Essential Guide to the "O.C."

Essential Guide to the "O.C."

Forty-two miles of magnificent coastline span the western border of Orange County in southern California, located 36 miles south of Los Angeles and 82 miles north of San Diego. With just over three million residents, the state's second-most populated county saw a 25% population increase between 1990 and 2004, due in part to what many consider a perfect climate.

Temperatures average right around 73 degrees with a staggering 328 days of sunshine each year. Orange County has become a pop culture icon in recent years through depictions in the feature film Orange County, as well as Fox's series, The OC, and MTV's reality show, Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County.

Activities

Though famous for theme parks such as Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure, Orange County goes beyond the world's most famous mouse and offers a wealth of recreational opportunities. The county is home to nine beaches (Sea Grant's Guide to Orange County Beaches), more than 38,000 acres of parks (County of Orange: Harbors, Beaches & Parks), and 382 miles of hiking trails (Orange County Trails) and bike paths (BikeTrails.com).

Thirty-four cities sprinkled throughout the county each offer opportunities for residents and visitors to take in the county's unique culture, wildlife, and leisure activities. Huntington Beach is known as Surf City USA and has been home to the US Open of Surfing since 1959. Dana Point hosts the annual Festival of the Whales, while Costa Mesa is home to the Orange County Fair, and Buena Park boasts the famed Knott's Berry Farm.

One can visit the Crystal Cove State Park in Laguna Beach, or venture to Newport Beach to hang out on Newport Pier. For sports fans, Major League Baseball's Anaheim Angels, as well as the National Hockey League's Mighty Ducks are favorites.

Education in Orange County, CA

Orange County is one of California's most educated counties. 31% of residents age 25 or older hold at least a bachelor's degree, compared to 27% statewide. 60% of Orange County's high school graduates pursue post-secondary education, 10% more than the statewide average. 19% of those graduates choose to attend California State University or the University of California.

Within Orange County, there are 79 post-secondary institutions available to choose from, including 11 public colleges and universities, 15 private institutions, and 53 professional schools:

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