Top 5 Favorite Historical Experiences in Orange County


Quick historical facts about Orange County:

  • It was originally part of Los Angeles, but the state legislature made it a unique county in 1889 after the discovery of silver in the Santa Ana Mountain led to an influx of new residents.
  • The county was named “Orange” to suggest a semi-tropical paradise where anything would grow—an appealing proposition for East Coasters looking to move west.
  • Oranges did, in fact, become the county’s main crop in 1900, sparking a “second gold rush.” Only a few of the millions of orange trees remain today.
  • Admission to Disneyland was only $1 when the park opened in 1955. Only 6,000 people were invited the special preview opening, but an additional 22,000 showed up with counterfeit tickets!

Learn about all of this and more at Orange County’s numerous historical sites, most of which are within an hour drive of San Clemente Cove. Here are a few of our favorites.


Mission San Juan Capistrano

San Juan Capistrano, California

$9 admission for adults, $6 for children

Mission San Juan Capistrano has more than 230 years of history. The landmark offers ongoing exhibits and events, including panning for gold and basket weaving demonstrations. Visit www.missionsjc.com for more information.

Fun Fact: Every year on March 19th, hundreds of migrating swallows descend on the mission’s stone church, where they nest until flying south on October 23rd, the Day of San Juan.


Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens

San Clemente, California

$5 admission, closed Mondays

Built in 1927 by the founder of San Clemente, the Casa Gardens are an exquisite way to spend the afternoon. Kids love smelling the plants in the scented Children’s Garden! Visit www.casaromantica.org for more information.

Fun Fact: Casa Romantica was designed by Carl Lindbom, the same architect who created San Clemente’s La Casa Pacifica, also known as Nixon’s Western White House.


Surfing Heritage & Culture Center

San Clemente, California

$5 admission for adults, kids 12 and under free

Check out the vintage surfboard collection and learn about the history of surfing. The rotating exhibits ensure there’s always something new to see. Visit www.surfingheritage.org for more information.

Fun Fact: San Clemente has several world-famous surf spots, including San Onofre, Trestles, Lost Winds, and T Street.


Nixon Presidential Library & Museum

Yorba Linda, California

$12 admission for adults, $5 for children

This historic site educates visitors on the life of Richard Nixon. Tour his birthplace and view the helicopter that took him on more than 180 presidential trips. Visit www.nixonlibrary.gov for more information.

Fun Fact: The onsite museum includes the telephone President Nixon used to call Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the Moon and an actual Moon rock.


Stanley Ranch Museum

Garden Grove, California

$5 admission for adults, $1 for children

Owned by the Garden Grove Historical Society, this two-acre historic village features a collection of historic buildings dating back to the 19th century. Call the society at (714) 530-8871 for tour dates and times.

Fun Fact: The most famous structure on the property is the one-car garage where Walt Disney practiced animation in the early 1920s. It’s full of Disney memorabilia.


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