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A Budget-Friendly Day in Orange County, California: Local Beaches & Bites

A Budget-Friendly Day in Orange County, California: Local Beaches & Bites

The best way to experience the Orange County (OC), California on a budget is to explore the sandy beaches and enjoy the sunny California weather. Oh yeah, and chow down on some affordable yet appetizing eats along the way. In this one day itinerary full of sand, salt water, and salivation, we drive along Pacific Coast Highway from Sunset Beach to Laguna Beach.

Sunset Beach

A small nook of the OC nestled between Seal Beach and Huntington Beach. This is a quaint area where you can take in ocean air with little disruption. Take an early morning stroll and enjoy.

Then, fuel up on a nice breakfast at Harbor House Café. Here you’ll find amazing crab omelets, perfectly crisp country fried steaks, and some great French toast. Oh and did I mention, their peanut butter milkshake is the best you’ll ever have? A breakfast with generous portions for two at Harbor House Café will run you at just about $20.

Huntington Beach

The notoriety of Surf City USA becomes very apparent as you visit the crowd-filled streets of Huntington Beach. In HB, you’ll find tourists, locals, and serious surfers all piled into one place. Walk from the end of Main Street through to the end of the pier for some great sights of the ocean, shops, and happenings in the area.

Now, start part one of your two part lunch at Bruxie, located near Main Street on 5th and Walnut. Bruxie is a casual eatery that is famous for their waffle sandwiches which boast a nice crispy shell, light center, and a taste that complements both sweet and savory ingredients. Their sandwich selections change daily but you can’t go wrong with the hot pastrami, prosciutto and gruyere, or seasonal crème brulee. Averaging at $8 a sandwich, it can’t be beat.

Newport Beach

Simmer down in Newport Beach where you’ll find many more locals with beachfront homes wandering the streets and the sand. Head straight for the pier area where you can people watch while sunbathing.

Lunch part two will be in an unlikely place—Seaside Donuts. Yes, it is a donut shop but you won’t be going here for the donuts. Anyone familiar with the area will tell you that Seaside is known for their ham and cheese croissants. Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, this tiny donut shop typically has lines out the door. Don’t fret, the line typically moves quickly. Ideally, you’ll want to get the croissants fresh but if not, request for them to be warmed up. For under $3, you can pick from a small selection of croissant fillings: ham and cheese, ham and cheese with jalapenos, or turkey and cheese.

Laguna Beach

End your day in beautiful Laguna Beach. In this coastal city, small boutique shops line the street running parallel to the ocean. Although pricey, the stores here are fun to explore. Window shop your way down PCH or peruse through antiques, clothes, and small trinkets in the stores.

So what’s the perfect meal to end a beachin’ day in the OC? Mexican food done well. Order up a blackened salmon taco or fried calamari burrito at La Sirena Grill. La Sirena Grill is a small, family-owned eatery that proudly serves the freshest ingredients. Add some chips and salsa and an agua fresca and you have yourself an eye-rollingly excellent meal at under $20.