According to the USDA’s Natural Amenities Scale, the 10 most beautiful counties in the country are all in California. If you live in or have visited Orange County, you probably won’t be surprised to hear it made the list. If it’s been too long since you made use of the natural splendor at your fingertips or you’ve recently relocated and want to get to know Orange County the right way, check out these exceptional outdoor attractions.

Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve

This remarkable Huntington Beach destination is a must-visit for bird watchers and wildlife enthusiasts. The 1,300-acre wetlands reserve is home to several endangered bird species, opossums, California king snakes and an array of native marine life. With more than 320 bird species spotted in the last decade, Bolsa Chica is a premier birdwatching destination. In addition to wildlife sightings, the reserve’s 4.4-mile loop trail is known for its brilliant spring and summer wildflowers. In good traffic, Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve is a 20-minute car ride from AMLI Uptown Orange.

Crystal Cove State Park

With 25,000 acres of protected land, including a three-mile stretch of pristine beach, Crystal Cove State Park is one of the country’s largest remaining natural seashores.  It’s also home to some of the country’s most stunning coastline. Fifteen miles of trail make exploration of the park’s coast and chaparral canyons possible by foot or horseback. Another point of interest is the park’s federally listed historic district. This charming old seaside colony is noteworthy for its picturesque cottages and mid-century modern bungalows. Crystal Cove State Park is just 20 miles south of AMLI’s Orange County apartment rentals. Campers can pitch their tents on coastal bluff top and canyon campgrounds.

 

Doheny State Beach

Most of the 650-mile-long Pacific Coast Highway is pretty scenic. But Crystal Cove State Park and Doheny State Park, 10 miles to the south, are particularly awe-inspiring. In addition to its natural beauty, Doheny State Beach is known as an excellent spot for swimming, surfing, hiking, and camping. The state park’s interpretive center runs educational programs on the region’s birds, marine animals, and other wildlife, as well as Native American studies. Doheny State Park’s 118 beach campsites attract more than 850,000 campers per year, making it one of California’s most popular camping destinations. If you intend to camp, make a reservation well in advance.

Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park

Covering more than 2,500 acres of riparian and woodland canyon, this sprawling park is one of Orange County’s most popular hiking destinations. Seventeen miles of hiking, biking and equestrian trails meander through rolling grassland hills and woodland canyon wilderness. Coastal sage shrub and chaparral pine forest are particularly abundant. Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park and its rich eco-diversity are accessible from Tabuco Canyon, a 20-minute drive from AMLI Uptown Orange, and a 45-minute drive from the new Long Beach apartments at AMLI Park Broadway, which are coming soon.

 


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About Jason Ernst


Jason received degrees in International Studies, Economics, and German Literature from the University of Arizona in 2011, and has worked as a freelance writer ever since. His research and writing interests include interior decoration and design, home entertainment, history, art, architecture, and travel. He is currently a regular contributor to the AMLI Residential lifestyle blog. Circle Jason on Google+