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Southern California’s Crown Jewel

Orange County is an idyllic year-round destination for meetings and events

By Kamala Kirk

Orange County
Aerial view of Huntington Harbour neighborhood in Huntington Beach || Courtesy of yatt Regency Huntington Beach

Located between San Diego and Los Angeles, Orange County has great weather, dining, shopping, scenic beaches, and outdoor activities. It is made up of 34 cities and home to myriad upscale hotels, conference centers, and other unique venues that make it an ideal destination for meetings and events.

Event Coordinator Mary Dann, owner of Mary Dann Luxury Travel & Event Planning in Glendora, says the area is ideal for gatherings because of the many event destinations available. “Orange County gives you a lot of choices within a small amount of space,” says Dann. “You’ve got coastline, a harbor, rolling hills, resorts with pools, and sports stadiums. … Depending on the venue, it can feel like you’re in Hawaii, Cape Cod, or the Amalfi Coast [of Italy]. ”

Debbie Liaw, owner of Aquafuzion, an event planning and design company in Monrovia, adds, “Orange County is a popular destination for special events due to its diverse range of venues. It offers everything from nature-surrounded locations to stunning beachside settings,” she continues. “The weather’s comfortable temperatures and pleasant air quality further enhance the overall experience, making it an attractive choice for all kinds of events.”

Anaheim

Anaheim is a family-friendly destination that brings in millions of visitors every year to one of its main attractions: Disneyland. Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa offers 20,000 square feet of flexible meeting and event space and is within walking distance of Disneyland Park attractions, with private entrances to Downtown Disney District and Disney California Adventure Park. “It’s a highly desired, high-energy location with a lot of star power that adds another layer of fun and excitement,” says Dann. “Because Disneyland is very theatrical, it also offers state-of-the-art amenities for conferences and events.”

Anaheim is also home to Angel Stadium, Honda Center, and the Anaheim Convention Center—the largest convention center on the West Coast with over 1 million square feet of exhibit space. Another unique event venue is Anaheim Packing District, a historic citrus packing house with local vendors and multiple spaces that can each accommodate between 25 and 175 people, or up to 3,000 with a property buyout.

Less than 20 minutes from Anaheim is the Richard Nixon Presidential Museum and Library in Yorba Linda, which has presidential museum galleries, rose gardens, and the only full-size reproduction of the White House East Room. It can accommodate groups ranging in size from eight to 1,000 attendees. “At this venue, you will have the experience of hosting your special event in a White House setting,” says Liaw, whose company is a preferred vendor at the venue. “You also are allowed to take photos in the reimagined Oval Office, which is located within the museum section of the library.”

Orange County
Interior of Anaheim Packing District food hall || Courtesy of Visit Anaheim

Huntington Beach

With 10 miles of coastline, Huntington Beach is a world-class events destination that recently welcomed two new entertainment districts, Pacific City and The Strand. Beach yoga, stand-up paddleboard lessons, brewery and distillery tours, and private boat charters are among the countless activities available for groups.

The HB Collection consists of four oceanfront resorts—Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa, Kimpton Shorebreak Resort, Paséa Hotel & Spa, and The Waterfront Beach Resort, A Hilton Hotel—which collectively have 232,000 square feet of meeting and event space, all within a walkable mile from the beach, activities, shopping, and dining. “Huntington Beach offers public access to the fire pits. … It’s a huge property with four pools, and because of the bridge, you avoid the traffic on Pacific Coast Highway,” says Dann.

Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach has the city’s only pedestrian sky bridge that connects to the beach, and the hotel offers 110,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor event space, including three oceanfront ballrooms. “With a variety of flexible indoor and outdoor spaces, the resort boasts a picturesque setting for oceanside gatherings,” adds Kay Cochran, director of sales and marketing for the hotel. “The property’s inspiring beachfront meeting venue, coastal cuisine, and quintessential beach parties offer an unforgettable experience in Orange County. The destination of Huntington Beach makes it seamless for hosting group-building activities and successful corporate events.”

Laguna Beach

Nestled among 7 miles of coves and canyons, Laguna Beach offers a year-round retreat for the art lovers and outdoor enthusiasts in your group. It’s a walkable town with a free open-air trolley service and more than 100 restaurants. Groups can also charter the trolley to create a unique dine-around experience. Team-building activities like eco kayak tours and South Coast Wilderness park hikes are available as well.

Orange County
Hikers in Laguna Beach || Courtesy of Visit Laguna Beach

Montage Laguna Beach renovated its meeting spaces this past January, including the foyers, a boardroom, and ballrooms. The resort offers spa treatments and wellness classes for groups like yoga, meditation, and sound baths that can be enjoyed as group break sessions or rejuvenation in between meetings. Off-site activities like whale watching, hikes, and boat rides can be arranged by the hotel’s Event Concierge service.

“Our high level of service, expert meeting and events team, and beautiful oceanfront location with access to a variety of venue options, on-site activities, and exceptional cuisine makes Montage Laguna Beach one of the best locations to host an event,” says Lindsay Vaughan, Montage Laguna Beach’s director of group sales. “Events in Orange County
provide a stunning location where guests feel at ease with the calming presence of the ocean, while still engaged with a variety of outdoor and cultural activities.”

Newport Beach

Newport Beach is the epitome of coastal luxury with award-winning beaches, resorts, and waterfront hotels. Made up of 10 distinct neighborhoods, it offers chef-driven culinary concepts, high-end shopping, and water activities. “We invite groups to experience the embodiment of California coastal luxury with 10 miles of scenic shoreline, pristine beaches, world-class venues, dining, and entertainment,” says Michelle Donahue, senior vice president of sales at Visit Newport Beach. “Our picturesque setting not only elevates conferences, meetings, and weddings to unforgettable experiences, but also provides a seamless blend of natural beauty and modern amenities, creating an atmosphere supportive of both celebration and collaboration.”

Balboa Bay Resort has 13,000 square feet of outdoor event space and multiple meeting rooms, including a 6,867-square-foot grand ballroom. VEA Newport Beach, A Marriott Resort & Spa, features a contemporary design with coastal views, offering 65,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space for events. Pendry Newport Beach opened in September and offers 58,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space including a grand ballroom, three private salons, and an event lawn.

The Resort at Pelican Hill in Newport Coast has 23,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor function space, featuring 36 private meeting rooms with panoramic ocean views, event lawns, terraces, and two ballrooms. Groups can enjoy local activities such as a Duffy boat cruise of Newport Harbor and alfresco painting and prosecco classes. “The on-site experience is unrivaled because of our combination of exceptional people delivering one-of-a-kind experiences in an unforgettable location,” says Simaan Hawa, director of sales. “With its stunning natural beauty and sophisticated amenities, Orange County exemplifies the Southern California luxury lifestyle. We often hear from clients that they start dreaming of their next visit the minute they leave the resort.” 

Orange County
Aerial view of The Resort at Pelican Hill in Newport Beach || The Resort at Pelican Hill

Santa Ana

Located near John Wayne Airport, Orange County, Santa Ana is a vibrant community with diverse restaurants for group dining, a monthly Artwalk, and historic venues including the Heritage Museum of Orange County. The museum is a Victorian-style property that can seat up to 650 guests outdoors and features smaller indoor spaces for gatherings. Group activities in Santa Ana include Blinking Owl Distillery tours and American Ninja Warrior Adventure Park, which features an obstacle course.

Many of the city’s hotels are close to the airport, like DoubleTree Club Orange County Airport, which has five versatile event spaces totaling 3,796 square feet, including a ballroom with floor-to-ceiling views of Hutton Centre Lake; and Double-Tree Hotel Santa Ana Orange County Airport, which offers 12,000 square feet of meeting space and can accommodate groups of up to 800 attendees.

“Santa Ana’s historic downtown and culturally rich community offer unique venues and diverse dining options for groups seeking authentic event experiences,” says Wendy Haase, president and CEO of Travel Santa Ana. “Our colorful murals, robust events calendar, and welcoming nature further enhance the city as a host destination.”

surfcityusa.com

travelsantaana.com

visitanaheim.org

visitlagunabeach.com

visitnewportbeach.com

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