Perfect for today’s active families, Orange County Parks offer seemingly endless possibilities for fun, adventure and relaxation. These fully equipped, beautifully maintained parks let your and your family enjoy swimming, fishing, surfing, ball play, a BBQ and many other fun activities. There’s no better way to enjoy the OC in a structured setting.
Great Park in Irvine
Nestled in the heart of Irvine, this large park hosts art exhibits, a variety of youth and adult sports activities, exciting rides and featured events. The iconic attraction continues to be the Great Park Balloon, which lifts 25 to 30 passengers 400 feet, affording riders a stunning 360° view of Irvine. Kids of all ages love the Great Park Carousel, which provides a two-minute ride for up to 36 passengers. Natural foodies will love Farmers Market, which provides an almost endless selection of fresh and seasonal fruits and vegetables, breads, flowers and plants, as well as many other items from local artisans. Designed to educate young visitors about conservation ecology and Earth’s water cycle, Kids Rock includes such interesting attractions as misting shade structures, rock climbing, “underground tunnels,” a seating area carved out of recycled runway concrete, and illustrated lakes and streams on recycled rubber flooring. Drawing young and old, Signature “Great Park” Events include concerts and dances, workshops, outdoor movies and many other exciting events. Visit their website for a current schedule of upcoming events.
Salt Creek Park
Situated about 10 miles south of Laguna Beach in Dana Point, this popular surfing location features a small, offshore reef that creates some of the best surfing swells along the entire coastline. The park includes a half-court basketball court, beach volleyball, and a seven-acre grassy Bluff Park. Salt Creek Park offers ample opportunities for surfing (body surfing too), swimming, fishing, sunbathing and exploring the wonder of nature’s tidepools.
Mile Square Park
This 607-acre Fountain Valley Park features three regulation golf courses, three soccer fields, three baseball and three softball diamonds, an archery range (check the schedule) and a nature area. It also includes two fishing lakes, concession operated bike and paddleboat operations, a wide expanse of picnic areas and numerous picnic shelters. Perfect for weekend family outings. Additional facilities include a community center building, ball diamonds, basketball courts, outdoor play areas and a tennis court complex. Night lighting on many of the outdoor facilities means you can play after sunset. The 18-hole golf course comes complete with a driving range, club house and restaurant.
This scenic 23.5-acre park in Anaheim features a lighted softball field, barbecue facilities, open play area, children’s play area, football/soccer area, basketball court, fire ring, and a fully equipped group picnic shelter. There are lots of wide-open spaces to play ball, the spots are inexpensive to rent and parking is easy. The park is clean, well manicured and a great place to bring your dog for a walk.
With over 16 acres of beautiful green space accented by shaded trees and streams, this secluded park in Orange is a rare jewel. It features barbeques, a two structured tot-lot suitable for children ages 5-12, green space (reserved in advance) for birthday parties, family reunions, and company and family picnics. There are also first-come first-serve picnic tables, and a lake for fishing. A number of passive and open areas have been set aside for exercising and walking. The lake has a varied assortment of geese and ducks. And there are newly improved playgrounds that include slides and climbing gyms-one for small children, the other for larger kids. Some families take their remote powered boats on the mini lake inside the park. The mature trees, ample grassy knolls, easy paths and bridges, and a quaint pond fed by a little brook and waterfall make a visit to this park the perfect Sunday outing.
New “Smart Card” Parking Passes
OC Parks recently introduced new parking passes that allow visitors to use a single card to park at all County regional and wilderness parks and/or beaches. The new “smart cards” replace the entry cards and stickers that were fixed to a calendar year (January through December). The cards are valid for 12 months from issue date and can be renewed annually.
When planning your trip to these parks, consider staying in a vacation home. They offer all the amenities of a home, including a fully equipped kitchen that lets you cook special meals for your entire family, team or group.