Every now and then I get emails from friends who are visiting Orange County, and want recommendations on places to take their kids, other than the obvious amusement parks. I decided to put a list of ideas together on my blog as an easy reference to anyone needing ideas on fun places to spend time with their family while visiting Southern California. I would say that I’ve done at least 80% of the things listed here with my children and we’ve had lots of fun exploring our hometown. Disclaimer- Please read websites carefully before visiting a location to check times they open or if money is needed. For example, any park that is a regional park has a parking fee of $3 on the weekday & $5 on the weekends. Also some beaches have metered parking only (many now take credit cards, but there are many that will only take quarters, so be prepared).
–Aquarium of the Pacific (not exactly in OC, but it’s pretty close)
–Cabrillo Marine Aquarium (not exactly in OC, but it’s pretty close)
–Pacific Marine Mammal Care– This is not an aquarium, however if you are in the Laguna Beach area, this is a quick 10-15 minute place to stop to show your children the efforts being made to rescue and rehabilitate marine life that is found along Orange County’s coastline.
B-Bike and (Paddle) Boat Rentals
–Wheel Fun Rentals at Irvine Park (can rent both bicycles and paddle boats)
–Newport Cruisers– (Newport Beach)
–Bargain Bike Rentals – (Sunset Beach)
–Wheel Fun Rentals at Yorba Regional Park (can rent both bicycles and paddle boats)
–Dwight Beach Concessions (Huntington Beach)
–Urban Bicycle Outfitters (San Clemente)
–Laguna Beach Cyclery (Laguna Beach)
–South Coast Plaza
–Orange County Great Park
–Duffy Electrical Boat Rentals of Newport Beach
–Newport/Balboa Boat Rentals
–Marina Boat Rentals
E-Entertainment Fun for Families
–Pirate’s Dinner Adventure
–John’s Incredible Pizza Co
G-Golf (Mini Golf)
–Golf N’ Stuff (close to Orange County)
–Great Park Helium Balloon
–Pump It Up -Multiple Locations
–Frogg’s Bounce House
–Jump ‘n Jammin
–Seascape Kids Fun
–Sky High Sports OC
–Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park
–Big Air Trampoline Park
–Newport Harbor Kayak Fishing
–Newport Fun Tours
-China Cove Kayak Adventures
–Mission San Juan Capistrano
–Balboa Pavillion & Balboa Fun Zone
–Richard Nixon Library
–The Children’s Museum at La Habra
–Discovery Science Center
–Pretend City Children’s Museum
–Environmental Nature Center
–Peter and Mary Muth Interpretive Center
-Shipley Nature Center
-Carbon Canyon Regional Park
–San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary
–Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary
–Oak Canyon Nature Center
–Bolsa Chica Wetlands
–Brian and Ashley’s Hiking Blog
–Bolsa Chica State Beach
–Corona Del Mar State Beach
–Crystal Cove State Park Beach
–Dana Cove Park “Baby Beach”
–Doheny State Beach Park
–Main Beach & Heisler Park
–Newport Dunes Resort Marina
We have so many wonderful parks in Orange County, so I won’t name all of them. But please check out this awesome website Fun Orange County Parks. It’s been my #1 go to website to find details & tips about all the parks in Orange County.
–Huntington Adventure Playground
–Atlantis Play Center
–Heritage Park Play Island in Cerritos
–Courtney’s SandCastle Universal Playground
–Colonel Bill Barber Marine Corps Memorial Park
–Bluebird Park in Laguna Beach
–Northwood Community Park (Castle Park)
The letter “Q” wasn’t an easy letter for me to come up with ideas…so I decided to add in some places that you could take your child to for some “quiet” story time.
–Pottery Barn (Costa Mesa & Mission Viejo) has story time on Tuesdays from 11-11:30am
–Storytime for kids and families around Orange County– dates and times are posted here
–The Old Spaghetti Factory in Fullerton -Watch the trains go by as you eat dinner.
–Ruby’s Diner in Orange– Watch the trains go by as you eat dinner.
–Irvine Park– 1/3 scale train that takes you around this historic park.
–Santa Ana Zoo– Zoofari Express Train ride.
–Zoomars Petting Zoo
–The Port of Los Angeles Waterfront Red Car Line– Close to Orange County…short train ride that is lots of fun for train lovers!
–The Outlets at Orange
–South Coast Plaza
–Corona Del Mar State Beach and Tide Pools
–Dana Cove Park Tide Pools
–Crystal Cove Tide Pools
–Laguna Beach Tide Pools (multiple locations)
Before visiting the tide pools please make sure you check to see when low tide will be at this website.
If you have teenagers who will be applying to college in a few years, come check out some of our college campuses.
–California State University Fullerton
–University of California, Irvine
–Balboa Island Ferry
–Newport Beach Segway Tours
W- Whale Watching
–Dana Point Whale Watching
–Newport Landing Whale Watching
–Ocean Institute’s Marine Wildlife Cruise
X- X Marks the Spot
I couldn’t think of what to put under the letter X…so I had to be a little creative. I figured a place with a gorgeous view would fit this category. So take a little stroll at Castaways Park in Newport Beach and take in the beautiful scenery of Newport’s Back Bay and Newport Harbor.
Frozen yogurt is our favorite place to go to for dessert.
–Yogurtland (our favorite)
–Cherry on Top
–Santa Ana Zoo
–Zoo Mars (you can take the train down to San Clemente and walk to Zoo Mars)
–Orange County Zoo
–The Reptile Zoo
If there is a fun place in Orange County that you think needs to be on this list…please let me know by leaving a comment.
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