October 19, 2016

Best Beaches: Top beaches for a date night in and around Orange County

California vacation guide  Best Beaches Top beaches for date night in and around Orange County
Thinking of someone special this season? With sunsets coming earlier and earlier, why not spend a romantic day and enjoy that early sunset at the beach? From dolphin and whale watching, to bike rides, and beachside dining, the our Southern California beaches are prime locations for dates and getaways alike. Here are our top 6 choices for best beaches for a romantic visit to the coast, and why:

1. Balboa Beach
Why it’s date worthy:
Located in Newport Beach , Balboa Beach offers everything needed for a memorable date with someone special. It is also known for its long-time fishing traditions. While other well-known piers do not offer as well-maintained fishing conditions, Balboa Pier does, adding to the calm environment. Unlike other major piers, Balboa seems to maintain a more serene feeling and nostalgic vibe. Take a stroll down the pier, watch the tight surf and light crashes of the waves, browse local stores and ice cream shops - you can even take the ferry to Balboa Island, a beautiful community full of picturesque beach homes and well tended flowers. And be sure to look out for marine wildlife. Balboa is well known for its seal, dolphin, and whale sightings!

If you're planning to have dinner, t here is a Ruby’s Diner at the end of the pier, a fun, casual date night dinner choice if you enjoy retro Swing Era diner-style dining. Lots of other local restaurants offer everything from tacos to Thai food, to gourmet pizza. Or stop into the Mermaid Coffee Bar for a coffee, or the quaint Balboa Candy store to find saltwater taffy and other sweet treats.

Parking: Parking is plentiful and metered before 6pm, making it a convenient location!

2. Crystal Cove
Why it’s date worthy:
You may have already heard of the legendary beauty of Laguna Beach . The coves, cliffs, and caves of Laguna Beach have inspired many artists and continue to do so as every year plein air artists gather to pain the local scenery. Crystal Cove State Park is one of the pinnacles of that local beauty. Proclaimed one of the top things to do in Orange County, so you can’t go wrong with this pristine location! Crystal Cove State Park offers many options for the active and scenic date. It is known to be the perfect spot for a morning jog, or an afternoon hiking adventure, as well has containing fascinating tide pools, all while never failing to provide the best spots for photos and sunset-watching. Crystal Cove is the perfect date location for a hike through nature, a picnic on the sand between rocks, and a meaningful conversation.

Parking:
Parking is $15 unless you have an annual pass, but for the variety of options and the incredible scenery Crystal Cove has to offer, the parking money is well-spent!

3. Huntington Beach
Why it’s date worthy:
Huntington Beach is the hub of all things surfing. Take surfing lessons together on the timeless shores, check out California bike rentals and ride along the sandy sidewalks-a great way to people watch and check out beachside vacations homes. When you are finished biking or surfing, there are endless eating and shopping options along Main Street, making HB a perfect option for a fun-filled day of activities! Huntington Beach and the Huntington Beach Pier are also a popular location for proposals and engagement photos.

Parking:
Huntington offers parking compliant with the annual beach parking pass, as well as plenty of metered parking. Bring coins!

4. 1000 Steps Beach
Why it’s date worthy:
Another stunning Laguna Beach location, this beach is known for its beauty and adventure to its destination! Appropriately named, 1000 Steps Beach has a slope of steps (a little over 200 steps, not 1,000) leading to its crystal clear shores. For a date that feels both intimate and adventurous, travel to this nearly hidden oasis for a romantic picnic and a shared bottle of wine. With its famous caves, views of the coastline, and quiet atmosphere, 1000 Steps Beach is one of our favorite choices for the perfect date.

Parking:
Parking is free on PCH or surrounding streets, but be prepared to walk a little ways!

5. Santa Monica Pier
Why it’s date worthy:
Santa Monica Pier is iconic, while also boasting a slew of activities for you and your partner! Its fun-loving atmosphere spans the beachside, all the way to the twinkling lights of the Ferris wheel, and carnival events. The colors, lights, and scenery make the Santa Monica Pier a great place to take lots of memorable photos of you and your special someone! Be prepared for extra expenses, however. Food, parking, and activities can be fairly pricey, so this may not be the best budget friendly date, but it's perfect if you've planned for a bit of a splurge. To make Santa Monica Pier more budget friendly try packing a lunch, and plan to swim as an activity. This way, your date is not limited to expensive activities!

Parking:
Parking is around $12 a day and typically crowded. Try parking across the street at a nearby parking structure and walking.

6. Sunset Beach
Why it’s date worthy:
Located in Huntington Beach, just a little south of Seal Beach and Belmont Shore Long Beach , Sunset Beach is quaint and gives a generally communal feeling. Sunset Beach is located on a thin strip of land with the Pacific Ocean on one side and Huntington Harbor on the other, so when you’re here you’ll be surrounded by water! This cozy area includes fun local spots like Harbor House Coffee , Romano Cucina , and Captain Jack’s . If you’re feeling extra romantic you can even book a gondola tour of the harbor at Sunset Gondola !

Sunset Beach is also a great place to simply walk and people watch, and, of course, named ‘Sunset Beach’, this location offers some of the best romantic sunset experiences. Spend the day reading and relaxing by the shore, grab a bite to eat at one of the many local eateries and end the night with an incomparable sunset.

Parking:
As long as you aren’t planning a date on a major holiday, parking is fairly straightforward and easy at Sunset Beach, and best of all, it is free!

BONUS: A little further north of Sunset Beach, Belmont Shore’s 2nd Street shopping district and Naples Island also offer great date night opportunities, including incredible dining experiences and Gondola Getaways on through the canals of Naples Island.

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