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Orange County (California)

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* '''[[Long Beach]]''' is about 20 minutes west of Orange County and has several tourist attractions including the Queen Mary and the Aquarium of the Pacific.
* '''[[Long Beach]]''' is about 20 minutes west of Orange County and has several tourist attractions including the Queen Mary and the Aquarium of the Pacific.
*'''[[San Diego]]''' may be reached via Amtrak train (Pacific Surfliner) from Fullerton, Anaheim, Santa Ana, and Irvine. A one-way trip lasts approximately two hours.
*'''[[San Diego]]''' may be reached via Amtrak train (Pacific Surfliner) from Fullerton, Anaheim, Santa Ana, Irvine and San Juan Capistrano. A one-way trip lasts approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Revision as of 02:26, 20 September 2006

For other places with the same name, see Orange County (California) (disambiguation).

Orange County is a county in Southern California.



There are many cities in Orange County; here are a few of the major ones.

  • Aliso Viejo
  • Anaheim - Home of Disneyland, Mighty Ducks(National Hockey League), and Angels (Major League Baseball), second most populous
  • Brea
  • Buena Park - The City known as the home of Knott's Berry Farm, lots of used car lots, It is the gateway to Los Angeles. Los Angeles
  • Costa Mesa - Best understood as a blending of the styles of Santa Ana and Huntington Beach, with surf lifestyle and Mexican-American influences combining to give the city a unique character. Costa Mesa is also the shopping epicenter of Orange County, home to the gigantic South Coast Plaza and the alternative-hip malls The Lab and The Camp. Costa Mesa is home to a large Japanese-American community.
  • Cypress
  • Fountain Valley - A classic bedroom community, situated between other areas of greater interest to travellers. Fountain Valley also has a growing Japanese-American community, though as of yet nowhere near the scope of Costa Mesa's.
  • Garden Grove - Home to Little Seoul, a culturally rich Korean community.
  • Huntington Beach - "Surf City". Huntington Beach has a long surfing tradition and famous beaches.
  • Irvine - One of youngest and the largest city in terms of land size. A somewhat gentrified community with a significant Asian-American heritage.
  • La Habra
  • Laguna Beach
  • Laguna Hills
  • Laguna Niguel
  • Laguna Woods
  • Lake Forest
  • Los Alamitos
  • Mission Viejo
  • Newport Beach - one of the richest communities in the nation.
  • Orange - Home to Old Town Orange, a community, shopping, and nightlife destination designed to replicate the feel of 1950s Americana.
  • Placentia
  • Rancho Santa Margarita
  • San Juan Capistrano
  • Santa Ana - one of the oldest and largest cities in Orange County, with a tremendous Mexican-American population and cultural influences.
  • Stanton
  • Tustin
  • Villa Park
  • Westminister - Home to Little Saigon, the largest Vietnamese community outside of Vietnam.
  • Yorba Linda


Comprising of 34 incorporated cities and various unincorporated regions, it has a total population of more than 3 million, and is the fifth largest county in the United States. The population of these cities range from over 300,000 (Santa Ana and Anaheim) to merely 6,200 (Villa Park). Bordering Los Angeles on the north and stretching towards San Diego in the south, and Riverside County on the east. Orange County is bounded on the west by the Pacific Ocean and the east by the Santa Ana Mountains. The area enjoys beautiful beaches and warm weather year round. Orange County has a reputation for being more conservative than the rest of California, with fiscal conservative attitudes dominating in well-off cities and some social-conservative attitudes being prevalent in some of Orange County's thriving ethnic subcommunities.

Orange County is in the Pacific Time Zone and observes Daylight Savings Time.

For emergencies in Orange County, dial 911 toll-free from any phone including payphones. Note that dialing 911 from a cell-phone will place you in contact with the California Highway Patrol.

Santa Ana is the county seat.


English and Spanish are the two most common languages spoken in Orange County. Most government agencies will have someone available who speaks Spanish. In North Orange County, many businesses will have someone who speaks Spanish on staff but the further south into Orange one travels, the less likely this will become. Because of the ethnic diversity of Southern California, there are many neighborhoods where other languages are dominant, mostly from Asian countries. In Garden Grove, Korean is widely spoken; in Westminster, Vietnamese is a very common language. Japanese is more commonly spoken in Costa Mesa.

Get in

By car

Several freeways provide access to Orange County.

  • From the south: Interstate 5
  • From the north: Intestates 5 and 405

By air

  • John Wayne Airport (SNA) - 18601 Airport Way, Santa Ana, +1 949 252-5200. Several major and regional airlines fly into John Wayne airport. Most of the major car rental companies also have locations at this airport.
Airports near Orange County
* Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) - 1 World Way, Los Angeles, +1 310 646-5252. Located 40 miles (64 km) from Santa Ana, about a 46 minute drive south-east to Santa Ana.
* Long Beach Airport (LGB) - 4100 Donald Douglas Dr., Long Beach, +1 562 570-2678, Fax: +1 562 570-2603 e-mail:[email protected]. Located 20 miles (32 km) from Santa Ana, about a 25 minute drive east to Santa Ana.

By train

  • Metrolink - Toll free: +1 800 371-5465. Two Metrolink lines run into Orange County, one between Union Station in Downtown Los Angeles and San Juan Capistrano and the other from San Bernardino to San Juan Capistrano. Each line has several stops in Orange County. A third line, the 91 Line runs from Riverside County to Union Station in Downtown Los Angeles. It has one stop in Orange County, in Fullerton.

Get around

  • Orange County Transit Authority - +1 714 636-7433. OCTA lines cover all areas of Orange County. Fares - Regular: $1.25, Seniors (65 & over) and persons with disabilities: $0.50; Day pass - $3.00, Seniors (65 & over) and persons with disabilities: $1.00, 7-Day Pass - Regular: $15.00, Seniors (65 & over) and persons with disabilities: $5.00.


  • Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park is Disneyland's neighbor and tends to be less crowded although many of the attractions are less family friendly.
  • Virtually every city has an indoor or outdoor shopping mall.
  • Little Saigon is the largest Vietnamese community outside of Vietnam, and a trip down Bolsa Ave in Westminister will take one directly into its heart.


  • The Beach - Any of Orange County's Beach Cities offers access to the Pacific Ocean. Huntington Beach is perhaps the most popular, with Newport Beach being preferred by well-to-do types.
  • Nickel Nickel - On weekend nights, the Huntington Beach video game arcade where everything costs only nickels to play is packed with teenagers.
  • Play Go - Little Seoul in Garden Grove is one of the only places in Southern California to offer several Go parlors catering both newcomers and seasoned pros.
  • Balboa Island - Next to Newport Beach, Balboa Island has its own unique beachfront vibe, and a vibrant boardwalk featuring amusement park rides and other attractions.
  • Top of the World - So named because as the highest peak in the area it provides a spectacular view of the ocean, Top of the World in Corona Del Mar has been a longtime favorite destination for Orange County's romantically inclined. Sunsets and sunrises from this location are both incredible.


  • South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa (Exit 405 at Bristol) is one of the top-selling malls in America, with stores ranging from Sears at the low end to Gucci and Armani (with private, invitation-only second floor showrooms) to cater to the more luxurious. South Coast Plaza is Orange County's premiere shopping destination.
  • The Lab and The Camp, collectively known as "the anti-mall", are two adjoined outdoor malls catering to the young and hip, with a variety of boutique stores offering cutting-edge fashion and unique food offerings. There are generally also ongoing art exhibitions and other youth culture events.
  • The Asian Garden Mall is the largest majority Vietnamese-owned and operated mall in America, and a one-of-a-kind shopping experience. The two-story mall houses dozens of shops, restaurants, and wholesale stores of all types, including a wide variety of imported products and foods. Many stores place no price tags on their merchandise, and buyers are expected to haggle with shopkeepers (A better price is generally had by someone with fluency in the Vietnamese language).


Orange County has quite a niche for award winning dining, signature California cuisine and ethnic specialties. Orange County is a food lover’s haven with close to 5,000 restaurants serving everything from the freshest seafood to exotic delicacies.

  • Cafe Di Vang 2 in Westminister is a one-of-a-kind Little Saigon experience. The cafe is not notable for its drinks, but for its staff, who serve tasty but expensive (5 dollars each) smoothies and coffee while clad in little more than lingerie. Essentially the Vietnamese equivalent of Hooters, there are few cafes like it anywhere in America.

Mexican Food: Taco Mesa in Costa Mesa has an incredible reputation for fresh and vibrant food, and they're routinely lauded in the local independent press (OC Weekly) for high-quality offerings at fast food prices.

Vietnamese Food: With hundreds of restaurants to choose from in Little Saigon, Orange County is paradise for Vietnamese food lovers. The area immediately surrounding the Asian Garden mall has a wide variety to choose from. Pho 84 is a good spot for the traditional Vietnamese noodle soup, while Lee's Sandwiches serve Vietnamese Baguette sandwiches 24 hours in Little Saigon.

Japanese Ramen: Shin-Sen-Gumi in Fountain Valley is a traditional, Japanese-style ramen shop with a multitude of cooking options rarely seen outside of Japan.

Korean Barbequeue: Seoul Oak is a two-story galbi (Group cooking Korean barbequeue restaurant) in Garden Grove, widely recognized as the best in the area and occasionally playing host to visiting Korean movie stars. Little Seoul also has a single 24-hour Korean Barbequeue restaurant, Tofu House.

French-Japanese Fusion: Cafe Hiro in Cypress is a popular French-Japanese fusion cuisine restaurant. Founded by a former head chef at one of the top restaurants in Beverly Hills in order to give himself more control over the menu, luxurious and original cuisine is served at middlebrow prices (10-15 dollars per entree). The restaurant is notable for crafting a new and different homemade soup every day, included with each entree.

Hamburgers: Orange County is home to three famous hamburger chains - Tommy's (Fountain Valley, at Magnolia and Warner), Fatburger (Irvine, at Michelson and Jamboree), and In N' Out (all over). Tommy's is famous for putting chilly on all of its products. Fatburger is notable for its thick and juicy burgers and steakhouse-style "fat fries". In N' Out is lauded as a California favorite, with thin yet flavorful burgers. There is heated debate but no general consensus as to which chain is best - one's personal tastes and preferences are the best guide.

Cuban Food: Cafe Habana at The Lab in Costa Mesa is Orange County's most prominent Cuban restaurant, with a bordello-like atmosphere dimly lit by hundreds of candles.

French Steakhouse: Chat Noir in Costa Mesa is home to upscale French cuisine (Dishes such as Filet Mignon with Foie Gras will cost 30-40 dollars) but shines due to its incredible, romantic Parisian salon atmosphere. Live jazz is playing several nights a week; call ahead for times.

Dinner with a View: Orange Hill restaurant in Orange offers an upscale steakhouse with a maginificent view overlooking all of Orange County.

Japanese Izakaya: Izakaya, the Japanese style of cooking emphasizing a lively atmosphere and a wide variety of personal-sized mini-dishes to choose from, has made its way to Orange County with the popular restaurant in Costa Mesa. The menu covers everything from sushi to curry to katsudon, as well as some Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese dishes.

Bubble Tea: Tapioca bubble tea, also known as boba, is a recent local obsession imported from Asia - the milk tea is available in Orange County in all flavors, including some fruits and vegetables relatively unknown to the Western palate. Tea-ism in Irvine, near the UCI campus, is one of the best boba cafes in the county.

Dim-Sum: With Orange County's Chinese population not as concentrated into a single city as other local Asian enclaves, the Chinese restaurants vary more in location. For excellent Dim-Sum, for instance, one should travel to the Golden Dragon in Little Saigon, across the street from the Asian Garden Mall. Reasonable prices and a better selection than most Dim-Sum offerings in America.

Vegetarian Offerings: The Gypsy Den at the Lab in Costa Mesa is well-known for a wide variety of vegetarian offerings, especially its adobe stew. For Asian vegan cuisine, Au Lac in Costa Mesa is a popular destination.

Beachside: The Shake Shack in Corona Del Mar is a more than half-century old Orange County institution, serving up their famous shakes and also sandwiches. Although recently purchased by Ruby's in a move that rankled some locals, the Shake Shack is still going strong, situated above a cliff directly overlooking the ocean.


Stay safe

Though the beach areas of the county are generally safe, localism among surfers can on rare occasions turn violent. Though the county is quite safe, street gang activity is comparatively common in areas such as East Anaheim and the La Jolla and Atwood neighborhoods of placentia.

Get out

  • Long Beach is about 20 minutes west of Orange County and has several tourist attractions including the Queen Mary and the Aquarium of the Pacific.
  • San Diego may be reached via Amtrak train (Pacific Surfliner) from Fullerton, Anaheim, Santa Ana, Irvine and San Juan Capistrano. A one-way trip lasts approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

This is a usable article. It gives a good overview of the region, its sights, and how to get in, as well as links to the main destinations, whose articles are similarly well developed. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!