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Secret Things to Do in Orange County, CA for Visitors
The tourist things to do in Orange County, CA are well-known to Southern California travelers. Visiting Disneyland, shopping at South Coast Plaza, and surfing at Huntington Beach are written up constantly in travel mags and newspapers. But the county also offers secret delights known only to locals such as myself. Try them out on your next visit.
© 2011 by Aurelio Locsin
Noguchi Sculpture Garden
The Noguchi Sculpture Garden satisfies those interested in outdoor and art things to do in Orange County, CA. Six abstract pieces, created by famed artist Isamu Noguchi, represent the California landscape. You’ll find mixes of stone, tile, steel, water and desert foliage decorating abstract, natural and freeform shapes. Park for free in the east parking lot of Sears – South Coast Plaza, and cross the sky bridge over Bristol Street. Then head southeast for the black glass towers rising on the corner of Anton Blvd and Park Center Drive. The sculpture garden is buried behind office buildings, so ask a passerby to point you the way.
Lyon Air Museum
If you’d rather spend time indoors on one of your secret things to do in Orange County, CA, the Lyon Air Museum satisfies across the street from the runways of Orange County Airport. Airplanes are certainly in abundance, including a B-17 Flying Fortress. a passenger DC-3 and a B-25 Bomber. But this idiosyncratic collection also includes military vehicles, military motorcycles and automobiles from the 1930s-40s. The
Environmental Nature Center
Where can you find a freshwater marsh, Yellow Pine forest, foothill woodland, and Channel Islands flora in just 3.5 acres? At the Environmental Nature Center in Newport Beach. The 14 habitats represent what’s available in California, from the coast to the mountains. The 8,500-square-foot solar-powered main building is the first one in Orange County to receive LEED platinum certification, and houses a nature museum and classrooms. Make time for the Native Butterfly House in the spring and summer, so you can admire these local wonders at all stages of their life cycle, from egg to flying beauties.
Santa Ana River Trail
The Santa Ana River, typical of county rivers, is normally dry and paved with concrete. But it does feature a walking/bike/horse trail that stretches 110 miles across three counties. You can enter at many of the roads that cross it and proceed south to Huntington Beach or north to the San Bernardino mountains. Several attached parks offer convenient rest stops and picnic tables. If you go after a heavy rain, you’ll be rewarded with flowing water and islands of wildlife such as pelicans, herons and ducks.
Orange County Model Engineers
Don’t forget to amuse the kids on one of your secret things to do in Orange County, CA. Take them on an excursion aboard miniature freight and passengers cars pulled by working miniature diesel and steam engines. The Orange County Model Engineers offer rides on the third Saturday and Sunday of each month, on the eastern side of Fairview Park in Costa Mesa. Five miles of 7.5-inch gauge track wind their way through stations, bridges, grasslands and hills. Rides are free, but donations are accepted to keep the hobby-built locos in top running condition.
If you have more secret things to do in Orange County, CA, please put information and links in the Comments box below.
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