ABC’s of Orange County for Families

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).

Ocean Institute
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
Irvine Spectrum
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
Medieval Times
John’s Incredible Pizza Co


Tanaka Farms
Centennial Farms

G-Golf (Mini Golf)
Camelot Golfland
Golf N’ Stuff (close to Orange County)

H-Helium Balloon
Great Park Helium Balloon

I-Indoor Play
Pretend City
Playland Cafe
Hullabaloo’s Partyhouse

J-Jump Houses
Pump It Up -Multiple Locations
Frogg’s Bounce House
Jump ‘n Jammin
Seascape Kids Fun
Scooter’s Jungle
Sky High Sports OC
Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park
Big Air Trampoline Park


Huntington Harbor
Newport Harbor Kayak Fishing
Newport Fun Tours
-China Cove Kayak Adventures

L-Landmark (Historic)
Mission San Juan Capistrano
Balboa Pavillion & Balboa Fun Zone
Richard Nixon Library

The Children’s Museum at La Habra
Discovery Science Center
Bowers Kidseum
Pretend City Children’s Museum

N-Nature Trails
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
Fullerton Arboredum
Brian and Ashley’s Hiking Blog

Aliso Beach
Bolsa Chica State Beach
Corona Del Mar State Beach 
Crystal Cove State Park Beach
Dana Cove Park “Baby Beach”
Doheny State Beach Park
Huntington Beach
Main Beach & Heisler Park
Newport Dunes Resort Marina
Seal Beach


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)

Q-Quiet Time
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

R-Railroad Trains
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!
Adventure City

Irvine Spectrum
Fashion Island
The Outlets at Orange
South Coast Plaza

T-Tide Pools
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
Chapman University
University of California, Irvine


K-1 Speed
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.

Y-Yogurt (Frozen)

Frozen yogurt is our favorite place to go to for dessert.
Yogurtland (our favorite)
Cherry on Top
Tutti Frutti


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.

Sunshine Kids California Blog Hop

The Sunshine Kids California Blog Hop celebrates all that is wonderful about raising kids in the Golden State.

Link up your kid-centered posts about California: places to visit, books to read, crafts to create, recipes to try, and so on.

The blog hop will run from August 19 to September 2.
You can also check out even more California posts on our collaborative Kid Friendly California Pinterest board!

Be sure to check out our upcoming project, Exploring the California Missions!






Participating Blogs:

All Done Monkey Slow Family - Raising little global citizens.
Kids Yoga Stories The Silly Pearl
The Art Pantry 2KuriousKids
A Mom With a Lesson Plan
Juggling With Kids