Located in Southern California, Orange County is famous for many reasons. Among the numerous things that have put Orange County in the spotlight include Disneyland Resort, Knott's Berry Farm, and myriad TV shows and films, such as the mid-2000s teen drama The OC. But there are plenty of other, lesser-known things to do and see in this area, too. Don't miss these top five things to do in Orange County.

Attend a Convention

Image via Flickr by Karol Franks

Very close to the Disneyland Resort is one of the largest convention centers in California, the Anaheim Convention Center. This center regularly plays host to a huge range of conventions, with something to suit almost every taste. There are sporting conventions, video gaming conventions, comic book and science fiction conventions, as well as celebrations movie franchises like “Star Wars.” There are IHG hotels near Anaheim Convention Center for every budget, so you can be as frugal or as extravagant as you like when planning your stay.

Check Out the Newport Beach Film Festival

Since 1999, this prestigious annual event has attracted crowds from far and wide. It's also a great place to rub elbows with the rich and famous. The festival showcases films from around the English-speaking world, and attending the festival gives film lovers the chance to experience some of the best cinematic works before their general release.

Go Whale Watching

Newport Beach is also an excellent place to spot some local marine life. Sightings are possible all year round, but you're most likely to see giant blue whales during summer and autumn. You may also be lucky enough to spot finback whales, humpbacks, and perhaps even killer whales. Along the way, dolphin sightings are almost guaranteed, and you'll frequently see sea lions, too. Check out this site to learn what you're most likely to see at any given time of year.

Explore Crystal Cove Beach

Situated within Crystal Cove State Park, this is generally considered to be one of the most beautiful beaches in Orange County. With a full length of just over 3 miles, Crystal Cove Beach the perfect place to escape the crowds and find some peace and quiet away from it all. It's also worth exploring the chaparral canyons just inland, as this kind of landscape is unique to Southern California and offers some excellent light hiking opportunities.

Visit Balboa Island

An extension of the town of Newport Beach, manmade Balboa island is home to fascinating history and offers some unique experiences. Take a stroll along Marine Avenue, which is home to multiple boutique shops and quirky vendors, or take a dip in the water at Balboa peninsula, which is also the perfect bodysurfing spot. And don't forget to try a frozen banana at Dad's Donut & Bakery Shop, the inspiration for Bluth's Original Frozen Banana stand on the Fox show “Arrested Development!”

Orange County offers a rich range of experiences, so plan your time carefully to make sure you can fit in all you want to see. Don't forget to pack sunscreen, your bathing suit, or something smart for your evenings out!

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