It’s hard to believe that the leading business of Southern California was once cattle. By the early 1900s, however, the area’s largest industry was agriculture, namely citrus fruit. By the 1950s, improvements on interstate travel, a growing aerospace industry and the opening of Disneyland in 1955 further altered the area’s appearance. Other amusements and businesses followed. Orange County, famous for its citrus groves, was forever after a key tourist destination.
Today, Orange County is an assortment of beaches, amusement parks, ball parks and other sundry tourist hot spots. Many people rightfully associate the county with sunshine, Disneyland and world-class beaches. Nonetheless, this expansive piece of real estate has a great deal more to offer.
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Along with other Orange County entertainment spots, Disneyland remains a key destination, and tourists from around the world flock to Anaheim to experience it. Knott’s Berry Farm is also in Anaheim, and it is equally as entertaining. Knott’s Berry Farm, in operation since 1928, is a family-oriented theme park that offers visitors a well-rounded experience with fast roller coasters and amusements for younger crowds. With an exact replica of Independence Hall, as well as other historical features and a focus on down-home hospitality, Knott’s touts itself as “America’s first theme park.”
Orange County is also well known for its sandy beaches. Orange County is primarily a conservative, financially wealthy pocket of Southern California. The area is quite literally a playground for those who want to enjoy the easy life. Newport Beach and Huntington Beach are two hot destinations for sun bunnies and surfer dudes. And, on any given day, one can find all kinds of people enjoying any number of the area’s forty miles of beaches.
Orange County has no particular urban epicenter. Nonetheless, that does not mean that it lacks the typical accouterments of urban living; these features are simply just a little more laid-back here. For example, boardwalks like the one found in Laguna Beach are a great place to promenade and enjoy the area’s biggest assets: fun, sun and sand. Laguna Beach is also well regarded as nurturing the area’s hottest artist colony. Their work is often displayed right on the boardwalk, at the Laguna Art Museum and at the Orange County Museum of Art. While the Laguna Art Museum boasts an impressive array of historical and contemporary art, the latter focuses its exhibits around an extensive collection of art from the twentieth century.
For the traveler who is in the area on business, the idea of “getting away from it all” is very appealing. Locals often hang out at Upper Newport Bay where they can explore miles of native California plants and animal life. This is also a great spot to enjoy recreational activities such as hiking and boating. Overall, it provides ample opportunities to get away from the droves of tourists in Anaheim.
Once settled by Spanish missionaries, the area also has a diverse and interesting heritage. A visit to the Mission San Juan Capistrano, Orange County’s only Spanish settlement, is a great opportunity to reflect on the region’s interesting Native American past and Spanish history. The Old Towne Historic District in the City of Orange, on the other hand, offers visitors a glimpse into the area’s non-tourist past from the late 1800s to the 1940s. Visitors will, no doubt, realize that there is simply more to Orange County than they originally thought.
Overall, Orange County has a vibrant artistic atmosphere, as well as a slew of destinations that allow visitors to escape into nature. The county’s historical significance is also well worth the trip. In the end, Orange County has a great deal to offer the tourist who plans to stay for a while or the business traveler who enjoys a variety of options outside of the conference room.
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