Orange County is an area made up of 34 cities and located between Los Angeles and San Diego, California. There are plenty of wide open spaces for kids to explore including a wonderful Kids Rock playground and a walkable history timeline. Orange County has some of the best and cleanest beaches in Southern California. There are plenty of boardwalks, piers and over 40 miles of coastline to explore. One of our favorite activities along the coast is tidepooling and Orange County has no shortage of great areas to explore marine wildlife.
Tidepools allow kids to observe and learn about the fascinating world lurking beneath the waves.
This 477-acre historic park is a wonderful oasis in the city of Orange and offers something fun for everyone in the family. You can do the myriad of paid activities from riding the train, horseback riding, pony rides to wagon rides. Bicycle Surreys can be rented for a low price for a fun family activity that can seat 4-8 people. This is a pleasant park to take the kids to enjoy nature, get some exercise and at a low cost. Orange County has 40,000 acres of parks and open spaces that caters to hikers of all levels. The Laguna Art Museum offers free general admission ion the first Thursday of the month from 5PM to 9PM. Although some of us tend to go to amusement parks first, and for a good reason too, we often forget there are other things to see with the family too.
We stay in Orange bec we have family there and we plan on going there for a month or so next summer. An island girl at heart who loves cruising, National Parks & traveling the world with two kids in tow.
There are many great reasons to live in Orange County and you never run out of things to do all year long.
The key is to get a list together of all the things to do in Orange County during the holiday season.
Santa will be making his rounds this year trying to make appearances all over the world, but one place makes him feel at home.
The biggest display for the holidays always comes in the form of a tree covered in lights, art and memories. No matter when you’re free to have some fun during the Holiday season, there is something to do in Orange County. It can be really expensive to visit, and to live in Orange County, but there are plenty of free things to do if you look around.
It can be expensive to park at the State beaches, but there are a number of places along the coast where you can park for free and enjoy the beach. While the Disney theme parks may cost a fortune, at Downtown Disney you can park for free for three hours, walk around the shops and enjoy seasonal entertainment without spending a dime. Right along Pacific Coast Highway at Warner in Huntington Beach is the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, which is a bird-lover's paradise.
The Muckenthaler Cultural Center in Fullerton is a non-profit cultural center on an old estate that has free art exhibits and a calendar full of mostly-free public programs.
Old Town Orange is a mile-square historic district around the Orange Plaza Circle at the intersection of Chapman and Glassel in the city of Orange. The Bowers Museum in Santa Ana is free on the first Sunday of the month for Target Free Sundays, and is free every Sunday for Santa Ana residents.

Mission San Juan Capistrano, first established in 1775, is one of the early California Missions along El Camino Real. There are three tall ships in Dana Point, two of which are docked at the Ocean Institute at the north end of Dana Point Harbor.
The Old Courthouse Museum in Santa Ana the oldest courthouse in Southern California, built in 1901.
Grab a picnic basket and some beach toys and play at some of its popular beaches including Newport Municipal Beach, Laguna Beach and Huntington Beach aka Surf City. Check the lowtide chart for the best times to visit and look for zero or negative low tide. The Orange County Museum of Art and Laguna Art Museum offer free admission to kids ages 12 and under everyday. It can be a lot of work for the parents but it’s a lot of fun and a great way to see the park. While admission to the park is free, there’s a minimal fee of $3 per car to park on weekdays and $5 on weekends. It is free on the first Sunday every month including admission to Kidseum with special family festivals. Beaches were always such a treat for us as kids I can’t imagine having them available year round. While summer is full of beaches and theme parks and Spring is full of festivals and nature, Winter gets a special holiday boost. During the holiday season, you can catch the lighting of this symbol all over Southern California. On select days throughout the season, you can catch a tree lighting ceremony with a sing-along led by Mickey himself, and all for free! Head over to the Discovery Cube Orange County and enjoy a hands-on festival to learn about the science behind the holidays.
Enjoy snow in So-Cal, face painting, crafts and more right in the middle of Anaheim Town Square. Head over to Laguna Hills Community Center and Sports Complex and find out what it’s like to eat with Santa. With over 30 years combined Real Estate expertise, we have experienced just about every kind of market and look forward to working with you to find your dream home in Orange County. Of course, there are lots of tempting things to spend money on, but you can take a nice stroll and enjoy the ambiance for free. It's on the opposite side of the road from the beach, with a trail that runs along the inside of the wetlands away from the road.
The festivals are not free, but they also have the highest concentration of art galleries and open artist studios that are free to visit.
The area around the Circle is lines with antique and vintage shops that are great for window shopping, even if you're not buying.
Some of them are are easily accessible, like the El Moro Canyon Trail just off Pacific Coast Highway at the north end of Laguna Beach, and some are more challenging to get to, like the Holy Jim Falls trail, that requires a painstaking drive down a 5 mile dirt track to reach the easy trail to the falls. There is a fee to visit the San Juan Capistrano Mission, but Sunday masses are held in the Mission Basilica and early morning weekday masses are celebrated daily in both the Serra Chapel and in the Basilica. It costs nothing to park and get out and admire the tall ships and take a walk along the harbor. But, once completed in the next few years, it is slated to be twice as large as New York’s Central Park.

Some popular areas are Crystal Cove State Park,Dana Point Marine Life Refuge, Laguna Beach State Marine Reserve’s 6 square miles of marine protected areas and Little Corona Del Mar beach.
It’s a wonderful way to expose kids to diverse works of art or provide that inspiration for your budding artist. The small Orange County Zoo is located inside here and charges $2 for anyone over 3 years old.
There is a pond where kids can feed ducks (my kids’ love this) and a lake area where visitors can rent aquacycles and paddleboats. Check their events calendar for special activities during Halloween, Easter and the holidays. Popular hikes include the Upper Newport Bay, Aliso and Wood Canyon Regional Park, Salt Creek and Cystal Cove State Park.
I only ever wanted to just hit the usual spots: huntington, newport and then do something that ive never had the chance- PCH roadtrip! Categories include live music, bars and clubs, night life, theatre, comedy, sports, kids and family, free events and many more. Watch a Christmas parade of lights as they float across the water during the Christmas Boat Parade and Cruise.
Downtown Huntington Beach has a tree lighting ceremony with Santa and a special performance, The Ritz Carlton in Dana Point has a ceremony with music and Santa, Bella Terra in Huntington Beach has a ceremony, Village Green Park in Garden Grove and so many more. Kids and parents can travel to different stations to learn and explore then enter the Gingerbread Derby. While visiting for the holidays is fun, living in Orange County for the holidays is even better. Most of the galleries are open all year long, but artist studios may be closed in summer while the artists are participating in the festivals. During the Christmas holidays, the harbor is lined with light displays as part of IlluminOcean, which is also free. But, there are various activities here for families too that range from museums to outdoor adventures along the coast. The most popular attraction is a ride on the giant, orange helium balloon for panoramic views of the area.
It’s an exhibit of urban agriculture where kids can see how plants grow in various ways. You can also drive along Pacific Coast Highway and pull over at some sidestreets to discover an uncrowded public beach.
You don't have to be Catholic to sit in on the service, but non-Catholics should refrain from taking communion.
Here are free things to do in Orange County with kids to offset the cost a bit for families. They have different small themed gardens like Pizza, Ethnic and Sensory which always smell delightful.

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