It’s no secret that Orange County is expensive, so when it’s time to have some fun, you want something that is more wallet friendly, or even better, absolutely free! The good news is, there are tons of free things to do in Orange County and places to enjoy for free! Check out our list of things to do in Orange County for when you’re sitting bored and broke at home. Adventure awaits!
10 Things To Do For Free In Orange County
1. Go to the beach In Orange County
One of the easiest free things to do in Orange County is got to the beach as there are so many in Orange County. There’s street parking so you don’t have to pay for parking in the parking lot. Just bring a towel and a friend, and enjoy! Here’s a tip for free parking: San Clemente and Seal Beach near Sunset Beach offers free beach parking.
Now if you’re in the mood for surfing or beach volleyball, then Huntington is a great choice. If you want to stop by a bar on your way then Newport Beach is perfect. Or if you’d like something more artistic and creative, head down to Laguna for some sand, sun and art galleries
2. Check out Downtown Disney In Orange County
In a Disney mood? Enjoy and explore the wonderful atmosphere of Downtown Disney. Parking is free for the first three hours. And you can enjoy musicians, seasonal entertainment or play and create with the Legos outside of the Lego store!
3. Crystal Cove & Doheny In Orange County
If you love the beach, or want to get up close and personal to sea life or sea creatures, check out the tide pools of Crystal Cove and Doheny which are the top tide pools to check out in Orange County. Crystal Cove is between Newport and Laguna Beach. Doheny Beach is in Dana Point.
4. Go Hiking In Orange County
There may not be a lot of wilderness in Orange County but there are still plenty of places to do some hiking which is free and healthy for you. If you want some ideas on where to start, as a beginner go to Crystal Cove and if you’re a pro check out Holy Jim or Black Star.
5. Explore Some Parks In Orange County
Some of the parks across Orange County are totally free. Find a park near you or take a look at some of these top OC parks (recommendations from Yelp!):
- Balboa Pier Playground
- Top of the World in Laguna
- Santiago Park Nature
- Citrus Ranch Park
- Dinosaur Park Laguna Hills
- Jeffrey open space trail
6. Old Courthouse Museum In Orange County
Admission to the Old Courthouse Museum is always free and it’s a landmark so you might as well check it out if you have a free afternoon. Head to Downtown Santa Ana, it’s Southern California’s oldest court building and these days it holds an exhibition gallery of local history.
7. Sherman Library and Gardens In Orange County
Sherman Library & Gardens is seated on a 2.2 acre Corona del Mar horticultural retreat. It may not be big but it’s definitely beautiful. On the first Monday of each month (known as Community Day), the entrance fee into the Sherman Library and Gardens is free, but on other days, it costs $5 for adults and $3 for kids between age 12-18. However, kids that are 12 years old and under can always enter for free. The library is open between 10:30 AM and 4:00 PM every day.
8. Enjoy Old Towne Orange In Orange County
One of the best things to do in Orange County is to go to the heart and center of it. Old Towne Orange is the perfect place for a free and easy stroll. Some of the attractions are antiques, collectibles and specialty shops in the area to explore and a gorgeous plaza to enjoy right at its center.
In fact, you can check out all of the beautifully preserved Old Towne Orange real estate surrounding the plaza. Several homeowners take great pride in upgrading, preserving and maintaining their vintage homes with classic craftsmanship and Victorian styles making the neighborhood a great place for a charming old school real estate and inspiration tour!
9. The Noguchi Garden In Orange County
The unique Noguchi garden holds a hidden sculpture garden by South Coast plaza. This stunning garden has art, a small river, benches, trees, and a calm ambiance which makes it the perfect spot to read, or sit and meditate. A great hidden gem to enjoy, it is aptly named the “California Scenario” because it embraces the stark deserts, jutting rocks, trickles of water, and peaceful forests that are so customary to California.
10. Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary In Orange County
In Modjeska Canyon right off of Santiago Canyon Road you’ll find the Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary. You can explore native habitats along nature trails and learn more about California’s flora and fauna. The Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary, therefore is one of the best plant and bird watching sites in Orange County so don’t forget your camera! There are exhibits and hands-on activities for kids and inspiring wildlife for everyone to enjoy.
Among the many things to do in Orange County you have these 10 options to cater to any mood. Whether it is for going up close and personal with sea creatures on some of the most beautiful beaches, visiting the vintage Old Towne Orange or hidden gems like the Noguchi Garden for a Californian dream.