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Things to do in Orange County for OC Moms

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Things to do in Orange County This Week

There are many opportunities this week to slow down and enjoy this festive season with your family. Check out Newport Beach’s Christmas Boat Parade, Chanukah and Christmas events at Pretend City, Christmas at the Beach at Bolsa Chica State Beach on Friday, and the Winter Solstice Program at the Peter and Mary Muth Center on Sunday. Enjoy your week!

Ongoing / Week-long Events / Museum Happenings

106th Annual Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade

Newport Bay Island

Newport Beach, CA

You’re invited to celebrate the 106th Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade, the nation’s longest running lighted holiday boat parade, for five jam-packed nights on December 17 – 21, 2014. The parade starts at Bay Island at 6:30pm and finishes at the same site at approximately 9:00pm each evening. On opening night, Wednesday, December 17, Newport Beach natives – comedic actress Leslie Mann and singer/actor Mark McGrath of Sugar Ray will reign as the first-ever Grand Marshals for the parade. Hailed as one of the “World’s Best Christmas Parades” by Conde Nast Traveler and one of “Top Ten Christmas Happenings in the Nation” by the New York Times, the Newport Harbor transforms into an illuminated wonderland. Over 100 vessels of all sizes are adorned from top to bottom with lights, decorations, moving displays, dancers, music and more! The theme this year is Deck the Hulls with Bows of Jolly, and reserved seating for ideal viewing is available for the first-time at The Newport Sea Base and ExplorOcean. For more information on ticket sales and the Christmas Boat Parade please visit

Christmas Train at Irvine Park Railroad

1 Irvine Park Rd.

Orange, CA 92869

Tis the season, once again, for Irvine Park Railroad’s annual Christmas Train. Come with family and friends and take this enchanting night ride through historic Irvine Regional Park to meet Santa Claus. The train will depart from the brightly-lit train station and drop passengers off at the North Pole. Children can share their wish list with Santa and have their photo taken with him too. You may take pictures with your personal camera or you may purchase a photo taken by Irvine Park Railroad. After visiting with Santa, hop back aboard the train and enjoy the colorful Christmas lights and decorations, as well as the magical “Tunnel of Lights”, on the ride back to Santa’s Village.

The Christmas train is open November 28, 29, and 30, December 5, 6, 7 and 12 – 23, 2014. Hours vary, please check website for details. Tickets are sold online. In the event that Christmas Train tickets do not sell out online, they will be available for purchase in person after 4:00 pm on the day of on a first come, first served basis. If tickets are sold out online, they will not be available for purchase in person. Tickets are $12 per person, Children age 24 months and younger ride free. Activity tickets are $5.00 per tickets. Book of activity tickets is $60 ($15.00 savings).

New for 2014, Irvine Park Railroad is pleased to announceour Christmas Tree Ranch! You’re sure to find the perfect Christmas tree from among the hundreds of trees that fill Irvine Park Railroad. Christmas Tree Ranch is open November 28 – December 23, 2014, from 10:00am – 8:00pm.

Dana Point IlluminOcean

Dana Point Harbor

34555 Golden Lantern

Dana Point, CA 92629

Dana Point’s IlluminOcean, presented by The Resorts of Dana Point, will electrify the world famous Dana Point Harbor with 40 nights of holiday lights.  This wonderland by the sea features a brilliant spectacle of 18 oversized lighting sculptures with over 225,000 LED lights, and is free to the public for viewing nightly from sundown to 10:00pm on weeknights and 11:00pm on weekends.  From octopus and sharks, starfish and surfers, frolicking fish, leaping dolphins, and enchanted mermaids, the dazzling displays are highlighted by a towering glow-motion tree and light tunnels stretching longer than a football field and over a dozen gigantic lighted sculptures – some so large, visitors can walk through them to include the inside of a glowing 40-foot Blue whale’s belly! This free event runs November 27 – January 3, 2015.

CHILL at the Queen Mary

1126 Queens Highway

Long Beach, CA 90802

The Queen Mary will once again be overtaken by a deep freeze for the third annual CHILL, opening on November 21. Experience the frozen magic that will bring holiday celebration, wonderment and North Pole temperatures to families across sunny Southern California. CHILL returns to The Queen Mary Nov. 21- Nov. 30, Dec. 2-7, Dec. 9 – Jan. 4 & Jan. 8-11. See website for ticket prices and deals.

An experience like no other, CHILL transforms over two million pounds of sparkling ice into larger than life hand carved colorful ice sculptures in the 14,000 square-foot Igloo called The Ice Kingdom, located inside the Queen Mary’s Dome, formerly home to the legendary Spruce Goose. The Ice Kingdom will feature a California holiday theme complete with breaking waves, dancing dolphins and a Surfing Santa. Get lost in the life size candy cane forest, explore the penguin village and slip down three ice slides off of a 30’ high replica of The Queen Mary.

CHILL welcomes back ice tubing with six lanes of glistening ice slides standing two stories tall and 100-feet long in front of the Ice Kingdom. Ice skate under the stars on the 6,000 square-foot ice skating rink with a view of the picturesque Queen Mary ship. A holiday village will offer gingerbread houses, holiday carolers, the decoration adorned Candy Lane and a visit with Santa Claus. CHILL will also feature nightly live entertainment, festive food and beverages and so much more.

Children’s Museum at La Habra

301 South Euclid St.

La Habra, CA 90631

Wednesday, December 17: Little Picasso Family Art Center – Make a “paint” date every Wednesday (11:00am – 3:00pm) at the Museum for lots of messy time exploring color and texture! There are easels, washable paints, brushes and paint smocks ready for little artists to use. This is a drop in art studio and subject to change. All programs free with paid admission (Kids and Adults $8, La Habra residents $7, Kids Under 2 Free).

Thursday, December 18: Tiny Tigers Taekwondo – Join Master Yang for a peaceful morning of exercise and fitness in this parent & me program that teaches not only self-defense but joyful living through shared family experiences. Class runs 10:30am – 11:00am. Please call (562) 383-4236 to reserve your spot.

Discovery Cube Orange County

2500 N Main St.

Santa Ana, CA  92705

Thomas and Friends: Hop on board and discover the engineer within! Travel to the Island of Sodor where imaginations charge full steam ahead in Thomas & Friends™: Explore the Rails, a hands-on STEM exhibit based on the adventures of everyone’s favorite blue engine, Thomas, his engine friends and the Island of Sodor’s iconic locations: Knapford Station, Sodor Steamworks and much more. Help Thomas and his friends solve a variety of challenges, from simple sorting and shape identification to more complex engineering obstacles. Exhibit runs October 4 – January 4, 2015. Included with regular admission ($16.95 adult, $12.95 child, $12.95 senior).

Science of Gingerbread: Inside the kitchen, much more is going on than pouring and mixing – it’s science at work! Our holiday festival is filled with great hands-on activities designed to bring families together this holiday season. Plus, check out award-winning Gingerbread Competition entries displayed throughout the Cube! Exhibit runs November 28 – January 4, 2015.

  • Meet Santa and take your photo with him (dates TBA)
  • Build and race your own candy car in the Gingerbread Derby
  • Decorate holiday cookies and eat them too!

Kidseum (art-based children’s museum operated by the Bowers Museum)

1802 N Main St.

Santa Ana, CA 92706

Special Weekend Programs for children and adults! (included with admission).

  • Face painting all day
  • Drop in Art Studio all day
  • Live Storytelling in the Story Room – 11:00am – 11:30am and 1:30pam – 2:00pm (Saturdays & Sundays)
  • Glow Cave Paintings – 11:30am – 12:00pm and 2:00pm – 2:30pm (Saturdays & Sundays)
  • Archaeology Lab Coin Impressions – 1:00pm – 1:30pm and 2:30pm – 3:00pm (Saturdays & Sundays)

Friday, December 19 – Friday Morning Storytelling, Music & Art: Join Ms. Bev and Ms. Jackie for an engaging storytelling, music and art experience. Recommended for ages 2-6 accompanied by an adult. Today’s theme is O’Christmas Tree – O’Tannunbaum. Program runs 10:30am – 12:00pm. Fee: $6 per every participating child plus admission for everyone over the age of 2 for non-members. No advance reservations required. Themes and dates are subject to change.

Sunday, December 21Family Drumming Circle: Join professional drummer Martin Espino from 1:30pm – 3:00pm at Kidseum to participate in a family drumming circle. Recommended for ages 2-8! Martin will teach children the basics of drumming and music. Then children participate in the indigenous Mexican drumming circle and sound great! The drumming circle and the art studio are complimentary with admission. In the Art Studio today (from 10:0am – 4:00pm) children can make their very own maracas and rainsticks and take the music home! Activities included in the price of admission (Ages 2 and up: $6, Under 2/Members: Free).

Sunday, December 21Santa Visits Kidseum: From 3:00pm – 4:00pm following the drumming circle Santa will be at Kidseum! Children will have the opportunity to meet Santa and sit on his lap for a photo opp. There will not be a photographer so don’t forget to bring your camera!

Kids’ Art Studio at Laguna Art Museum

307 Cliff Dr.

Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Kids’ Art Studio is a hands-on art-making program offered by Laguna Art Museum on a drop-in basis on the third Sunday of every month at 2:00pm – 4:00pm. Children and their families create a piece of art from start to finish, inspired by one of the exhibitions on view in the museum. Art projects are designed for all ages and are supervised by members of the Laguna Art Museum Arts Council. All materials are provided.

Free for museum members, free for non-members with museum admission ($5 & $7). Museum admission is always free for children 12 years of age and under. Reservations are not required. Street parking. Metered parking is available on Cliff Drive and PCH. Additional street parking is available in the residential area east of PCH.

Pretend City

29 Hubble

Irvine, CA 92618

CHOC Toy Drive – Help spread holiday cheer to patients at CHOC Children’s Hospital! Pretend City Children’s Museum is once again partnering up with the Orange Coast Harley Owners Group and Orange County Harley-Davidson to benefit the patients at CHOC Children’s Hospital by collecting new, unwrapped toys! Durable, cleanable toys are most useful in the hospital setting. For a list acceptable toys, please visit CHOC’s Toy Wish List. Bring a child’s toy valued at $5 or greater to receive 25% off general admission on the day of your visit. *One discount per ticket per toy; cannot be combined with any other promotions. Toy Drive runs December 1 – December 23.

City Express – Sending Holiday Wishes: “Season’s Greetings, Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Habari Gani, and Happy Holidays!” All around us we hear happy greetings through music, friends, and family. With all these holiday wishes being shared, December is a season full of cheer and joy. From the moment we drop our holiday cards at the post office to their arrival in our loved ones’ mailboxes, there’s just something special about giving and receiving mail during the holidays. Join us this month as we explore the bustling work that mail carriers, or as we call them, the bearers of holiday wishes, do during this season. Once you’re done being this season’s little helpers, write your own letters and cards in the Post Office to send many holiday wishes around the city! Theme runs the month of December.

December 12-23: Christmas Countdown! – It’s time to begin the 12 days of Christmas Countdown! The days that lead up to Christmas are an exciting and magical time for young children. Join us each day as we “unwrap” a new activity that celebrates the season. By the end of our Christmas Countdown, we’ll be as excited and full of Christmas spirit as Buddy the Elf!

Monday, December 15 (10:30am – 12:30pm): Visit & Photo with Santa

Tuesday, December 16 (P.M. Activity): Reindeers

Wednesday, December 17 (P.M. Activity): Christmas Stockings

Thursday, December 18 (A.M. Activity): Twinkly Christmas Lights

Friday, December 19 (P.M. Activity): Presents & Sleighs

Saturday, December 20 (A.M. Activity): Popcorn Decorations

Sunday, December 21 (P.M. Activity): Christmas Snow 

December 17-23: Hooray for Chanukah! – Happy Chanukah! Celebrate Chanukah at Pretend City. Your child will love these rich and diverse activities about the Hanukkah miracle and the importance of many of the traditions of the holiday. We’ll have fun learning about this wonderful holiday through games, finger play rhymes, art projects and activities. RSVP not required. Activities included with museum admission ($12.50 for ages 1 and up).

Wednesday, December 17 (A.M. Activity): Menorah

Thursday, December 18 (P.M. Activity): Dreidel, Dreidel

Saturday, December 20 (P.M. Activity): Star of David

Sunday, December 21 (Art Studio): Chanukah Art

Tuesday, December 16: Celebrate Las Posadas! – Who’s ready for our annual Las Posadas celebration? Come to Pretend City with your family to celebrate the first day of this 9 day Mexican Christmas celebration. Through special activities and events your children will have fun learning about the history of this celebration. Activities of the day will include the following:

Smart Art: Visit the Art Studio to make colorful Las Posadas mementos to take home:

  • Posada Piñata Ornaments – In Mexico the breaking of a piñata accompanies almost every festive occasion. Make your very own Piñata ornament to hang on your tree this holiday season.
  • Posada Placemat – On the 9th day of Las Posadas families gather for a delicious feast. Make sure you are prepared by creating your very own holiday placemat.
  • Luminaria Path- Children will have the opportunity to create their own glowing replica of a Hispanic Christmas Luminaria Path, which is a deep rooted Las Posadas tradition.

Sensational Story Time: Introduce your child to Las Posadas through rich holiday literature. Enjoy special one-on-one story time with your child by reading Las Posadas stories in the Pretend City Library. RSVP not required. Activities included with museum admission ($12.50 for ages 1 and up).

Tuesday, December 16: Sensitive Santa Visit & Photo Opportunity – Santa is coming to Pretend City Children’s Museum! Join us for this great opportunity to meet and tell Santa your holiday wish. This event is especially designed for children on the Autism spectrum. Our “Sensitive Santa” visit and photo opportunity provides a sensory sensitive experience with low Christmas carols, dim lights, and trained Santa to ease some of the anxieties that may come with visiting Santa. This is a wonderful opportunity for grown-ups to capture photos of their child with Santa that might not be possible at a busy mall or crowded event. Event runs 1:00pm – 5:00pm. Don’t forget to bring a camera! RSVP online. Free, museum admission neither required nor included.

Wednesday, December 17: Lego Menorah Lighting – Join us for a special Lego Menorah lighting ceremony at Pretend City Children’s Museum to kick off our Hooray for Chanukah activities! Children and grown-ups will enjoy latkes, cookies, art and crafts, music, dancing, and story time. Event runs 4:00pm – 6:00pm and is included in museum admission ($12.50 for ages 1 and up).

Friday, December 19: Homeschool Field Experience Day – Once a month we offer Homeschool students unlimited access to our interactive exhibits offering learning through fun experiences. A field experience to Pretend City offers your students a learning experience through hands-on educational play. Your curriculum will be taken to a new level as you surround your students with challenging problems and absorbing questions. Activities run 10:aam – 5:00pm. RSVP: Required by Wednesday, December 17th. Register here. Fee: $9.00 per students; $9.00 per adult (*Members receive a 10% discount).

Friday, December 19: Celebrate Chanukah! Olive Press Workshop – Celebrate Chanukah at Pretend City! In honor of the miracle which occurred with oil, Pretend City hosts the Olive Press Workshop. Children will be taken back to a time of chance, drama and triumph! They will laugh, thrill and cheer as the adventure of Chanukah unfolds. They will also learn customs and traditions associated with Chanukah all while making olive oil for the Menorah. RSVP: Highly Encouraged. Register here. Walk-ins welcome based on availability. Fee: Included with museum admission ($12.50 for ages 1 and up).

Sunday, December 21: Celebrate the Winter Solstice – Put on your warm mittens and cozy scarves. It’s officially winter! The beginning of winter is marked by the solstice, the shortest day of the year. Join us as we celebrate the winter solstice through cool activities and art projects. We’ll explain what the winter solstice is and how various cultures throughout history observed the winter solstice. Activities of the day will include:

Smart Art: Visit the Art Studio where we’ll have a flurry of winter-themed art activities for you and your children to create.

  • Snow Much Fun – A gorgeous winter art activity with a child-directed process and a beautiful result too!
  • Ice City – This community project will draw inspiration from the glassy snow to create a different type of city.
  • Winter Prints – See what your child’s little hands will make – a winter tree, a snowflake, or perhaps a cute winter animal?

Sensational Story Time: These classic winter stories will get your children’s imagination and have them enter worlds of white Snowy Day whimsy. Join us in the library every hour for an intimate story time and quick activity. RSVP: Not required. Fee: Included with museum admission ($12.50 for ages 1 and up).

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  1. OC Prehistoric Kids Day
    Saturday, June 28
    Peter & Mary Muth Interpretive Center
    Newport Beach Back Bay

    I took my kids last year and they LOVED IT!

  2. Shoot! Thanks. I need to get my bootie over to the Sawdust Festival before it closes! 🙂

  3. This is such a great resource for me, a father of four! Never knew La Habra had a museum.

  4. Nice info about upcoming events. thanks


  1. Cabo Hurricane Causes Dangerous Surf for Families in the OC | OC Mom Blog | OC Mom Blog - […] family to enjoy during the weekends throughout the months of September and October. Check out our weekly events calendar…

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