I had a convention to attend in Orange County that was supposed to last three days. While I understood why, I was still a bit disappointed when my company booked travel that left me with no time whatsoever to see the area. I had never been to Orange County before and really wanted to get a glimpse of what life was like there. As it turned out, though, I wasn’t needed at the last day of the convention, so my company told me I could just keep the original flight itinerary and fly home the next morning. All I had to do was decide whether or not to keep the rental car for a day and find a hotel room in Orange County somewhere.
I grabbed my phone and got onto HotelTonight and was amazed at the choices available for Orange County hotels. I was even more amazed that after I chose one, I had a room booked in just a few minutes. I couldn’t believe how easy it was. I put my bags in my rental car, called and extended the contract for a day and got ready for some exploring. The staff at the new hotel gave me a lot of useful information, so off I went into the neighborhoods of Southern California.
I decided to start on the southern end of Orange County and work my way northward throughout the day. San Clemente is basically on the border of Orange County and Camp Pendleton, and it was immediately clear that this was a good place to start the day. San Clemente is a beautiful community with hills that seem to fall into the Pacific Ocean. The beach area itself was quite charming, and it was also clear that this was not a tourist haven by any means. Everyone with whom I spoke was a local, and every one of them was extremely friendly and helpful with information.
I drove north a bit on Interstate 5 and stopped in a little community called Dana Point. As would come to be a theme for the day, Dana Point has some gorgeous beaches, and these are generally beaches with a local feel. I pulled into the harbor and looked at all of the beautiful boats that were docked. I wanted to get out of the car a bit, so I pulled into Pines Park and walked around. People were playing with their dogs, walking and just looking out at the ocean which was as blue as the park was green. It was a stunning visual and nice to stretch my legs a bit.
Continuing in a northbound direction, I stopped in Laguna Beach. This is a community of just under 25,000 people that’s been made famous by television. Of course, there is an iconic coastline here, but I wanted to do some other things. I walked through the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park and got a glimpse of what the animals live like here. At that point and after enough walking, I was hungry. Since I was in Southern California, I wanted to try some fish tacos. Someone I had spoken to earlier gave me the name of a place so I gave it a shot. Boy, was that a great recommendation. The fish tacos were unlike anything I had ever tasted, and they were absolutely delicious.
If you could paint a portrait of what a lovely, small coastal town would look like you’d probably wind up with a finished product that looks exactly like Newport Beach. After parking, I walked down the main drag and stopped in at surf shops, gift shops and the like, filling a few bags with gifts for my family and friends back home. Newport Beach has a distinctly local feel, despite the fact that this community does attract a lot of tourists.
My final stop of the day was in Seal Beach. Seal Beach is known for its ocean pier, so I spent some time on that just losing myself in thought over the ocean one more time that day. I took the long way back to the car by walking along the sand. I started to think about dinner, as it was about that time and my stomach was starting to let its intentions be known. I asked some people on the beach where I should go, and they pointed me to a seafood place up the road. I took their advice, and it was a wise move. The dinner was sublime.
As I drove back to my hotel, I reflected on the day. It seems as though the common idea regarding Orange County is not accurate. This is not some concrete jungle. This is a gorgeous coastal area with vibrant people and a lot of activity. I really enjoyed my day and my meals. I knew I was going to enjoy my Orange County hotel room as well, as I was tired from all that I had seen and done. Thanks to HotelTonight, all of this was possible in a matter of minutes. I’m going to make sure that everyone I know understands that HotelTonight is the way to go for lodging.