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20 Fun Things to Do with Kids in Orange County California

Updated on August 8, 2017

This is a list of 20 fun places to take kids in Orange County. 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. Prices are subject to change.

Disneyland and California Adventure

Location: Anaheim

Disneyland and California Adventure are Orange County's biggest tourist attractions. While Disneyland and California Adventure are two separate parks, they're right next to each other. You can walk from one to the other. Both parks are included in whatever ticket or membership you buy. While these are must see parks they're also very crowded for much of the day and lines for most rides are long. But still they're a lot of fun to visit. Tickets are about $100 for one day. Southern California residents can buy a year long membership.

California Adventure
California Adventure

The Honda Center

Location: Anaheim

The Honda Center is the largest sports and concert venue in the area. Concerts with major pop, rap, rock, and country stars like twenty one pilots, Brad Paisley, Kendrick Lamar, Halsey, and One Republic are held throughout the year. There are also 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 18,000 seats depending on the type of event.

Camelot Golfland

Location: Anaheim

Camelot Golfland describe themselves as "the largest miniature golf course facility in the country!" In addition to miniature golf they have racing cars, bumper boats, lazer tag, and an arcade. There's also a pizza parlor that sells pizza, sandwiches, and milkshakes. Activities are individually priced.

Angel Stadium

Location: Anaheim

If you want to introduce your kids to America's favorite pastime baseball, 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 venue has about 45,000 seats.

Adventure City

Location: Anaheim

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. This is a great place to go if you just want to go out for a few hours. Many rides 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 $18.95 per person and parking is free.

Knott's Berry Farm

Knott's Berry Farm

Location: Buena Park

If you want the thrill of rides and roller coasters but with a lower price tag Knott's Berry Farm is your best option. It's located only about 7 miles away from Disneyland. While tickets at the park are about $75, they're often available for much less online. As I write this, a one day ticket is $45 online. Southern California residents can buy a season pass for a little over a hundred dollars.

You can take a ride around Knott's Berry Farm on a steam train
You can take a ride around Knott's Berry Farm on a steam train

Soak City

Location: Buena Park

Knott's Berry Farm has a water park called Soak City. Admission isn't included in the Knott's Berry Farm tickets. To visit both, you must buy the Ride & Slide ticket, which is $70 online as I write this.

Orange County Fair / Pacific Amphitheater

Location: Costa Mesa

The OC Fair runs for about one month each summer. Admission for adults is $12 to $14. However rides and games must be purchased separately. Unlimited carnival rides cost $30 per person. You can access concerts at the Pacific Amphitheater from either inside or outside the fair. One fun things to do is spend the day at the fair and then attend a concert in the evening. Check out pacamp.com to find out which acts are performing.

The Orange County Fair at night
The Orange County Fair at night

Segerstrom Center for the Arts

Location: Costa Mesa

Segerstrom Center for the Arts is a 3000 seat theater. Many Orange County performances of major musicals like The Lion King and Wicked are performed here. Hamilton is coming to the Segerstrom in May 2018. You can also see ballets and classical performances. While kids can be taken to any performance, there are also kid friendly events like Sing Along with The Muppet Movie. Ticket prices vary by show.

Irvine Regional Park / Orange County Zoo

Location: Irvine

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 available activities.

The 8 acre Orange County Zoo is located within the park. The zoo has "black bears, mountain lions, bald eagle, ocelot, red-tailed hawk, great horned owls, porcupine, coyotes, turkey vultures, and more." There are also farm animals. Entrance to the zoo costs just $2 per person.

Irvine Spectrum

Location: Irvine

The Irvine Spectrum is an outdoor shopping mall. 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 you can visit the skating rink and enjoy live music during the summer. There's also a movie theater 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 bookstore, gift and novelty stores, beauty shops, and hair salons.

Pop star Alessia Cara performed a 5 song set live at the Irvine Spectrum in August 2016 in front of the Giant Wheel
Pop star Alessia Cara performed a 5 song set live at the Irvine Spectrum in August 2016 in front of the Giant Wheel

Boomers

Locations: Irvine and Fountain Valley

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. The number of points needed for each activity varies. Boomers offers a 4 hour attractions pass. For about $50 you can go on all the rides you want for up to 4 hours. Southern California residents can buy a season pass with no black out dates for about $55.

Boomers is a small amusement park and arcade
Boomers is a small amusement park and arcade

Pretend City Children's Museum

Location: Irvine

The Pretend City Children's Museum is best for kids ages 6 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 exhibits include a construction site, a bank, an art studio, a doctor's office, a post office, and a farm. Basically kids pretend to work in these locations. Admission is $12.50.

Discovery Cube Science Museum

Location: Santa Ana

Discovery Cube is a fun and often hands on science museum. The museum has permanent and temporary exhibits. Many 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 about $18. Kid's tickets are about $13. Movies are $3.

The Santa Ana Zoo

Location: Santa Ana

The Santa Ana Zoo is best for younger kids up to age 7 or so. It houses about 250 animals on 20 acres of land. In addition to the animals there are events, a playground, food service, a gift shop, and a train ride. Admission is $10 for adults and $7 for children and seniors.

The Santa Ana Zoo keeps at least 50 monkeys at all times
The Santa Ana Zoo keeps at least 50 monkeys at all times

Balboa Fun Zone

Location: Newport Beach

The Balboa Fun Zone is small but due to its location on the beach is 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. It's on the boardwalk, so there's no admission. You just pay for the ride. You can also take a harbor cruise to see the multi-million dollar beachfront homes. There's also an arcade and restaurants.

Bowers Museum

Location: Santa Ana

Bowers Museum includes a Kidseum with children's art education programs. They describe their Kidseum this way:

"Kidseum is a high-tech and interactive childrens museum with a focus on it's mission, "Igniting imagination through exploration," stressing the excitement of art, archaeology and world cultures. Check out the "Glow Cave" with its fun art making activities, ride the magical Wells Fargo stagecoach through time in the "Green Screen Time Machine," and explore archaeology like never before in our Archaeology Lab. New smart tables, smart boards, and computers offer visual stimulation and engagement."

Admission is $8 and free for Santa Ana residents on Sundays.

Zoomars

Location: San Juan Capistrano

Zoomars is a petting zoo that includes train rides, pony rides, animal feeding and panning to find gemstones and fossils. Animals include cows, sheep, goats, rabbits, alpacas, ponies and llamas. Camps and birthday parties are also offered. Admission is $10 for adults and $8 for children.

Shakespeare by the Sea

Location: Varies

If you want to expose your kids to the plays of the Bard of Avon, then you'll love Shakespeare by the Sea which presents "10 weeks of ADMISSION FREE performances at +20 venues throughout LA and Orange County." Go to "shakespearebythesea.org/wp/locations" to find a play near you.

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