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Orange County Bucket List

Mission San Juan Capistrano

When I published my Orange County Bucket List and began making plans for how I could start crossing things off my bucket list, I knew one thing with certainty.  I had to begin at Mission San Juan Capistrano.  This mission is considered the birthplace of Orange County so it seemed fitting.  The Mission was the 7th of 21 missions and was founded on November 1, 1776 and is considered the Jewel of the Missions.

As with most of my posts, this post may contain affiliate or referral links.

I have vague recollections of visiting a couple of missions in 4th grade as we studied California’s history but don’t recall visiting many missions since then.  Now I regret this and I realized I should be planning a road trip to visit all of the missions.  One of the biggest things I walked away with after my time at the mission is the importance of studying history.  And not just from a textbook where I’m absorbing facts I can find in any number of books.  But actually exploring history and studying the people and places of our past.

The stories of the passion and conviction of the priests in their missionary work.

The stories of the way of life for the Acjachemen people.

The stories of how the priests and Acjachemen people co-existed.

These stories helped me understand a piece of California’s history and I think when we take the time to truly study history we’re able to build connections between what was, what is, and what can be.  And those connections are what help us learn from past mistakes, repeat past successes and gain a better understanding of people and culture.

Whether you're a 4th grader studying California's history or if you're planning a trip to California, here's planning tips for Mission San Juan Capistrano.
Whether you are a 4th grader (or the family of a 4th grader) working on a project about the California missions or just planning a trip to Southern California, I would highly recommend a trip to Mission San Juan Capistrano.

Tips for planning a trip to Mission San Juan Capistrano

*Go early.  I was there right when Mission San Juan Capistrano opened and it allowed me to enjoy the first hour or so in peace.  I could spend as long as I wanted at each exhibit and never felt crowded.  And I could capture pictures without other people in them.  This is especially valuable if you’re working on a mission project for school!

*Take advantage of the resources.  There is a complimentary audio tour available and there were docents throughout the mission.  Both were an excellent source of information and provided stories I would not have heard had I only explored the mission on my own.

*Plan your trip.  Head online before you go to the Mission San Juan Capistrano website and browse the schedule of tours, exhibits and hands-on opportunities.  There are days when you can pan for gold, try your hand at basket weaving, hear from descendants of the Acjachemen people and more.  So if you’re able to plan your trip around things that are interesting to you, I’d highly recommend it!

*See the swallows.  If you’re able to time your visit to go in March during the Swallows Day Parade you’ll be in for a treat as you learn about the legend of the swallows.

Have you ever been to any of the missions in California?  What is your favorite?

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Orange County Bucket List

I recently came across this Los Angeles Bucket List as I was browsing Pinterest.  And while I love traveling and have a pretty extensive travel bucket list, it got me thinking about all of the things to do right here in my own backyard!  So I started doing some research (which included asking my friends and family for suggestions on Facebook and over Christmas dinner) and put together my Orange County Bucket List.  The list includes 150 things to do in Orange County that go beyond just the beach and Disneyland (although those are on the list!).  There’s also a bonus Cupcakes in Orange County section because it really wouldn’t be a Girl on the Move list if it didn’t include cupcakes!

As with most of my posts, this post may contain affiliate or referral links.

Did you know Orange County has more people than 21 of the states in the US?  It is a county rich in history, filled with gorgeous views, and full of lots of opportunity for adventure.  So grab your Orange County map (Because I think adventures are more fun with actual maps!) and start checking things off the list!  And if you want to follow along with my Orange County Bucket List adventures you can find them on Instagram.

I’d love to hear in the comments section…What would you add to this Orange County Bucket List?  Is there anything on the list you’ve done that you’d recommend I’d do as soon as possible?

Cruise down PCH in a convertible

Eat a colorful bagel from Bagels & Brew

Have a bonfire at the beach

Have a popGelato from popbar

Visit all five of Orange County piers

Go biking at the beach…any beach!

Eat a sandwich at Mendocino Farm (multiple locations)

Build a sand castle at the beach

Eat a Signature 50/50 burger from Slater’s 50/50 (multiple locations)

Enjoy a lobster roll from Slapfish (multiple locations)

Eat a waffle sandwich from Bruxie (multiple locations)

Hike Holy Jim Falls

Orange County Bucket List: Aliso Viejo

Picnic at Soka University

Orange County Bucket List: Anaheim

Go to an Anaheim Ducks hockey game

Stroll through Downtown Disney

Go to a Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim baseball game

See the Disneyland fireworks

Progressive Dinner at Anaheim Packing District

Attempt to eat “The Beast” at Blake’s Place

Ice skating at The Rinks (the official training facility of the Anaheim Ducks)

Take flight at Flightdeck

Watch the Main Street Electrical Parade at Disneyland

Movie at Oak Canyon Nature Center

Enjoy a Dole Whip at Disneyland

See a concert at Pearson Park Amphitheatre

Have authentic beignets in New Orleans Square at Disneyland

See a show at the Royal Theatre in Disneyland’s Fantasyland

Orange County Bucket List: Brea

Take a trip to the Redwoods at The Redwood Grove at Carbon Canyon Regional Park

Orange County Bucket List: Buena Park

Eat a boysenberry funnel cake at Knott’s Berry Farm

Eat a chicken dinner at Knott’s Chicken Dinner

Mine for gold at Knott’s Berry Farm

Orange County Bucket List: Corona del Mar

Have tea at the Sherman Library and Gardens

See Disneyland’s original bandstand at Roger’s Gardens

Orange County Bucket List: Costa Mesa

Shopping at South Coast Plaza (3rd largest mall in America)

Shopping at the OC SwapMeet (Costa Mesa)

Spend a day at the Orange County Fair

See a show and eat a themed brunch/dinner at The Segerstrom Center

Eat a waffle at The Iron Press

Eat a donut from Sidecar Doughnuts

See a show at the Costa Mesa Playhouse

Stop by The CAMP in Costa Mesa

Orange County Bucket List: Dana Point

Go whale watching out of Dana Point

Visit the Ocean Institute in Dana Point

Explore the tide pools at Dana Point State Marine Conservation Area

Eat dinner with a view at Cannons Seafood Grill

Dinner at Stonehill Tavern in Dana Point

Orange County Bucket List: Fountain Valley

Spend an afternoon at Mile Square Park in Fountain Valley

Orange County Bucket List: Fullerton

Spend a day at the Fullerton Arboretum

Enjoy a picnic at Laguna Lake Park in Fullerton

Orange County Bucket List: Garden Grove

Enjoy the architecture of Christ’s Cathedral (formerly Crystal Cathedral) (fun fact: this was the venue of my high school graduation!)

Afternoon at Atlantis Park in Garden Grove (note: neither adults nor kids may go without the other!)

Enjoy strawberries at the Garden Grove Strawberry Festival

See a show with Shakespeare Orange County

Orange County Bucket List: Huntington Beach

Dinner during sunset at Pacific City in Huntington Beach

See the sunset at the Huntington Beach Pier

Go surfing in Huntington Beach

Visit the International Surfing Museum in Huntington Beach

Stroll through the Tuesday Farmers Market in Huntington Beach

Attend the US Open of Surfing

Attend the Huntington Beach 4th of July parade

Kayak in Huntington Harbor

Watch a movie on the beach in Huntington Beach with Beachfront Cinema

Progressive Dinner at Food Truck Thursdays in Huntington Beach (Beach Blvd & Stark)

Eat a donut from The Donuttery

Bird watching at Bolsa Chica Wetlands

Stay overnight at Paséa Hotel & Spa

Take a trip to Europe at Old World in Huntington Beach

Orange County Bucket List: Irvine

Take a tour at the ChocXO Chocolate Factory and Tasting Lab

Ride the big orange balloon at Orange County’s Great Park

Ride the Giant Wheel at the Spectrum

Take a produce tour at Tanaka Farms

Explore the University of California, Irvine Arboretum

Eat tacos from The Lime Truck

Take a walk along the Walkable Historical Timeline in Orange County’s Great Park

Have a milkshake at Strickland’s Frozen Custard

Orange County Bucket List: Laguna Beach

Stay overnight at The Ranch at Laguna Beach

Drinks at Splashes Bar at the Surf and Sand Hotel

Enjoy First Thursdays Art Walk in Laguna Beach

Take a selfie at Heisler Park

Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach

Hike to the Top of the World in Laguna Beach

Take an art class at the Sawdust Art Festival

Have a cocktail at the Lobby Lounge at Montage Laguna Beach

An afternoon at 1000 Steps Beach

Drinks at The Rooftop Lounge

Spend an afternoon reading a book at Treasure (Goff) Island Beach

Hike Laguna Coast Wilderness park

Explore Orange County’s only lighthouse – Pirate Castle

Walk the streets of Laguna Beach on a Historic Bungalow Tour

Visit St. Francis by the Sea (once the smallest church in the world)

See a film on a third Thursday at California’s oldest museum, Laguna Art Museum

Eat a short rib grilled cheese from Three Seventy Common

Take a food tour with Flavors of Laguna

Pool day at Montage Laguna Beach

Listen to music at Reggae Night at Sandpiper “Dirty Bird”

Enjoy fresh gelato from Dolce Gelato

See a play at The Laguna Playhouse

Eat Brulee French toast from Break of Dawn

Orange County Bucket List: La Habra

Explore history at the La Habra Historical Museum

An Orange County Bucket List for your trip to California with 150 suggestions to help you plan things to do, beaches to visit, hikes, and cupcakes to eat!

Orange County Bucket List: Mission Viejo

Enjoy a wine tasting at A Hidden Vine On The Lake

Explore the Butterfly Garden while hiking Oso Creek Trail

Orange County Bucket List: Newport Beach

Brunch at The Beachcomber Café

Fruity Pebbles French Toast from Bosscat Kitchen & Libations

Spend a night at the Crystal Cove Beach Cottages

Go stand-up paddle boarding in Newport Harbor

Spend an afternoon at Newport Dunes Waterpark

Enjoy a milkshake at Ruby’s Crystal Cove shake shack

Take a ferry to Balboa Island

Take a boat ride in Newport Harbor

Enjoy a frozen banana from Dad’s on Balboa Island

Spend an afternoon at Balboa Island Fun Zone

Watch a movie Newport Dunes’ Movies on the Beach

Enjoy the pink sauce at Mama D’s Italian Kitchen

Orange County Museum of Art

Explore Balboa Village

Relax for a day at The Spa at Pelican Hill

Take a gondola ride with Gondola Adventures in Newport Beach

Have a glass of wine at Orange Coast Winery

Watch surfers at The Wedge in Newport Beach

Enjoy a picnic at Inspiration Point in Newport Beach

Shopping at Fashion Island

Eat a ham and cheese croissant from Seaside Bakery in Newport Beach

Orange County Bucket List: Orange

Aquacycle ride in Irvine Park

Hike Peters Canyon

Ride the wine trolley in Old Town Orange

Antique shopping in Orange Circle

Eat dinner at Orange Hill restaurant (note: this is where my parents got engaged!)

Step back into history with dinner at the Filling Station Cafe

Have a soda at California’s Original Soda Fountain – Watson’s Soda Fountain Café

Eat pancakes from Flappy Jack’s Pancake House

Orange County Bucket List: Rancho Santa Margarita

Take a walk around the lake and enjoy sunset drinks with lake views at the Blind Pig

Orange County Bucket List: San Clemente

Go running on the San Clemente Beach Trail

Build a burger at Riders Club Café in San Clemente

Eat crepes at the beach at La Galette Creperie

Attend an event at Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens

Watch surfers at Trestles – the “Yosemite of Surfing”

Take a trip to the South with dinner at Iva Lee’s

Enjoy a cheese plate or board from The Cellar

Orange County Bucket List: San Juan Capistrano

Visit Mission San Juan Capistrano

Orange County Bucket List: Santa Ana

See the monkeys at the Santa Ana Zoo

Progressive dinner at 4th Street Market in Santa Ana

Explore Discovery Cube: Orange County

Attend a performance at Orange County School of the Arts

Learn about the history of Orange County at the Heritage Museum of Orange County

Visit the Lyon Air Museum

Explore the Bowers Museum

“First Saturday” Artwalk in Santa Ana

Orange County Bucket List: Westminster

Dinner at Little Saigon in Westminster

Orange County Bucket List: Yorba Linda

Visit the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum

An Orange County Bucket List for your trip to California with 150 suggestions to help you plan things to do, beaches to visit, hikes, and cupcakes to eat!
Bonus!!! Orange County Bucket List: Cupcake Edition

Susie Cakes

Casey’s Cupcakes

Patty’s Cakes and Desserts

The Perfect Circle Cupcakery

Bubba Sweets

Simply the Cupcake Store

Rockwell’s Bakery

Sprinkles Cupcakes

French’s Cupcake Bakery

Sweet N Saucy

B Candy

Beverly’s Best Bakery

Hapa Cupcakes

Frostings Cupcakes

Wonderland Bakery

Sugar Blossom Bake Shop

Frosted Cupcakery

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