There’s no shortage of places to take your kids if you’re looking for things to do with children in Orange County. Whether you’re looking for fun, an educational experience, or a place the little ones can be active and run around in, Orange County has got it all! Check out some of our picks for activities to do with kids in Orange County that won’t break the bank (sorry, Disneyland).
This is Orange County’s largest and most well-known science museum for kids. The Discovery Cube is a can’t miss structure off of the 5 freeway but the museum offers much more than this sprawling landmark. There are over 100 hands-on science exhibits designed to facilitate the natural curiosity of children with many themed areas covering a wide-range of subjects: the Science of Hockey, Dino Quest, Dynamic Earth, Quake Zone, Eco Challenge, and more! Rotating exhibits can also be found in the Showcase Gallery like Bubblefest, Star Wars, Dora and Diego – Let’s Explore, and the upcoming Hands-On Harley Davidson.
Come visit this children’s museum in Irvine which is designed as a small, interconnected city and features seventeen interactive exhibits. Some exhibits include the gas station, construction zone, health center, and marina where children can learn and are also free to use their imagination. There is also an imagination playground which serves to foster child-directed, open-ended, unstructured play. This type of play is essential for the cognitive growth of young children! There are plenty of benefits for taking your child to Pretend City.
While Disneyland and nearby Knott’s Berry Farm take most of the accolades, Adventure City is a great theme park for kids that flies under the radar. It is probably comparable to the size of Camp Snoopy or Toon Town at the larger, aforementioned theme parks. Short lines are the norm and there are plenty of rides for the children to go on. All in all, there are about 10-12 rides like the Freeway Roller Coaster, carousel, tower drop ride, and train ride. There is also a petting zoo and rock climbing structure within the park. Other perks of the park include free parking and an affordable admission price ($17.95 per person).
Who doesn’t love a game of laser tag? Although this is an activity probably a little more ideal for older kids, any child who is upwards of 5 years old can play! Laser Quest in Mission Viejo boasts a pretty large maze area with a ground floor and second floor plus three towers you can snipe other players from above. This is also a great place to reserve for parties and other occassions; Laser Quest is able to accommodate parties of around 30 people.
While this zoo isn’t quite up to par with the LA Zoo, San Diego Zoo, or the San Diego Zoo Safari Park (formerly San Diego Wild Animal Park), it does provide reasonably priced admission, a playground for kids, a train going throughout the zoo, and enough wildlife to satisfy your desire to see a few animals. In addition, it is far closer than those alternative animal parks, especially if you are an OC resident. Overall, this zoo is worth a few hours of entertainment. We’re sure there’s enough for the kids to appreciate here!
BONUS: You can also check out nearby Orange County Zoo at Irvine Regional Park. Admission is only $2 and some animals include black bears, mountain lions, island foxes and more!
This is one of Irvine’s most iconic parks and was built to embody all that childhood play could be and should be. The park urges children to be creative and imaginative while promoting unstructured play, which is integral to a child’s development. Typically, play opportunities are stifled by the equipment provided on the playground, not here. Although there is a conventional play structure, most of the park encourages kids to bring their own props, create their own worlds, and get a little dirty. In fact, it’s probably a good idea to dress your child in old shoes/clothes. They WILL get dirty! This park is an experience like no other.
We are huge fans of this place and truly think there should be more of them around in every community. This is a unique gym for kids that allow children to be active while providing equipment and activities developmentally appropriate for a wide range of ages. Kids can be active on the trampoline, zip line, swings, and more. Also, there are also intellectual activities stimulating imagination like puzzles, dress up, and legos, for example. Most parents that have visited WRTS gym with their kids have given it rave reviews.
If you happen to be at The Outlets at Orange, this is a great pit stop to entertain the kids for a few hours. Thrill It Fun Center features various attractions like a two-level ball pit (complete with ball guns and air cannons), jump areas, high ropes, rock climbing, and a mechanical bull (great fun for the adults). There is even an area with a few arcade games and a laser tag area.
Miniature golf is always a great option to take the kids. For our money, Camelot Golfland is the best mini-golf spot in OC. Boomers is also an alternative option but honestly, Camelot has more courses plus bigger and better course obstacles and decor throughout the grounds. There is also a sizeable arcade as well as laser tag and a water slide operational during the warmer months.
Did we miss anything that you’d suggest? Remember, there are plenty of other free alternatives like the many great public beaches and parks throughout the OC area.
Looking to make a move in or around the Orange County area? There are plenty of great Rental Living options here. Be sure to check out our Orange County apartment finder as you begin your search!