Pandemic-Friendly Locations in Orange County

Although the pandemic has placed many restrictions on where to go, Orange County offers three unique and safe spots for any socially distant occasion


Samuel Brown

The views from the top of Suicide Hill are phenomenal, especially sunrises and sunsets.

Crystal Cove
Located in Newport Beach, Crystal Cove State Park is the destination for anyone who enjoys the outdoors and a scenic ocean view. From its beach to its Crystal Cove Conservancy, Crystal Cove offers a wide variety of activities. Restaurants, such as Shake Shack and Beachcomber Cafe are open to visitors to grab lunches and snacks.
“It was my first time going there. I was shocked at how pretty it was and how I never thought to go there earlier,” senior Megan Ray said.
The park was closed due to COVID-19 during the peak of the pandemic, however, as cases began to decrease, the beach welcomed its visitors to come, while following social distancing guidelines. Golden hour, between the first hour after the sun rises and the last hour before the sun sets, is the best time for visitors to come to Crystal Cove to see the orangey, yellow sun across the blue horizon.
For more information about Crystal Cove, please visit the Crystal Cove State Park Website.

Great Park
Open from 8 a.m to 10 p.m. daily, Orange County Great Park includes 1,300 acres of amenities, open space, attractions and parks for all visitors to enjoy.
This park can hold games and matches at its soccer field and tennis courts as well as host art exhibitions at its Palm Courts Arts Complex. Its iconic attraction, the Great Park Balloon, gives visitors a 360 degree view of Irvine and can span 40 miles on a clear day. Drivers along Interstate 5 can see the bright orange hot air balloon soar 400 feet into the sky.
Although its balloon ride is closed to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the park offers different passive activities. Great Park’s open space allows for visitors and Irvine residents to relax on the grass and have picnics. Along with the fields, visitors can take a stroll and ride bikes on the 1.5 mile, granite trails in the Upper Bee and Bosque area. Children can also enjoy their time here by playing at the kids playground near the Magnet and Bosque intersection.
“I think the best places [at Great park are] the tennis center because they have plenty of courts as well as the orange balloon,” sophomore Karina Shah said.
For more information about Great Park and to find when its attractions are open, please visit the City of Irvine Great Park Resource Page.

Suicide Hill
Suicide Hill is a hiking trail in the middle of Concordia University and the University of California, Irvine (UCI). The trail consists of several walking trails and some steep hills. Parking is free and the hike is relatively easy and compatible for beginning and intermediate hikers.
At the top of Suicide Hill hikers can see a breathtaking view of Orange County and in the evenings hikers can even see the twinkling lights of Irvine’s nightlife.
“The best places at Suicide Hill are the spots with some space. This is good because you can social distance with your friends and still have fun,” junior Samuel Brown said. “I would definitely recommend others to visit this place and I would come here again in the future.”