What Should I Do With My Kids in Orange County?
As a Southern California resident that raised two kids, I can vouch that there are plenty of entertaining and interesting things for you to do with them. For this article, I've compiled a list of 18 fun places to take kids throughout Orange County.
Orange County is a highly populated, urbanized area situated between the sprawling Los Angeles County and the less sprawling but still big San Diego County. It's known for gorgeous sandy beaches, sunshine, and countless attractions—many of which are included in this article!
Whether you're a tourist visiting the area or a local resident looking for new places to hang out, you're sure to have a great time at all of these locations. As a disclaimer, the prices and hours of operation are, of course, subject to change, so you should always check the websites to have the most accurate information on these places before you set out to enjoy them.
1. Disneyland and California Adventure
Disneyland and California Adventure are Orange County's biggest theme park attractions and two of the most famous theme parks in the world. While Disneyland and California Adventure are two separate parks, they're right next to each other, and you can easily walk from one to the other.
Ticket options change by the year, so it makes sense to check before each time you are thinking of going. You can buy a park hopper and have access to both for a day, or you can opt to buy individual tickets and take on one at a time. Additionally, Southern California residents might be eligible for a year-long membership or deals like a three-day pass for a significantly discounted rate.
While these parks are must-sees and very fun, they're also very crowded throughout the entire year, and lines for rides can be quite long. On top of that, they continue to get more and more pricey every year. Nevertheless, they're a lot of fun to visit, even if you just go every once in a while.
The parks have so much to see and are continuously being updated with new attractions and rides.
Location: 1313 Disneyland Dr, Anaheim, CA 92802
2. The Honda Center
The Honda Center is the largest sports and concert venue in the area. There are many concerts held here yearly; major pop, rap, rock, and country stars like Twenty One Pilots, Janet Jackson, Kendrick Lamar, BTS, and One Republic have all performed.
The venue also hosts other events like Marvel Universe Live and the P&G Gymnastics Championships. The Anaheim Ducks NHL team also plays their home games at the Honda Center. The arena has 17,000 to just under 19,000 seats, depending on the type of event. The venue is also set to hold indoor volleyball matches for the 2028 Summer Olympics.
Taking your kids to the Honda Center will require you to plan in advance, but this is a good location to keep tabs on since there always seems to be something exciting happening!
Location: 2695 E Katella Ave, Anaheim, CA 92806
3. Camelot Golfland
Camelot Golfland describes itself as "the largest miniature golf course facility in the country!" In addition to miniature golf, they have racing cars, bumper boats, laser tag, and an arcade. There's also a parlor that sells pizza, sandwiches, and milkshakes. You should note that all of the activities are individually priced, so having an idea of exactly what activities you want to do before you go will help you stay within your budget.
Location: 3200 E Carpenter Ave, Anaheim, CA 92806
4. Angel Stadium
If you want to introduce your kids to America's favorite pastime—baseball—then Angel Stadium is the place to go. The stadium, which opened in 1966, is home to the Major League Baseball (MLB) team, the Los Angeles Angels. The team has actually been playing in Los Angeles since 1961!
The venue has about 45,000 seats. You may even be able to catch a concert there as well; the stadium has hosted festivals over the years as well, with big names like SZA and Kelly Clarkson having performed sets.
Location: 2000 E Gene Autry Way, Anaheim, CA 92806
5. Adventure City
Adventure City is a small amusement park that's best for kids ages 12 and younger. It's quieter than Disneyland and Knott's Berry Farm and is a great place to go if you just want to go out for a few hours.
Many of the rides here don't have lines, and the ones that do are usually short. So, you don't have to spend a whole day to experience all the rides. There's a roller coaster, train ride, carousel, balloon ride, and more. Admission is $26.95 per person, and on top of that, parking is free.
Location: 1238 S Beach Blvd, Anaheim, CA 90680
6. Knott's Berry Farm
If you want the thrill of rides and roller coasters but with a lower price tag than what you'll find at Disney Parks, then Knott's Berry Farm is your best option. It's located just about seven miles away from Disneyland.
While tickets at the park are about $100—and if that sounds like a lot, that's still much less than Disney!—they're often available online for a bit less. There are also other ways to save like if you are active or retired military or even by having a Southern California address. Additionally, season passes are only $135, so if you plan to visit more than just one time, this is something you could consider.
Location: 8039 Beach Blvd, Buena Park, CA 90620
7. Orange County Fair and Pacific Amphitheater
The OC Fair runs for about one month each summer (2023 dates are from July 14 to August 13), and admission is $13 for those 13–59 during the week and $15 from Friday through Sunday. You can find discounted rates for those under 13 and seniors. I should note that this is just the cost of admission; tickets for rides and games must be purchased separately. If you are looking to do most of the carnival rides, there is usually an unlimited pass available that is not too pricey.
You can access concerts at the Pacific Amphitheater from either inside or outside the fair. One fun thing to do is spend the day at the fair and then attend a concert in the evening. Check out the website to find out which acts are performing and what time you should get to the grounds.
Check the fairgrounds throughout the year for other events that might interest you.
Location: 100 Fair Dr, Costa Mesa, CA 92626
8. Segerstrom Center for the Arts
The Segerstrom Center for the Arts is a 3000-seat theater where many of Orange County's major performances take place. You'll find musicals like The Lion King and Wicked or artists and comedians performing on a regular basis. You can also see ballets and classical performances, and though kids can be taken to any performance, there are also kid-oriented events like Bluey's Big Play and Disney's Frozen. Ticket prices vary by show.
Location: 600 Town Center Dr, Costa Mesa, CA 92626
9. Irvine Regional Park and Orange County Zoo
Irvine Park is a beautiful park that offers attractions like pony riding, paddle boat rentals, hiking, and train rides. There are two snack bars located in the park that sell food like burgers, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, quesadillas, popcorn, and ice cream. There is no admission fee, but you will have to pay for parking and for each of the activities available.
The eight-acre Orange County Zoo is also located within the park. The zoo has black bear, mountain lion, bald eagle, ocelot, red-tailed hawk, great horned owl, porcupine, coyotes, turkey vulture, and other animals and plants that are native to the southwestern United States. Many of these animals are injured, orphaned, or for another reason, unable to be released back into the wild.
There is also a barnyard with farm animals. Entrance to the zoo costs just $2 per person.
Location: 1 Irvine Park Rd, Orange, CA 92869
10. Irvine Spectrum Center
The Irvine Spectrum is a large outdoor shopping mall. The main attractions are the giant Ferris Wheel and the carousel with antique-designed horses and wild animals. The RiDE 7D is an interactive ride where you'll "feel the thrill of a rollercoaster and the excitement of a state-of-the-art laser blasting game all in one!"
During the winter I suggest you visit the skating rink, and during the summer spend time enjoying the live music. There's also both a big movie complex and an improv theater. The mall has both fast food and full service restaurants. In all, there are about 50 restaurants, ice cream stores, snack shops, and candy shops. There's a Dave & Busters with arcade games and prizes. There are also clothing stores, a Barnes and Noble, gift and novelty stores, beauty shops, and hair salons.
Location: 670 Spectrum Center Dr. Irvine, CA 92618
Boomers has a large indoor arcade and an outdoor area with rides, go-karts, a batting cage, and miniature golf. The great thing about Boomers is that there's no admission fee. You get a card with points, and the number of points needed for each activity varies.
For about $50, you can get the Elite pass and on all the rides you want to. I suggest purchasing tickets online as they come out to only $37. There are other ticket options available as well for military and first responders, as well as single-attraction tickets for those seeking one specific activity.
Locations: 3405 Michelson Dr, Irvine, CA 92612
12. Pretend City Children's Museum
The Pretend City Children's Museum is best for younger kids, likely those around age six and under. The facility features "17 interactive exhibits and activities guided by a highly trained professional staff, children learn foundational math, reading and science skills."
The various exhibits include a construction site, a bank, an art studio, a doctor's office, a post office, and a farm. Essentially, kids have the opportunity to pretend they are working in these locations. Admission is $19.95 for both adults and children, and the museum is right off the 405 and 5 freeways.
Location: 29 Hubble, Irvine, CA 92618
13. Discovery Cube Science Museum
Discovery Cube is a fun and often hands on science museum. The museum has both permanent and temporary exhibits, many of which are interactive. The Eco Challenge is a game that's played inside a mock grocery store. In Dino Quest, players search throughout the exhibit for answers to a challenge. Tickets for adults are $19.95, and tickets for kids 3–14 are $14.95.
Location: 2500 N Main St, Santa Ana, CA 92705
14. Santa Ana Zoo
I'd say that the Santa Ana Zoo is best for younger kids—up to around age seven or so. It houses about 250 animals on 20 acres of land. In addition to the animals, there are events, a playground, food options, and a gift shop. There is also a train ride, Ferris wheel, and carrousel; these each cost a few tickets, which is different than the admission ticket. They can be purchased for $1.50 apiece.
Admission to the zoo itself is $12 for adults and $9 for children and seniors. Parking is free.
Location: 1801 E Chestnut Ave, Santa Ana, CA 92701
15. Balboa Fun Zone
The Balboa Fun Zone is small, but due to its location on the beach, it is definitely worth a visit. If you're planning to hang out at the beach for the day, then this is the place to go.
The main attraction is the Ferris Wheel, where you can enjoy beautiful ocean views from above. The complex is right on the boardwalk, and there's no admission to the Fun Zone; you just pay for the ride. You can take a harbor cruise to see the multi-million dollar beachfront homes, or there's an arcade and restaurants available all right along Newport Harbor. Check the website before going; there have been restoration projects in recent years that have led to certain parts being closed for periods of time.