Parks/Playgrounds

Top OC Parks to Visit This Summer

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Top OC Parks to Visit This Summer

Summer is in full swing and for those of us with little ones, that means a lot of OC park time!  I’ve complied a list of Tiny Orange’s best park “picks” through the years, as well as some of my new favorite hangouts.  Here are my top OC parks to visit this summer.  Happy playing!

Tiny Oranges’ Recs

– We are huge fans of Michele’s NaturePlayTrips.com FREE Family Guidebooks Club which now includes a FREE Crystal Cove Guidebook plus a free weekly play trips email. Once you’re a member you’ll get future guidebooks for free like the Parks in Orange County with Restrooms Guide AND a Beginner Guide to Family Camping. Since 2008, Michele has personally scouted pretty much every park and outdoor play space for families in OC, and has shared the inside scoop on her blog FunOrangeCountyParks.com. To this we say, thank you Michele!

 – You can read all about Jen’s favorite parks in Our Top 5 Orange County Parks.

– Here’s a great Tiny Oranges’ write-up on TeWinkle and Angels Playground and Park (Costa Mesa).

– Check out the adorable Citrus Ranch Park (Tustin) in this blog.

– Coastal Peak Park (Newport Coast) looks so beautiful, and you can read about the playground details in this blog.

– Another gorgeous park is found at Lido Island Playground (Lido Island, close to Newport) – this one makes me extra happy and extra appreciative to live in beautiful Orange County!

– Settlers Park (Irvine) is a really great park and playground, and Tiny Oranges reviews it in this blog.  Check it out!

My New (and Old) Favorites

Baker Ranch (Lake Forest) – This is a super fun park that just opened last year.  It has large rock areas to climb for big kids (pictured above), a huge tunnel slide, a “big” kid playground, a “little” kid playground, grassy areas, picnic areas, and a nice park bathroom.  My kids love this one!

Crown Valley Park (Laguna Niguel) – This newly renovated (and I mean, newly renovated!) park just re-opened this month…and it is fabulous! A super cool, super entertaining splash pad that kept my kids giggling and busy (bonus – two life guards on duty!), a playground for littles, a playground for bigs, and a family-friendly hiking trail.  This very pregnant mama wan’t up for a hike while we were there, but it’s nice to know it’s available. Just be prepared for crowds – because it is so new, everyone seems to be checking out this new little gem.

Florence Joyner Olympiad Park (Mission Viejo) – This is a park my family has enjoyed for years…and we actually had my daughter’s 1st birthday party here (many moons ago)!  It’s an awesome, interactive park designed to keep both littles and bigs busy and happy. Slides (my kids LOVE the tall, bendy slide!), swings, sand areas, a “pirate ship,” lots of room to run and play, equipment for all ages, grassy areas, and bathrooms.

Lake Forest Sports Park and Recreation Center (Lake Forest) – I recently discovered this (almost brand new!) park and it is amazing! This is huge, clean, community property opened last year, and has two amazing parks that are separated – one designed for the littles and one designed for the bigs – and both areas are BIG. With LOTS to do.  It boasts every type of playground equipment you’d ever want (and it’s mostly shaded!), plus expansive grassy areas, picnic areas, immaculately kept sports fields, and a beautiful community center (with super clean bathrooms!).

Heritage Park (Irvine) – I’ve only been here once, but I can’t wait to take my kids again this summer. Not only does this park offer a fabulous playground, but it also features a water play area and splash pad!  Tons of great playground equipment and a beautiful area.  Just make sure to bring a towel and/or a change of kid clothes with you!

Pavion Park (Mission Viejo) – Okay, I can’t wait to check this one out.  My mama friends say this park rocks!  It’s also pretty new (as of Dec. 2014), and looks like it will be a kid crowd pleaser – and it’s universally accessible!  Tons of different “spinners,” a new type of “zip line,” slides, tons of places to climb, spacious “sitting” areas for adults and/or kids to socialize, a ground maze, lots of space to run and play…I think the only special thing to note is that there is not a bathroom on site (so plan ahead, if you can!).

 

What are some of your favorite parks, moms? Please share below, and let’s add to this list! 

 

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Heartlake City Opens at LEGOLAND!

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Disclosure: My family was invited to attend LEGOLAND California to preview the new Heartlake City LEGOLAND opening. 
Heartlake City Legoland

Heartlake City opened last week at LEGOLAND California and LEGO Friends fans will be delighted with this sweet new addition to the theme park!

My girls and I had the opportunity to preview the new Heartlake City, located on the west side of the Park in between Fairy Tale Brook and DUPLO Village.

When we entered the Heartlake City gate we were greeted by Olivia, Emma, Stephanie, Andrea and Mia singing LIVE on the Friends Forever Stage, which rotates to provide different backdrops for the 5 – 6 different live shows per day.

friendsforever

And, to my girls’ delight, Emma and Stephanie were available to sign autographs and take photos after the show.

Tip: The line starts behind the carousel – high tail it over to get in line when the show ends!

If you have another adult with you, have someone take the kids on the carousel while one person holds the spot in line.

After the show was over, the LEGO friends TV show plays on the big screen over the stage where little ones can take a break and watch to rest tired legs.

legofriends

Heartlake City includes these attractions: 

Heartlake Stables

A large building “trough” for children to play and build with LEGOS and then they can make their horses “gallop” by placing them on an interactive pulsating table.

Mia’s Riding Camp  

LEGOLAND’s first carousel which has 60 life-size horses and can accommodate 1000 people per hour. The horses are so cute I wanted a ride on one!

heartlakestables

Heartlake Fountain

Splash pad in the shape of a heart in the “heart” of Heartlake City.

Heartake City Boutique

Darling boutique where you can purchase LEGO Friends gifts and toys.

Wok ‘N’ Bowl Ramen 

Yummy restaurant serving ramen noodles and story fried fresh meats and veggies along with an assortment of kids meals.

City Park Creperie 

Stand by Heartlake Fountain serving four different flavors of delicious crepes.

Outside of the City Park Creperie we had the opportunity to pose LEGO Master Builder, Robbie, and one of his creations – Olivia.

He told us a model like Olivia is made out of about 30,000 LEGO bricks and takes the  builders about a month to build.

master builder robbie
Heartlake City is included in LEGOLAND California park admission.
For more information visit www.california.legoland.com/LEGOFriends.

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Local Love: Spring Break in the OC

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Spring Break in Orange County

With Spring Break right around the corner, this post is dedicated to enjoying Spring Break in Orange County…and how fun a “staycation” can be!  Here’s my list of fun things to do, and I would love to hear from you – please comment below, and let me know about your favorite things to do with your kids around town!

Tiny Oranges’ Recommendations

Let’s kick things off with some of Tiny Oranges’ recommendations and favorite things to do with kids in Orange County!

– I wrote a blog all about fun activities to do in warm weather – and how to keep cool!

– Jen wrote a blog about her favorite OC outing ides for kids – check it out!

– Read Jen’s blog about this fabulous Plan a Day Out website – a site ALL OC moms should know about it!  Check it out here – “Whatcha Going to do Today?” This is a great tool to use over Spring Break!

– Interested in being outside in the fresh air?  Read Lisa’s blog all about where to take some beautiful OC nature walks.

– Want to just “keep it simple” this break?  Read my blog about fun, easy activities to do with your littles – “Keeping it Simple with Kid Activities.”

“Beach Therapy”

People come from all over the country to vacation at our beautiful beaches…and they are just a hop, skip and a jump away from us here in OC!  Here are some of my favorite beaches to take the kids to…and I’d love to hear about yours.

Baby Beach (Dana Point)

Aliso Creek Beach (Laguna Beach, has a playground!)

Corona Del Mar Beach (Corona Del Mar)

Balboa Pier Beach (Newport Beach, has a playground!)

Jen also wrote a blog about her best kid beaches in the OC – check it out!

Bouncy Play

Let them bounce out their energy!  I love taking my kids to any place they can be in a safe, enclosed (air conditioned!) kid’s bounce house.  Here are some Orange County bouncing options:

Jump ‘N Jammin (Mission Viejo)

Pump it Up (Lake Forest, Irvine)

Scooter’s Jungle (Aliso Viejo)

Big Air Trampoline Park (Laguna Hills)

Frogg’s Bounce House (Fountain Valley)

Jump Sky High (Costa Mesa)

Museums, Zoos and Parks

Oh my gosh, Orange County has TONS of super fun places to take your little ones!  Here are some of my favorites:

Balboa Fun Zone

Pretend City Children’s Museum

Discovery Science Center 

Irvine Park and Orange County Zoo

Santa Ana Zoo

Mission San Juan Capistrano

The Queen Mary

Zoomars

Bowling Fun

Take your kids bowling!  Mine have never been, and I think they would have a blast!  Look up the bowling alley closest to you, and watch for fun theme days or kid-specific hours.

Irvine Lanes

Saddleback Lanes

Tustin Lanes

Theme Parks

This is a no-brainer – we are a mecca of theme parks here in So Cal!  So if you want to take your kiddos for a special treat, take them to one of these awesome theme parks in our area.  Just make sure to do your online research to check out any possible ticket discount and hours of operation.

Disneyland

Disney California Adventure

Legoland

Knotts Berry Farm

Six Flags

Sea World

Universal Studios

Movie Time

With our recent heat wave, a nice cool, air conditioned movie theater sounds amazing!  Look up your local movie times and take your kiddos for a theater treat.  Keep an eye out for those dollar movie theaters, too!

Check out the OC Weekly for a great list of Orange County movie theater options.

And if you have little ones, I also encourage you to read my blog on “Tips for Taking Little Kids to the Movie Theater” – hope they help!

Day Camps

Another idea is to check out local Spring Break day camps – think about your local gymnastics gyms, martial arts studios, swim places, YMCAs, community centers, etc. – many times these organizations will offer half day or full day camps during Spring Break.  It’s worth looking into!

A Pajama Day at Home

Sometimes my kids just want to stay in their jammies, play Legos, and zone out to Disney Junior.  And that’s totally okay with me!  I try to plan at least one day out of their Spring Break vacation to have a pajama day – planned down-time, if you will.  Our schedules are so crazy during the school year, sometimes we all just need a breather.

I let them build good old fashioned “forts” with blankets, have a picnic in the backyard, watch movies with popcorn, and just veg out.  They love it, and so do I!

 

Okay mamas, let’s keep this list going!  Where are your favorite places to go?  Favorite things to do with your kiddos?

All of us at Tiny Oranges wishes you a fabulous, fun Spring Break!!

Photo credit: FlickrCopyright All rights reserved by Talo66

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Local Love: Lunar New Year Celebration

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 Great Park Neighborhoods is a Tiny Oranges Sponsor 

Lunar New Year  

In Irvine, around the perimeter of the Orange County Great Park, you can find a unique collection of homes in a new master planned community called Great Park Neighborhoods  where new homes are selling now.

This multi-generational neighborhood is joined together by a walking and biking trail with a mix of shops, schools, and parks nearby.

Pavilion Park, the very first of the Great Park Neighborhoods,  features a selection of new homes each inspired by classic, American Heritage architecture. The neighborhood is located at the northern edge of the Orange County Great Park.

This neighborhood’s main attraction is a large, central 4.5 acre park shaded by beautiful, mature heritage trees where residents can enjoy a swimming pool and spa, playground, and sport courts.

Lunar New Year Celebration

If you are curious about this new community and would like to check it out for yourself, Great Park Neighborhoods’ Lunar New Year Celebration coming up on February 21st, is the perfect opportunity to visit and enjoy free family-friendly activities and entertainment at the same time. To that I will say, Happy New Year!

Lunar New Year 2

Here are the details:

Saturday, February 21, 2015

11am – 4pm

Pavilion Park Terrace
194 Compass
Irvine, CA 92618

Join the Great Park Neighborhoods for a fun Lunar New Year celebration on the Terrace with something for everyone! You will find exotic teas,  kids arts & crafts, floral arrangement demonstrations, cupcakes, traditional Chinese flute music and even a traditional lion head dance.

Which, if you have never seen a lion head dance before, is a pretty spectacular sight to behold.  Your kids would LOVE it!

For more information visit www.greatparkneighborhoods.com/events.

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Get Outside and Play This Weekend!

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Favorite parks Orange County parks for kids

 

As we look forward to a fabulous 3 day holiday weekend here in Orange County, I wanted to share this amazing FREE resource from my friend Michele over at NaturePlayTrips.com.

Since 2008, Michele has personally scouted pretty much every park and outdoor play space for families in OC and has shared the inside scoop on her blog, FunOrangeCountyParks.com. To that, I say, thank you Michele!

She has taken all this information and created a free e-book of her favorite Orange County parks for kids for you.

For free.

But wait, I forgot the most important part, all the Orange County parks featured in her e-book have restrooms.

Restrooms = essential when visiting a park with small children (or a coffee-chugging mommy.)

There are 95 total parks in her e-book.  All with links to the post on her site where she gives you the inside scoop on the park, including signupbox directions, highlights and things to look out for.

To download the free copy of the e-book, visit Nature Play Trips and sign up for her weekly newsletter which can be found in the right column.

Her newsletter is a weekly email in which you will get 5 new featured places to play outdoors in Orange County along with personal tips and ideas.

Michele is passionate about inspiring families to get outside and explore together, technology free and is on a mission to “Mainstream Nature for Families.”

I love it. Now get out and play this weekend!

Follow her at:

www.FunOrangeCountyParks.com
www.NaturePlayTrips.com

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