47 things to do in Orange County when you’re bored

Whenever a friend asks where we should go, I send them “the list.”

It’s what we call the messy page in my Notes app, a compilation of Orange County spots that my friends and I love enough to go to regularly. And, it’s saved us hours of time.

It started with a recurring dilemma in my driveway — me settled crisscrossed behind the wheel, my friend’s Adidas kicked up on the dash, the Kia spouting ‘70s music as we brainstormed places to drive to. At best, it took at least 20 minutes to settle on an activity, but at worst it took two hours and ended with a defeated trek back to my couch. We live in one of the most sought-after areas in the country, and — “There’s nothing to do.”

Orange County offers way more to do than Disneyland. Aside from the perk of usually free parking, it’s home to gorgeous hills, iconic beaches and lively attractions. So, thinking that there’s nothing to do is laughable.

In early 2021, once again idling on the broken road of my cul-de-sac, I logged the places my friend and I were talking about in my Notes app. I also brainstormed later that night, compiling a document of every fun place I’d been to.

Once we had the options in front of us, deciding became easier. As an act of public service, I share this list with all the O.C. locals idling in their cars (or out-of-towners who want to do something other than go to Disneyland.)

Since I add new places as I find them, this list is always evolving and might not have your favorite place on it — yet. Feel free to add your faves, and even revise the list, in your own Notes app. In the meantime, skim through my love letter to Orange County (which is in no particular order).

A few notes: This list doesn’t include eateries or 21+ bars or clubs, unless they’re part of a shopping center. And shopping centers were included because hanging out at the mall is a beloved O.C. pastime. All attractions are also within O.C. boundaries. (My apologies to the Aquarium of the Pacific.)

An extra tip for that pesky decision paralysis among two people: One person picks three options, another person narrows it to two, and you both settle on one.

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