite staycation idea? Please leave a comment so I can update this post, and please share this with your friends and family. Happy Staycation!
Here is a goldmine of Staycation Ideas and Adventures all across the USA from some of my favorite bloggers! Be sure and share this to your Facebook page, email it friends and family, and PIN It to your Pinterest board.
A – D
Phoenix, Arizona — Saving For Someday
Fresno, California — Living A Frugal Life
Orange County, California — More With Less Today
San Diego, California — Southern Cali Saver
Denver, Colorado — Bargain Blessings
Washington, District of Columbia — Kidventurous
F – I
Disney World, Florida — The Happy Housewife
Jacksonville, Florida — Saving The Family Money
Orlando, Florida — Coupon Mamacita
St Augustine, Florida — Simply St. Augustine
Tallahasse, Florida — SwagGrabber
Tampa Bay, Florida — LaToyaEdwards.net
Atlanta, Georgia — Pretty Frugal Diva
Dahlonega, Georgia — Kathys Cluttered Mind
Savannah, Georgia — This Mommy Saves Money
Aurora/Chicago, Illinois — A Savings WOW!
Chicago, Illinois — Entertaining Chicago
Indianapolis, Indiana — Chaos Is Bliss
K – P
Lexington, Kentucky — Homeschool Village
Louisville, Kentucky — The Kennedy Adventures
Northern Kentucky, Kentucky — Simply Sherryl
Carroll County, Maryland — Looking at life CreativLEI
Boston, Massachusetts — Maven of Savin
Battle Creek, Michigan — Pichea Place
Grand Rapids, Michigan — Give Me Neither
Metro Detroit, Michigan — Saving Dollars and Sense
Kansas City Area, Missouri/Kansas — Redefined Mom
Omaha, Nebraska — Family Fun in Omaha
Central, New Jersey — Our Good Life
Cincinnati, Ohio — Adventure Mom
Cleveland, Ohio — Kosher on a Budget
Columbus, Ohio — Cleverly Simple
Dayton, Ohio — Savings Lifestyle
Mansfield & Richland County, Ohio — The Traveling Praters
Miami County, Ohio — Something 2 Offer
Northeast, Ohio — Sisters Shopping on a Shoestring
Portland, Oregon — Frugal Living NW
Harrisburg/Central, PA — Family Balance Sheet
Erie, Pennsylvania — Growing Kids Ministry
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania — Moms Need To Know
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania — The Coupon High
R – W
Arlington, Texas — Grocery Shop For FREE
Fort Worth, Texas — Coupons and Freebies Mom
Houston, Texas — Melissa’s Bargains
Katy, Texas — Moms Confession
San Antonio, Texas — How to Homeschool My Child
Tyler, Texas — iLoveMy5Kids
Charlottesville, Virgina — How to Have it All
Norfolk, Virgina — The Talking Suitcase
Richmond, Virgina — Vacation Maybe
Seattle, Washington — Thrifty NW Mom
Tacoma/South Puget Sound, Washington — Queen Bee Coupons
Oshkosh, Wisconsin — A Little Bit of This and That