Orange County

Overview

Introduction

The drive on Interstate 5 from Los Angeles south to San Diego takes you through Orange County, one of the most populous suburban areas in the country.

On your way south, take at least a day for Disneyland and Anaheim's other attractions. Then head back to the coast and Huntington Beach, the place to surf (or at least to watch the surfers) in Southern California. However, that's just one area of the 40 mi/64 km of Orange County coastline.

Just slightly east, off Highway 91, is the city of Orange, set around a quaint, tree-shaded town square. You can stop for lunch in one of its tearooms or restaurants.

A few miles/kilometers south is Newport Beach. Santa Ana is north of Newport Beach, and farther south on the coast is Laguna Beach.

In Laguna Beach or elsewhere along the Southern California coast, you should experience the spring and summer grunion run—something of a live public sex show, yet entirely innocent and wholesome. Grunion, silvery sexpots of the smelt persuasion, surf ashore to spawn around the time of the new and full moons. When it's legal to catch them—inquire at local bait shops for details—locals swarm the beaches with buckets and flashlights to capture the distracted fish (bare hands only). It's a sight and sometimes high comedy because grunion are slippery, like long, wriggling bars of soap.

Inland and south of Laguna Beach is the town of San Juan Capistrano.

Also at the county's southwestern tip is the pretty community of San Clemente. It's an excellent place for sand-and-surf activities, but the city is best known as the site of former U.S. President Richard Nixon's Western White House. The Richard Nixon Presidential Library and birthplace is in Yorba Linda, east of Anaheim.

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