Orange County Sightseeing and Restaurants

-- Orange County map (pdf, jpg)

Balboa Island
Balboa Island is our favorite Orange County area for walking, and our favorite place to take visitors.
-- Balboa Island area map (pdf, jpg)
-- GPS address for parking, though you can park anywhere: Amethyst Avenue, Newport Beach
■ Be sure you take a walk around the outside of Balboa Island. The sidewalk goes all around the perimeter of the island, so you can look at the boats and look at peoples’ homes at the same time. Be sure to look in the windows of all the houses to see how elegant they are inside. It’s not rude as long as you stay on the sidewalk!
-- Picture/story: ../../nblb/exhibition/index.htm
■ Walk down the main street of Balboa Island (Marine Avenue) and look in the shops there. On Marine Avenue, be sure to try a famous “Balboa Bar” (vanilla ice cream dipped in chocolate, covered with nuts or candy pieces). Or you can have a frozen banana dipped in chocolate.
-- Balboa Bar and frozen banana picture
■ While you are walking around Balboa Island, take the ferry across the Bay. The trip takes only a few minutes, and costs $1. Being out on the water is really interesting and fun. When you get to the other side of the Bay, you can go a little farther and take an interesting walk onto Balboa Pier over the Pacific Ocean.
-- Balboa Island Ferry picture

Corona Del Mar
The views of the ocean, Corona del Mar State Beach, and the entrance to Newport Bay from Inspiration Point in Corona Del Mar are wonderful. It's just minutes from Balboa Island. Street parking nearby is easy, and it's interesting to look at the expensive homes overlooing the ocean. It's an easy walk down the hill to the beach.
-- GPS address: 3528 Ocean Boulevard, Corona Del Mar
-- Pictures/story: ../../nblb/hidden/index.htm

Dana Point Harbor
-- Dana Point area driving and walking map (pdf, jpg)
■ You should definitely visit Dana Point Harbor. Drive to the viewpoint outside the Blue Lantern Inn (a small Bed & Breakfast inn) on the hill overlooking Dana Point Harbor.
-- Blue Lantern Inn GPS address:  34343 Blue Lantern Street, Dana Point
From that point, the view of the Harbor is wonderful; take a picture of yourself with the Harbor in the background.
-- Dana Point Harbor panorama picture
-- Example of a Harbor background picture
■ Then drive down Cove Road to Dana Point Harbor Drive, and cross over the bridge on Island Way to the small island in Dana Point Harbor
-- Island GPS address:  Island Way, Dana Point
Get out and walk around, especially walking along the water by the Harbor where you can see all the boats.
■ The Harbor shopping area is interesting to walk around, especially if you walk along the water where you can see the boats and the restaurants.
-- Shopping area GPS address: 34683 Golden Lantern Street, Dana Point
There are nice restaurants along there that are not too expensive where you can have a snack or a drink and sit outside on a patio by the water.
■ Across the street from the Harbor is a real American “local food” restaurant that everyone loves: Jimmy's Famous American Tavern (also called “JFAT”). Their Happy Hour (Monday-Friday 3-6 pm) is nice.
-- GPS address: 25001 Dana Point Harbor Drive, Dana Point

Laguna Beach

-- Laguna Beach driving and walking map (pdf, jpg)
■ Make a brief stop at park at Crescent Bay Point Park. From that park there is a spectacular view up and down the coast, and especially south to Crescent Bay.
-- GPS address:  200 Crescent Bay Drive, Laguna Beach
-- Crescent Bay picture
■ Park anywhere along Cliff Drive near Heisler Park. All through the park there is a delightful walking path along the beautiful cliffs overlooking the ocean and beaches. Continue all the way to the south end of the path to see the famous Main Beach viewpoint.
-- GPS address: 375 Cliff Drive, Laguna Beach
-- Main Beach viewpoint picture
■ Walking in downtown Laguna Beach is always enjoyable because of the many interesting shops and art galleries. The Laguna Beach map shows where most of the shops are.
-- GPS address for parking downtown:  300 Forest Avenue, Laguna Beach
■ In the downtown area, there are popular restaurants on Forest Avenue near the beach, and others with nice Happy Hour specials on the Coast Highway across from the Hotel Laguna.

San Clemente
Fisherman’s Restaurant and Bar on the San Clemente Pier is one of our favorite restaurants, with excellent food and unique outdoor seating available on the pier above the ocean. It's a great place to take visitors, and a wonderful place to watch the sunset on the ocean.
-- GPS Address: 611 Avenida Victoria, San Clemente (parking lots are nearby)
-- Pictures/story: ../../dpsc/pier/index.htm
-- Outdoor eating picture
■ We strongly recommend the Fisherman’s Restaurant “Sunset Dinner” served from 4 pm to 6 pm weekdays except during the summer. It's a complete dinner for about $14 to $20 with six or seven main course choices. Their famous Mudd Pie is extra, but worth sharing:
-- Mudd Pie picture
■ Downtown San Clemente is near the Pier and is four blocks long and very pleasant with some interesting shops and restaurants. It’s nice to spend a little time there walking around.
-- Downtown GPS address:  213 Avenida Del Mar, San Clemente

Rancho Santa Margarita Lake
The 30-minute walk around Rancho Santa Margarita Lake is very pleasant, providing a nice overview of residential life in South Orange County. Many families walk around the lake in the late afternoon and evening with their children and dogs. Carmelita's restaurant there has excellent Mexican food, a nice Happy Hour, and a pleasant outdoor patio overlooking the lake. There are various other restaurants in the same area.
-- GPS address: 31441 Santa Margarita Parkway, Rancho Santa Margarita
-- Pictures/story: ../../soc/RSMLake/index.htm