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Climate

Orange County’s climate has been dubbed as Mediterranean. Summer skies are typically sunny and blue, and the heat is buffered by the Pacific Ocean. Due to the ocean’s cooling effect, temperatures tend to be slightly cooler on the coast than inland.

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Climate cont'd

Winters here can be cool and rainy, but overall Southern California is well known for its year-round pleasant weather. Typically, the warmest month is August; the coolest is December.

Orange County gets an average of 385 mm of rain annually – mostly during the winter and spring (November through April). Most of this precipitation comes in the form of light rain showers with the occasional heavy rainfall or thunderstorm. Snowfall here is rare unless you’re in the Santa Ana Mountains to the east where the ski resorts operate.

When visiting, it’s always best to bring layers, ranging from beachwear to light jackets for the evenings.

Weather charts

What makes it different?

Orange County is best summed up as surf and turf. Flanked by 68 km of beach, you’ll find laid back surf spots galore across the O.C., as it’s known in pop culture. You’ll also find terrific hiking and cycling in the Santa Ana Mountains and Cleveland National Forest and numerous water sports.

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What makes it different? cont'd

Test your balance on a stand-up paddleboard in the Back Bay of Newport Beach. There’s also whale watching off Dana Point, kayaking at Laguna Beach and, of course, surf lessons at nearly every beach community along the way.

As for turf, shoppers will find an enormous variety of stores in Orange County – from outlet malls to high-end, ultra-luxurious boutiques. In downtown Fullerton, you’ll also find alleyways full of antique and vintage shops. And in Huntington Beach, surf shops smelling of coconut-scented sunscreen are as big as the art galleries are in Laguna.

And then there’s the food. Ubiquitous cinnamon curls known as churros (a favourite at Disneyland), the freshest seafood and innovative tacos (try the duck and camembert ones at Taco Asylum in Costa Mesa). Then there are the eggs Benedict on crab cakes and the fresh-from-the-garden salads-to-go found at local grocery stores like Whole Foods. The fusion of different ethnic foods and cooking techniques is exactly why Southern California stays ahead of the culinary curve.

With so much variety sandwiched into one county, it’s easy to see how you can pack a lot into a holiday in the O.C.

Geography

Bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the west and by Los Angeles County to the north, Orange County also rubs up against San Bernardino County in the northeast and the extreme northern tip of San Diego County in the southeast. Orange County’s total size (2,455 sq. km) makes it the smallest county in California. The older areas are found closer to L.A. and the more affluent and younger areas are found in the south.

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Geography cont'd

Home to famous theme parks, pleasant neighbourhoods and iconic beaches, most of Orange County’s population lives in one of the shallow coastal valleys making up the Los Angeles Basin, Santa Ana Valley and Saddleback Valley. The highest peak in the county is Santiago Peak at 1,734 metres tall.

Unlike other regions, there is no defined urban hub linked up to Orange County (although the county is often seen as part of Greater Los Angeles). The region has 34 cities, the oldest being Anaheim (1870) and newest being Aliso Viejo (2001).

Most Orange Countians live in the suburbs, with the most populated cities being Anaheim, Santa Ana, Orange, Huntington Beach and Fullerton, with a total population nudging 4 million.

Culture

You may think Orange County culture begins with a mouse and ends with a shaggy, blonde surfer dude. But that’s not really the case.

Truth be told, the county has as many thriving historical and cultural spots as it does zip codes. Sure, its legendary beach towns come with a funky, laid-back vibe, but even they have distinct personalities.

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Culture cont'd

If you can’t get enough of late surf legend Duke Kahanamoku and rooftop tiki bars, head straight for Huntington Beach, a.k.a. Surf City USA. But if surfing or beach volleyball isn’t your thing, rent a flowered beach cruiser bicycle and veer south to Laguna Beach.

Home to more than 100 art galleries, a Thursday-night art walk (complete with free wine and cheese) and a former hit MTV series of the same name, Laguna Beach is both chic and sophisticated bohemian. Here, you can leave downtown wearing flip-flops and a towel, beach comb for a few hours and discover exquisite little coves great for snorkelling and scuba diving.

Want more luxe and flash? Head to Newport Beach where you’ll find high-end boutiques, ritzy restaurants, incredible spas and a stunning boardwalk.

Even further north in Corona del Mar (a community in Newport Beach), you’ll find a perfect family beach with small waves for little tykes and nearby tidal pools.

Head inland to see Costa Mesa, where the arts are always on full display. Take a stroll around the Orange County Performing Arts Center and be dazzled by the wavy walls of the 3,000-seat, opera-style Segerstrom Hall and numerous other theatres. The scope of the complex is impressive and its roster of top Broadway productions and concerts befits a much larger urban centre.

You’ll also find the Tony Award-winning South Coast Repertory close by, considered one of the finest regional theatres in the country. Keep walking across South Coast Plaza and you’ll have a chance to see outdoor art installations such as the world-famous 1.5-acre outdoor Noguchi Sculpture Garden.

In Orange County, you are bound to hear about Mission San Juan Capistrano. If you can, time your visit to coincide with the mission’s annual Return of the Swallows Festival in March. You can also get a history lesson on the Native American groups who lived in this area for thousands of years.

In fact, it wasn’t until 1775, when Father Lasuen founded the mission, that Europeans paid the region any attention. Now a beautifully restored complex, this mission was the seventh of 21 missions built in Alta California by the Spaniards aiming to spread Christianity.

Inside the rocky walls of Mission San Juan Capistrano are interpretive plaques telling the stories of the history-makers and boom-and-bust cycles Orange County has experienced. Take a guided tour and learn interesting facts, starting with the origin of the county’s name. Some say it was named after its famed orange industry. Others say it was named after William of Orange, who became the king of England in 1650. No one really knows. Most chalk it up as yet another Orange County mystery.

Transportation

Orange County is made up of several different suburbs; people primarily use this area as a gateway into its surrounding areas rather than one specific place within the county.

The most convenient way of transportation throughout these various attractions is by renting a car; however, the amount of parking either in amusement parks or at the beach may be limited.

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Transportation cont'd

If you have a little bit more time on your hands, the public transportation system in Orange County is extremely robust. The frequency of the transportation is relatively high and covers a large percentage of Orange County and its attractions. If you are worried about the amount of gas emissions coming from these vehicles you don't have to worry; over 50% of the bus fleet is made up of LNG (liquified natural gas) powered vehicles which reduces their carbon foot print tremendously.

Currency

It is advisable to carry some U.S. cash with you for general expenses. For entertainment and shopping, your credit card will give you the exchange rate at the time of purchase. There are also numerous ATMs inside banks and public spaces where you can withdraw funds at your convenience. Just be aware that transaction fees vary by ATM.

Travel requirements

Arrival

Canadian visitors to the United States must pass through security and customs in Canada, before departure. Then, when you land at John Wayne Airport, all you need to do is pick up your bags from the carousel at Terminal A and you’ll be on your way.

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Travel requirements cont'd

You can pre-book your transfer through WestJet Vacations partner Karmel Shuttle. If you’re going to the Anaheim area, one-way prices are C$25 per adult, and kids 3-9 ride free. For Huntington Beach and Laguna Beach, one-way prices range from $32 to $52 per adult and $26 per child (aged 3-9). Car rental counters are located on the lower level of the baggage claim area between Terminals A and B, right across from the statue of John Wayne.

Departure Information

Smiling WestJetters are ready to assist you at our check-in counters located in Terminal A. Guests can check in or select their seats ahead of time by using WestJet’s convenient web check-in service.

John Wayne Airport offers a number of eateries including the Brioche Doree Café & Bakery (located between terminal A and B), Gibson’s Guitar Lounge, Oasis Grill & Sky Lounge, McDonalds, Starbucks and Host snack bars for your travelling needs.

The car rental return is located on the lower level of the parking structures A2 and B2. Both structures are accessible from the Ground Transportation Center.

Travel requirements

Canadian visitors to the United States must pass through security and customs in Canada, before departure.

Learn more

Currency

It is advisable to carry some U.S. cash with you for general expenses. For entertainment and shopping, your credit card will give you the exchange rate at the time of purchase.

Learn more

Transportation

Orange County is made up of several different suburbs; people primarily use this area as a gateway into its surrounding areas rather than one specific place within the county.

Learn more