Orange, California

While many long to drive through endless, stretching groves of oranges when visiting in Orange, that sweet fruit so suited to Southern California's Orange County city, mostly grows in backyard trees these days. What you'll see when visiting Orange is houses, hospitals, business centers, freeways and shopping malls. This modern Orange is a tourist attraction in its own right, though not so much for its oranges, but for its businesses and commerce. One of our favorite soda beverages, a Vanilla Phosphate, can be found at the over 100-year old Watson's Drugs & Sodas in Old Towne Orange. It is but one of many treats to enjoy in this historic city filled with charm.


Although the City of  Orange was incorporated in 1888, it actually dates back to 1869  when Alfred Chapman and Andrew Glassell, both lawyers, accepted 1,385 acres of land from the Rancho Santiago de Santa Ana as legal fees. Soon thereafter, the men laid out a one square mile town with ten-acre farm lots surrounding a forty acre central town site.  The center of the town site became known as the Plaza, now the community symbol.


Today, the Plaza and the original one square mile town site contain many homes and  buildings dating to the early days of the City. The site is registered on the National Historic Register.  


A walking tour, shopping for antiques around the Plaza and dining at a sidewalk cafe make for a perfect a day for those who love the small town feel here. Parking meters say, "Feed me," so you would be wise to bring some change (quarters are best), and put at least an hour's worth of time into your chosen parking spot and its assigned meter. An hour will buy you a stroll through several antiques and collectibles shops, and a soda at the historic Watson's diner with a real soda fountain from the old days. A flash from the past is retro-fun, but when you're young,  The Block is cool


The block has all the usual stuff, but the stores are geared mostly to a young crowd, except for the touristy Hilo Hattie, with its tropical themed gifts and Hawaiian print shirts and dresses. Entertainment at The Block includes the huge Van's indoor/outdoor skate park, and a rockin' bowling alley that's a dark lounge atmosphere, complete with martinis and cocktails served to you while you bowl. There are a variety of food options at The Block, which is fashioned after places such as City Walk at Universal Studios Hollywood. Large billboards perched up in the sky along this outdoor mall's plazas somehow seem to appeal to a young audience constantly bombarded with advertising and eating it up (or tuning it out). When visiting Orange, there are several great hotels walking distance to The Block. Hawthorn Suites offered a Continental breakfast, last time we checked. Doubletree Hotel is just a block or two from the mall and though zoned as Anaheim, it's as close as you get to staying at The Block. For an extensive list of hotels, check out Orange Hotel options.


One of Orange's great treats is its hills (small mountains, actually). Dine at the Orange Mining Company Restaurant, perched way up in the Orange Hills overlooking the city. On a clear day, all you can say is, Wow! On a hazy day, it's still a special place to go.  


Orange County Zoo, Irvine Regional Park, 1 Irvine Park Road (714) 633-2022 
Irvine Regional Park is nestled among a grove of heritage Oak and Sycamore trees. The rolling foothills surrounding the park are filled with a variety of wildlife. Trees, shaded turf areas provide a serene setting for leisure activities. Santiago Creek bisects the park and a pond with stone-work waterfall and foot bridge is located in the center of the park. The variety of landscape greatly enhances the park's beauty.

Irvine Regional Park 
1 Irvine Park Road 
Orange, CA 92869 
(714)973-6835 or (714)973-6838 


Irvine Park Railroad, Irvine Regional Park, 1 Irvine Park Road, Orange, (714) 9973968 or


Irvine Park Railroad is a one-third scale train that takes both children and adults on a ride through historic Irvine Regional Park.  The 12-minute ride is narrated by the engineer.  Open daily at 10:00 AM (excluding Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day).  Annual family activities and events include Pumpkin Patch, Christmas Train, Easter Eggstravaganza and Anniversary Celebration.  Other park activities include paddle boat rentals, bike rentals, pony rides and the Orange County Zoo.


River Trail Stables, 1940 N. Main St., Orange, (714) 637-2624 
Riding is restricted to one of three large arenas for youngsters and adults.  One hour rides in the ring cost $25. Horses here are known for calm dispositions and there is handicap access. Daily 9 am to 6 pm. Reservations required.

Lake Fishing and Boating at Irvine Lake, 4501 Santiago Canyon Road, Orange  
(714) 649-9111



Orange Events include the ever popular Irvine Regional Park and its railroad ride:


Irvine Park Railroad Special Events Information Video

Irvine Pumpkin Patch and Railroad

Irvine Regional Park Easter Train Ride, Egg Hunt and Eggstravaganza



Anaheim < Orange > Santa Ana

Old Towne Circle, Watson's Drugs & Soda Fountain, The Block at Orange, and Plaza Historic District

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