My 5 Favorite OC Outings with Kids

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Since many of you might have kids home from school today or if you extra lucky, a hubby that is home as well, I wanted to put together a quick list of my 5 favorite OC outings with kids (in no particular order!) What are yours? Comment below!

1. Pretend City / Irvine Spectrum.  Pretend City has to be one of my absolute favorite places to take the kids. Entertaining infants through age 10, Pretend City is generally open only from 10am – 1pm on Mondays, but is open for a full day on 02/20/12. Either before or after visiting PC (for my kids’ ages, usually 2 – 3 hours is good), head over the freeway to the Irvine Spectrum where you can grab some lunch (our faves with kids are Wahoo’s, Chipolte or Ruby’s and Pinkberry for dessert), go on the ferris wheel, carousel and/ or kiddie train and check out the different fountains. Click here then click on “Frequently Asked Questions: What Are the Prices for In-Center Attractions” for hours and pricing.

2. Balboa Pier / Balboa Fun Zone /  Balboa Island. We start our adventure by parking off “A Street” in the metered spots by the Balboa Pier on the peninsula then let the kiddos have fun at the beachfront playground. There is also a huge grassy area adjacent if you want to throw in the soccer ball. After they have gotten their energy out, you can walk over to the Fun Zone and let them play in the arcade or take a ride on the ferris wheel if it is running. From there you can take the ferry across to Balboa Island to explore.If you want to do a bunch of walking around Balboa Island, I recommend taking a stroller. Our fave dining spots are Ruby’s Diner on the end of the Balboa Pier, or for super casual, there is a pizza place in the Fun Zone where you can get slices.  And don’t forget your sprinkled Balboa Ice Cream Bar (OC famous!)

3. Crystal Cove Beach / Tide Pools / Ruby’s Shake Shack. A trip to Crystal Cove Beach is a must-visit for anyone that lives here (and for those that don’t!) If it is a nice day, throw in the sand toys and spend some time on the beach, but if it is a chilly one, you can still dress warm and walk down to check out the historic Crystal Cove Beach Cottages and amazing tide pools. When you are ready for some grub, head up the hill for a hot dog and shake from Ruby’s Shake Shack and enjoy the incredible view. Click here for a previous post on visiting Crystal Cove Beach. And please note, I think the beach lot parking off Los Trancos is now $15.

4. Newport Back Bay / Peter & Mary Muth Interpretive Center.We live close to the Back Bay and spend a ton of time over there with our girls. Park off University Drive in the free lot and bring your bikes, scooters or jogger. There are a ton of kid-friendly trails, and for those that don’t want to go “off roading” there is a paved path all around as well. Recently we did a fun nature scavenger hunt which my girls loved. And the Muth Center in the Back Bay is a hidden GEM of a FREE outings, but (wah-wah), it’s closed on Mondays. So don’t head out there today to visit, but do keep this in mind for future outings as it is a fabulous experience for little ones and they are open on Saturdays and Sundays.

5. Zoomars / San Juan Mission. If you are ready for an EXTRA fun outing, consider taking the Amtrak train from Santa Ana to San Juan Capistrano. Soooo fun! Once there, walk down to Zoomars Petting Zoo and let the kiddos feed the guinea pigs, take a pony ride or pan for gold. Hungry? Walk up to Ruby’s Diner (Ruby’s seems to be a recurring theme in this post!) and then cruise around the streets of San Juan. Feeling like taking a trip back in time? Visit the San Juan Mission and revel in the California history (kids get a free audio tour on 2/20 – click HERE for the coupon).

Hope these are some good ideas to keep you busy! Have a WONDERFUL day everyone!  And click here for my list of top 5 OC parks!


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Heritage Museum of Orange County [Kellogg House]

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My oldest daughter went on her first Kindergarten field trip a couple weeks ago to the Heritage Museum of Orange County to tour the Kellogg House. I tagged along as a chaperone with camera in tow and thought it was such a fun educational experience I wanted to share it with you!

It was her first time riding a real yellow school bus, which on its own was a monumental experience for her. I cracked up when I saw the kids on the bus. Have you been on a school bus recently??  The seats are so high now you couldn’t even see their little heads! Hilarious.

In any case, back to this OC outing. Tucked off an unassuming street in Santa Ana, this cultural and natural history center features several buildings from the 1890s set amid floral gardens and citrus groves.

It is a popular school field trip destination and I loved that it was HANDS-ON. During the field trip, the kids got to experience what it was like to live in the 1890s…they played with vintage toys, dressed up in Victorian costumes, made BUTTER (so fun), and got to explore each room to see how people lived back then.

It is open to the public on Fridays from 1 – 5pm and Sundays from 11am – 3pm. Other times are available by appointment for groups of 10 or more.

Price is $5 / adult. Seniors and Children are $4. Although it is hands-on, some things are still delicate, so I wouldn’t recommend this outing for little ones and most certainly would not take my “bull in a china shop” 2 1/2 year old just yet. For Kindergarteners, it was fabulous!

Parking is free and Santa Ana residents can enjoy free admission and a tour on the first Sunday of every month.


Presidents & Patriots

This Saturday, February 11th, 2012 families can visit the Heritage Museum and celebrate the upcoming Presidential birthdays!

Join Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield and Theodore Roosevelt as they give their take on what freedom means to them.

There will be patriotic music by the Santa Ana College Choir, a history walk, photo opps with the “Presidents” and food and beverages by the Victorian Tea Society.

Gates open at 1pm. Adults are $8/each, students $5/each and kids 5 and under are free. For more info on this event click HERE or call 714.540.0404.


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Bowers Kidseum

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This outing has been on my list to blog about for a llooonnnngggg time!  I took my girls last summer to the Bowers Kidseum and it was a fabulous OC family outing.

Located in Santa Ana, the Bowers Kidseum is an extension of the Bowers Museum and offers a ton of cultural hands-on experiences for little ones.

From tribal masks to international drums, international dress-up to art labs, kids are encouraged to touch, explore and play all the while learning about different cultures and traditions.

I love a good, fairly inexpensive OC outing that is also educational!

Adults + kids 2 and up are $6/each (2 and under free)

And everyone can visit the Bowers Museum, Kidseum and enjoy activities for FREE the first Sunday of the month for Target Free First Sunday compliments of

Click here for hours and directions.


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