Orange County is the chillaxed surfer brother of the busy and overcrowded Los Angeles. Often times, Orange County is mistaken to be Los Angeles due to Los Angeles’s popularity. Although the O.C. is just south of L.A., the vibes, people, traffic, and parking situations are in their own world.
Here are 6 things you must do when visiting Orange County:
1. Slurp up Pho at Pho 79
As Orange County is one of the highest Vietnamese populated areas, Vietnamese food here will be some of the best you’ve ever tasted. The competition for Pho, especially, is very stiff as there are Pho shops at every corner of the Bolsa area.
For those who aren’t familiar with pho, it is a Vietnamese noodle soup, typically made with beef stock broth, noodles, and meat or chicken. On top, Vietnamese herbs and bean sprouts are usually added.
You can’t go wrong with most of the Pho restaurants in the Westminster area, the one that is most frequented is Pho 79 and is personally my favorite place to get a steaming hot bowl of Pho. Be warned though, there is regularly a wait, but if you take a look around you, there are mostly Vietnamese people waiting. You know you’re in the right place if you see people of that cuisine to happily wait for something they can get elsewhere.
Pho 79 is the first pho restaurant to be recognized with a prestigious James Beard Award.
2. Bite into Spring Rolls at Brodard
All spring rolls are made equally, right? Wrong. Brodard spring rolls take it to another level with their Nem Nuong rolls and their delicious secret orange sauce. Their Nem Nuong spring rolls are filled with fresh herbs, pickled daikon, and carrots, perfectly grilled pork sausage, and finish it off with a crunchy fried onion eggroll. Leveraging off of the #1 on this list, Vietnamese food in Orange County is SO DELICIOUS. It would be such a shame to visit without trying at least a bowl of Pho, Bun Bo Hue, or the famous Brodard spring rolls.
Brodard used to be unassumingly behind Fortune Mall but now has made its way to a restaurant next to Miles Square Park. It is typically always busy here, despite their constant increases in prices. It may not look like much but it is packed with flavor, crunch, and savory goodness. I would recommend calling before and ordering for pick up if you are in a hurry.
3. Eat Tacos at Just About Anywhere
Within Orange County lies the city of Santa Ana, highly populated with Hispanics. There is an abundance of taquerias, taco trucks, and taco stands to satisfy every taco craving. Not all tacos are made the same. There are differences in the tortilla, meats, size, how it’s cooked and seasoned.
I’ve traveled across the nation and I can say with confidence that Southern California is one of the best places to get legit tacos.
Some of my favorites are Tacos Manuel, Taqueria Los Olivos, and Taqueria Escalante. Check out my Orange County Tacos post for suggestions.
4. Visit Disneyland
Everyone should expect “visit Disneyland” to be the top of every Orange County list. After all, it is the biggest attraction to lure tourists into Orange County. There are no other theme parks that have such a large cult following, demand, and hotels built surrounding a theme park, as Disneyland does.
Disneyland, a household name, is an empire infamous for its marketing on an intangible item that everyone is living their lives for, happiness. With the catchphrase of Disneyland being the “Happiest Place on Earth”, who wouldn’t dream about going to such a place?
Being at Disneyland is more than being at an amusement park, it is a place where kids can live their childhood while the adults can relive theirs. The Walt Disney Company has many cartoons, tv shows, movies, and characters that just about anyone could recognize.
Every day is a new day and a new experience at Disneyland to create your own adventure. It celebrates the most major holidays and has many new activities and seasonal events that only those who buy into their never-ending ticket price hikes can enjoy.
Disneyland is always finding new ways to adapt to everyone’s interests. There are constant changes and renovations to make the park more exciting and up to date with the current hype. The food scene in Orange County is huge and Disneyland is continuously creating new food items to lure the foodies into their parks as well. The dining experience is interactive with a variety of culinary experiences and chances to meet your favorite Disney characters.
The possibilities are endless! Whatever your interests may be, you can’t say you’ve been to Orange County if you’ve never stopped for some rides and a churro at Disneyland.
5. Sunbathe with your Beaches
Granted, the Pacific Ocean isn’t as warm and the color isn’t as clear as other bodies of water, but it’s nice and peaceful to look out at the ocean and feel the sand between your toes.
It’s true, it’s (almost) always sunny in California! With Orange County being situated along the West Coast (best coast), it’s hard to avoid those warm summer beach day weather. The beaches are plenty. The best beaches to visit are Corona Del Mar, Crystal Cove, Thousand Steps Beach, and Laguna Beach. For Surf City and bar hopping next to the shore, go to Huntington Beach.
6. Indulge in a Double Double at In-N-Out
I do realize that most of the things on the list is majorly comprised of places to eat. Though, I don’t see a problem here. To no surprise, the last item is …. another food recommendation!
With the never-ending “best burger” debate set aside, In-N-Out is a burger joint you have to try when you are in California. It is California’s very own family-owned American burger chain filling the stomachs of hungry Californians and tourists. Here, you will expect to have a delicious meal at a great value.
The menu is short and simple, expect a quality meal cooked with care. You can customize it any way you like it, such as how you’d like your onions cooked: grilled, whole grilled, or raw. There is also “secret menu” items if you are tired of the 3 choices of hamburger, cheeseburger, and Double Double. Everything is fresh and made to order. No microwaves! Just make sure you eat it while it’s hot.
Although I am obsessed with In-N-Out’s burgers, I can’t speak much about their fries. These can be customized as well, with less/more salt, lightly fried, or well-done. All I can say is, don’t expect much from it, but they’re fresh! In-n-Out will always have a special place in my heart. #fightme
Look for the “X” shaped by palm trees to locate California’s state treasure.