Activities in Orange County

Aliso Beach Playground (Laguna Beach)

Address 31131 S. Pacific Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach Map,

This sweet beach playground has swings, slides and a pirate ship, making it very popular with locals. Kids can access the beach without climbing steep steps or ramps, and there are clean public restrooms. This is a great choice for kids in strollers. more

Balboa Island (Newport Beach)

Address Balboa Island, CA Map, Ferry Balboa Island Ferry Website Website

You can drive right onto Balboa Island, a small beach cottage community, by following Jamboree road past PCH and over a small bridge. Once there, walk and explore the shops, restaurants and beautiful homes. Beach cottage rentals are also available in this area. A small car ferry carries vehicles and pedestrians 1000 feet between Balboa Island and the Balboa Peninsula. more

Balboa Peninsula and Balboa Fun Zone (Newport Beach)

Address Balboa Island, California Map, Ferry Balboa Island Ferry Website Website

The Balboa Peninsula (accessed by driving down Newport Blvd past Pacific Coast Highway) is home to the Balboa Fun Zone, an old fashioned arcade and amusement park that includes a ferris wheel and old fashioned carousel. A small car ferry carries vehicles and pedestrians 1000 feet between Balboa Island and the Balboa Peninsula. more

Crystal Cove State Beach

Address 35 Crystal Cove, Newport Beach, CA 92657 Map, Parking $10 Website

This isolated cove is reached by either a short walk or a shuttle ride from the parking lot. Once you've arrived you'll find a peaceful beach, occasional tide-pools, beautiful trails, and even a kid-friendly restaurant. There are also a small number of beach cottages available for rental. Read our full blog post about Crystal Cove with Kids more

Irvine Regional Park (Orange)

Address 1 Irvine Park Rd, Orange, CA 92862 Map, Website

This sweet park is one of my kids favorite activities when we're in the area. Peacocks wander freely through the huge park and the grounds are tree fill and shaded, but the real gem as far as my kids are concerned are the pony rides and model train ride. A limited selection of snacks are available, but you may want to bring your own lunch. more

Irvine Spectrum

Address 71 Fortune Rd, Irvine, CA 92618-2917 Map, Tel (949) 450-1153 Call, Website

This outdoor mall makes a pleasant stopping point if you are driving from Orange County or Los Angeles to San Diego. There are several kid-friendly chain restaurants, like California Pizza Kitchen, Corner Bakery Cafe, and Cheesecake Factory. There is also a carousel and a ferris wheel and there is lots of room to run and stretch your legs. more

Kidseum at the Bowers Museum (Santa Ana)

Address 1802 North Main Street, Santa Ana, CA 92706 Map, Tel 714.480.1520 Call, Location Just south of the Bowers Museum, Main Main museum is located at 2002 North Main Street Santa Ana, CA 92706, Open Tues-Sun, Cost Adults $12.00; Children 6-17 $9.00; Under 6 Free Website

The Kidseum is a special collection designed just for kids and focused on learning through doing. International dress-up clothes, tribal instruments, ethnic masks and exhibits about international languages are all great ways for kids to learn about the world. In the main collection, Native American and Arican art collections are often a hit with my kids. more

Main Beach Park (Laguna Beach)

Address 101 South Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, California Map,

Located in the heart of downtown Laguna, this crowded beach makes a fun outing for young kids. The wide beach provides lots of space for running and building sand castles, and just to the north you'll find tidepools to wander through. Kids might also enjoy watching the vollyball and basketball games played at the edge of the beach. more

Orange County Zoo (Orange)

Address 1 Irvine Park Road, Orange, CA 92869 Map, Tel (714)973-6847 Call, Cost $2 per person ages 3 years and older., Parking Varies from $3-$10 Website

Located inside Irvine Regional Park, the Orange County Zoo covers over 477 acres. Its collection focuses on animals and plants from the southwestern United States, including black bards, mountain lions, bald eagles, great horned owls and more. There is also a mall barnyard. more

Pacific Marine Mammal Center (Laguna Beach)

Address 20612 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, California 92651 Map, Tel (949) 494-3050 Call, Hours Phone ahead, Cost Free Website

Pacific Marine Mammal Center is a non-profit organization that rescues and rehabilitates marine mammals found stranded along the Orange County coastline. This is a working "hospital" and a great way to learn more about these creatures, but remember that many of them will be injured or sick, a topic you'll want to approach with care with your kids more

Pretend City

Address 29 Hubble, Irvine, CA 92618 Map, Cost Everyone must pay, including babes in arms! Website

The open layout of this new children's museum in Irvine, CA can be a little overwhelming at first - take your kids into the "shops" or perhaps the art space until they get comfortable. The highlights for my kids were the water play area and the drop in art studio. Freshly made kid-friendly lunch options are available, or you might consider trying out nearby Fukada more

Santa Ana Zoo

Address 1801 E Chestnut Ave, Santa Ana, CA 92701 Map, Tel (714) 835-7484 Call, Website

The Santa Ana Zoo features the plants and animals of Central and South America. There is a special focus on primates, with over 50 species at any one time. There is also a train ride, a small barnyard, and an aviary. more

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Great Park

Address Map, Tel 949-724-6247 Call, Website

Free balloon rides on the big orange, farmer's market, organic garden, lots of space to run, great playground, pumpkin farm (seasonal), movies on the lawn, artists in residence, and much more. more