Top OC Parks to Visit In 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 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 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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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

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, 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:

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Our Top 5 Orange County Parks

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I wanted to do a post on our Top 5 Orange County parks in case anyone might be looking for a fabulous new park to visit on this holiday (weather permitting!)

And of course, for the most comprehensive, awesome site to visit for information on OC parks and playgrounds, visit my friend Michele’s blog,

Here are my Top 5 Picks:

1. Bluebird Park Laguna Beach – Hands down my absolute favorite park in Orange County. A must visit. Worth the drive!

2. Irvine Terrace Park Corona del Mar – Beautiful, peek-a-boo views of Newport Harbor. Great equipment for all ages.

3. Dinosaur Park Laguna Hills – Unique attractions like “fossils” and a huge dinosaur skeleton for the kiddos to explore.

4. Castle Park Irvine – The kids love the huge castle that they can run around. Fab winter park, gets toasty in the summer.

5. Balboa Pier Playground – Love this “smack on the sand” playground. This is a multifaceted outing…in one trip you can hit the playground, walk out on the pier to get a shake at Ruby’s Diner, explore and get in a game of skee ball at the Balboa Fun Zone, even take the ferry over to Balboa Island in the same trip.

PLEASE do comment below on your absolute favorite OC parks to visit – I always love new playgrounds to explore.  Have a super fun day of play everyone!



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