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Orange County - Take a Genuine Look at the Southern California Lifestyle

Orange County - Take a Genuine Look at the Southern California Lifestyle

While Hollywood has given the world a superficial view of Orange County, rebellious teenagers and overly dramatic housewives are just a sliver of what can be found here. Although popular places of interest do include the picturesque beaches and affluent shopping centers, there is plenty more to do and see.

From Seal Beach to San Clemente, there are over 40 miles of coastline in Orange County which include seven state beaches. The coastal terrain ranges from the wide and sandy beaches of Huntington to the rocky coves of Laguna. The beach communities see millions of vacationing tourist every year, all here to soak up the sun and experience the liberating atmosphere of Southern California.

Upper Newport Bay is an ecological reserve and the largest estuary in the county. Newport Harbor lays claim to being the largest recreational harbor on the West Coast with nearly 10,000 vessels. Dana Point Harbor is maritime delight with plenty of opportunities for fishing and whale watching.

Inland from the coast, there is close to 100,000 acres to be found in the parks, reserves and open-spaces. They offer numerous and varied activities including birding, hiking, camping, mountain biking and wilderness exploration. The pristine wilderness parks found in the southern region have wide-ranging plant communities that include coastal sage scrub, riparian habitats, oak & sycamore woodlands and native grasslands. The immense collection of space found in the South Coast Wilderness Park and Caspers Wilderness Park are mostly unaltered by development. So wild and desolate are some of these regions, that mountain lions still inhabit these areas.

Orange County - Take a Genuine Look at the Southern California Lifestyle

Shopping opportunities are seemingly endless with dozens of indoor and outdoor malls and retail centers. South Coast Plaza is an affluent shopping mall that's said to be one of the largest in California, with nearly three million square feet of retail space and over $1 billion dollars in annual sales. Aside from the malls, the shopping districts in the coastal communities of Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach and San Clemente are distinctive and popular places to shop and dine.

Orange County is home to two of the most popular theme parks in California, the thrilling Knott's Berry Farm and the classic Disneyland. For a more subdued adventure, one of the largest historical districts in the state can be found in Old Towne Orange with over 1,200 historical residences and commercial buildings. Throughout the county are several arboretums and gardens that offer a relaxing respite to the more exhilarating happenings.

Founded in 1776, Mission San Juan Capistrano is the oldest cultural landmark in the county. For more modern cultural venues, visits should be made to the Bowers Museum, Segerstrom Center for the Arts, or the Laguna Art Museum. In addition, the art festivals of Laguna Beach are some of OC's most popular summertime events.