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Hike to Heart Rock

Posted by on May 1, 2018 in Featured, Hiking Trails, Joshua Tree, Kia, Travel | 0 comments

 Vehicle provided by Kia When planning a mother and daughter trip to Joshua Tree, one of my friends mentioned to me that we needed to hike to heart rock. Unfortunately, there is barely anything written online about how to find the mysterious heart rock, so we set off on an adventure to find heart rock. There were only a few things that we knew about heart rock before going on a hike, and that was that it is located in the White Tank Campground along the Arch Rock Nature Trail. Before checking into our campsite, we drove in our Kia Sorento to Arch Rock Nature Trail in an attempt to find heart rock. The trail is only .5 miles, but we seemed to hike for at least a couple of miles. We hiked all over the area until the...

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The Fairy Trail Returns to Oso Creek Trail

Posted by on Apr 10, 2018 in Featured, Mission Viejo, Parks | 1 comment

  Families were disappointed when the popular Aliso Summit Fairy Trail closed to the public a couple of months ago. But, we have fantastic news….the fairy trail is back and in a whole new location. The fairy trail has returned to a bigger and better location along Oso Creek Trail. If you haven’t been to Oso Creek Trail, it is already a magical place and is the ideal place for children to become immersed in the magical world of fairies. Along the trail, your children can discover hidden fairy houses with beautiful details. The fairy trail is expected to be completed on April 28th. However, I have heard a rumor that there are already some houses hidden along the trail already. Plan a magical day with your children at the Oso Creek Trail discovering hidden fairy houses and villages....

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Dana Point Family Travel Guide

Posted by on Aug 13, 2017 in Dana Point, Featured, Kia, Staycation, Travel | 0 comments

 Sponsored Dana Point is the perfect place in Orange County for families to create long lasting memories together. The city is home to some of the best beaches in Orange County and luxurious resorts. When looking for the best place to plan your next family staycation, Dana Point is one of the top choices to have a getaway full of sun and fun. Where to stay There are many resorts in Dana Point that each offer a different vacation experience. The DoubleTree Dana Point is just a few steps away from the beach. They have luxurious suites and guest rooms that offer beautiful ocean views. Your family can rent a bike and cruise around Dana Point when staying at the DoubleTree Dana Point. If you’re looking for a luxurious resort on the cliffs over the pacific ocean, The Ritz-Carlton...

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Aliso Summit Fairy Hiking Trail

Posted by on Jun 4, 2017 in Aliso Viejo, Cool Places, Featured, Hiking Trails, Parks | 11 comments

  CLOSED AS OF AUGUST 14TH “Fairy Lily’s broken wing has now completely healed and Queen Lily and the other fairies that have been living along the Aliso Summit Trail have headed back to their homes in Ireland. All the fairies are very sad to leave their beautiful homes here in Orange County, but wanted everyone to know that they will fondly remember the very special time they had living here. They will cherish the friendships, the trinkets/rocks/gifts, as well as the hand written notes and drawings from all their human friends who have visited them. For those of you that missed visiting the fairies, Fairy Lily wants to remind you that you can always build your own fairy home in your home or yard, so that the fairies will be able to visit and surround you with unlimited...

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Exploring Irvine with Pedego Electric Bikes

Posted by on May 18, 2017 in Biking Trails, Cool Places, Family, Featured, Fitness, Parks | 0 comments

 We went on a tour as a guest of the venue Growing up in Newport Beach, bike riding was one of my favorite things to do on the weekends. Then I grew up, got married, and moved to South Orange County where biking riding is nearly impossible with a massive hill around every corner. I often miss the days of riding my bike to a restaurant for lunch or to the store to pick-up a couple of groceries. A couple of my friends had been posting pictures of their families going on bike rides every weekend around Orange County, and when I asked one of my friends how she stays in such great shape to tackle riding a bike up and down the South OC hills, she told me that they have been riding Pedego electric bikes. I was...

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Family Sailing in Dana Point Harbor

Posted by on May 1, 2017 in Best of OC, Dana Point, Staycation, Travel | 0 comments

 We visited a guest of the venue One of my favorite things to do as a child growing up in Orange County was to sail my sabot. Growing up just steps away from the water in Newport Beach, my parents got me sailing lessons at a very young age. Once I learned how to sail, my parents couldn’t keep me off the water. I spent every warm day out on the water sailing my hot pink sabot around Newport Harbor. I always thought that when I grew up and had children of my own that I would teach them all to sail, but life happens, and I never got around to teaching any of my children how to sail. I have taken them out sailing a couple of times when in the Turks and Caicos and Jamaica, but none...

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Doheny Beach Butterfly Garden & Nature Center

Posted by on Apr 26, 2017 in Dana Point, Nature Centers | 5 comments

 We stayed as a guest of the resort I have spent many summer days with my children at Doheny Beach, and I never realized that they have a beautiful butterfly garden until a recent family staycation at the DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Hotel Doheny Beach. When I checked into the resort for the weekend, the front desk was so helpful with making some recommendations of things to do in the area, and when she mentioned the butterfly garden, I knew that I wanted to bring the kids to see it. Our family woke up on Saturday morning, had a relaxing breakfast in bed, and then walked across the street to Doheny Beach. At first, we had a little bit of trouble finding the butterfly garden, but a nice lady walking working at the State Beach advised us that it...

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Best Places to See Wildflowers in Orange County

Posted by on Mar 18, 2017 in Best of OC, Featured, Hiking Trails, Parks | 8 comments

  I love wildflowers more than anything. When there was that big super bloom in Death Valley, I drove the family all they way to Death Valley just to look at wildflowers. Searching for wildflowers is a fun family activity that brings families together in nature. Last week, I had an opportunity to go searching for wildflowers in Limestone Canyon – one of the most beautiful nature hikes in Orange County and got a chance to see some beautiful flowers. Do you want to take your children to see wildflowers? These are some of the best places to go searching for wildflowers in Orange County. Limestone Canyon This hiking trail is only open on public access days, and when it is open, it’s a must to see. Not only will you have an opportunity to see wildlife, wildflowers and...

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Inspiring Children to Learn through Play

Posted by on Mar 9, 2017 in Education, Parenting, Parks | 0 comments

 This post was sponsored by Landscape Structures as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central. All opinions expressed in my post are my own. One of the best gifts that a parent can give their child is the gift of play. Putting down the electronics, going outside, and playing. With my job requiring me to be online for a large portion of my day, many would think that my children live a high-tech lifestyle, but we actually have the opposite. The minute that I had children, I knew that I wanted them to be outside as much as possible, digging in the dirt, climbing trees, and learning through play. My younger son attends a Waldorf School where he learns by going on nature walks, draws his own textbooks, and has a no-tech learning environment at school. Ever since...

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Leo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park

Posted by on Jan 5, 2017 in Carlsbad, Featured, Parks, Travel | 0 comments

  Whenever I visit a new place with my children, I always look for a place to take them hiking or exploring a historic place. While we were on a recent trip to Carlsbad, I added a stop to the Leo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park. The historic park is somewhere that I had always wanted to visit with my children, but didn’t seem to find the time to make our way down to Carlsbad to explore. We first went the park on a Monday to discover that they were closed, so I made arrangements for us to return the next day before heading back to Orange County. When we arrived at the ranch, we drove down a long driveway to the parking lot. We parked the car and began exploring the beautiful park. The first thing that my kids...

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Aliso Viejo Waterfall Hike

Posted by on Dec 30, 2016 in Aliso Viejo, Featured, Hiking Trails, Parks | 0 comments

  There are two things that I love to explore with my children – sea caves and waterfalls. Last year, I shared some of my favorite places to discover waterfalls with your family. Some of them are harder to find than others, and while I was enjoying sharing my favorite waterfall discoveries, there was one that I could never seem to find – the Aliso Viejo waterfall…until now. My younger son recently started attending Journey School in Aliso Viejo at the beginning of this school year, and every week he talks to me about the nature hikes his teacher takes him on, with one being to the Aliso Viejo waterfall. I waited until after the big rain that we had last night to have him bring me to this magical place where he and his friends play every week....

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Climbing Fun at Sweet Shade Park in Irvine

Posted by on Aug 4, 2016 in Irvine, Parks | 0 comments

  The weather is finally cooling down to be able to start bringing the kids back to the park. Our family has been spending a lot of time in Irvine this summer, and sweet shade park has become one of our favorite parks to visit for endless climbing fun. We have been to this park a couple of times this summer, and it is rarely busy. I’ve never seen more than one or two kids playing, so it’s time to spread the word. The park has a nice parking lot with plenty of parking for families. There are also bathrooms, drinking fountain, basketball courts, and plenty of grass for kids to run around. The part is the giant climber. My kids could spend the whole day climbing on the giant blue caterpillar shaped climber. It is clearly the highlight...

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OC Waterfall Hikes

Posted by on Jul 14, 2016 in Cool Places, Family, Hiking Trails | 2 comments

  There are two things that I love in life – waterfalls and sea caves. There is nothing better than getting to splash water on your face from a waterfall after a summer hike. When planning a summer hike with your family, surprise them with a beautiful waterfall at the end of one of these OC waterfall hikes. Holy Jim Waterfall Hike This probably the most popular waterfall hike in Orange County. The hike provides plenty of shade along the way for younger children and isn’t too far to reach the waterfall. The only downside is that the waterfall is usually just a small trickle of water coming down the rocks. Getting to the start of the hike can be a challenge because the road is extremely bumpy but it is worth it. Falls Canyon Falls This waterfall was...

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Best Beach Parks in the OC

Posted by on Jul 13, 2016 in Cool Places, Family, Featured, Parks | 0 comments

 Sponsored Orange County is home to some of the most beautiful beaches, hiking trails, and parks in Southern California. During the summer, families are often spotted spending time with their children at one of the best beach parks in the OC. I teamed up with Expedia.com for its #SoCalSummer series to share some of the best beach parks in the OC. Bring along your beach gear and get ready to have an unforgettable summer day at one of these exclusive OC beach parks. Marina Park This park is often referred to by locals at Lighthouse Park because of the giant lighthouse slide in the center of the park. It is located right in the heart of Newport Beach on the Peninsula and is also the newest beach park built in Orange County. The park features plenty of grass for...

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Boysen Park is an Epic Airplane Park in Anaheim

Posted by on Feb 12, 2016 in Anaheim, Featured, Parks | 0 comments

  My son loves planes. Ever since he was little, he has wanted to be a pilot in the Navy when he grows up. Whenever there is something related to aircraft, I love to share it with him and enjoy watching his excitement. When my kids had an early dismissal from school, I surprised him by taking him to an epic airplane park called Boysen Park in Anaheim. The minute that we arrived at the park, he screamed with excitement. The moment that I opened the car door, he ran right across the grass to start climbing on the giant air force jet. The airforce jet replica has a wing that serves as a ramp to climb onto the plane and also as a slightly bumpy slide. The entire time that we were at the park, kids were climbing...

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Arroyo Trabuco Wilderness Trail

Posted by on Feb 10, 2016 in Biking Trails, Hiking Trails, Mission Viejo, Parks | 0 comments

  Since I have the morning carpool and drive a suburban full of boys to Mission Viejo every morning, I have been exploring more of the trails and parks in the area after drop-off. After a late wake-up, and being worried about one kid being away a camp, I wanted to go for a walk where is was calm, peaceful, and surrounded by nature, so I explored the Arroyo Trabuco Wilderness Trail. It is one of my favorite trails to explore right after a rain. There is always trickling water that your kids get to jump into to cool down while on the hike. The trail is located right next to the Arroyo Trabuco Golf Course. There is a small parking lot that holds about 5-6 cars, and then there is overflow parking available at the golf course. The...

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Jeffrey Stein Children’s Music Garden at Alta Vista Gardens

Posted by on Feb 8, 2016 in Cool Places, Featured, Parks, San Diego, Travel | 0 comments

  The Jeffrey Stein Children’s Music Garden at Alta Vista Gardens is one of the most magical places on earth. While I was coming home from a mother/daughter getaway in San Diego, my daughter had mentioned that she read about this park online, and wanted to visit it. I was so excited that she was researching parks that she wanted to visit so we stopped while on our way home from San Diego. The minute that I stepped out of the car, I was in awe. It is a park that you’ll want to spend the entire day at with your children. Just like visiting Legoland or the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, you’ll have enough to keep your kids occupied for an entire afternoon at the Alta Vista Gardens – so pack a lunch and get ready to...

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Wilderness Glen Park Nature Trail in Mission Viejo

Posted by on Feb 2, 2016 in Biking Trails, Hiking Trails, Mission Viejo, Parks | 0 comments

  Mission Viejo has some of the most beautiful trails in Orange County. After spending an entire morning in meetings, I needed to relieve some stress before picking the kids up from school, so I went for a beautiful nature walk at the Wilderness Glen Park nature trail in Mission Viejo. I parked at the beginning of the trail at the corner of Los Alisos and Vista del Lago, where there is plenty of parking in the neighborhood. Once I got out of my car, I began my walk. It was like I stepped into another world while walking on this trail that is rich with nature while just being a short distance from houses and roads. Part of the trail was paved which quickly turned into a bark-covered path. There were so many twists and turns to the...

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Queen Califia’s Magical Circle ‘Beetlejuice Park’ in Escondido

Posted by on Jan 30, 2016 in Cool Places, Parks, San Diego | 0 comments

  After visiting Grape Day Park with the kids earlier this month, one of our readers mentioned that we need to visit Queen Califia’s Magical Circle in Kit Carson Park in Escondido. The park was just a short drive away from Grape Day Park and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and ever since we were told about it, we couldn’t wait to make a drive to Escondido to see it. The park looks like something right out of the movie “Beetlejuice”, and my kids immediately nicknamed Queen Califia’s Magical Circle, Beetlejuice Park. The morning that we planned to visit, unfortunately, the park was closed. My kids were slightly devastated, but they still got an opportunity to see the park through the cracks in the fence. It is only open on the second Saturday of the month from 10...

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Lighthouse Park in Newport Beach

Posted by on Jan 27, 2016 in Featured, Newport Beach, Parks | 1 comment

  One of the coolest new parks in Orange County also has one of the most epic ocean views right in the heart of the Peninsula in Newport Beach. Lighthouse Park (aka Marina Park) has one epic slide, sits right on the seaside and offers climbing galore. The minute that my kids spotted the park from the street, they were in awe. They could barely contain the excitement while found a parking spot. Parking for this park will be a challenge on the weekends (especially in the summer). There is a small parking lot, plenty of street parking, and a strip of parking spots along the water. I recommend bringing your bikes, finding parking further down the peninsula, and riding your bikes to the park on a busy summer afternoon. The park is unforgettable! There is a giant lighthouse...

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Art Meets Nature at Oso Creek Trail

Posted by on Jan 25, 2016 in Featured, Hiking Trails, Parks | 2 comments

  It has been years since I have been on the Oso Creek Trail in Mission Viejo. As part of my commitment to being healthier in the New Year, I have been spending more time walking along some of our popular OC trails. I left home a couple of hours before having to pick the kids up from school and was immersed in a world surrounded by art, waterfalls and nature galore. I parked in the parking lot of the Norman P. Murray Community & Senior Center, walked past Oso Viejo Community Park, and walked down the hill where I began the two-mile walk along Oso Creek Trail. I first stopped at the celebration garden where I admired the beautiful art sculptures. The garden path was constructed with recycled city sidewalks and was created by hundreds of volunteers to...

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Ultimate Fun at Pattinson Park in Huntington Beach

Posted by on Jan 25, 2016 in Featured, Huntington Beach, Parks | 0 comments

  It is not just the beaches that are worth driving to Huntington Beach for, but also their great parks. The city has parks around every corner, and they are always clean and not too crowded like parks in surrounding cities. Over the weekend, we visited the kids grandparents in Huntington Beach and then spent the rest of the afternoon at Pattinson Park. The park was easy to find, and parking was a breeze. The only thing missing at this park is bathrooms, so make sure you stop at a local restaurant before or after visiting the park. The highlight of the park are, of course, the play structures. The park has one giant play structure with slides galore. Like always, my kids didn’t want to leave. There is also a smaller play structure for younger children, but it...

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Hidden Orange County Waterfall Hike – Falls Canyon Falls

Posted by on Jan 23, 2016 in Cool Places, Hiking Trails | 9 comments

  There are two things that I love in life. Sea caves and waterfalls. Over the summer, we shared many different places to discover hidden sea caves, and this winter we are excited to share different hidden waterfalls. I have always wanted to find the hidden waterfall in Orange County, Falls Canyon Falls, but was never successful at finding it until recently. I followed directions from many people online – and every set of directions that we had read took us to a dead end (especially the instructions on Yelp). I was so committed to finding it this year, that I hiked almost eight miles, got a severe case of poison oak, and discovered many hidden graves. Just when I thought we were not going to find it and was about to head home, I saw a little girl...

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Planes, Hiking and Adventure at Kite Hill in Laguna Niguel

Posted by on Jan 11, 2016 in Featured, Hiking Trails, Laguna Niguel, Parks | 1 comment

  I know a super cool place where I can take the kids from time to time and escape life’s daily (understandable) pressures. The kind of pressures we all face like: the unending carpool lane at school, or the mind numbing time spent waiting on the phone for an answer from the insurance company while the kids are in a heated spat. Or the feeling the refrigerator is a bottomless pit and you need to return to the grocery store a third time that week after you work all day, only to have the kids inform you, “Mom, we are OUT of food again!” All of these so-called pressures are small when we compare it to the bigger picture of life: keeping a family together and giving them some “outdoor” exposure to our ever changing world. As a mother,...

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Epic Grape Day Park in Escondido

Posted by on Jan 2, 2016 in Featured, Parks, San Diego, Travel | 2 comments

  I love to explore new parks with my kids. I have had a visit to the Grape Day Park in Escondido on my bucket list for a couple of years and finally decided that this is the year to check it off my list. When we were planning a winter staycation to San Diego, our family got up a little bit earlier than we planned to have a detour to Grape Day Park on our way to San Diego. Well..the detour continued as we checked off some more items on my bucket list by also doing the mining tour in Julian. The park was pretty easy to find and is a perfect stop while on your way to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park (it is not too far away). There is plenty of parking on the street,...

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Red Barn Park: Tierra Grande Park in San Clemente

Posted by on Jan 1, 2016 in Parks, San Clemente | 1 comment

  It is not very often that we venture as far south as San Clemente for park fun until the recent opening of the Outlets at San Clemente. With three kids, we cannot resist the great deals and shopping without the crowds of the major malls with the beautiful Pacific Ocean as the backdrop. With the new outlet center being our new favorite OC shopping destination, we have had some time to explore the local parks in San Clemente with the Red Barn Park (Tierra Grande Park) being our favorite discovery yet. The park has everything that families could want out of a park. There is a baseball field, basketball court, soccer field, bike path, picnic tables (covered), bathrooms, and plenty of parking. My kids were not in the mood for playing at the park last week, but I...

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University Community Park in Irvine

Posted by on Dec 28, 2015 in Irvine, Parks | 0 comments

  While on our way to visit Adventure Playground in Irvine, we first played at the University Community Park playground. The park is large, clean and offers fun for children of all ages. Surrounding the playground are plenty of picnic tables, tennis courts, basketball courts, volleyball courts and plenty of grass. The park features two different play structures. There is a larger structure for older children and a smaller structure for younger children. There is also a fun rock wall and a couple of fun features like spinning chairs, and our kids favorite – the triple slide. Overall, the park is a great place to bring your children to play. There is plenty of space surrounding the park making it ideal for birthday parties. Your kids can play with their balls without having to worry about them rolling into...

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Adventure Playground in Irvine

Posted by on Dec 21, 2015 in Featured, Irvine, Parks | 3 comments

  Adventure Playground has recently reopened in the city of Irvine and offers children an epic day of endless fun. From mud to water play, children will unleash their creativity at this fun Orange County park. Dress your kids in clothes that you don’t mind to get dirty, old shoes and get ready for some fun in the mud. Adventure Playground is located at the University Community Park at 1 Beech Tree Lane in Irvine. There is free parking, free admission, and we recommend bringing lunch because your kids are not going to want to leave. The Play Structure It is probably one of the best that we have seen in Orange County. There were a ton of kids at Adventure Playground when we were visiting, and our kids didn’t feel crowded at all. There are mesh tunnels, a...

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Adventure Play Park at Sendero Field

Posted by on Nov 25, 2015 in Featured, Parks, San Juan Capistrano | 0 comments

  The new community of Rancho Mission Viejo, located off Ortega Hwy and Antonio, between the communities of Ladera Ranch and San Juan Capistrano, has sprung up quickly with lots to offer and even more construction on the way. One of the highlights of this new community is the Adventure Play Park located on Sendero Field. Here’s everything you need to know about visiting this fun, new Orange County Park! Adventure Play Park is an eco-friendly, nature-inspired sanctuary where the kids can run and play on the vast open grass spaces, climb to their hearts content on the various play/climbing structures, and explore the rustic surroundings. Playground feature include, but are not limited to: Climbing logs, rocks and ropes Swings – three regular and one baby Tree house Log crawl tunnel “Imagination stations” Log balance beams Many slides, including...

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Fall Fun at Valley Oak Park in Irvine

Posted by on Nov 2, 2015 in Featured, Irvine, Parks | 0 comments

  While on our way to the dentist last month, we stumbled upon the perfect park for a fall fun playdate – Valley Oak Park in Irvine. The park offers a plethora of shade with trees that boast a wide variety of beautiful fall colors. Parking The park has a decent size parking lot that can fit around 20-30 cars. Play Structures There are two play structures at this park. The larger play structure has a lot of shade from the trees while the toddler play structure is in full sun. The surface underneath the structures is foam and sand. There is a nice swing set that also sits under beautiful trees making it comfortable for toddlers to swing all afternoon. Other features of the park include a tennis court and basketball court. There is a large shade covering...

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Tree House Park at Beacon Park in Irvine

Posted by on Oct 29, 2015 in Featured, Irvine, Parks | 4 comments

  We owe the discovery of this park located in the new home community of Beacon Park all to you – our awesome readers. One of our readers advised us of this cool new park opening, and we couldn’t wait to see what all the excitement was about! When we arrived, my son was in park heaven. We named it Tree House Park because the park is all about the giant tree house complete with twisty tube slide and fort. The Giant Tree House It is the best part of the park. There is a tree house built right into a real tree – just like the good old days of when we were kids. There is a bridge that leads to a “fort” area where a group of moms was sitting at the small tables having lunch together...

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Citrus Ranch Park in Tustin

Posted by on Sep 28, 2015 in Featured, Parks, Tustin | 0 comments

  While on our way home from the Irvine Park Railroad Pumpkin Patch, we stopped to get an ice cream cone and to play at Citrus Ranch Park in Tustin. We had spotted the park from Jamboree Road while on our way home, and the kids screamed with delight when their eyes first saw the park. I turned the car around, and we got ready to enjoy a fun afternoon at this incredibly fun OC Park. The park is HUGE! There is a giant parking lot, and plenty of space for kids to play. There is a windy path surrounding the park that is perfect for families to bring their bikes, so don’t leave them at home. Not only is there a fun bike path, but also plenty of grassy area for kids to play ball or run around....

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The Wildlands Conservancy at the Oak Glen Preserve

Posted by on Sep 16, 2015 in Featured, Hiking Trails, Nature Centers, Parks | 0 comments

  The one thing that I was not expecting to do when apple picking with my kids in Oak Glen was to find one of the best nature preserves in Southern California. The Wildlands Conservancy at the Oak Glen Preserve is located right on the Los Rios Ranchos property, and our family could have spent the entire day exploring the vast amount of trails. We noticed the preserve while picking apples at Riley’s Los Rios Rancho, and walked over to see what it was all about before leaving for lunch. There was a docent at the opening of the preserve who talked to us about their mission, gave our kids a learning guide, and helped us to pick a trail that would fit into our schedule for the day. As we started to walk along the trail, there was...

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9/11 Memorial in Laguna Beach

Posted by on Sep 11, 2015 in Featured, Laguna Beach, Parks | 0 comments

  Hundreds of families walk past this beautiful sculpture on their way to the popular picnic beach or divers cove, but what many people don’t realize is that the beautiful piece of art is a 9/11 Monument. The 9/11 memorial “Semper Memento” or “Always Remember” was created by local Laguna Beach artist, Jorg Dubin in 2011. “Yes, the steel beams are from the World Trade Center ruins. I wanted the beams to look like they had been found in that position. When the beams arrived from New York, they were draped in an American Flag, and that flag is entombed in the cement base. The base is in the shape of the Pentagon, which has an obvious meaning. The center grass area represents the field in Shanksville, PA, and the soil is from there too. I wanted all three...

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Patriotic Parks and Trails in Orange County

Posted by on Sep 11, 2015 in Parks | 0 comments

  Everyday is the perfect time to bring your children to one of these patriotic parks or hike along a patriot trail in Orange County. Visiting these small parks or memorials is a great way to open discussions with your children about 911, Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Stay tuned as we will be adding more parks to this list throughout the year. Veterans Memorial Park in Dana Point This small memorial is located right by the Strands Beach parking lot in Dana Point. There is a plaque with all the names of the fallen members of our military who lived in Dana Point. I recommend bringing a small flag or some flowers to leave when visiting with your children. Patriot Trail in San Juan Capistrano This is a beautiful hike that offers families panoramic views of Orange County....

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Dog Friendly Hiking Trails in the Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park

Posted by on Sep 6, 2015 in Featured, Hiking Trails, Parks | 5 comments

  Have a dog? Wondering where are the best places to take your best friend for a nature walk in the Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park? While this park is massive spanning 45,000 acres stretching from Laguna Beach all the way to Aliso Viejo, there are multiple pet-friendly trails for families to take their furry little pet along with them on an afternoon hike. West Ridge Trail Easy – 2 Miles The West Ridge Trail start at the corner of Canyon Vistas and Pacific Park in Aliso Viejo. It can also be accessed from Alta Laguna Blvd. in Laguna Beach. Aliso Creek Bike Trail Easy – 3 Miles This trail is accessable from the Laguna Niguel Regional Park off Alicia Parkway in-between Pacific Park and Aliso Creek Road. Aliso Peak Trail Easy – .5 Miles This easy trail...

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Brywood Park in Irvine

Posted by on Sep 2, 2015 in Featured, Irvine, Parks | 0 comments

  Brywood Park is one of my favorite parks in Irvine. While it is not known to many of those who live outside of the Irvine community, it has almost everything that parents look for when planning a family day at a local park. The park is right next to a local school, so it is frequented by families for after school playdates. But, during the weekends/summer afternoons…it is a ghost town – we were the only people at the park for the afternoon. The park has plenty of parking in the school parking lot (weekends only). It also has lots of shade for keeping kids cool on warm afternoons. The best feature is the covered party area. There are built-in barbecues and picnic tables under the covered gazebo. If you’re looking for a more private park party area,...

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Northwood Community Park “Castle Park” in Irvine

Posted by on Aug 27, 2015 in Featured, Irvine, Parks | 0 comments

  Northwood Park aka. Castle Park in Irvine has been around since I was a kid, and it is still one of my all-time favorite parks to visit in Irvine. The park is massive, offering plenty of ultimate fun for every family who visits. They call it “Castle Park” because the design of the park looks just like a castle. Inside of the castle walls are multiple play structures for every age of child. My kids could spend forever playing at this park and never get board. There are slides, climbing walls, and swings galore. My favorite part are the clean bathrooms available inside of the community center, and the ample amount of parking. The park does have shade coverings and trees, however, it does get very hot, very fast. I recommend bringing your kids with extra sunscreen and...

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Crown Valley Community Park Splash Pad

Posted by on Jul 13, 2015 in Featured, Laguna Niguel, Parks | 1 comment

  Laguna Niguel has gotten a little cooler this summer with the newest addition of their splash pad at the Crown Valley Community Park. We couldn’t wait to check out all the fun happening at this newly refurbished park so the first day we got home from our road trip, we headed over to the park for some summer fun. The new splash pad is even more fun than we expected with tons of water features for the kids to splash and play. The splash pad area is very small and limited to 60 kids at a time, but it does have a lifeguard to help monitor the kids. The only downside to the splash pad is the shade – it gets HOT very quick. I recommend parents bringing an umbrella to keep cool while the kids play. Since...

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Rimgate Park in Lake Forest

Posted by on Jun 23, 2015 in Lake Forest, Parks | 0 comments

  The one thing that we notice about the parks in Lake Forest is the large open space surrounding all their playgrounds. The city put a lot of thought into the locations of their parks allowing children lots of open space to run and play around after enjoying time on their different play structures. When my children first visited Rimgate Park in Lake Forest they were overwhelmed by the amount of grass and long twisty paths to ride their bikes. Rimgate Park has a nice tennis court, basketball court, large play structure and two tot lots. There are multiple exercise machines throughout the park, and one covered patio (must reserve with the city for a party). The only downside to this park is that the sand area was not as clean as we would have hoped in the two...

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Wilderness Themed Tamarisk Park in Lake Forest

Posted by on Jun 8, 2015 in Lake Forest, Parks | 0 comments

  Tamarisk Park in Lake Forest recently underwent a major renovation leaving a fun wilderness theme park for families to enjoy. The park is tucked away in the Lake Forest community and backs a beautiful nature trail. When we were on our way to Tamarisk Park, we made a quick stop at Peachwood Park before continuing our way up the road. When we arrived, we parked on the side of the main road and took the twisty staircase down to what would become our new favorite park in the area. It was clean, brand-new, and we seemed to have the entire park to ourselves (on a weekend too!) The park features a large parking lot (and plenty of street parking), a large field, baseball field and the playground. The playground is a fun wilderness theme complete with mushroom stairs,...

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Pavion Park in Mission Viejo

Posted by on Jun 4, 2015 in Mission Viejo, Parks | 0 comments

  I had been hearing a lot of buzz over this local park in Mission Viejo. My husband and I decided to check it out with our toddler. When we pulled up there was plenty of street parking and it was shaded by the trees along the street. We got out of the car and from the minute we set foot on the playground my toddler was in heaven! The colorful cushioned rubber ground was really nice. It was decorated in a floral motif and had vivid colors all around. I liked this because sand is usually very messy and gets all over the place. If your child loves sand, have no fear they incorporated a little sand area with some fun sand scoopers built right in. There is so much to see at this park. One of the...

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Peachwood Park in Lake Forest

Posted by on Jun 2, 2015 in Lake Forest, Parks | 0 comments

  We didn’t expect to stop and play at Peachwood Park in Lake Forest, but while on our way to Tamarisk Park we noticed the park so we couldn’t resist stopping for a little playtime. The park is located off Peachwood Drive at the corner of Peachwood and Trabuco. It is very much a neighborhood park but is perfect for children who want a place to play without the crowds at the larger parks. The park has plenty of grass for children to run and play, multiple covered tables (perfect for birthday parties) and a cute play structure. The park is clean, and the play structure is farely new. There is a drinking fountain but no bathrooms at this park. There is lots of street parking along Peachwood Drive, and when your kids are done playing at this park,...

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Pittsford Park in Lake Forest

Posted by on Jun 1, 2015 in Lake Forest, Parks | 2 comments

  Lake Forest has some of the best parks in Orange County with Pittsford Park being one of our all-time favorites. There is plenty of parking, lots of grass, bike trails, and one of the biggest play structures around. The best part – it is rarely crowded! Parking is easily accessible from Pittsford street. Once your family has found a parking spot, your kids are never going to want to leave. There is grass forever and ever for your children to run and play. I recommend bringing your children’s bikes along for them to ride along the long twisty bike trails that curve throughout the grassy park. The playground! There is climbing galore for children to enjoy at this park. There is a large play structure, smaller play structure, two swing sets and tons of little climbers. My kids...

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Barcelona Park in Mission Viejo

Posted by on May 28, 2015 in Mission Viejo, Parks | 0 comments

  My kids have spent countless hours playing at this park that neighbors their elementary school. I still can’t believe that I haven’t shared the details about all the fun for children to have at Barcelona Park in Mission Viejo. The park is small but special and has everything your kids need for a day full of fun – especially for little ones who like lots of open space to run around. There are two play structures featuring one for older children and one for toddlers, and both are surrounded with lots of sand. Around the play structures are plenty of benches and picnic benches for parents who want to bring a picnic lunch along to the park. There are also lots of trees providing plenty of shade, especially on those hot Summer afternoons. With the park neighboring a...

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Hummingbird Park in Aliso Viejo

Posted by on May 27, 2015 in Aliso Viejo, Parks | 0 comments

  Hummingbird Park is a hidden gem in Aliso Viejo offering children a beautiful place to play without the big crowds found at many of the other local parks. It is also a great birthday party location with its large grassy area that is surrounded by many large trees and shrubs. Did I mention there is an awesome bike path right across the street? Such a win-win for families. While, on our way home from an event, I saw that my kids were dancing in their seats with energy, so I made a stop at Hummingbird Park for them to release some of their energy. I parked the car on the street, and they took off to run, jump, climb and play for hours. This park also seems to draw some of the nicest mommies around, and I always...

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Guide to Visiting the Oak Canyon Nature Center in Anaheim

Posted by on May 26, 2015 in Anaheim, Parks | 1 comment

  During our five-day celebration at the Disneyland Resort, we wanted to take our kids somewhere where they could run off some of their energy and decompress from all the excitement. We got up one morning and jumped into the car where we took the kids on a short drive to the Oak Canyon Nature Center in Anaheim. When we arrived at the nature center, I realized what a true hidden gem this center is in the heart of the Anaheim Hills. There is a nature center where children can learn about nature, multiple hiking trails, and educational learning centers. Our family could have spent the entire day exploring the trails and surprises we found along the way. Interpretive Center We started our visit at the interpretive center where the children were given a map, learning guide and talked...

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Valley View Park in Quail Hill Irvine

Posted by on May 20, 2015 in Irvine, Parks | 2 comments

  While playing at Cascade Park in Quail Hill Irvine, my kiddos needed to find a bathroom – stat! I pulled out my phone and googled Valley View Park that was less than a five-minute walk (and had bathrooms). When we arrived at Valley View Park, we were in love! It has one of the nicest public basketball courts around, plenty of picnic tables (with barbecues) and the cutest play structure. It does feature a community pool (residents only) but guests at the park are welcome to use the bathrooms. We loved the park so much that we decided to stay for awhile and play. The park is not busy because it is tucked away inside of a small community. The park would be perfect..just perfect for a birthday party! If your kids love nature, then they will love...

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The Commons Park in Quail Park Irvine

Posted by on May 19, 2015 in Irvine, Parks | 0 comments

  Before leaving the Quail Hill area of Irvine, we couldn’t resist checking out The Commons Park. The Commons Park is one of the cutest parks we have stumbled upon in Irvine and is a great place to bring your kids for some much-needed R&R or a family barbecue. The park has two play structures and a small area with teeter-totters. One of the play structures looks just like a tree house, and the other has a colorful, inviting look. The park is shaped like a square with multiple picnic tables/barbecues surrounding a large grassy area. There are bathrooms and a pool (residents only). Children can play lawn games in the grassy area while parents barbecue and serve dinner at one of the picnic tables. Where is it located? At the corner of Seasons and Vermillion in Quail Hill...

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Knollcrest Park in Quail Hill Irvine

Posted by on May 18, 2015 in Featured, Irvine, Parks | 0 comments

  One of my new favorite grocery stores in South Orange County is the Albertson’s located in Quail Hill. They always have a great selection of food, decent prices and is never crowded. Every time that I drive to do my shopping I see Knollcrest Park. This morning, I surprised my daughter by stopping at the park for some playtime before picking up our groceries for the week. The park is one of the most beautiful parks in Orange County and is brand new! There is a community pool next to the park (residents only) plenty of grass to run and play and tennis courts. We were the first to arrive at the park for the morning and what stood out to me was that there was an employee raking (and cleaning) the sand before all the kids arrived....

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Best Picnic Spot in OC: Cascade Park in Quail Hill Irvine

Posted by on May 17, 2015 in Best of OC, Featured, Irvine, Parks | 0 comments

  We discovered one of the best-kept secrets with Cascade Park in Quail Hill Irvine. Our favorite features of this park is the covered picnic table that sits on the top of a hill with sweeping panoramic views of Orange County. The best part is that it is just steps away from a secluded park with lots of winding trails for bike riding and walking. Families can have dinner at the picnic table while the kids run back and forth in-between the play structure and picnic table – a must for sunset time! Finding the park is a little tricky because it is not marked. You’ll find it at the corner of Pine Needles and Serpentine Drive in Quail Hill (Irvine). There is plenty of parking along Pine Needs but no parking lot. I recommend bringing lunch/dinner, bikes, and...

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Shiffer Park in Costa Mesa

Posted by on May 9, 2015 in Costa Mesa, Parks | 0 comments

  I have driven past Shiffer Park a hundred times while going back and forth to South Coast Plaza, and never took the time to stop and finally check it out until this past week. It is right next to the popular street Bear and is very limited on parking but big on fun! Once we found a parking spot, the kids took off playing on the giant play structure. The structure is separate from the swings and conveniently located right next to the bathrooms. The only downside to this playground is that it is right off a major street – parents with little toddlers need to spend time keep a careful eye on their kiddos. Don’t leave the bikes at home. This park has a massive pathway with lots of twists and turns throughout the grass. Your kids...

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Bike Riding Along the San Diego Creek Trail

Posted by on May 2, 2015 in Biking Trails, Family, Featured, Irvine, Parks | 0 comments

  During a small family staycation at Hotel Irvine, my daughter, and I checked out some bikes from the Hotel and went on a Mother Daughter bike ride along the San Diego Creek Trail. I can’t remember the last time that I went on a bike ride other than around the neighborhood, and we had the best time creating memorable memories together while riding our bikes along this beautiful trail. The trail goes between Newport Beach and Irvine along a beautiful river bed full of plants and wildlife. It is an easy ride that even younger children could easily ride along without having to work too hard to make their way up any steep hills. We started at the corner of Main Street and Park Plaza in Irvine and rode our bikes just a couple of miles to the...

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New Lake Forest Sports Park

Posted by on Jan 4, 2015 in Featured, Lake Forest, Parks | 0 comments

  The parks in Orange County just keep getting better, and the all-new Sports Park in Lake Forest is one of our new favorites. Located right across the street from Saddleback Church, the park features multiple sports fields, two playgrounds, hiking trail, an indoor basketball court, and more!! When we first arrived at the sports park, we had a little trouble locating the playground. We drove all the way around the park until discovering it at the back of the sports park next to a roundabout. When first arriving, follow the sign that says, “recreation center” to find the playgrounds. There is a small playground (not as busy) in-between two baseball fields. This smaller playground is geared towards younger children, but my older kids were still entertained by the play structure. There is a spinning lily pad that my...

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Baker Ranch Park in Lake Forest

Posted by on Oct 16, 2014 in Family, Featured, Lake Forest, Parks | 0 comments

  Baker Ranch Park in Lake Forest is located off Bake and Dimension in the new Baker Ranch Development. My kids and I had never been to this park before, but I think after our visit this park will be on our list of top parks in the OC. This park made me want to be a kid again, as I raced across the play structure with my kids and down the slides. The park opened about 5 months ago so everything feels so fresh and new. There are two separate play areas. One rated for 2-5 year olds and the bigger equipment playground is rated for 5-12 year olds. The smaller playground has sand on one side, so make sure to bring those sand toys. The smaller playground has a small open slide, small ride on pony and...

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2014 OC Parks Annual Passes Now 50% Off

Posted by on Sep 9, 2014 in Parks | 0 comments

 Every year from 8/1, prices for the OC Parks Annual Passes get slashed by 50%. Passes are valid for the calendar year, so you still get usage for 5 months. There are 3 options: 1. Regional Parks (Wilderness Park Decal Included) 2. County Beach Parking Decal 3. Combination Pass (All of the above) With about a month of summer vacation left, plus the warm fall weather, I think the Combination Pass is the best deal at $40 (Regular price $80). You can visit the Regional Parks, Wilderness Parks, and the County Beaches until the end of the year! Normal entry/parking fees are $3 on weekdays and $5 on weekends for Regional Parks, $3 daily at Wilderness Parks, and $1/hr at the County Beaches. I had known about this for several years now, but I never got my timing right...

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Newport Dunes Beach Playground

Posted by on Jul 27, 2014 in Beaches, Newport Beach, Newport Beach, Parks | 1 comment

  When thinking about visiting Newport Dunes, many of us always automatically think about camping and swimming. Newport Dunes is so much more than just a camping destination including their incredible beach playground. The park is located just steps away from the parking lot, and is open all-year long..not just the summer! There are two-play structures, multiple small play equipment, swings and picnic tables. Did I mention there is also a giant whale sculpture for climbing? Oh yeah…there is! Families are encouraged to bring a picnic lunch to enjoy at one of the multiple tables shaded by large trees. There is also a snack bar where kids can cool down with a yummy ice cream cone or enjoy a delicious sweet treat. Did I mention bathrooms? There are nice “clean” bathrooms located just steps away from the park. After...

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Linda Lane Park in San Clemente: Play with an Ocean View

Posted by on Jul 17, 2014 in Parks, San Clemente | 0 comments

 Linda Lane Park in San Clemente is a cute little park with an amazing view. If gazing at the ocean while the kids happily sway on swings and shoot down slides makes your heart happy, this is the park for you. Linda Lane Park is located  right up the street from Linda Lane beach, a great kid-friendly OC beach, and has a good view of the coast starting from there. Standing at the bottom of the parking lot just down from the park provides a sweeping view of the San Clemente pier to the South and Dana Point to the North.  This is also an access point to the San Clemente Beach trail. Parking is shared by beach and park patrons and payed for at metered pay stations, which accept cash or credit card.  Parking can sometimes be a challenge in...

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Heritage Park in Irvine

Posted by on Jul 16, 2014 in Featured, Irvine, Parks | 0 comments

  When my friend invited to me Heritage Park in Irvine, I had no idea what to expect. When we first arrived, we were extremely impressed. The park has a large parking lot with plenty of parking spaces for families to quickly start playing! The park is surrounded by a large amount of grass with a serene fountain in the center of the park. The kids spent time exploring the fountain in the center of the park looking at all the different fish and turtles. The park also features an epic play structure that is split into two different sections. There is plenty of places for kids to climb, jump and explore. In the center of the play structure is a small splash pad for kids to cool-down on a hot summer afternoon. Do you have kids who love...

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Five Orange County Parks with Ocean Views

Posted by on Jul 13, 2014 in Featured, Parks | 0 comments

  One of the best things about living in Orange County is the beautiful beaches. The second best thing are our fantastic local parks. During the summer, visiting one of our local parks for a family picnic is a great way to create unforgettable memories together. When planning a picnic at a local park, I often head to one of these five Orange County parks with ocean views and crisp ocean breezes. The kids can run, frolic and play while my husband and I can bask in the beautiful ocean views. South Laguna Village Green Park Laguna Beach This park is a fairy wonderland for children to play and has a huge grass area for plenty of running around. There is a couple of picnic benches tucked away under large trees and even a couple of outdoor barbecues. My...

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Adventure Playground in Huntington Beach

Posted by on Jun 28, 2014 in Huntington Beach, Parks, Summer | 7 comments

 Remember the days when we could ride our bikes until the streetlights came on? Adventure Playground will be open to the public from June 19 – August 18, 2017. For most of my younger childhood, I grew-up living in the community of Beacon Bay in Newport Beach before we moved to Harbor View Homes (aka. The Port Streets). The best memories I have from growing up in Beacon Bay was building forts under the docks, and playing in the dirt until my hands were black. My mom and her friends would be inside playing bridge while all the neighborhood kids ruled the streets on our Huffy bikes. Things have changed, and my children are growing up in a society where they have to be more protected and sheltered. They can’t explore the world in the same way that I...

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Dana Point Nature Interpretive Center

Posted by on Jun 25, 2014 in Dana Point, Hiking Trails, Nature Centers, Parks | 0 comments

  I love visiting nature center with my kids, and the Dana Point Nature Interpretive Center is one of our favorites. We will often visit here during the peak of whale watching season seeing the whales from our binoculars from the Dana Point cliffs. The nature center is located at 34558 Scenic Drive in Dana Point. The center is FREE to visit with your family, and I would allow at least a couple of hours to spend at this center. When your family first arrives, there is plenty of parking in the parking lot or on the neighboring streets. Inside of the nature center are docents that love *love* children! They will spend hours talking to your children about the wildlife and plants if your family has the time. There are interactive exhibits, books and dioramas throughout the center...

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Hilltop Park in Dana Point

Posted by on Jun 24, 2014 in Dana Point, Hiking Trails, Parks | 1 comment

  Looking for the perfect place to hike with your kids in Orange County? Our new favorite destination is Hilltop Park in Dana Point. The kids get a good workout, and they are close to nature while seeing killer views. The access to Hilltop Park in Dana Point is just a few feet away from PCH on Green Lantern Street. When your family first turns onto Green Lantern off of PCH you’ll see the entrance to the park marked by a large set of stairs. Once your family finds parking along Green Lantern, begin your journey up the giant set of stairs (this is a workout). At the top of the stairs is a series of trails that your family can explore. There are a lot of rare plants and animals along this trail, so it is recommended to...

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Veterans Memorial Park in Dana Point

Posted by on Jun 23, 2014 in Dana Point, Parks | 0 comments

  As a parent, I found myself only talking to my children about all the great things the military are doing for our Country on the big holidays like Memorial Day. This past Memorial Day, I decided to make sure and find ways to talk to my children about the Men and Women who are fighting for our freedom on a regular basis. It is easier for my youngest to understand things when visiting a place of significance as with Veterans Memorial Park in Dana Point. Shortly after Memorial Day, we planned a family beach day at Strands Beach in Dana Point. We stopped at the park, before having fun together at the beach, to talk about the military and to admire the beautiful memorial set-up by the city of Dana Point. The beautiful park and memorial is located...

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Thomas F. Riley Wilderness Park

Posted by on Jun 21, 2014 in Featured, Parks, Wagon Wheel Canyon | 0 comments

  Thomas F. Riley Wilderness Park (Riley Park) boasts 544 acres of beautiful, natural, open space. While its five miles of trails are popular with hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians, and it’s vast natural fields are growing in popularity with photographers, it seems little known to the general public. The amenities at Riley Park include: Amphitheater Bicycling/Bike Trails Equestrian Trails Family Picnic Area Hiking Trails Interpretive Center Interpretive Programs Restrooms (Portable) Scenic Overlook Picnic Tables The five miles of open trails are a joy for hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians. But because it remains somewhat of a “secret spot,” it is generally never very crowded.  And even on a “busy” Saturday morning, it’s vast trails provide isolation hard to find in most parts of Orange County. Amenities for equestrians are available directly adjacent to the parking lot. The amphitheater would be a...

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Aliso Creek Beach Playground in Laguna Beach

Posted by on Jun 16, 2014 in Beaches, Laguna Beach, Laguna Beach, Parks | 0 comments

  It has been a longtime favorite for residents to bring their kids down to the Aliso Creek Beach playground in Laguna Beach throughout the warm summer months. It is a favorite birthday party destination, place for families to enjoy a picnic lunch or just play with beautiful ocean views. Although the park backs the popular PCH, it is nicely protected by trees and large shrubs to help keep the kids safe while playing. Our favorite part of visiting this park is that parking is made easy with their large parking lot (families must pay a fee to park). The park is located right at the corner of Aliso Creek Beach, with a GPS address of 31131 S Pacific Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach. Planning a birthday party? There are two picnic benches for birthday parties (first come/first serve) and...

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Guide to Summer Concerts in Orange County

Posted by on Jun 5, 2014 in Entertainment, Events, Featured, Music, Parks, Summer | 0 comments

  One of the best summer activities to do with your family is to attend a free local summer concert in the park. Pack a picnic dinner, and head to your local park for one of these free summer concerts in Orange County. Spending summer nights at our local park is one of our favorite summer family activities. Don’t miss seeing my husband’s band, The Fenian’s, playing in Brea and Laguna Beach! See you there! Check back often as I will be adding more dates as the different cities post them! Brea City Hall Park 401 S Brea Blvd Brea, CA 92821 Lively music of various genres will be presented. This is the perfect place to enjoy free entertainment and get to meet some new friends. Guests are encouraged to bring their folding chairs or blankets and get comfortable...

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Niguel Heights Park in Laguna Niguel

Posted by on Jun 1, 2014 in Featured, Laguna Niguel, Parks | 1 comment

  One of our favorite parks to visit in Laguna Niguel is Niguel Heights Park. The kids love to ride their bikes around the large paved path, have a snack under the beautiful trees and climb on the giant play structure. The park is lush with beautiful trees, bright green grass and fragrant flowers. Where is it located? The GPS address is 27832 Niguel Heights Blvd., Laguna Niguel, CA 92677. It is right next to a neighboring school. Parking. There is plenty of parking along Niguel Heights Blvd, and there is no parking lot. Play Structures. There are two play structures and one small swing set. On the large play structure there is a lot of climbing, bridges, monkey bars, rock wall, and my kids favorite – a mini-piano. The smaller play structure is still big enough for, the...

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Hike to Patriot Trail in San Juan Capistrano

Posted by on May 25, 2014 in Featured, Hiking Trails, Parks, San Juan Capistrano | 0 comments

  It’s Memorial Day weekend, and a great time to talk to our children about the meaning of the holiday. It can be hard for children to understand war and freedom depending on their age, but taking them for a walk along Patriot trail to the 9/11 memorial can make it easier. Yesterday, we took our kid to San Juan Capistrano to walk Patriot Trail. While we were walking along the hiking trail, it gave us a chance to talk to our children about the meaning of the holiday while being a peace by the surrounding panoramic views of Orange County. The kids took their time along the trail to ask us questions that they might have while stopping to admire all the beautiful flowers and butterflies. At the end of the trail, the children came upon a flag pole (where...

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Celebrate Kids to Parks Day

Posted by on May 16, 2014 in Events, Parks | 2 comments

  We love playing with our kids at the park. This Saturday, May 17th, is National Kids to Parks Day. Children from across the country will come together to celebrate “play” at their local parks. We have over 100 Orange County park guides here at the OC Mom Blog to help your family find the perfect Orange County park to celebrate this national day of play. There are also many local events happening that can be found on kidstoparks.org including downloadable tips and guides to help make the day extra special. “Kids to Parks Day is the perfect way to jumpstart the summer and get families playing outdoors in parks. The American Academy of Pediatrics is encouraging families across the country to take the pledge and discover a park on May 17,” stated Dr. Robert Zarr, national spokesperson, American...

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Tips for Helping Your Kids Connect with Nature

Posted by on May 13, 2014 in Family, Hiking Trails, Nature Centers, Parenting | 0 comments

 You remember those days after school. Arriving home, you’d throw your backpack down, grab a snack, and beeline to play outside. We rarely watched television, or even played a video game. For the most part, we were outside in the fresh air and sunshine. For many kids, those days are long gone. With an overload of enrichment activities and screen time crowding the space of free play for children, it’s becoming more important than ever to set aside time for the outdoors. According to Hallie Jones, executive director, Laguna Canyon Foundation, “Spending time in nature is such an important part of childhood. Being in the wilderness gives kids the chance to be free, and creative, and it teaches them a deep respect for the natural world. Those are gifts that stay with kids their whole lives.” So how can...

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Frederick Lang Park in Laguna Beach

Posted by on May 5, 2014 in Laguna Beach, Parks | 0 comments

  Goff Cove Beach has been one of our favorite beaches for many years. While we have walked past Frederick lang Park many of times on our way down to Goff (free parking to Goff Cove is off of Wesley/PCH), we have never stopped to play until a recent “overcast” beach visit. What we found was one of the best parks we have discovered in Laguna Beach. Our #1 favorite part of this park is that it is fully fenced (perfect for kids who might tend to run away). There are multiple picnic benches, a large grass area, beautiful art, two play structures, basketball and tennis courts – that’s right – this park has it all. While I had planned for a beach day with the kids, we ended up creating amazing memories together running on the grass, playing...

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Laguna Koi Ponds

Posted by on May 2, 2014 in Family, Featured, Laguna Beach | 1 comment

  When I was a kid, my parents had a beautiful koi pond in their backyard. The fish were majestic, but also required a lot of care. Once a month, my mom and I would go to the Laguna Koi Ponds to get all the supplies for our fish, and I would run around admiring all the beautiful koi in the ponds. Today, the Laguna Koi Ponds is one of my favorite places to visit with my children. They love to spend time looking at all the different kinds of fish and explore the lush property located in the heart of Laguna Canyon. Families are invited to come to this hidden gem of Orange County to visit the fish and learn all about them. The staff at Laguna Koi Ponds is always thrilled to have children visit their store...

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Ronald G. Wells Park at Wagon Wheel Canyon

Posted by on Apr 30, 2014 in Featured, Parks, Wagon Wheel Canyon | 0 comments

  Even among South Orange County natives, you will find confusion about where exactly “Wagon Wheel” is located.  It does have an interesting name, and, to be honest, until a couple years ago when a friend moved there, I had no idea where it was… and I lived about 10 minutes North of it! Wagon Wheel is a residential master planned community located in Trabuco Canyon.  Trabuco Canyon spans a large area in Orange County, and encompasses many different subdivisions from as far North as the El Toro and Live Oak Canyon Roakds and as far South as Oso, where Wagon Wheel is located.  Wagon Wheel lies adjacent to Rancho Santa Margarita, off Oso Parkway in-between Las Flores and the South side of Coto de Caza. Wagon Wheel boasts a great little community pocket park, called Ronald G Wells Park at...

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Aliso Viejo Community Park

Posted by on Apr 21, 2014 in Aliso Viejo, Featured, Parks | 0 comments

  The Aliso Viejo Community Park is one of our favorite parks to visit on the weekdays. On the weekends, this park is often filled with kids playing while their siblings are playing a game of softball or soccer. The park features two different playgrounds, and the toddler playground is surrounded with a gate for added safety. The larger playground has a large play structure, swings and a climber all under a big covering. Instead of sand, this park has wood chips, so don’t leave without the kids shoes (ouch). The toddler playground has a small play structure, rock wall, rockers, playhouse and swings. There are plenty of benches for parents, and not as much shade as the older kids play area. Parking is a breeze at this park (except on the weekends). There is plenty of parks spots...

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Exploring our own backyard and Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary

Posted by on Apr 18, 2014 in Featured, Hiking Trails, Modjeska Canyon, Nature Centers, Parks | 1 comment

  My husband and I have always loved taking drives and exploring areas near and not so near us. With gas now so expensive, we are not driving as far or as often. We explore the wonderful canyons we have right in our backyard. We frequent Santiago, Silverado, Modjeska, and Black Star Canyons. There are so many hikes, trails and hidden gems in the canyon. It is the perfect way to expose your kids to nature, wildlife and the beauty just outside of our concrete jungle. Today we took the boys our to Modjeska Canyon and went to the Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary in the beautiful Modjeska Canyon. The facility offers visitors, students and tourists a rural natural setting less than 10 miles from the hustle and bustle of Orange County. There is a Natural Science Center which offers wonderful...

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Santiago Park Archery Range in Santa Ana

Posted by on Apr 9, 2014 in Featured, Parks, Santa Ana | 0 comments

  My kids have always dreaming about learning how to do archery. After spending time at the neighboring Discovery Science Center, we will often go to the Santiago Park Archery Range to watch people practicing archery. Last week, when the kids and I were sitting on a park bench watching everyone play archery, an older gentleman came up to us offering to teach my kids how to do archery. He told us to wait a moment while he went to his car to get supplies that he had for kids, and returned with a smile and arms full of everything the kids needed to learn how to do archery. It was like a dream come true as the kids spent hours with the man teaching them a sport they have always wanted to try. The kids were laughing, smiling,...

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Melinda Park in Mission Viejo

Posted by on Apr 8, 2014 in Featured, Mission Viejo, Parks | 0 comments

  Melinda Park is one of the better neighborhood parks I have been to. It is located at the corner of Santa Margarita Parkway and Melinda Road in the city of Mission Viejo. This park is located on over 8 acres and features tons of benches and paved walkways throughout the park. Park hours are from 7:00am – 11:00pm daily and has ample lighting for when the sun goes down. Melinda Park also offers restrooms, which are located next to the basketball court. Be sure that if you have little ones, to visit the restrooms prior to making your way over to the playgrounds. PARK FEATURES: Softball Field Soccer/Football Field Basketball Court Playground (2-5 yrs) Playground (5-12 yrs) Swings (both toddler & kids) AMENITIES: 6 Picnic tables 2 BBQ’s Restrooms The park offers two play areas, one for children...

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Altisima Park in Rancho Santa Margarita

Posted by on Apr 3, 2014 in Featured, Parks, Rancho Santa Margarita | 0 comments

  Altisima Park  is a great space in Rancho Santa Margarita with sweeping views of Saddleback Mountain all the way to the coast on a clear day. Altisima Park is located in the Melinda Heights area of Rancho directly above Melinda Heights Elementary School.  The address is 30082 Melinda Road. Highlights Jr. Olympic Pool and Toddler Pool* Two Lighted Tennis Courts* Lighted Basketball Courts Two Baseball/Athletic Fields Lattice Covered Barbecue and Picnic Area** Performance Stage Covered Playground Restrooms* Picnic tables and Barbecue Pits *Available only via access card available to Rancho residents. **Available to the public, but reservable only by Rancho residents. Enjoying Your Visit Perhaps one of the best characteristics of Altisima Park is the large play structured that is completely protected by a shade cover.  With two small kids, I have visited more that my share of parks, and...

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Epic Giant Slides in Santa Ana

Posted by on Mar 27, 2014 in Featured, Parks | 4 comments

  What is your favorite childhood park memory? Mine was going down the metal slides at Bluebird Canyon Park in Laguna Beach. What I loved about the Bluebird Park slides as a kid, was that I would climb the stairs that were built into the side of the hill, before going speeding down the slides. Today, I took the kids exploring around Santa Ana, and we literally stumbled upon the most epic giant slides that I have ever seen! The area is not the cleanest, a little muddy, and kinda dirty – but kids don’t care! There were two giant slides (giant) and stairs built into the hill right in-between each of the slides. The kids ran out of the car before I even had time to get my seatbelt off, and were immediately testing out the slides only...

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Oso Viejo Community Park in Mission Viejo

Posted by on Mar 24, 2014 in Mission Viejo, Parks | 0 comments

  Oso Viejo Community Park
 is a true gem in  Mission Viejo.  It boasts tons of space, a great playground, and is adjacent to the miles of scenic trails on Oso Creek Trail. Oso Viejo Park is centrally located adjacent to the Norman P Murray Community and Senior Center and Fred Newhart Middle School. The address is 24932 Veterans Way, Mission Viejo. Highlights 52.14 Acres Features: 2 Lighted Softball Fields 3 Lighted Soccer/Football Fields 2 Softball Fields 3 Soccer/Football Fields Playground (2-5 yrs) Playground (5-12 yrs) Horseshoe Pit Amenities: Restrooms 6 Picnic Tables 4 BBQ Pits Enjoying Your Visit There is plenty of space for sports at this park, or just to let your litter ones run wild. And speaking of wild, Oso Viejo Park is home to the wildest pair of slides I have ever laid eyes on! It...

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Lantern Bay Park in Dana Point

Posted by on Mar 20, 2014 in Dana Point, Parks | 0 comments

 If you love a park with a view, then bring the family to Lantern Bay Park in Dana Point.  The park over looks Dana Point Harbor and Doheny State Beach and has a something for everyone. The park is located off PCH at Park Lantern and Dana Point Harbor Drive, look for the Laguna Cliffs Marriott sign and drive up the hill. Lantern Bay Park features a large structure that sits on top of a cushy surface, so leave your sand toys at home. There are three slides (large, medium and small) to accommodate a range of ages. There is also a balance beam and plenty of room to draw your own hop-scotch if you bring your own sidewalk chalk. There is plenty of shade to host a family gathering or party, several picnic tables, trash cans and BBQ’s. In the mornings here...

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Real Life Treasure Hunting with Geotagging

Posted by on Mar 16, 2014 in Family, Featured, Hiking Trails, Parenting, Parks, Tech, Toys | 0 comments

 Geotagging. What is that? Geotagging = Real life treasure hunting! I have heard of Geotagging, but never truly understood what is was. A friend of mine who knows how much I love exploring nature with my children told me that my kids were just the right age to start, and I should give it a try. I didn’t know where to start, so I started asking about it on Facebook. I quickly learned that all I needed was my phone, GPS device, pencil and some small swag. I ordered a Geomate Geotagging GPS device, and it just happened to be delivered right before the one weekend that we got rain here in Orange County. I didn’t let a little rain stop us from going on our first real life treasure hunt. Once there was a break in the storm,...

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Laguna Niguel Regional Park

Posted by on Mar 13, 2014 in Laguna Niguel, Parks | 0 comments

  One of our favorite parks to visit with the family is Laguna Niguel Regional Park. This large South Orange County park has something for everyone to enjoy an outdoor experience together as a family. There is fishing, bike riding, wildlife and more at this fun Orange County park. Pack a lunch and plan to spend the day at the Laguna Niguel Regional Park Fishing Families can rent a boat or fish by the lake located inside of the park. My children love to catch trout, and then bring it home for dinner. If your family is planning a day of fishing at the park, plan on it being a full-day experience. Playground Located right inside of the gates of the park is a wonderful playground. It does get busy on the weekends because of the birthday parties, but...

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Family Guide to the 2014 Irvine Park Railroad Easter Eggstravaganza

Posted by on Mar 5, 2014 in Easter, Events, Featured, Giveaways, Irvine | 15 comments

  It’s that time of the year when the Easter Bunny comes hopping into Orange County for the 2014 Irvine Park Railroad Easter Eggstravaganza. The Irvine Park Railroad is our favorite place to bring our children to create unforgettable Spring memories together. The fun starts on Sunday, March 29th through Saturday, April 19th. Egg Hunt The egg hunts start daily at 10am, and families are encouraged to bring Easter baskets to participate in the event. Don’t worry if you forget – Irvine Park will have baskets available for purchase. We recommend purchasing your tickets and getting a wrist band when you first arrive at the park because some of the times will sell-out. Easter Bunny Children are invited to have an interactive one-on-one experience with the Easter Bunny. The Irvine Park Railroad staff will take a professional picture of...

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Wardlow Park in Huntington Beach

Posted by on Feb 25, 2014 in Huntington Beach, Parks | 0 comments

  Looking for a new park to explore in Huntington Beach? Wardlow Park in Huntington Beach is the playground where my husband spent most of his childhood afternoons playing. Although the park is not in “like-new” condition like it once was, it is still a super fun park to bring your children to visit. Where is it located? Wardlow Park is located right on the corner of Magnolia Street and Pioneer. The GPS address is 19761 Magnolia Street in Huntington Beach. Park Amenities: This park has two play structures. One structure for older children, and one for younger children. There is a separate swing set a lot of surrounding grass areas. There are picnic benches for a picnic lunch, water fountain and portable bathrooms. The park is right next to the local baseball fields, so if there is not...

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Adobe Brick Making at Mission San Juan Capistrano

Posted by on Feb 23, 2014 in Events, San Juan Capistrano | 1 comment

  As my fourth grader prepares for her big mission report this year, we have been spending a lot of time exploring the Mission San Juan Capistrano. Not only is it a place of history, and full of education but also a calming place to spend an afternoon with the children. Over the weekend, we came to the Mission to experience their adobe brick making session, and the kids loved it! The adobe brick making class is at the Mission every Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 3pm. The cost is $3 per person, and $1 for members. When your family, first arrives at the Mission, purchase your tickets for the brick making, along with your admission. Anytime throughout the day, your children can come to the activity area in the middle of the main courtyard to participate in...

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Brookline Park in Aliso Viejo

Posted by on Feb 22, 2014 in Aliso Viejo, Parks | 0 comments

  Looking for a different sports park in South Orange County? Brookline Park is a hidden park in Aliso Viejo with a wide variety of sporting fun for kids. It is one of our top picks for parents looking for host a sports themed birthday party. The park is divided into two different parts all behind the local Chevron gas station. One side of the park has a large basketball court, benches, picnic benches and large grass areas. Your family can enjoy beautiful panoramic city views while having a picnic lunch or birthday party at one of these picnic benches. This side of the park is usually only used during a Saturday or Sunday morning from local dads playing a fun game of basketball. On the other side of the park are two large sand volleyball courts. This side...

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Orange County Butterfly Garden

Posted by on Feb 21, 2014 in Irvine, Parks | 0 comments

  Do your children love Butterflies? Then the butterfly garden located at the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary in Irvine is the perfect place to take them to visit. After spending the afternoon enjoy the beautiful birds at the wildlife sanctuary, we walked over to the on-site butterfly garden. Now, this butterfly garden is not what many might expect to see. There is not a giant net or places to purchase food for the butterflies. This is a natural garden where children have a unique opportunity to learn about butterflies, and watch them in their natural environment. There is no cost to visit the butterfly garden and parking is complimentary. Inside of the Audubon house, children can rent binoculars to see the butterflies up close at no charge. The garden is not huge, but it will take your children some...

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Angel’s Playground in Costa Mesa

Posted by on Feb 20, 2014 in Costa Mesa, Parks | 0 comments

  Angel’s Playground will be a dream come true for your children. It is located right in the heart of Costa Mesa right next to the OC Fair & Event Center. The park has something for every child to enjoy, and can provide your kids with hours of endless childhood fun. The park is right next to Tewinkle Park, so we recommend bringing your bikes and a picnic lunch to spend the entire day at this park. The playground is huge! There are endless climbing opportunities for kids and my kids favorite – the giant rocking boat. The surface under the play structure is padded for added safety, and there are plenty of benches and picnic tables surrounding the park. There is a large covered area for birthday parties (that needs to be reserved through the city) and lots...

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Westridge Park in Aliso Viejo

Posted by on Feb 16, 2014 in Aliso Viejo, Parks | 0 comments

  Westridge Park in Aliso Viejo is a great park for your family to come and play while getting close to nature. The park has a large play area, drinking fountain, covered picnic area and a lot of grass. Parking can be a little tricky at this fun Orange County park, but it is worth visiting. Where is it located? It is located inside of the Westridge community at the corner of Westridge Drive and Oak View Drive in Aliso Viejo. There is not a parking lot for this park, but there is parking along Oak View Drive. Just be careful when unloading the kids because this is a very busy street. Play Equipment The playground has two play structures, one for older children and one for younger children. There are also swings and our kids favorite – monkey...

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Bikes and Birds at Tewinkle Park in Costa Mesa

Posted by on Feb 15, 2014 in Costa Mesa, Parks | 0 comments

  My husband has been going to Tewinkle Park in Costa Mesa since he was just a young boy. It is our favorite park to go bike riding with the kids and feed the birds. (Although OC Parks does not recommend feeding the birds anymore..sorry.) Over the weekend, we packed the kids bikes into the car and headed over to Tewinkle Park. We brought a picnic lunch along with us and made a family day out of our visit. The kids rode their bikes along the windy paths that go throughout the park, and my husband and I enjoyed spending quality time under the shade of a tree watching the kids play. The park has lots of big beautiful ponds filled with hundreds of ducks and geese. There are rocks for the kids to climb on, and grass that...

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Orange County Hidden Gem The San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary

Posted by on Feb 13, 2014 in Featured, Hiking Trails, Irvine, Parks | 0 comments

  Do your kids love animals? Do they enjoy spending time in the great outdoors? Then they are going to love visiting the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary in Irvine. Last weekend, we visited the sanctuary for the first time with the kids, and it is now one of our favorite places to go visit. Where is it located? It is located at 5 Riparian View in Irvine. The GPS will try to have you access of Michelson, but you can now only access the entrance off of Campus Drive in Irvine. When you first arrive, you’ll find yourself driving down a small hidden road. At the end of the road are two large parking lots and some adorable buildings. After parking, enter the Audubon House where a volunteer will help show your family where to go. (They will even...

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Creekside Park in Aliso Viejo

Posted by on Feb 6, 2014 in Aliso Viejo, Featured, Parks | 0 comments

  One of our favorite things to do as a family is to have a weekly barbecue at the park. The kids love the fresh air while we connect as a family, and are surrounded by beautiful nature. While we often go to a park that has a playground for the kids to play while my husband and I prepare dinner on the grill, we decided to mix things up last weekend by going to Creekside Park in Aliso Viejo. Even though this park is just a couple of blocks from our house, we had never thought of going before. I had expected it to be another neighborhood park, but it ended up being so much more. When we arrived at the park, there was a large parking lot. I love not having to unload all our barbecue gear...

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Oak Park in Aliso Viejo

Posted by on Jan 30, 2014 in Aliso Viejo, Parks | 0 comments

  Oak Park in Aliso Viejo is busy neighborhood park, but it’s also a park worth driving down to visit. This park has two play structures, swings, a basketball court, and plenty of grass to run and play. The only downside to this park is the limitations on parking. Where is it located? The park is located at the corner of Oakgrove Drive and Weybridge Way in Aliso Viejo. Parking right in front of the park on Oakgrove Drive is blocked, but if you continue up Oakgrove Drive, you’ll find more street parking. This park is one of the first parks built in Aliso Viejo, so it has a lot of mature trees offering plenty of shade for the kids. It is also surrounded by houses full of little kids, so the picnic tables are often reserved for birthday...

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Peter Green Park in Huntington Beach

Posted by on Jan 27, 2014 in Featured, Huntington Beach, Parks | 0 comments

  Whenever we go to visit my in-laws in Huntington Beach, our kids always beg us to bring them to play at Peter Green Park in Huntington Beach. This park is one of our favorite parks in Huntington Beach, and it is almost impossible to get our kids to leave because they are always having so much fun. The best part about this park is the giant play structure. Our kids imagination goes wild while playing on this two-tiered play structure. There are slides going out of each side, and the climbing options are endless. There is also a smaller play structure for the younger kids, and a giant rock wall. There are other types of climbers, giant games and turtle statues for younger climbers. The park has a decent size swing set (although most kids are captivated by...

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Moulton Meadows Park in Laguna Beach

Posted by on Jan 24, 2014 in Featured, Laguna Beach, Parks | 0 comments

  Take your kids high above the clouds to the Moulton Meadows Park in Laguna Beach where they can get close to nature, play and bask in the beautiful ocean views. Moulton Meadows is one of our favorite hidden gems in Laguna Beach nestled in the middle of a small community at the highest point of the Laguna Beach hills. Your family will get a thrill out of driving up the windy steep hills to get to this park. Upon arriving at the park, there is always plenty of parking along the street in front of the park. The park has one of the biggest “Spider Man” style play structures. Giant webs surround the play structure for your children to climb, hang and even relax. There are swings, a smaller play structure for toddlers and fun rock structures. Neighboring...

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Pacific Marine Mammal Center

Posted by on Jan 23, 2014 in Activities, Education, Family, Featured, Laguna Beach | 0 comments

  Growing up just steps from the sand in Laguna Beach, the Pacific Marine Mammal Center has always been a favorite place for me to visit. I will never forget the time when my mom discovered an injured pelican on the beach. She wrapped the pelican in a towel and drove her cherry red Volvo down Laguna Canyon with the bird sitting on her lap to the Pacific Marine Mammal Center. I have no memory of if they were able to help the bird, but I will never forget the love that my mom gave to that animal. My love and passion for animals came from my mother, and I love getting to share that love with my children when visiting places like the Pacific Marine Mammal Center. The Pacific Marine Mammal Center has been in Laguna Canyon for...

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Las Arenas Park in Newport Beach

Posted by on Jan 22, 2014 in Newport Beach, Parks | 0 comments

  I have many fond memories of playing at Las Arenas Park after leaving school from Newport Elementary on the Peninsula in Newport Beach. Although the park has become quite run down, it is still a favorite park for many locals on the Peninsula. What makes this park special is that it is just steps away from the beach. We will often bring our kids to play at this park after getting a dessert from the local Sambazon Cafe or make a stop when biking riding around the Peninsula. The park has a huge sand area (once a volleyball court), neighboring tennis courts, two play structures and swings. There is also a perfectly shaded bench for parents to enjoy watching their children play. I have to be honest that it is sad to see a lot of graffiti on...

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Holy Jim Trail in Trabuco Canyon

Posted by on Jan 19, 2014 in Featured, Hiking Trails, Parks | 0 comments

  Is your family ready for the adventure of a lifetime? Then the Holy Jim Trail in Trabuco Canyon is just what you were looking for. Located in the hidden hills of the canyon is a trail that your family will create unforgettable memories together while hiking along the lush green path. The best part of this trail is that there is a beautiful waterfall waiting for your family at the end of the trail! Where is it located? This can be a bit tricky. I’ll admit that even though we have been here multiple times that we still often drive right past it. Here are the directions provided by the State of California: Head east on Chapman Ave towards the foothills. This turns into Santiago Canyon Rd (S18). Turn left at Live Oak Canyon Rd. At Trabuco Canyon...

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