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Weekly Happenings in Orange County: February 16 – 22, 2015

 Saturday, February 21st

Wilderness Access Day – Bommer Canyon

Bommer Canyon

Bommer Canyon Cattle Camp

Irvine Ranch

Enjoy self-guided access in the southern portion of Irvine’s Open Space Preserve. The entire southern Open Space Preserve trail network will be open for self-guided hiking and biking from 8 am to 2 pm. This includes the single-tracks in Shady Canyon and Bommer Canyon that are reserved for guided activities only. Registration is not required for this event. The Bommer Canyon Cattle Camp will be available for parking, but please take note that your vehicle must be removed from the Cattle Camp area by 2 pm.

Exploring Bommer: Habitats of the Irvine Open Space

Bommer Canyon

Bommer Canyon Cattle Camp

Irvine Ranch

Join us for a guided, morning interpretive walk exploring the ins and outs of Bommer Canyon and the plant and animal communities that reside here. We will identify and describe the various habitats found within the Irvine Open Space Preserve. Learn what makes each habitat unique and how they all work together for a healthy environment. This program is suitable for children age 8 and up. Program runs 9:00am – 11:30am. Register online. Driving directions emailed upon registration.

The Natural History of Baker Canyon

Black Star Canyon Wilderness Park

Baker Staging Area

Irvine Ranch

Enjoy views of the Santa Ana mountains, as well the wildflowers and plants of oak-shaded Baker Canyon as you learn why so many different plants and animals call this place home. Part of this 3.5-mile hike ascends a ridge with a few steep sections (500 feet of total elevation change), so come prepared with water , sun protection, and a spirit of adventure! This free program is suitable for children age 12 and up. Program runs 9:00am – 12:00pm. Register online. Driving directions emailed upon registration.

Watching Wildlife in Fremont Canyon

Fremont Canyon Nature Preserve

Lot 15 – Irvine Regional Park

Irvine Ranch

Fremont Canyon is a protected wilderness area that is home to a wide variety of birds, mammals and reptiles. Join us on this moderately strenuous hike to observe the varied animal tracks and bird life of remote Fremont Canyon. We will watch for animal tracks near the wash, a busy wildlife corridor, then ascend on the steep Lake View trail where we may observe red-tailed hawks, red-shouldered hawks and turkey vultures soaring high above the cliffs of Irvine Lake. Please remember to bring plenty of water and sun protection. Binoculars are highly recommended. This free program is suitable for children age 12 and up. Program runs 9:00am – 12:00pm. Register online. Driving directions emailed upon registration.

Connecting with Nature by Connecting the Dots!

Limestone Canyon Nature Preserve

Augustine Staging Area

Irvine Ranch

Everything in nature is connected. Immerse yourself into nature’s web of life just by “doodling”! Using easy repetitive art patterns (provided by docent) you will form a “dot to dot” artistic connection expression of your unique connection to nature. Using a bit of “zentangle” repetitive patterns, you will find both easy and fun art whose nature itself is to connect with what you see and find in the great out of doors. Get your artistic juices easily flowing and weaving “dot to dot” into your unique expression of connection to nature, yourself and with each other!

Please bring a lightweight folding chair, a sketch pad to jot some notes and your imagination. This program is suitable for children age 12 and up. Program runs 9:00am – 12:00pm. Register online. Driving directions emailed upon registration.

African-American Festival at Aquarium of the Pacific

100 Aquarium Way

Long Beach, CA  90802

Join the Aquarium of the Pacific as it hosts its thirteenth annual African-American Festival, celebrating the rich diversity of African-American and African cultures. The weekend will feature live entertainment, arts and crafts, ethnic food, and more. Festival performers include Mardi Gras second line dancers, hip hop and break dancers, tap dancers, jazz musicians, interactive drum circles, West African dancers, and storytellers.

Festival runs Saturday, February 21 and Sunday, February 22, 9:00am – 5:00pm. Activities are included with the cost of admission (Adults ages 12 and up: $28.95, Children 3-11: $14.95).

Shellmaker Island Discovery Tour

Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve

Back Bay Science Center

2301 University Dr.

Newport Beach, CA  92660

Led by Newport Bay Conservancy on behalf of California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Join a Naturalist to learn about Shellmaker Island’s rich history; the future of the Back Bay Science Center; and discover unusual and endangered plants, birds and marine life. Tour runs 9:00am – 11:00am for ages 6 and up. Bring binoculars if you have them. The program is free. Reservations are required. Please call 949-640-9956 for more information and to RSVP.

Big Canyon Nature Walk

Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve

Big Canyon Parking Lot

Newport Beach, CA  92660

Led by Newport Bay Conservancy on behalf of California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Newport Bay Conservancy Naturalists conduct highly informative themed plant and bird programs. These interpretive programs, which involve a short walk in an area where several habitats meet, provide a great introduction for those interested in identifying the birds and plants they see at the Bay. If a particular theme is not stated, the Naturalist will discuss items of special interest encountered by the group along the way, such as a bird in breeding plumage or a rare plant that is flowering at the time. Walk runs 9:00am – 11:00am for ages 8 and up. Bring binoculars if you have them. There is no charge for the program, but reservations are requested. Please call 949-923-2269 for more information, directions, and to RSVP.

History Tour

Dana Point Nature Interpretive Center

34558 Scenic Dr.

Dana Point, CA  92629

This walk explores the history of the area and is approximately 2 hours.  It begins at 9:00am. History Tours occur on the third Saturday of each month and have rotating themes.  It is a docent led tour that covers approximately 1.5 miles in distance. This walk requires RSVP to either [email protected] or (949) 248-3527, and has a maximum capacity of 10 individuals.  Please call the Nature Interpretive Center at (949) 248-3527 for more information.

Drop in and Draw

Chuck Jones Center for Creativity

3321 Hyland Ave.

Costa Mesa, CA  92262

Held most Saturdays from 9:30am – 12:30pm. It’s a great place to express yourself creatively. Good for children of all ages (must be accompanied by an adult.) Free, but a nominal donation is suggested to help cover the costs of materials. Join us and let you and your children’s inner Picassos shine!

BrainStorm Education Event Grand Opening in Irvine

5430 Trabuco Rd., Ste. 150

Irvine, CA  92620

The grand opening of BrainStorm STEM Education’s new Irvine location is on Saturday, February 21, at 10:00am – 4:00pm. BrainStorm promotes STEM education and game-based learning for today’s kids. There will be free battlebot and minecraft tournaments. Must register in advance online at

Guided Interpretive Hike

Irvine Regional Park

1 Irvine Park Rd.

Orange, CA  92869

Join our naturalists on a nature walk and learn about the local plants, animals and history of Irvine Park. Light to moderate walking on both paved paths and trails. Hike runs 10:00am – 11:00am for all ages. Hike is free but parking is $5/vehicle. Meet at the Nature Center near the OC Zoo in parking lot #19.

Kid’s Pet Parade

Los Rios Park

31791 Los Rios St.

San Juan Capistrano, CA  92675

Children from the ages of 5 to 12 are invited to show off their pets in a variety of categories: Best Team Costume (owner and pet), Best Domestic Pet, Best Exotic Pet, Best Barnyard Animal and Best Bird. A special prize will also be awarded for Judges’ Choice and the winner will have a chance to be in the Swallows Day Parade. Lunch will be offered to those participating in the pet parade. Event runs 10:00am – 1:00pm. $5 entry fee.

Tet Festival

OC Fair and Event Center

88 Fair Dr.

Costa Mesa, CA  92626

The Union of the Vietnamese Student Associations of Southern California (UVSA) has been the host of the Tet Festival for over 30 years and, with the spirit and hard work of students and volunteers, help bring the festival to life with a vibrant array of traditional foods, live entertainment, festive games and customs celebrating the Vietnamese Lunar New Year. Festival runs February 20 – 22 at the following times:

  • February 20: 3:00pm – 10:00pm
  • February 21: 10:00am – 10:00pm
  • February 22: 10:00am – 9:00pm

Admission is $6 and parking is $7. (Enter at Gate 8 off Arlington Drive. Sat & Sun: Additional Entry at Gate 3 off Fairview Rd.)

OC Model Engineers Free Public Rides

Orange County Model Engineers

Goat Hill Junction Railroad

2500 Placentia Ave.

Costa Mesa, CA  92626

Public ride days are conducted on the third Saturday and following Sunday of each month from 10:00am – 3:30pm. The club has a variety of engines and riding cars.  Trains on public ride days are made up of 4 to 6 bench cars that seat 5 to 6 adults and children.  Children need to be old enough to walk (note we may have a height of 34″ requirement). Rides are free; however, donations are welcome and help keep the trains running.

Irvine Park Railroad Anniversary Celebration

1 Irvine Park Rd.

Orange, CA  92869

To celebrate our 19th year of business and to show our appreciation to all our loyal customers… we’re rolling back to our original 1996 prices! Plan on celebrating our 19th anniversary with us on Saturday, February 21st and Sunday, February 22nd. All tickets – including activity tickets – are $2 each this weekend only. The train opens daily at 10:00 am. Wheel Fun Rentals at Irvine Park bike and paddle boat rentals open at 10:00 am daily. See website for details.

Tanaka Farms Open House

5380 ¾ University Dr.

Irvine, CA  92612

It’s a new year and we at the farm want to welcome you in to what’s going on this year! From 10am-2pm, we’ll have booths displaying each of our annual events and anything special we have planned for the year! Come by for some free gifts, Tanaka Farms’ samples, a raffle, and to find out how you can be a part of this year’s activities! Open to the public – no need for reservations!

Modjeska House Tour

25151 Serrano Rd.

Lake Forest, CA  92630

Docent-led tour of the historic house and grounds. Tour runs 10:00am – 12:00pm. Cost is $5 per person. Advance reservations required, call (949) 923-2230. Directions provided with reservations.

Saturday Storytime and Songs

Granola Babies

3315 Hyland Avenue, Suite B

Costa Mesa, CA  92626

A Saturday version of our weekly Stories and songs for all ages! Bring your child (all ages!) to enjoy songs and stories at Granola Babies. Saturday, February 7 and 24 @ 10:30am. Cost/Registration: Complimentary to attend and no registration is required. For questions, please call the store at 714-445-4948.

Lunar New Year Celebration

Pavilion Park Terrace

194 Compass

Irvine, CA  92618

Join us for a fun Lunar New Year celebration on the Terrace with something for everyone! Exotic teas. Kids arts & crafts. Floral arrangement demonstrations. Cupcakes. Traditional Chinese flute music. And a traditional lion head dance. Event runs 11:00am – 4:00pm. Happy New Year!

Animal Feeding

Bolsa Chica Conservancy

3842 Warner Ave.

Huntington Beach, CA  92649

Come join us to learn more about the animals at our interpretive center! During the feeding, we will cover feeding habits and general biology and anatomy of our reptiles and marine animals! *Please note: snake feedings involve live mice.* Feeding is free and runs 12:oopm – 1:00pm. Animal feedings open to the public occur EVERY Saturday.

Science Saturdays with ExplorOcean 

ExplorOcean Galleries and Science Courtyard

600 E Bay Ave.

Newport Beach, CA 92661

ExplorOcean offers families a fun, interactive hands-on experience to connect to the 7 essential principles of ocean literacy through Science Saturdays at ExplorOcean. Quick and engaging activities bring parents and children together as they make predictions, ask questions, problem-solve and think like scientists. Each month we will introduce a new theme based on one of the Ocean Literacy Principles. Science Saturdays are FREE and offered to children of all ages. Join us at noon and prepare to see your world in a whole new way! Program runs 12:00pm – 3:00pm and is ongoing, weather permitting. Registration is not required.

Lakeshore Learning

Your closest Lakeshore Location

Free Craft Clinic  – Children are invited to your closest Lakeshore Learning Store for a free craft clinic from 11:00am to 3:00pm. Lakeshore will provide all the supplies. For ages 3 and up. This week the project is Roar-A-Lot Lion Puppet.

Family Hike – Round Canyon

Limestone Canyon Nature Preserve

Portola Round Staging Area

Irvine Ranch

Enjoy nature with friends and family in Round Canyon. We hike along a fairly flat trail as we watch for red-tailed hawks and mule deer. The hike averages 2-3 miles round trip at an easy pace with a medium level of interpretation. This program is for participants who would like a slower-paced and level hike. Wear comfortable clothes and sturdy shoes, and bring water for the hike. Be ready to enjoy the sounds and smells of the early evening. This hike is suitable for children age 6 and up. Hike runs 3:00pm – 5:00pm. Register online. Driving directions emailed upon registration.

Astronomy Night

The Richard and Donna O’Neill Conservancy

The Reserve at Rancho Mission Viejo

28811 Ortega Hwy.

San Juan Capistrano, CA  92675

Visitors traveling to sparsely populated areas are usually delighted to discover how many more stars are visible than at home. If you’ve not yet caught a glimpse of the Milky Way, come out to The Reserve for Astronomy Night where you can still view many more celestial phenomena than elsewhere in urbanized Orange County! Enjoy an evening outdoors, as you gaze into the heavens, learn the constellations, and peer through the telescopes of our volunteer astronomers.  Reserve astronomers are all volunteers who enthusiastically share their telescopes and expert sky knowledge with you. (BRING: Warm clothing, Red cellophaned flashlight, binoculars, optional beach chair.)Program runs 6:30pm – 8:30pm for ages 8 and up. Admission is $10 Adult, $5 Child. Must RSVP online.

Campfire Program

Caspers Wilderness Park

33401 Ortega Hwy.

San Juan Capistrano, CA  92675

Every Saturday night, join us for a campfire program that may include a slide presentation, wilderness safety, games and activities for children, animal adaptations, skins and skulls, a live animal demonstration and a chance to visit the Nature Center. Topics may vary weekly. Cost: Free. Parking: $5 per vehicle. All ages welcome.

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