Just on the other side of Anaheim’s Harbor Boulevard lies Garden Grove. Garden Grove is a vibrant Southern California city in the middle of all the action.
Strawberries for All
Garden Grove’s largest attraction comes every year during Memorial Day weekend. The town’s Strawberry Festival is one of the largest community-based Memorial Day events in the country. The festival celebrates the region’s local agricultural roots. Though the actual strawberry fields have gone the way of the orange groves that Orange County was named for, and they have been paved over, the celebration continues. Today, visitors can enjoy carnival rides, live entertainment, and the best strawberry treats, including the world’s largest strawberry shortcake.
Garden Grove is located in the heart of Little Saigon, the largest and most vibrant Vietnamese Community in North America. In fact, Orange County’s Little Saigon is one of the largest and richest ethnic communities of any kind in the United States. The shopping centers here are filled with energetic Vietnamese eateries, bakeries, and cafes. Don’t leave without trying some Bahn mi sandwiches and some rich, buzzy Vietnamese coffee.
Come together over food and drinks at SteelCraft. This food hall unites local eateries and offers a delightful communal dining space. From ice cream in “Puffle Cones” at Cauldron Ice Cream to Mole Duck Confit Tacos at Renegade Taco, Steelcraft offers everything your heart and taste buds desire.
The Christ Cathedral (formerly known as the Crystal Cathedral) was the largest glass building in the world when it was unveiled in 1981 and remains one of the most beautiful houses of worship in Southern California. It houses one of the largest musical instruments in the world, the Hazel Wright Organ.
The Garden Amp is one of the area’s great outdoor venues, and it is home to Anaheim’s local bard festival, Shakespeare Orange County. The Gem Theatre is a charming, intimate venue for showings of new and classic plays. Given the proximity to Hollywood, the talent level is sky-high here.
Staying in Garden Grove
The Great Wolf Lodge Garden Grove is a destination for families. This Southern California location features dozens of thrilling water slides and pools, laser tag, mini-golf, an arcade, a Build-A-Bear Workshop, plus a full schedule of fun activities, classes, and entertaining shows for children.
Garden Grove is right next to Anaheim, so it makes a fine alternative to staying in the city. Garden Grove is a great place to stay if you’d want to get a taste of local character in Orange County, while still having easy access to the top attractions that Anaheim is known for.
Dana Point remains an overlooked treasure in Southern California. While the state is known for its fast-paced cities and thrilling attractions, Dana Point is where you go for a more relaxed pace of travel. You can walk along the beaches that surround the quaint village that has sprung up around them.
There are many great surf towns on the Orange County coast, but few are as famous as Huntington Beach. In fact, Huntington Beach, also known as Surf City USA, hosts the annual Vans US Open of Surfing.
A trip to Orange County isn’t complete without a visit to Laguna Beach. Laguna is a refined upscale beach city, regularly listed as one of the most desirable places to live in the United States. It’s the Hollywood star residents and their ocean-view mansions that have earned this area’s nickname, “The Gold Coast.”
From strolling around Balboa Island grabbing a frozen banana to basking in the seaside charm, Newport Beach is Orange County’s most family-friendly beach city.
Just across the Santa Ana River is the City of Orange, a unique piece of city planning. The center of the city is situated around a roundabout and is shaped like, you guessed it, an orange! The circle surrounds Plaza Park, which is the heart of Orange and the site of the annual Orange International Street Fair.
While Orange County is one of the most urbanized parts of California, San Clemente is where the development takes a little break. Here, the Pacific Coast Highway enters a long stretch of emptiness and the traffic of I-5 becomes a bit more relaxed. The beaches here are less crowded, have great surfing, are relatively quiet and many feature seaside campsites.
Seal Beach is the first taste of Orange County that travelers get when they are driving down the coast. Just off the Pacific Coast Highway, visitors can catch a glance at the iconic wooden Seal Beach Pier and head straight to Main Street, which features dozens of shops and eateries along a picturesque strip that’s just a few blocks long.