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5 Free Things To Do In Orange County

5 Free Things To Do In Orange County

Free activities are a great way to have fun, learn, and spend your time without having to spend money. Whether you’re looking for live entertainment, to explore Laguna Beach, enjoy the Orange County parks, or simply wanting to relax, there are plenty of options available that won’t break the bank. And we are seriously so lucky because there are always a ton of free fun things to do around Orange County and Southern California.

When it comes to planning events, some of the activities can definitely get pricey for a whole family to enjoy. Luckily, we all live in a county that has so many fun, free things to do. Everything from free concerts where you enjoy live music, to free movies, and even free tours at local museums are all options that are available around Orange County CA.

Remember, the possibilities are endless when it comes to free activities. But here are my 5 favorite, completely free, things to do in OC.

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Explore Local Beaches

If you live in Orange County, you are probably pretty close to some of the amazing local beaches. You can always head to Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, San Clemente State Beach, Doheny Beach in Dana Point, and Crystal Cove State Park to name a few. So when you are needing a day of fun in the sun, pack up a picnic lunch, plenty of beach toys, and beach blanket to enjoy the cool breeze, fresh ocean water, and the sandy beaches.

What’s great is that most of the beaches offer free street parking, though you may have to pay for it if you can’t find free parking. But I always recommend to check to see if there is street parking available!


If you happen to be in Huntington Beach, make sure to take advantage of the wonderful Huntington Beach Pier. The pier provides breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and the surrounding coastline. It’s a popular spot for photography, fishing, sunset watching, and simply enjoying the beauty of all that Huntington Beach has to offer.

And if you have time, make sure you enjoy the Pacific Coast Highway. The drive is relaxing and the scenery is stunning. This scenic route takes you through some of the most stunning and picturesque landscapes in Orange County.

Visit The Tide Pools

If you happen to make a day of going to the beach, there’s more free things to take advantage of! A fun activity is to take the kids to splash and play around the tide pools. Orange County has some of the best tide pools in Southern California. The tide pools are teeming with marine life, and it’s a great place for some bird watching too. Plenty of free fun for everyone!

Some of my favorite tidepools are Dana Point Headland Beach, Crystal Cove State Beach, Victoria Beach, Crescent Bay, and Thousand Steps Beach in Laguna Beach. Here you can find tons of wildlife like sea urchins, starfish, mussels, crabs, as well as other marine life.

Take a Tour At The Museums

There are quite of few fun and educational museums that offer free entry on certain days of the month. There are also several that offers children and active military families free admission year round.

Here are a few of the best museums around Orange County:

Bower Museum

The Bower Museum is free for kids under 12 years old (every day, year round). And if you are a Santa Ana resident, you get free admission on Family Festival Sundays. The museum has quite the collection with over 120,000 works of art in its permanent collection, and it offers educational programs and community days with a variety of activities such as arts and crafts and archeological digs.

Address: 2002 North Main Street, Santa Ana CA. 92706

Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 10 am – 4 pm

Laguna Art Museum

This museum has over 3,500 pieces of beautiful art in its collection. There’s always something going on, and the museum holds lectures, educational programs, live music nights, as well as shows films about local history and art. During the first Thursday Artwalk, visitors 17 and under get free admission! This even is held on the first Thursday of every month from 5 to 9 pm.

Address: 307 Cliff Dr. Laguna Beach, CA. 92651

Hours: 5 – 9 pm

Orange County Museum of Art

This free museum has over 3,000 pieces of art in its collection, and they are known for their paintings, sculptures, and other multi-media works. They have pretty amazing art galleries that everyone in the whole family can appreciate! The museum is now located near the Segerstrom Center in Costa Mesa. I definitely recommend that you also tour the Segerstrom Center if you have time. It’s a truly beautiful place to explore!

Address: 3333 Avenue of the Arts, Costa Mesa, CA. 92626

Hours: Monday Closed

Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday: 11 am- 6 pm

Thursday, Friday, Saturday: 11 am- 8 pm

Peter & Mary Muth Interpretive Center

This is a free center that supports Newport Bay, and their main focus is to educate the public about conserving the wildlife and the wetlands around Newport Beach and Bay. They offer live classes with reptiles and amphibians, and the kids always love getting to see these animals up close! While visiting, I definitely recommend that you take a walk around the entire center. The panoramic views of the bay are absolutely stunning. So be sure to get plenty of photos!

Address: 2301 University Dr. Newport Beach, Ca. 92660

Hours: Monday Closed

Tuesday-Sunday 10 am- 4 pm

Roam Through The Bike And Hiking Trails

The one thing that Orange County does not lack are biking and hiking trails. And we are so fortunate that we have so many Orange County parks to choose from! There are literally miles and miles of trails around OC. These trails are not only a great place to enjoy a bike, walk, or hike, but the views and scenery are great as well! One of my favorite free things to do in OC!

Some of the trails also take you down to the explore some of the fabulous beaches in OC. My favorites include the Newport Bay Loop, Aliso Creek Trail, and Aliso Wilderness Park. If you like to see a complete list of my favorite trails in Orange County, click here.

Take A Free Train Ride

If you or your kiddos like trains, you should plan a day to head over to Goathill Junction Railroad at the Fairview Park in Costa Mesa. The train ride is offered every third Saturday and Sunday of the month (weather permitting), and runs from 10 am to 3:30 pm. The train ride takes about 12-15 minutes, and takes you through different terrain and bridges at the back end of the Costa Mesa Golf course. There are views of the surrounding mountains and the lower parts of Costa Mesa and Huntington Beach that are simply breathtaking. You can also get to see the birds and the wildlife in the area.

Address: 2480 Placentia Ave. Costa Mesa, CA. 92626

Hours: 10 am – 3:30 pm Every third Saturday and Sunday of the month

There are so many free things to do and free events to attend in Orange County! If you are interested in local Orange County events, click here to sign-up for my weekly events newsletter!

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Howard Chung

Hey Orange County, I’m Howard Chung! I'm here to share weekly information about the best events, restaurants, shopping and activities in and around Orange County, California. Plus, the best hiking, biking, health and wellness options, new hot spots, and more! Click below to follow us.


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