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The OC Spotlight
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Travel Tips


Orange County and all of California is in the Pacific Time Zone. The state observes daylight saving time March through October.

Our average daytime temperature is 74 degrees and most days are sunny. Coastal areas are cooler and the inland areas can be 10 to 15 degrees warmer depending on the time of year. The coolest time of the year is December to February and the warmest time is July to October.

Dressing in layers is highly recommended to help stay comfortable from warm afternoons to cooler evenings. Casual sportswear goes right along with our comfortable weather. Jackets and ties are optional even in the most elegant of restaurants.

Financial Services/ Currency Exchange
Bankcard holders affiliated with participating banking network or credit card companies can withdraw U.S. currency from automated teller machines (ATMs) at banks and other businesses that offer this service.

Sales Tax
Orange County sales tax is 7.75%.



The county's main facility is John Wayne Airport (JWA), Orange County and is located at the intersection of I-405 and MacArthur Boulevard. There are bus and shuttle services at the airport to take visitors to their destination. Some surrounding hotels may have a complimentary shuttle service.


The San Diego Freeway (I-405) and the Santa Ana Freeway (I-5) run north and south through Orange County. South of Irvine, the I-405 merges into the I-5. A toll road, Highway 73, runs 15 miles from Costa Mesa to San Juan Capistrano; toll-fees range from $3.25 to $4.75 one way depending on time and type of vehicle. Highways 55 and 91 head west to the ocean and east into the mountains. Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 1) allows easy access to beach communities and is a scenic route.

It is best to avoid freeways during rush hours ranging between 6:00 - 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 - 7:00 p.m. Most freeways and highways have an express lane and are marked with diamonds/car pool lanes. To use these lanes you must have two or more passengers in the car.


Driving from San Diego to Orange County

The Toll Roads are the largest toll road network in California, totaling 51 miles and accounting for more than 20 percent of Orange County highways. Developed and operated by Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA), the network is comprised of the 73, 133, 241 and 261 Toll Roads.

Driving from Orange County to San Diego

The best route is taking the Pacific Coast Highway to Dana Point and then you are basically required to get onto Interstate 5 through the Camp Pendleton area. There is one "View Point" exit off Southbound I-5, which is worth a quick stop.

When you get to Oceanside (when Camp Pendleton ends), take the exit to the Coast Highway (Route 101) and take the coastal route past the Torrey Pines National Reserve in La Jolla.


The Toll Roads Rates and Payment

Cash tolling is no longer accepted on The Toll Roads, but there are now new ways to pay. Drivers can pay tolls with FasTrak® an ExpressAccount® or use One-Time-Toll®.

One-Time-Toll is the ideal choice for out-of-town visitors and infrequent users of The Toll Roads. No account necessary - users drive the 73, 133, 241 or 261 Toll Roads anytime, day or night, then pay within 5 days after driving on The Toll Roads. Drivers can pay online at or by using The Toll Roads app.

For more information about One-Time-Toll and how to pay, visit


Taking the train
When planning train travel, consider where the train stations are in relation to your ultimate destination; you may need to make extra transportation arrangements at some stops. From the station in San Juan Capistrano, you can walk through the historic part of town and the Mission San Juan Capistrano is within a short walking distance from the station.

Amtrak makes daily stops in Orange County at the designated stations. Metrolink is a weekday commuter train that runs to and from Los Angeles and Orange County starting as far south as Oceanside. The Metrolink train service is divided into a dozen zones; the fare you pay depends on how many zones you cover.

Amtrak: 800-872-7245 
Metrolink: 800-371-5465 


Valid driver's license and liability insurance are required.

Minimum age for drivers is 16. Most car rental establishments require drivers to be at least 25 years old.

All passengers must wear seat belts. Children under 6 years old or weighing less than 60 lbs. must be in an approved safety seat.

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a very serious offense. It is illegal to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol level of .08% or higher. If arrested, you must submit to a chemical test to determine blood alcohol content.

You may turn right at a red light after making a full stop, unless signs indicated otherwise.

Helmets are required for all motorcyclists and for bicyclists under 18 years.

Useful Phone Information
Emergency assistance: Dial 911 free of charge from any phone. Includes 24-hour ambulance, fire and police service.

Directory assistance for local numbers, dial 411. For long-distance directory assistance, dial 1 plus area code and 555-1212. For assistance with toll-free phone number, dial 800-555-1212.

Area code for most of the Orange County area is either 714 or 949. Toll-free phone calls have area codes of 800, 866, 877 or 888; however, not all toll-free numbers work outside the U.S.

Alcoholic Beverages/ Liquor Laws
You must be 21 years or older with photo identification to purchase or consume alcoholic beverages in California. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a very serious offense. Alcohol is not permitted on most Orange County Beach areas including City, County or State Beaches.

You must be at least 18 years of age to purchase or use tobacco products. Throughout California, smoking is prohibited in most public buildings, all restaurants and many beach areas.

Though tipping is voluntary, the following services illustrate appropriate tips you may want to consider when traveling:

  • Restaurant, bar and taxi service: 15-20% of the bill
  • Hotel door attendants, valet parking attendants and other service personnel: $3.00
  • Hotel bellmen: $5.00 per person
  • Housekeeping staff: $2.00 per room/daily
  • Hotel Concierge: $5.00-$20.00 for special services
  • Airport skycap: $2.00 per bag

Fishing Licenses
Any person 16 years old or older must possess a California Fishing License before attempting to catch fish or shellfish. Licenses are available from marine and sporting good vendors.

Safety Tips
Orange County is one of the safest counties in the U.S.; however, it is always wise for a visitor to follow certain safety tips when traveling:

  • Vehicle - Do not leave valuables in your car. Store items out of sight in the trunk.
  • Hotel - When returning to your rooms late at night, be sure to use the hotel's main entrance. Women traveling alone should only use a first initial and last name when booking a room.
  • Luggage - Never leave your luggage unattended.

Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure®
Downtown Disney
Anaheim Stadium, home of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Honda Center, home of the NHL Anaheim Ducks
Knott's Berry Farm
The Segerstrom Center for the Arts
Fashion Island
South Coast Plaza

IN LONG BEACH (just north of Orange County)
The Aquarium of the Pacific
The Queen Mary
Catalina Express

Hollywood and Downtown Los Angeles
Universal Studios and CityWalk
Santa Monica Pier
USC and UCLA Campuses
Staples Center @ LA LIVE, home to the Los Angeles Clippers and Lakers

90-MINUTES SOUTH (approx)
San Diego Zoo
Sea World
Wild Animal Park
Del Mar Race Track

Big Bear Mountain Resort