Our kids are growing up way too fast. Since having them, we try to cherish every moment. The seasonal events soon became tradition, and with every year that passes, we contemplate that our babies are no longer babies anymore. We still enjoy celebrating the seasons and each time I wonder if they have outgrown them, but for now, they are still having fun, and now they are enjoying them through their baby cousin's eyes. The hard part is deciding which event we want to go to. Orange County sure has it all! Everyone has their favorite time of the year. I have three. The three most popular time of the year for us is Halloween, Christmas, and Easter (not listed in order of preference). We love them all the same, and why I chose these three is because they are a month-long celebration. I'm not talking crafts and decorating our home, but places to go like festivals, egg hunting, Halloween parades, pumpkin patches, and visits with Santa.
In Orange County, we have a lot of great options, and sometimes it takes all month to do them. One year, I went to three different egg hunts, because I wanted to try them all, then on Easter Day, we colored eggs and did another one with immediate family. For October, we had our fill of candy and treats way before the end of the month! December was very similar and I lost count of how many times we saw Santa, but each photo was different, and I needed the perfect one to make greeting cards. I mention these, because we somehow always end up at Irvine Regional Park. It's one of our favorite places for play dates in Orange County. Let's clear this up, because when we started going there, I was confused with the names. Is it Irvine Regional Park or Irvine Park Railroad? Also, where is OC Zoo? Well, both Irvine Park Railroad and OC Zoo are located inside Irvine Regional Park in the City of Orange, California (not Irvine). The park is huge! Here are 7 things you can do at the park!
#1: Irvine Park Railroad
Irvine Park Railroad is a section of the regional park that features a family-friendly train that takes us around the park. My kids won't let us leave without riding it. They host three major seasonal events annually that are really fun for the kids. The events are (1) Easter Eggstravaganza, (2) Pumpkin Patch, and (3) Christmas Train to see Santa. At each of their events, they usually have facepainting, photo stands, balloon twisting, moon bouncing, cookie decorating, carnival games, and train rides, but they also have unique themed activities. They also host an annual Anniversary Celebration, and a 4th Grade California History Education Program great for school field trips! Train rides are $5 and run daily. Holiday trains are currently $15 each person. (24 months and younger ride free.) www.irvineparkrailroad.com
#2: Orange County Zoo
There is a small zoo located inside the park, and it's perfect for the littles! Admissions is only $2 per person. (Free for children 2 and younger.) The Zoo's focus is on animals and plants native to the southwestern United States. Animals on exhibit include black bears, mountain lions, bald eagle, island foxes, ocelot, red-tailed hawk, great horned owls, porcupine, coyotes, turkey vultures, coati and more. The zoo also features a barnyard with domestic goats, jacob sheep, pot-bellied pigs, doves and pheasants. The Orange County Zoo is run by OC Parks and host seasonal events throughout the year. (714) 973-6847 www.ocparks.com/zoo/
#3: Pony Rides
Irvine Regional Park offers both walking and trotting ponies for kids to ride. The walking ponies are open Tuesday through Sunday and the trotting ponies are open weekends and holidays. The pony rides are $5 per child is closed on Mondays. They are located next to the train station.
#4: Preschool Programs
Preschool Programs at OC Zoo are inexpensive. They are designed for ages 3 and 4. Preschool Programs cost $5 (includes admission for one enrolled child and one parent), are one hour in length, and include educational information, hands-on learning and crafts. Registration is required by calling (714) 973-6846. You can find a current listing of program dates and times here: ocparks.com/zoo/events.
#5: Paddle Boat Rentals
Wheel Fun Rentals at Irvine Park offers paddle boat rentals that can be safely enjoyed by 2 to 3 riders. It costs $15 every half hour. www.irvineparkrailroad.com/rides-attractions/paddle-boat-rentals/
#6: Ride Bikes
The park has lots of shade to enjoy biking around the park. If you forget to bring your bikes, you can rent some at Wheel Fun Rentals at Irvine Park. They offer a wide range of cycles including the surrey, double surrey, deuce coupe, quad sport and chopper. They also have tandem bikes, cruiser bikes, and kid's bikes. The biking trails will take you around the park. A few years ago we rented a single surrey which seats 3 adults and 2 small children. The children sat in the front with their helmets. My husband and I pedaled around the park for an hour. As mentioned, most of the biking trail was shaded which was nice. Parts of the path were a bit of a work out, but we did it at our pace and there was no route that we had to follow. We enjoyed seeing parts of the park we never noticed while driving. We even stopped at one of the playgrounds so the kids could run around. Overall, it was scenic and fun. It was a great way to enjoy the outdoors!
#7: Birthday Party Venue
We had my son's first birthday party here. Our theme was Thomas & Friends, and I wanted to find a venue that had train rides. We rented out a pavilion, an inflatable bounce house, BBQ'd, and gave out train tickets to our guests. Train rides at the park will always be a tradition for us when we're there. We had to rent the bounce house through them but it made it easier as well. The park is huge and there are lots of options if you're looking for a park to throw a big party.
There is so much to do at Irvine Regional Park. Wouldn't you agree? Tell me - What's your favorite thing to do at Irvine Regional Park and be sure to enter our prize pack giveaway below! For more information, please visit their website.
Irvine Regional Park
1 Irvine Park Road
PARKING: $3 Weekdays, $5 Weekends, $7 Holidays
One LET'S PLAY OC! reader will win this prize! Please enter below for a chance to win!
- 4 Train Tickets
- 1 Wheel Fun Rentals at Irvine Park Single Surrey Rental
- 1 Paddle boat rental
(Package Value: $60)
US Residents Only. No purchase necessary to enter. All fans have an equal chance to win, however, you must enter to win. A winner will be randomly selected via RaffleCopter and notified via email. No cash value. Winner will have 72 hours to claim their prize or a new winner will be selected the same way. Several different ways to earn entries (some can be done daily). Prize will be fulfilled by sponsor. One prize per household. Not liable for unclaimed prizes or fulfillment. Good luck!