48 Hours in Orange County: The Perfect Itinerary for a Weekend Getaway Filled With Sun, Fun, and Food

48 Hours in Orange County: The Perfect Itinerary for a Weekend Getaway Filled With Sun, Fun, and Food

Spoiler: Includes plenty of sunny beach time, at your pace.

By Tamara Palmer

Among its highlights, Southern California's Orange County offers curious visitors miles of beautiful coastline, outdoor adventuring, Instagrammable food galore (and mainly a lack of Los Angelenos who say they refuse to travel beyond "the Orange Curtain.") Drive or fly into Orange County's easy-breezy John Wayne Airport by Friday evening, and fill your 48 weekend hours with these activities to maximize fun, sun... and the potential of an iconic The Real Housewives of Orange County sighting:


6 p.m.: Check the calendar at Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa; you might be able to catch a ballet, symphony performance, or possibly a classic movie screening or singalong. Saunter across the street for post-show tamarind margaritas and jumbo surf and turf at Silver Trumpet.

For a more low-key evening that still screams to social media that you've arrived at your destination, belly up to a unicorn hot chocolate and ridiculously fanciful slices of cake at Creme & Sugar in Anaheim, which closes at 9 p.m.


10 a.m.: Head up into the sky on the tethered Great Park Balloon in Irvine, which looks like a giant hot air balloon but is actually powered by helium (though you won't be talking like Minnie Mouse when you're on board). You'll be rewarded with 360-degree views that reach up to 40 miles on clear days.

12 p.m.: Drive south to Laguna Beach for a day of active outdoor fun (with a boozy intermission, perhaps?). A beautiful choice is to hit Crystal Cove State Park for tidepool walks, guided hikes, and geology talks.

2:30 p.m.: Indulge in cocktails over lunch with insane ocean views at popular area hotel and Housewives hangout La Casa del Camino's rooftop lounge

4:30 p.m.: Called "Laguna's hotspot for social climbers" by the Orange County Register1000 Steps Beach in Laguna Beach is a popular place to exercise (Eddie Judge has been spotted working out clients there) and play in the sand, though the staircase leading to the beach really has just over 200 steps to navigate. 

7 p.m.: Continue south to Dana Point for Stonehill Tavern, an opulent Michael Mina restaurant at the Monarch Beach Resort (pro tip: get the lobster pot pie!). Roll yourself to where you're staying, which is at this hotel if you're lucky.


11 a.m.: Sunday brunch is a must — so the only question is, would you prefer to have gospel brunch at House of Blues or drag brunch at Velvet Lounge in Santa Ana?

2 p.m.: The water is calling you back! Hit up the Balboa Bay Resort, where RHOC mom Lydia McLaughlin and husband Doug kept their boat when they took friends for a spin on it in Season 8. Rent an electric duffy boat, kayak, or stand-up paddleboard and play.

6 p.m.: It may be time to head back to your home, but if there's time for a last hurrah before the airport or road, consider Top Chef alum Amar Santana's Spanish restaurant Vaca in Costa Mesa for some quick tapas or a more leisurely family-style meal.

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