“Of all the paths you take, make sure a few of them are dirt.” -John Muir
We love going to parks. When you have young kids parks becomes your best friend. Scouring for new parks has become my new obsession; like when I used to hunt for the right size when Nordstrom was having their half-yearly sale.
So instead of keeping all this goodness just to myself I thought I would share it with all of you.
Without further adu; The 10 Best Parks South Side of the OC (in no particular order):
1.) Pavion Park (24051 Pavion Mission Viejo)- We love this park, especially since it is so new & very clean! There are things to do for all ages. Big & little slides, big & little swings, interactive learning, some sand for those sand lovers, but also lots of soft turf. The only advice I would give is to get there early in the morning, or as the sun is going down because even though there is a nice grassy area with shade, most of the equipment is not covered.
2.) Adventure Playground (1 Beech Tree Ln. Irvine)- The name of this park says it all! If the kids are ready for adventure, then you definitely have to check this place out. Rope nets, huge slides built into the hillside, life size leggos to built your own personal fort and a mud pit for the little ones to get DIRTY. Advice: not a ton of shade, so don’t pick a super hot day unless you plan on going into the mud pit to cool off. Bring a change of clothes, shoes in case your little one does end up in the mud. Not great for early walkers.Check out the 10 BEST PARKS in South Orange County Click To Tweet
3.) Lake Forest Sports Park (28000 Rancho Pkwy Lake Forest)- This park has it all. A small area designed for toddlers and a bigger area made for the big kids. Rope webs, rocks to climb, slides, swings and everything is covered for shade. In case you get hot there is even water misters on the soccer fields that you can use!
4.) Beacon Park (501 Benchmark Irvine)- We like to call this the “Tree House Park,” most obviously because there is a huge tree house, which is so super fun! This is a brand new park and some of the features include a life-size chess set, basketball court, bocce ball, 3-way teeter totter, climbing nets, tunnel slide, swings, huge grass area and more.
5.) YMCA Laguna Niguel (29831 Crown Valley Pkwy Laguna Niguel)- We LOVE the YMCA in Laguna! It has a brand new park with two play areas (one for the small tots and one for the bigger kids). No swings, but lots of interactive buttons to learn about animals, bodies of water and the types of noises they make. There is also a beautiful hiking trail that leads up to a gorgeous view! It’s a great walk for kids and adults alike. In the summer there is the added bonus of the water park/splash pad (open from Memorial Day-Labor Day).
6.) Irvine Spectrum (670 Spectrum Center Dr. Irvine)- Since I originally published this article the playground here is currently under construction. But you can still go to ride the small train, carousel and ferris wheel, which cost a couple dollars each. We love just playing on the large grass area in front of the carousel, playing games and having a little picnic. Not to mention there is a slough of options to eat in case you get hungry or sometimes we will just go and read books in Barnes and Noble if it is a hot day and pick up some frozen yogurt at YogurtLand.
7.) Aliso Creek Beach (31131 Pacific Coast Highway Laguna Beach)- Thinking about a beach day, well, why not go to this awesome spot in Laguna so the kids can play on the playground then you can have a picnic on the sand. We love this small, but adventurous area, it has a set of swings, a few slides and it all overs look the ocean. Parking is just $1 per hour and during the week it is pretty empty. I haven’t been on a weekend in the summer, but I would imagine the parking lot gets pretty full. I also love it because out of all the local beaches this parking lot is super close to the sand so you don’t have to worry about lugging all your beach paraphernalia all the way down a big hill.
8.) Oso Viejo Park (27241 La Paz Rd. Mission Viejo)- This is such a fun park we knick-named the “Giant Slide Park.” It does have a giant structure in the middle with some huge slides that the kids just love. There is also a smaller structure for the smaller tots. Swings and of course some sand play are always a hit. Not much shade, so go early or around dusk. There is also a great trail for walking that even includes a really cool maze. Definitely one of our favorites.
9.) Light House Park or Marina Park (1600 W. Balboa Blvd. Newport Beach)- If you enjoy parks with a view this is another beauty! Over looking the bay of Newport Beach this park is super fun! There is a lighthouse the kids can climb then zoom down the tunnel slide. The climbing nets, obstacles, wooden dock are all a hit as well as plenty of sand. On a hot day you could take a few steps past the playground and dip your toes in the water.
10.) OC Great Park (6950 Marine Way Irvine)- This is definitely a great park, but one you only want to visit on the weekends (if you go during the week it may look like a ghost town), mostly because the carousel, large park balloon and even Farmers Market are all only open on the weekends. We love going here because for $3 the kids can have unlimited rides on the carousel, there are art and crafts set up in the art lab, a kids rock playground, an old hangar that houses some pretty cool planes and even a farm & food lab where they offer different workshops. The farmers market is held on Sunday’s from 10am-2pm.
For an added bonus I recently found two parks at the very end of Orange County, which I wanted to include for those of you in that area…
Bonus Park #1 is Adventure Play Park at Sendero Field (cross streets are Ortega Highway & La Plata in San Juan Capistrano). We recently found this one and the kids had fun on all the creative climbing structures. We also liked the wavy walls you could walk along, but beware there is NO SHADE at all so you have to go on a cooler day!
Bonus Park #2 is Courtney’s SandCastle Universal Playground & Sensory Garden (987 Vista Hermosa, San Clemente). Right next to the sports park and the aquatic center. LOVE this park because it is completely gated so the little ones can’t escape. It is completely handicap accessible as well. There is a really cool castle structure, pirate ship, music garden and little tide pools. If you are in this area I would definitely go check it out!!
I’d love to hear if you check out these parks, or if you have any suggestions on other parks you think I should add to the list! Leave a comment below!:)
***I have also linked up with some other fabulous California bloggers who are giving you an insight into their favorite parks! You will definitely want to go check them out!!***
*Sarah at Foxy’s Domestic Side
*Justine at Little Dove Blog
*Whitney at Work it Mommy Blog