My Favorite Activities for Kids in Orange County

May 8, 2018

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Favorite Activities for Kids in Orange County - M Loves M fashion, lifestyle and motherhood blogger @marmarSummer is coming up quicker than you can say strawberry shortcake! I’m really excited because I know this summer will be full of lots of fun adventures with Augustine. It’s crazy what a difference a year makes. Last summer Augustine wasn’t even walking and now he’s not just walking, he’s running, trying to jump, and saying so many words. We’ve already started to do some fun things with him around Los Angeles and Orange County and there are so many more on our adventure list. I keep a To Do with Augustine list running on the Notes section of my phone. I thought I’d share some activities for kids in Orange County, in case any of you are local or you’re planning a trip! Because summer in Orange County is hard to beat!

A day at the farm was such a fun and healthy day for my family! Such a fun family outing to the farm! The perfect spring outfit plus the perfect spring outing at the farm with my little one! I'd love to hear your recommendations for family friendly summer activities! We loved our day-trip to our local Orange County farm! I loved visiting this adorable farm with my family this spring! My little one loved this fun day at the farm! The perfect summer family activity! I love finding new inexpensive kid friendly activities and this farm trip fit the bill!

My Favorite Activities for Kids in Orange County

DISNEYLAND

I thought I’d start with the best. Orange County is known for Disneyland and you really can’t beat it. The amusement parks {California Adventure is there too!} are a must for kids, and adults, of all ages. Augustine and I went to Disneyland last October and I can’t wait for another trip back! Thinking I might get a season pass for myself come fall because kids are free under the age of 3. I feel like that’s something I need to take advantage of while I can.

SOUTH COAST FARMS

This is where we went strawberry picking in these photos. The season for strawberry picking is relatively short but it’s so worth it. We went on a Saturday morning and it wasn’t too busy. It was so cute to see how excited Augustine got when he found a strawberry on the vine. He’s been so interested in strawberries lately. This book, “The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear” is one of his favorites and whenever he sees the strawberry he points at it excitedly and makes a clicking sound with his mouth like he wants to eat it. It’s the cutest thing!

ECOLOGY CENTER

I love taking Augustine on outings that are fun and mentally stimulating. The Ecology Center is located in the historic Congdon Farmhouse in San Juan Capistrano. The beautiful house is surrounded by an acre of learning landscapes that your family can explore! Augustine loves looking at the chickens and checking out the gardens. They have activities especially designed for families with children under 4 years old and I can’t wait to take Augustine to this tea making class designed for small tots.

PRETEND CITY CHILDREN’S MUSEUM

It’s pretty hard for me to name a place cuter than the Pretend City Children’s Museum. This child-size “interconnected city” was designed for children to learn about how the real world works. Kids get to assume real-world roles in interactive exhibits and activities facilitated by the super helpful and kind staff that aim to teach children the foundations of math, reading, and science skills. It’s fun, educational, and you’ll get the cutest pics of your little one in the mini Trader Joes!

ORANGE COUNTY GREAT PARK

If you’re a southern California native, you’ve surely passed the orange hot air balloon on the side of the freeway in Irvine. While Augustine is a little too small for a hot air ballon ride, we love spending sunny weekend days at the Orange County Great Park where you can find a lot of other family friendly activities like carousel rides and hands-on gardening experiences. There’s also a weekly Farmers Market that we love going to as a family. It’s so fun to let your child pick out fresh produce, that they won’t realize you’re grocery shopping!

ZOOMARS

If you grew up in Orange County, you’ve probably been to Zoomars. The OC family staple is the cutest petting zoo ever. There are so many adorable animals to pet or learn about. They have llamas, pigs, goats, sheep, chickens, alpaca, emu, cows, rabbits, guinea pigs, and even ponies your kids can ride. Plus there is a great playground and train ride you can check out after you’ve had your fill of playing with the animals. It’s the perfect spot for a children’s birthday party in Orange County!

LIBRARY STORYTIME

I loved attending story time at my local library with my mom when I was a kid and I’m so glad that Augustine loves going just as much as I did! We try to make it a few times a month so he can listen to the stories, pick out some new books for us to check out, and have some social time with other kids his age. Most city libraries offer free story time, just check out their website or call to find out what their schedule is.

OCEAN INSTITUTE

Living so close to the beach means our family is super interested in learning more about the ocean! The Ocean Institute of Dana Point is located right on the water, next to real-life tide pools and historic tallships. Every day at the Ocean Institute they host 30-minute guided tours and provide behind the scenes looks at their learning centers. There are local sea creatures you can check out, play areas, and scientific experiment demonstrations. Also, every day of the week, they focus on a different ocean topic so you can keep going back again and again. Can’t wait to check out Marine Mammal Monday!

WHALE WATCHING

Whale watching would be so fun if your little ones can handle the boat ride. There are plenty of spots up and down the coast where you can go whale watching, like in Newport Beach, but there is also some great options through the Ocean Institute. What could be better than a day at sea seeing marine animals in their natural habitats? I’d even love to do one of their sunset cruises for date night!

BEACH DAYS

This is a no brainer, but we love heading to the beach when it’s warm out. We try to go either early in the morning or late in the afternoon when it’s not too hot or crowded. We like to bring a few beach toys to help us build sand castles and dig for crabs. We just have to take advantage of living so close to so many beautiful beaches!

BALBOA FERRY

We just spent the best weekend as a family at Balboa for a mini staycation. Of course the beach and views can’t be beat, but Augustine loved riding on the ferry! For slightly older kids there’s little rides and arcades they can go on. Add in a balboa bar and your kids are going to have the perfect day by the sea.

CORONA DEL MAR TIDEPOOLS

The Corona Del Mar State Beach is hands down one of the prettiest beaches in the OC! There are really nice little beach coves with smooth water that are easy for kids to play in and there are tons of tide pools you can explore! The weather is so beautiful here year-round, that we spend a lot of weekends looking for crabs and other ocean critters!

OAK CANYON NATURE CENTER

The Oak Canyon Nature Center is the most charming way to spend an afternoon with your family. There’s a beautiful stream that meanders through the park, canyons you can hike through, and so many flourishing native wildlife to scope out. When we need a break from the sun, we love visiting the John J. Collier Interpretive Center, a small museum with live animal and regional natural history exhibits.

ADVENTURE PLAYGROUND

If you’re looking for a super fun and free activity for your little ones, you have to check out the Adventure Playground. The only downside to this park is that it’s so fun your kids may never want to go home! They’ll love the tree house, sensory garden, climbing areas, big slides, fort zone, and natural play areas. Where were parks like this when I was little?!

SPLASH PADS

Splash pads are another easy local and free activity available at many parks or shopping centers. If you’re not up for a pool day, especially if your child isn’t ready to swim yet, then these are a great alternative to cool down. I love this list of local spots in Orange County, but there are tons of lists like this online for spots all over! Try searching for your city!

THE OC FAIR

Matthew and I are so looking forward to taking Augustine to the OC Fair this summer! We know he’s going to love seeing all the animals, lights, and games. But in the meantime our local fairground hosts all kinds of family events throughout the year. I keep an eye on their website’s event calendar to see what fun family events are coming up.

IRVINE PARK ZOO

If your tot is too little for a big zoo day, then the zoo at the Irvine Park will do the trick. This tiny zoo, which only costs $2 per person, features plants and animals native to the southwestern United States. It’s such a fun way to learn about our local wildlife. And you can see the entire zoo in under an hour! Then you can head into the rest of the park to explore the children play areas, pony rides, and paddle boats.

KIDSEUM AT BOWERS MUSEUM

We love popping into museums on rainy days and the Kidseum at Bowers Museum is one of our favorites. This interactive children’s museum combines art, archaeology, and world cultures. They offer so many fun activities, like face painting and story time, every day. It’s definitely worth a visit.

DISCOVERY CUBE OC

Your little bourgeoning scientist will absolutely love day trips to the Discovery Cube! The immersive, interactive science activities are the perfect way to spark that passion for science at a young age. This is another great indoor activity that’s perfect for rainy days or really hot ones too.


I hope this list of favorite activities for kids in Orange County is helpful to some of you! Or maybe it will give you some ideas of things to do in your city. I’d love to know if you have any favorite things to do with kids, especially toddlers. Is there anything I should look for, or check out? You’ll have to share with me below!

Check out some of my other motherhood posts, like Tips for Traveling with Kids (there’s a video too!}, and Augustine’s Favorite Books.

xox

Mara’s Outfit: tee . pants  {also here} . sandals . bag . hat .

Augustine’s Outfit: romper . shoes .