Life in the OC

Summer Bucket List: Top Ten Places to go in the OC

“The sand may brush off, the salt may wash clean, the tans may fade, but the memories will last forever.” -unknown

Calling all Orange County families. It is officially summer, the kids are out of school and it is time to make some memories. Here is a great summer bucket list of the awesome places to go in the OC. I divided the list into the top 5 outdoor and the top 5 indoor places to go this summer, enjoy!

Summer Bucket List: Top Ten Places to go in Orange County Click To Tweet

Outdoor:

1.) YMCA Laguna Niguel Splash Pad: This awesome place opened up last year and is one of my favorites for so many reasons. The first reason is because its FREE! Open to the public 7 days a week from 10am-5pm from Memorial Day to Labor Day. I would say more ideal for walkers (not crawlers, especially on a busy day) all the way through jr. highers. There is a park below that we love (check out this link to view park) and should be getting shade covers very soon for these hot summer months. If it’s a cool day, pack a lunch and even go on a hike. There are also summer concerts in the park starting June 24th (check here for full summer concert schedule).

Summer Bucket List: Top Ten Places to go in the OC

Summer Bucket List: Top Ten Places to go in the OC

2.) Aliso Viejo Aquatic Center: A beautiful pool center in the heart of south orange county that is now open year round. The aquatic center is totally awesome for all ages and unlike most places, even if you don’t live in Aliso Viejo, you can still go (you just have to pay a few more dollars). There is one large lap pool, one large family pool, and we especially love the baby pool area with fountains and splash pad. They just added huge shade covers and also have a snack shack. Definitely worth the couple dollars to go swim and play. They will even be having a special 4th of July event, so go check out their website!

Summer Bucket List: Top Ten Places to go in the OC

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Summer Bucket List: Top Ten Places to go in the OC

3.) Movie Night Under the Stars: I love how popular outside movies are becoming! It is such a fun idea and a must on your summer bucket list. There are so many outside movie events happening, you can check your local community flyer, but here are a few that are happening in the South OC. The city of Aliso Viejo has multiple outdoor movie nights, you can check the schedule here. The city of Irvine also has some great outdoor movies playing, some for families, some for date night. Don’t forget your blankets, lawn chairs and some snacks!

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4.) Beach Day: Need some relief from the heat? Head to the beach! Really, any beach in Southern California is beautiful, but I do have my favorites, and Salt Creek Beach in Dana Point is at the top of the list. There is usually plenty of parking (as long as you get there before 11am) and it only costs $1 per hour. Once you park and head down the hill the view is breathtaking. You can either just have a picnic on the huge grassy hill or you can walk all the way down to the sand if you want to put your toes in the water (just be prepared, the walk back up is a good work out if you brought a lot of beach stuff). It never seems too crowed (unlike some beach cities with actual boardwalks) and I love that it tends to be more family friendly. I also love Crystal Cove in Newport Coast, but mostly because of The Beachcomber restaurant and their amazing breakfast. If you have never gone, go, but first make a reservation!! I also LOVE Aliso Creek Beach in Laguna Beach, it has close parking and a playground for the kids.

Summer Bucket List: Top Ten Places to go in the OC Summer Bucket List: Top Ten Places to go in the OC

Summer Bucket List: Top Ten Places to go in the OC

5) OC Fair: Nothing says summer quite like a fair. Whether you go to eat the fried pickles, watch a rodeo or just play a few carnival games, everyone loves the fair. The OC Fair 2017 opens July 14th and runs through August 13th. Opening day starts with a free opening hour for not only the admission, but for parking as well. Children 5 and under are free everyday and kids 12 and younger can receive free admission on Thursday’s. So mark the date on your calendar and save some room for some cotton candy!:)

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(I also suggest checking your local community flyer for 4th of July activities/fireworks. Most cities have so many free family friendly events, so don’t miss out and plan ahead)

Indoor:

1) Pretend City: We love Pretend City, there is always a new adventure waiting for us each time we go. Our kids can go shopping at the local grocery store, visit the library, grow crops on the farm, become a firefighter or police officer, even visit the marina. This summer there are different themed days; “Mermaid Monday,” “Tide Pool Tuesday,” “Water Safety Wednesday,” “Think Tank Thursday,” and “Fish Friday’s.” We are looking forward to staying cool and using our imagination at Pretend City this summer.

Summer Bucket List: Top Ten Places to go in the OC

Summer Bucket List: Top Ten Places to go in the OC

2) The Discovery Science Center: If your child loves to explore, then bring them to the Discovery Cube this summer! There are endless amounts of activities and learning opportunities to do at The Cube. This summer you can check out the new Doc McStuffins exhibit, which is an awesome way for your kids to become a Doctor themselves. Our kids had a great time learning how to take care of patients, perform surgeries and even give an X-ray or two. There is also a new exhibit called “Above and Beyond” presented by Boeing. You can create your own space craft and fly it through the air or spread your own wings and experience flight as a bird. Of course there are still the regular area’s that we love to visit, especially the Dinosaur exhibit outside where you can walk through the inside of a Brachiosaurus.

Summer Bucket List: Top Ten Places to go in the OC

Summer Bucket List: Top Ten Places to go in the OC

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3) The Aquarium of the Pacific: What a better way to cool off in the summer than to visit the aquarium?! If you have never visited the Aquarium of the Pacific, then it’s definitely something you should put on the summer bucket list. Kids of all ages can be amazed by all of the beautiful sea life including the jelly fish, sea otters, penguins, the new horses and dragons exhibit and even the sharks. We have taken the kids for fun family day and the hubby and I actually went there as a date before kids. After we went to 2nd St in Long Beach for dinner at La Creperie Cafe (if you have never gone, you are missing out). So not only is it a great outing for the family. but it can also be a great day date!

Summer Bucket List: Top Ten Places to go in the OC

Summer Bucket List: Top Ten Places to go in the OC

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4) Go see a Show: How could I not suggest this? I absolutely love musical theater (if you don’t know why go read here) and taking the family to see a show this summer should definitely be on the bucket list. Segerstrom Center for the Arts always has great shows and dance companies performing on its stage. We recently went to see Newsies and we were not disappointed! I also highly suggest 3D Theatricals for a show as well. The talent is top notch and once upon a time I even performed with them. Go support the arts and see a show!

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5) Big Air: When it’s hot outside and the kids have tons of energy this is the place to go! Have them jump the day away on the super fun trampolines and dive into the foam pit. Toddler time during the summer months is Wednesday and Thursday from 8am-11am. But it’s not just for the kids either, they also have Cosmic Nights on Friday and Saturday nights from 8:30-11:00pm for those that want to plan a more active date!

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(As always, make sure to check websites for prices and hours of operation or for any other details)

Summer Bucket List: Top Ten Places to go in the OC

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Now go make some fun summer memories and don’t forget to let me know if you try any of these activities out! I always love hearing feedback or new ideas of places we haven’t been! AND if you are looking for more ways to have fun in the sun, but stay cool this summer, I am linking up with some other fabulous California Bloggers with their favorite places to go. Make sure you go check them out!!

*Justine @ Little Dove 

 

This article has 10 comments

  1. Sarah

    Oh! I can’t wait to try these this summer! Love your suggestions- I like how a lot of them involve water bc people don’t realize how hot it actually gets here and kids love to splash!!

    • Jenny

      Oh yes, must have water or AC during the month of August for sure! Lets plan a play date!

  2. Justine Y @ Little Dove

    That YMCA splash pad looks like so much fun! We have some good ones somewhat nearby, but the closest one to us closed a couple years ago during the drought, I was so bummed.

    • Jenny

      That is a bummer! There is a good one in El Dorado Hills that we have been to!

  3. Stephanie

    Great list!!! Thanks for sharing!!!

    • Jenny

      If you come to any of these let me know and I will meet you!

  4. Sarah @ Foxy's Domestic Side

    Such a great list! You know I have lived in the OC for 12 years and have never been to the OC fair? I think that needs to change! I need to try out those splash pads. I haven’t been to the one in Aliso yet.

    • Jenny

      I always went to the fair growing up, it seems a bit nostalgic for me. The splash pads are awesome! Your kiddos would love it!

  5. stephanie

    Great post, Jenny!!! Love the pics, too!!! Counting down till the OC Fair!!! Thank you for all your suggestions for an AWESOME summer with the kiddos! : )

    • Jenny

      Yay! So glad you liked it! I have to admit that I haven’t brought the kids to the fair yet, but I think I might try this year!:)

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