By S.E. Slack
About halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego, deep in the heart of sunny California, is the Land of Mickey Mouse. Anaheim, where Disneyland lies, is located in Orange County or the OC, as locals call it. But there’s much more to Orange County besides Disneyland, they say. Visitors who tire of the mouse’s house can stay busy for days checking out the nearby area.
Disneyland is about one square mile in size and now includes three hotels and another theme park, California Adventure. Between the two is Downtown Disney, a mecca for shoppers of all things Disney. But locals will tell you to take time out for at least one day trip while you’re in the area.
California resident Lori Toomey said there are plenty of things to do but one of her favorites is to go wine tasting in Temecula.
“It’s about an hour and a half drive from Anaheim,” she said, “and there are enough wineries to make it a perfect day trip, especially if you’re visiting the area with friends instead of children.”
If children are tagging along, she suggests a completely different diversion. “Take them to the Elephant Parade in Dana Point!” she said.
The Elephant Parade is part of a worldwide effort to save Asian elephants through the placement of thirty baby elephant sculptures that are on display through Dana Point until November 17. Dana Point is home to spectacular coastal views and features Mariners Village, where travelers can take fishing excursions and seasonal whale watching trips.
If you’re looking for more amusement park fun, however, Toomey encourages visitors to check out Knott’s Berry Farm in nearby Buena Vista. Originally a berry farm and roadside stand that sold berries, preserves and pies to drivers on State Route 39, the farm transformed over the decades into a theme park.
In the 1980s, the park formed an association with the Peanuts characters. Visiting kids will love Camp Snoopy and similar attractions.
“There’s so much to do in the OC beyond Disneyland!” she said. “As long as people come here to visit, they should take the time to see what the entire area has to offer.”