Looking for activities idea this summer. Here’s a list compiled by the OC Register that you might find handy. This list was compiled last Summer and some dates may have changed. Please refer to the links provided for updated dates and times.
50 Things to do in Orange County for the summer months with your kids
1. John Wayne Airport Tours, usually between 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., call ahead. You start at John Wayne, the statue, and learn how planes fly, how the Wright brothers figured it out, even get to view planes taking off and landing. Some restrictions apply as to where you can go, but this is an eye-opener for the curious kiddo in your family. 18601 Airport Way, Santa Ana. ocair.com/aboutjwa
2. Centennial Farm, Monday to Friday: 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., weekends 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The three-acre working farm on the Orange County Fairgrounds has goats and chickens and pigs and corn and ‘taters growing in the ground. Perfect for city children who need to know where eggs come from. 88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa. ocfair.com
3. Pacific Marine Mammal Center, open daily 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This is the hospital where injured, sick or starving sea lions and seals are taken when rescued along the southern California coast. See those who are close to being rereleased into the ocean as they bask in the sun and dive and play in their manmade pools. 20612 Laguna Canyon Rd., Laguna Beach. pacificmmc.org
4. Movie Mondays at Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Mondays beginning July 7 through Aug. 4, at dusk. Segerstrom Center for the Arts’ 46,000-square-foot community plaza welcomes hundreds under the stars to watch, in order, Shirley Temple’s “The Little Colonel,” “Spice World,” “Gigi,” “Cabaret,” and “Sweet Charity.” Some of that is kid fare, some not so much. 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa. SCFTA.org
5. Coastkeeper Garden. Open 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., this sustainable garden is really six different kinds of Southern California habitats, includes a cool Natural Play Garden which just might inspire all kinds of cool outdoor planting and play at your house. Workshops (for adults) the first Saturday of every month, 10 to 11. 8045 E. Chapman Ave, Orange. coastkeeper.org
6. Tustin Street Fair & Cook-Off, June 1. From 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., folks will take to the streets for the 30th time to taste hot, spicy, Mexican, Californian, Texican, new and improved chili recipes. With booths, music, kids stuff and more. El Camino Real and Main Street, Tustin. tustinchilicookoff.com
7. Children’s Museum of La Habra. On the first Sunday of every month admission is free from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. (except on holidays). Note: 500 people are admitted on these free Sundays and a maximum of 250 wristbands are distributed per session. Session times are 1 to 2:45 p.m. and 3:15 to 5 p.m. 301 South Euclid Street, La Habra. lahabracity.com
8. Free movies everywhere. The good news here is that almost every community offers some kind of free outdoor movie once a week during the summer. Check the website of your city for the events calendar. Movies usually begin at dusk. Bring a lawn chair, a blanket and your beverage of choice.
9. Orange County Model Engineers Ride, third weekend of every month. The whole family can ride free the Goat Hill Junction Railroad, on a 71/2-inch gauge rail over a 5-mile track in Costa Mesa’s Fairview Park. 2525 Placentia Avenue, Costa Mesa. ocmetrains.org
10. Fountain Valley Summerfest, June 26-29. The sixth annual four-day salute to the best season of the year starts with free admission and parking. We make no promises as to what your kids will cost you in rides and corn dogs, but it’s a cheap start. Fountain Valley Sports Park, 16400 Brookhurst St. fountainvalley.org
11. Your Beach Blanket, July 4, everywhere. Best bet, of course, is to get to a beach that’s got a protuding shoreline. That way, you get multiple fireworks shows for the price of, well, free. From Laguna Beach, for example, you can see from Dana Point to Long Beach.
12. Potluck Picnic at Starr Ranch, June 14. Hosted by Sea & Sage Audubon. No reservations required. Come at 2:30 for the approximately three-hour afternoon bird walk and a real ornithologist will point out where to look and what you see and are hearing. Picnic at 6. Nobody birds alone; mountain lions abound. Late-evening look-about for bats and owls on the agenda too. 100 Bell Canyon Road, Trabuco Canyon. seaandsageaudubon.org
13. Shakespeare By the Sea, July 19-20. First “Hamlet,” then “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” from 7 to 9 p.m. A professional troupe, under the stars, breeze off the ocean, you bring the kiddos, expose them to some culture, feel good that it’s not another night of Spongebob. Win-win all around. Bonita Canyon Sports Park, 1990 Ford Road, Newport Beach, newportbeachca.gov
14. Heritage Park Play Island. Looking for a terrific playground? This is not technically Orange County but it’s close enough for many of us and it’s so blooming cute, it had to be included. It’s got an American Revolution vibe, it’s on an island, a tunnel runs from the top of a makeshift church, you climb through attics, for goodness sake. And did we mention the pirate ship? Oh, and there’s hidden stuff to find and more. 18600 Bloomfield Ave., Cerritos, cerritos.us
15. Pick a Lane, Any Lane. At three bowling centers in Orange County, kids get two free games a day this summer courtesy of a program called kidsbowlfree.com. Participating lanes are Concourse Entertainment Center in Anaheim, Fountain Bowl in Fountain Valley and Irvine Lanes in Irvine. Times are restricted so go to the website or call the lanes for more information.
16. Fullerton Arboretum. Open seven days a week, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., but tours offered every third Saturday of the month (but not August), starting at 10 a.m. More than 4,000 plant species, but lots of ponds and wildlife and good smells. Donations accepted. 1900 Associated Rd, Fullerton, fullertonarboretum.org
17. Family Wellness Fair. July 7, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. We know – this hardly seems like fairy dust and pixie fire but free health screenings and checkups for kids are as good as it gets. Good food, good info and free tickets to Pretend City. 29 Hubble, Irvine. pretendcity.org
18. Cypress Community Festival, July 26. Goes from morning to night, with an early morning 5K/10K run and pancake breakfast and continues on with a car show, chili cook-off, family games, food booths, children’s rides, arts and crafts booths and entertainment. Oak Knoll Park, 5700 Orange Ave., Cypress, cypressfestival.com
19. Let’s Play Racquetball. This is a great game for kids because, let’s face it, less chasing after the ball. It might take some Google-sleuthing but hang in, courts abound in our parks. A few to get you started: Craig Regional Park, Mile Square Park, Heritage Park in Irvine, San Miguel Park in Newport Beach and Del Obispo in Dana Point.
20. San Clemente Ocean Festival, July 19-20. This is one with the much beloved rubber duck race but also includes a fishing derby, sand sculpting competitions and surfing contests. Lots of kids stuff. San Clemente Pier, oceanfestival.org.
21. Vans U.S .Open of Surfing, July 26-Aug. 3. This one’s for watching. It’s the serious business of surfing as American surfers nab waves and try to score well enough to reach the World Tour. Huntington Beach Pier, vansusopenofsurfing.com
22. Aquarium life: Perched at the end of the Manhattan Beach pier, the Roundhouse Marine Studies Lab and Aquarium is a place for kids and adults who are curious about the ocean, marine life and the environment. The aquarium holds shark feedings on Saturdays at noon and sea story time on Sundays at 11:30 a.m. 2 Manhattan Beach Blvd. www.roundhouseaquarium.org,
23. Grand Performances. Some of the region’s hottest and coolest acts perform at this free outdoor concert series, which takes place June 13-Sept. 7 at California Plaza in downtown Los Angeles. Acts include Angelique Kidjo, Quetzal and Les Nubians. It’s also great for people-watching. grandperformances.org
24. Children’s Gardening Workshop, June 8, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Orange County Great Park. Farm + Food Lab is doing the dirty-hands-on thing for children, ages 3 to 9, showing them how all of us are connected in a web of life. Each gets to bring their own Web of Life home. ocgp.org
25. La Habra Corn Festival, Aug. 7-9. Not only is there is a corn-eating contest for kids, but this free fair has a parade, hot dogs, a planned appearance by Elvis and a promise of enough butter to cover the 14,000 ears expected to be consumed on this weekend alone. El Centro Lions Park, between Orange and Cypress Streets. lahabracornfestival.com
26. Orange International Street Fair, Aug. 29-31. 112 E. Chapman Ave. Five ethnic streets – and one dedicated solely to children’s crafts and games – 42 food booths, eight stages of entertainment, and all of it run by local nonprofits with all proceeds going directly back to them. orangestreetfair.org
27. Bolsa Chica Conservancy Public Tour, second Saturday of the month, 10 a.m. to noon. Give your kids a headstart on the history, wildlife and restoration needs of our wetlands. Have them bring a camera and binoculars and wear sturdy shoes. There’s a public feeding of the animals after but be advised that the snakes get fed live mice and that’s not for everybody. 3842 Warner Ave, Huntington Beach.
28. ExploreOcean’s Science Saturdays and Science Sundays, It’s ocean literacy explained by doing science that encourages questions and problem-solving and wonder. Saturdays, noon to 3 p.m., 600 East Bay Avenue, Newport Beach. Sundays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., 600 Shellmaker Rd., Newport Beach. explorocean.org
29. Nature Nights Out, every Wednesday from June 25 to Aug. 13, 7 p.m. Experts from a variety of natural fields will lead families on twilight walks before a more formal sit-down chat about what they’ve seen and heard. Oak Canyon Nature Center, 6700 E. Walnut Canyon Rd., Anaheim, anaheim.net
30. Clark Regional Park Interpretive Center. This is where one of California’s richest fossil beds lies. Here are the actual skeletons of species that date to tens of thousands of years ago including a 27-foot whale, a camel, sabre-toothed cats, giant sloths, wooly mammoths and the precursor to today’s horses and bears. Scientists may be at work excavating while you watch. Tuesday to Friday, 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Closed Monday. 8800 Rosecrans Avenue, Buena Park. ocparks.com
31. Dana Wharf Sportfishing Sunday Kids Clinic, noon to 12:30 p.m. every Sunday. No reservations necessary. Everything from how to hold a rod-and-reel to tying tricks to how to bring in that swordfish. If an adult pays, child gets a free ocean fishing trip (gear included), though a reservation is recommended for this, immediately following clinic. 34675 Golden Lantern, Dana Point. danawharf.com
32. The Bowers Museum. Santa Ana museum offers free tickets on the first Sunday of every month on a first-come, first-served basis (1,500 a day, 250 an hour). Santa Ana residents can visit free any Tuesday, proof of residency required. bowers.org
33. Applaud Now. While a lot of TV shows are done filming right now, the season heats up midsummer. Many pilots, series and even game shows require audience members to be 18 years or older, but a few – Wheel of Fortune, or Disney shows, or shows produced by Nickelodeon – lower that to age 8. The time commitment can be a whole day, but it’s fun. Best bet: Go to tvtickets.com to see what’s scheduled.
34. Thousand Steps Beach. If your kids like a scavenger hunt and a bit of a hike, this is it. And if you think you’ve seen all there is to Laguna Beach, you’re wrong. The public entrance is located directly across the street from 9th Street and South Coast Highway just two blocks south of South Coast Medical Center. Look close for the sign that says “coastal access,” then be careful going down the 230 vine-strewn, densely-shrouded and very steep steps leading to this public but out-of-the-way beach. You’ll be wowed. Bring your boogie board, your camera and your friends from Wisconsin.
35. Saturday Fun Roll, every Saturday at 10:30 a.m. Meet just north of the Huntington Beach Pier at the amphitheater to do a slow and easy skate, en masse, for about 16 miles (round trip). People are friendly, rests are common and nobody will feel left out. Bring protective guard. funroll.com
36. Laguna Canyon Wilderness Hike. You can do the easy half-mile hike from the Nix Nature Center parking or go big and take the Little Sycamore Canyon trail or head out to Barbara’s Lake, Orange County’s only natural lake. Take water. Take snacks. Go early, it gets hot. Judge for yourselves if your kids are up to the tougher haul. lagunacanyon.org
37. Carbon Canyon Regional Park Redwoods, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. Yes, you can do all the usual park stuff here but the mystical magic that kids will treasure is the undeveloped and kinda secret trail that leads way, way back to Orange County’s only grove of redwoods. Ten glorious acres of coastal redwoods. Real honest to goodness sequoias. Take water. 4422 Carbon Canyon Road, Brea. ocparks.com
38. Libraries everywhere. Every Orange County libary branch offers summer reading incentive programs and craft project events and all kinds of interactive help engaging kids with the world of information and literacy. Check your local library for dates and times. ocpl.org
39. Music concerts, everywhere. Again, we are blessed to have free outdoor music sponsored by our cities, with most offering lush lawns to perch on and refreshments to keep us sated as we listen to everything from Bach to rock. Check your city events listings for dates and times.
40. Orange County Museum of Art, every second Sunday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. With hands-on art projects. live entertainment, story time and gallery tours geared for even the little ones. Food trucks onsite. 850 San Clemente Drive, Newport Beach, ocma.net
41. The Secret Noguchi Sculpture Garden, anytime. This is for your whimsical, adventurous, artistic, wild and creative child to wander in, draw in, touch, imagine and breathe in. To show him or her that art like this exists and that life has endless possibilities. It’s why the especially unimaginative child should go. 611 Anton Blvd., Costa Mesa
42. Trestles Beach Walk. From the near the San Mateo Campground, there’s a 1.5-mile nature trail connecting the grounds to the famous beach and famed surf spot. San Mateo Creek flows just east of the campground out toward the Pacific, making a perfect habitat for some rare wetland species so bring your guidebook for help. San Clemente. sandiego.org
43. Crystal Cove Geology Tour. Starting at the Los Trancos parking lot, this easy mile-long walk should take about an hour and yields terrific ocean views and craggy cliffs. Nab a self-guided brochure at the Crystal Cover Interpretive store to help you along. 8471 N. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach. crystalcovestatepark.com
44. Huck Finn Fishing Derby, Aug. 16, 8 a.m. to noon. For the 51st year in a row, children ages 4 to 15 are invited to see what the fuss is about. Awards for the biggest and smallest fish caught. Dress like Huck and Becky Thatcher and prizes might be in order, too. Huntington Beach Pier. Register at HBsands.org.
45. Skirball Cultural Center’s Noah Ark. Free Thursdays, walk-up basis only at admissions desk. starting at 11:45 a.m. Apparently, there’s still time to get on the boat. Kids are invited to climb the floor-to-ceiling wooden ark filled with wooden life-sized animals made of repurposed materials. Take the interactive storm ride and learn to take care of one another. 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. skirball.org
46. Summer Orchestra Camp. July 28 to Aug. 8. All children, ages 7 to 14, that play orchestral instruments, take private lessons and can read music are invited to join the La Petite Orchestra Camp. Those 14 to 17 are invited to audition to join the Youth Symphony. Under direction of Maestro Marcy Sucock, taught by top level musicians and funded by the Kiwanis, camp will be at the Commuity Congregational Church, 4111 Katella Avenue, Los Alamitos. mslmorchestra.com.
47. Celebration of the Arts, June 1, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free entrance, free parking and free activities for all ages, this fine arts and music festival is the laid-back event perfect for a Sunday afternoon. Bring your aspiring Gauguin. Lasorda Fieldhouse and Hurless Barton Park, 4701 Casa Loma Ave, Yorba Linda. festival.net
48. Doheny State Beach Visitor Center Aquarium, Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. A peek inside a tidepool, a kelp forest, a lobster den and more. Plus lots of specimens – from mountain lions to eels, skeletons and stuffed – of the area’s coolest creatures. 25300 Dana Point Harbor Drive, Dana Point. dohenystatebeach.org
49. Skygazing. You can do this at home, of course. But the bright lights of our lives make it hard to see the whole view. Why not make the trip to Los Angeles and make use of the free hospitality at the Griffith Park Observatory. To find out what’s big news skywise, check the date you’re going – June 29, for example, the moon will be near Jupiter in the evening twilight – and plan accordingly. The picnicking is nice there, too. 2800 E Observatory Rd. Los Angeles. griffithobs.org
50. Go outside and play. We’ve heard nice things about running through the sprinklers.
Source: OC Register http://www.ocregister.com/articles/free-615565-beach-org.html