Fun with Kids at the Laguna Beach Festival of Arts

This week, I took the kids down to Laguna Beach to enjoy the ocean air, sights and sounds, and specifically to check out the Festival of Arts. The Festival of Arts is located in the pavilion where the Pageant of the Masters takes place. It’s a fine arts show that happens every summer, and features 140 artists from Orange County. At the festival, you can meet the artists and browse their one-of-a-kind artwork. But, there’s more! You can also participate in art demonstrations, enjoy live entertainment, food and browse the the Junior Art Exhibit. This year’s festival takes place from July 5th through August 31st.

I really enjoy showing my kids all the different types of art and explaining what techniques were used. At the Festival, the artists are often in their booths, so you can ask them the stories behind their art pieces.

It can be scary to take kids around expensive pieces of art, but the more you do it, the more they will learn and understand how they should behave in such settings. Make sure to explain to kids that they must not touch the art and should stand two steps back from it so they won’t accidentally bump into it. Toddlers should be in strollers as you don’t want to have any accidents.

Take an Art Tour

Get the most out of your visit by taking a free exhibit tour! The friendly Festival art docents will take you on a fun and informative walk through the fine art show. Offered twice a day- weekdays at 2pm and 4:30pm and weekends 11am and 4:30pm.

Free Art Workshops st the Festival of Arts

The Festival of Arts offers daily drop-in workshops in the Art Center. Printmaking and mixed media workshops are free.

We got to try ink tile painting – which the kids really enjoyed. It was fun watching them choose their colors and techniques in which to move the colors around. The ink was a totally new medium for them to try, so I really liked that they were exposed to this new technique.

Printmaking was also a new

They were very proud of the finished pieces!

If you would like to paint a pot at the ceramics workshop, prices start at $25. The helpful art instructors will walk you through each step. You can choose from glazes or marble art.

Art Classes for Kids at the Festival of Arts

Besides the free art demonstrations, the Festival also host kids art classes that are $20/$30 per child. They range from ceramics to drawing to painting and are taught by local artists. This gives parents the perfect opportunity to enjoy browsing the art exhibits while the kids are having a great time learning art skills. You must register for the art classes online.

Special Events at the Festival of Arts

On Mondays, they have a special story time and art class for kids that is included in the price of admission. Check here for the schedule of story times at the Festival of Arts. There are also special events for adults, art talks and tea, yoga, fashion shows and art nights.

There is daily live entertainment on the Festival of Arts stage. You can enjoy it while sitting on the green and grabbing a bite to eat at the food bar. It’s a great atmosphere there at the Festival!

Junior Art Exhibit at the Festival of Arts

The kids especially liked walking through the Junior Art Exhibit. This is where Orange County kids can submit their own artwork to be displayed at the Festival of Arts.

The art pieces are labeled by grades, so the kids loved seeing what kids their own ages submitted. It was really inspiring and made my kids want to do more artwork of their own.

We had such a fun time visiting the Festival of the Arts in Laguna Beach. We will definitely go back again this summer. There are a lot of fun things to do in Laguna Beach and the Festival should be on everyones list!

{ We were invited guests of the Festival of Arts. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.}

Get the Most Out of the OC Fair on a Budget with Kids

The OC Fair opens this week! And If yours kids are anything like mine, they are already begging to go. The OC Fair is an icon of summer here in Orange County, and every year there is a month long celebration of fair favorites. I love almost everything about the fair except for the prices. Not everything is expensive, but with four kids, things can add up. So, I am sharing a list of ways on how you can Get the Most Out of the OC Fair on a Budget with Kids.

For our family, we usually go to the OC Fair 2-3 times each year. We usually go once and splurge on food, rides and activities. But the rest of our visits are definitely budget days. A typical budget day will include: going on Opening Day for free or on a “Kids Free Day”. The kids get three free rides for doing the Read & Ride program (more info below). We will share a treat, visit Centennial Farm, check out the art exhibits, play in the Explorium, and watching the free shows happening around the fairgrounds.

Sometimes I give each kid $10 to spend however they’d like. If they know ahead of time, that it’s the only extra money we will be spending, I curb any begging for extra items at the Fair. Plus, they get to learn about budgeting and being intentional in getting what they want.

OC Fair Ticket Deals

Visit the OC for free or almost FREE. The OC Fair has free days, free kids days and discounts on admission prices. first things first, on Friday, July 12th, Opening Day, everyone is Free ‘Til Three (12-3 p.m.). and did i mention FREE PARKING.

• We Care Wednesdays run from noon to 3:00 p.m. just donate the specified items to each Wednesday Non-profit partner and get a FREE admission to the OC Fair and one carnival ride per person.

July 17th – School Supply Drive
(bring new school supplies valued at $5 or more, such as pens, pencils, crayons, notebooks (items must be sealed; no coloring books or workbooks)

July 24th – Share Our Selves Canned Food Drive, benefitting Second Harvest and OC Food Bank
(bring 5 canned food items)

July 31st – Children’s Book Drive, benefitting THINK Together
(3 new or gently used children’s books

August 7th – Clothing Drive, benefitting Goodwill OC
(bring 5 gently used clothing items)

OC Fair Discount Tickets

Thursdays are Kids Day
Children 12 & under receive FREE Fair admission all day.

• On Fridays, it’s Seniors Day (60+). Seniors get in for $5, plus FREE Ferris wheel and merry-go-round rides all day.

• First Responders and Law Enforcement get free admission the Week of August 7th through 11th. This includes active-duty and professional staff of the police, sheriff, fire and emergency services departments. Plus, they get the option to purchase up to 4 general admission tickets for their guests at half price. Issuing agency ID is required.

• On Saturday & Sunday, the OC Fair offers the “Best Deal Ever” from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. general admission is half price. Sundays only: $35 Unlimited Ride Wristband available – ride until 4 p.m., sold until 1 p.m. Includes 1 ride on the Titan; all other rides are unlimited.

How to Save Money on OC Fair Rides

The rides are so much fun and they are one of the things that the kids beg for the most. but tickets can really add up, and each ride can cost anywhere from 3-10 tickets! yikes. Here are some ways that you can get some free or discounted tickets.

Did you know that your kids can get 3 free rides just for reading?!!! it’s a great deal and worth as much at 20 tickets. the OC Fair Read & Ride program allows kid ages 5-11 can read two books to earn three free carnival rides by writing a short book report on this form. And just so you know, i don’t think they are strict on ages, because i made all my kids read and write the reports last year and they all got free rides. Such a great deal. completed book report forms can be redeemed for ride tickets at the Centennial Farm Information Booth during Fair hours.

• Wednesdays $35 Unlimited Carnival Ride Wristband
Enjoy all the rides you can handle for one price. (Sold until 5 p.m. Valid until 8 p.m. Wristbands must be purchased onsite. Required Fair admission sold separately.)

• on Fridays, get $2 Rides and $2 Games noon to 4:00 p.m. in the Main Carnival and Kiddie Carnival.

• Sunday Carnival Special – get a $35 unlimited ride wristband. Valid 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Free Things to Do at the OC Fair

There are lots of free things to do at the Fair, you don’t even really need to buy anything to enjoy it. Our favorite things are – Centennial Farm, the Explorium (Kid Zone), acrobatic & hypnotists shows, arts exhibits, culinary exhibits, Reptile House, Pet Center, 4H exhibits, water area, garden and farm area, free rides for kids with the Read & Ride program, and browsing vendor booths.

Seeing the baby animals is the most favorite activity on our list, followed by the Explorium Kid Zone shows.

How to Save Money on Food at the OC Fair

out of all the attractions and amusements at the OC Fair, the food is what can cost the most. it really adds up if everyone wants a meal, and a drink, and a treat, and another treat.

If you are on a budget and want to spend as little as possible on food, i suggest eating first and then visiting the Fair. A fair isn’t a fair without food, so plan on at least getting a treat to share. Some suggestions of my favorite sharable Fair treats are – Funnel Cake (with ice cream topping), Caramel Crack Fries, Berry Treat Bowl from Sherri’s Berries, Giant Donuts (look for the Unicorn Cotton Candy Donut), Giant Foot-long Corn Dogs, Loaded Curly Fries, Fried Zucchini and the Big Skillet Cookie.

Plus, on Thursdays, you can get $3 Taste of Fair Food from noon to 4:00 p.m. It’s a great way to get to enjoy a variety of select fun-sized Fair treats for a value price. Samples include funnel cake, tri-tip, lemonade, cinnamon rolls, tacos, gelato, cotton candy and more.

How to Save Money on OC Fair Parking

General parking is $10 everyday. You can always park for free offsite at some of the free parking lots and walk to the Fair. Or you can get FREE Off-Site Parking on Saturday & Sunday and Free shuttle service from 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. at the Experian parking structure located off the Bristol Street exit of the 405 Freeway. follow the signs to “Experian.”

The OC Fair Express costs $2 each way, or $1.50 for seniors 60+ and persons with disabilities. When you ride the OC Fair Express, you receive a coupon for $4 OC Fair admission, that’s a $10 savings! OC Fair Express buses depart from nine locations on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the duration of the Fair. When riding the Metrolink, you can connect to the OC Fair Express at the Anaheim Canyon, Santa Ana, Irvine or Anaheim-ARTIC Metrolink stations. show your valid Metrolink ticket and ride the bus for free.

Now it’s time to enjoy the OC Fair!

The OC Fair runs for a whole month, this year’s dates are July 12th through August 11th. Hopefully with these tips and tricks, you can visit multiple times and not break the bank.

101 Things to do with Kids in Orange County

Fun Things to Do With Kids in Orange County List{Updated June 2019}

Summer is here and the kids are home! but don’t worry, there are plenty of things for kids to do in Orange County to keep them from whining and saying “i’m bored!”  to make things easier on you parents and caretakers, i have created a list of 101 Kid-friendly Things to do in Orange County (there are actually 132 on this list).

some of these activities are FREE or low cost…some are pricey. plan out your favorites accordingly and get out into the sunshine with those kiddies. i have found that getting out once a day helps my sanity, so i make an effort to take the kids somewhere during the day…even if it is just the park or the front yard to ride bikes.

Don’t forget to follow the  Sandy Toes and Popsicles Facebook Page for daily updates of events happening in Orange County – such as library and park events, free local events and more.

NOW go have some fun!!!!!!!

Orange County Park Fun
1. Fun Orange County Parks The #1 resource in Orange County for finding great parks all over the OC. Michelle’s fantastic website has the scoop on almost every park, what amenities they offer, and useful tips. Check it out!
2. Concerts in the Park (click link to find dates & cities) Free
3. Summer Movies in the Park in Orange County (click link to find dates & cities) Free
4. Orange County Great Park (Irvine) Where you can ride the Big Orange Balloon and ride a carousel for a nominal fee. It also has a play park and garden to check out, and hosts family-friendly events often (check out their website).
5. Atlantis Play Park (Garden Grove) Charming concrete animals and slides including a giant sea serpent. It also has a splash pad and plenty of picnic areas. Admission is $2 (no bills over $10 accepted, closed on Mondays)
6. Adventure Playground (Irvine) one-of-a-kind park for kids to use there imaginations in interactive play. wear clothes that can get dirty, and bring an extra set.
7. Adventure Playground (Huntington Beach) AKA mud park. Rafting in mud pond, mudslides, fort building and water fun. A kids dream park, and my children’s favorite summer activity each summer. Open mid June – August, 10am – 4pm. Closed Sundays. Admission is $3.
8. Marina Park (Newport Beach) AKA the Lighthouse park. Fun nautical themed park equipment with a large lighthouse slide. It’s located on the Newport Bay, so its a great wave-free area for kids to enjoy the ocean. There is metered parking but if you can find a parking spot on the street it’s free.
9. Irvine Park Railroad & Wheel Fun Rentals
10. Heritage Park Play Island (Cerritos) Is a city park that has a play island with Historic buildings reminiscent of those during Paul Revere’s Ride with play equipment inside! It is a must see park. Make a picnic lunch and enjoy an afternoon of park play. Admission is Free.
11. Oso Creek Caring Fairies (Mission Viejo) The fairy trails have been taken down, however, 15 fairies remain living in the courtyard of Potocki Center for the Arts.  Free

Reading Fun
12. Local Library Programs
13. Free Summer Reading Programs for Kids
14. Barnes & Noble Events for Kids
15. Pottery Barn Book Club (Costa Mesa & Mission Viejo) Every Tuesday and other select days for special book events. Receive a surprise after every 5 times you attend. Free

Museums
16. Discovery Science Center (Santa Ana)
17. Pretend City (Irvine) Fun for babies, toddlers and children, I suggest 9yrs and under.
18. La Habra Children’s Museum (La Habra)
19. Bowers Museum (Santa Ana)

Pop Up Museums
20. Pop Up Disney!
21. Cheat Day Land

Discounted Movies
22. Summer Outdoor Movies in Orange County
23. Summer Movie Programs for Kids
24. Discount Picture Show at Main Place Mall (Santa Ana) $6.25 before 6pm
25. Woodbridge 5 AMC Cinema (Irvine) $4.95 movies all day.
26. Brea Plaza 5 (Brea) $5.45 before 5pm
27. Cinema City (Anaheim Hills) $6 before noon, on Mondays & Tuesdays, and on Sundays before 6pm.
28. Drive-In Movies

Amusement Parks
30. Knott’s Berry Farm (Buena Park)
31. Disneyland (Anaheim)
32. Legoland (Carlsbad)
33. Adventure City (Anaheim on south Beach Boulevard) Carnival rides, rock climbing wall, arcade, petting zoo, children’s theater and food.

Fairs
34. OC Fair (Costa Mesa) July 12th – August 11th, 2019

Zoos & Farms & Animals
35. Zoomars (San Juan Capistrano) Small family owned zoo located in the historic Los Rios Village. Bunny farm, Guinea Pig Gully, corn pool, playground, pony rides, train rides and gem mining. Open 9am – 5pm.
36. Centennial Farm (Costa Mesa) Farm to the OC Fair animals and gigantic garden. Admission is free. Open to the public until the OC Fair begins and resumes after it is over.
37. Santa Ana Zoo
38. OC Zoo (Orange) Admission in $2. Located inside Irvine Regional Park.
39. Prehistoric Pets – The Reptile Zoo (Fountain Valley) Largest display of reptiles. My kids love this place. You can feed meal worms to turtles and also hold snakes and lizards. Meet “Twinkie” the largest albino boa in captivity.
40. Tanaka Farms (Irvine) Farm tours, veggie picking and farm stand
41. The Ecology Center (San Juan Capistrano)  Kids classes, strawberry picking, nature center.
42. Wags Animal Shelter (Westminster) Offers Dog cookie classes once a month. Check out their Facebook pages for event dates.

Trampoline Houses
Giant trampolines from wall to wall. Activities include dodgeball, basketball and foam pits.
43. CircusTrix OC
44. Sky Zone Trampoline House (Anaheim Hills & Westminster)
45. Big Air Trampoline House (Laguna Hills & Buena Park)
46. Get Air Surf City Trampoline Park (Huntington Beach)
47. Big Air (Buena Park)
48. Rockin’ Jump (Santa Ana) also has rock climbing

Indoor Rock Climbing
49. Sender City at Sender One (Santa Ana) this is seriously one of our favorite places…loved by kids and adults! and fun interactive rock climbing experience with a giant slide and staff that is amazing.
50. Rock City Climbing (Anaheim)
51. Rockreation (Costa Mesa)

Bounce House Places
Inflatable bounce houses with gigantic slides, and obstacles great for kids of all ages. Check them out individually for open play times and special family fun pizza nights. Enjoy indoor air-conditioning on hot summer days. (Don’t forget your socks!)
52. Bounce U (Orange)
53. Scooter’s Jungle (Placentia)
54. Pump it Up (Anaheim)
55. Pump it Up (Irvine)
56. Pump it Up (Lake Forest)
57. Pump it Up (Huntington Beach)
58. Froggs Bounce House (Fountain Valley)

Fun Centers
59. Thrill It Fun Center (Orange)
60. Round 1 Entertainment (Santa Ana)

Indoor Play Zones (Don’t forget your socks!)
61. Jump’n Jammin (Mission Viejo)
62. BubblePOP! (Irvine)
63. Billy Beez (Anaheim)
64. We Play Loud (Lake Forest & Huntington Beach)
65. Kidz Spot (La Habra)
66. Seascape Kids Fun (Anaheim Hills)
67. Luv 2 Play (Irvine & Lake Forest)
68. Bubble Playground (Buena Park)
69. Pumper Jumpers (Fullerton)

Water Parks & Water Slides
70. Soak City (Buena Park) Orange County’s largest amusement water park located adjacent to Knott’s Berry Farm.
71. Bucaneer Cover at Boomers! (Fountain Valley)
72. Raging Waters (Diamond Bar)
73. Splash! (La Mirada)

Splash Pads & Public Pools
All these splash pads are open from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Admission is free unless noted below. Children who aren’t potty trained should wear a swim diaper. I would recommend these for children under the age of 10 years.
74. Pioneer Park and Splash (Tustin) Free
75. Heritage Park Splash Pad (Irvine) Free
76. Singler Park Splash Pad (Westminster) Free
77. Stanton Central Park Splash Pad (Stanton)
78. District of Tustin (Tustin) Pop-up fountains
79. Crown Valley Park Spray pad (Laguna Niguel) *Closed for renovations*
80. Lemon Park Spray Pool (Fullerton) Free
81. Harry M. Dotson Park Wet Saloon (Stanton) Free
82. Atlantis Play Center Splash Pad (Garden Grove) Admission to park is $2.
83. Terramor Aquatic Park (Ladera Ranch) Must be with a resident to enter.
84. Larwin Spray Pool (Buena Park) Free
85. Frontier Park (Tustin)
86. Aliso Viejo Aquatic Center (Aliso Viejo) Public Pool, Splash pad and lap pools. Admission is $4-7 for non-members.
87. San Clemente Aquatics Center and Vista Hermosa Sports Park (San Clemente)

Beach Area Fun
88. The Best Tidepools in Orange County free
89. Corona Del Mar Tide Pools free
90. Balboa Ferry
91. Pirate Coast Paddle (Newport Back Bay) Paddleboarding fun
92. Victoria Beach Castle (Laguna Beach)
93. Crystal Cove & Ruby’s Shake Shack
94. Pacific Marine Mammal Center: See rescued ocean animals and education. (Laguna Beach) free
95. Aquarium of the Pacific (Long Beach)
96. Ocean Quest by Discovery Cube (Newport Beach) Located at Balboa Fun Zone
97. Newport Dunes Inflatable Water Playground (Newport Beach)
98. Newport Dunes Movies on the Beach (Newport Beach) free
99. Ocean Institute (Dana Point)

Nature Centers
100. Environmental Nature Center (Newport Beach) A 3.5 acre facility with nature trails, a native plant reserve and a nature center with kid-friendly exhibits. It is open 7 days a week. Admission and parking are free.
101. Oak Canyon Nature Center (Anaheim Hills) Hike the nature trails, visit the nature center and have a picnic at the picnic tables. Day camps are held during the morning hours. Admission and parking are free.
102. Bolsa Chica Interpretive Center (Huntington Beach) Learn about marine life, birds and reptiles native to our wetlands.
103. Fullerton Arboredum (Fullerton near Cal State Fullerton) Enjoy gardens with plants from different regions of the world. Yoga in the garden, nature walks, and family-friendly nature classes are scheduled every few weeks.
104. Peter Mary Muth Interpretive Center (Newport Beach Back Bay) Hands-on exhibits about the Back Bay’s wildlife nature. They have fantastic family events, so check out their calendar of events for the special dates. Open Tuesday – Sunday. Admission and parking are free.
105. Shipley’s Nature Center (Huntington Beach) Great interpretive center with hands on exhibits for kids, plus garden area.

Miniature Golfing & Amusement
106. Boomers! (Irvine and Fountain Valley) Miniature golf, go-carts, arcades, rides, and food. Irvine has laser tag. All activities have individual pricing.
107. Camelot Golfland (Anaheim off of the 91 freeway) Miniature golf, laser tag, arcade and food. All activities have individual pricing.
108. GlowZone (Huntington Beach) Everything glows at Glowzone. Choose from miniature golf, bowling, arcade, later maze, ninja course and more.

Fun Dining & Dinner Theaters
109. Medieval Times (Buena Park)  Medieval dinner and tournament with knights and horses at a fun dinner show. A full dinner is served and must be eaten with your fingers.
110. Pirates Dinner Adventures (Buena Park)  Dinner and show featuring pirates and stunts. A full dinner is served.
111. Chuck E. Cheeses (nationwide) Pizza and arcade.
112. John’s Incredible Pizza (Buena Park & Westminster) Pizza, arcade, rides, bowling and laser tag.

Arcades
113. Dave & Busters (Orange)
114. Dave & Busters (Irvine)
115. Nickel Nickel (Huntington Beach)

Skating & Ice Skating
116. Holiday Skate
117. Fountain Valley Skating Center
118. Irvine Inline
119. Anaheim ICE
120. Aliso Viejo Ice Palace
121. Yorba Linda ICE

Bowling
122. Kids can bowl FREE all summer at many of our Orange County bowling alleys. Find out details and sign up here.
123. Fountain Bowl (Fountain Valley)
124. Lucky Strike (Orange at the Block)
125. Concourse Lanes (Anaheim)
126. 300 Anaheim Lanes (Anaheim)
127. Irvine Lanes (Irvine)
128. Linbrook Lanes ( Anaheim)
129. Anaheim Bowling & Event Center (Anaheim)

Baseball Games
130. Dodgers Baseball (Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles)
131. Anaheim Angels Baseball (Angel Stadium in Anaheim)

Candy Stores
132. Powell’s Sweet Shop (Laguna Niguel)
133. Balboa Candy Store (Newport Beach at the Balboa Fun Zone)
134. B.Candy Store (Corona Del Mar & Huntington Beach)
135. Wonderland Bakery (Newport Beach)
136. The Candy Baron (Laguna Beach)

Historic Fun
137. San Juan Capistrano Mission (San Juan Capistrano)
138. Richard Nixon Library (Yorba Linda)
139. Heritage Museum of Orange County (Santa Ana)

Skate Parks
140. Vans Skate Park (Outlets of Orange) free
141. Etnies Skate Park (Lake Forest)
142. Logan Wells Memorial Skate Park (Anaheim Hills)free
143. Volcom Skate Park (Costa Mesa)
144. Brea Skate Park (Brea) – El Dorado Drive free
145. Brea Skate Park (Brea) – Sievers Avenue free
146. Fullerton Skate Park (Fullerton) – Valencia Drive free
147. Beebe Skate Park – (Mission Viejo) free
148. Garden Grove Skate Park (Garden Grove) – Westminster Avenue free
149. Anaheim West Skate Park (Anaheim) – Crescent Avenue free

Laser Tag
150. Laser Quest – Fullerton
151. Laser Quest – Mission Viejo
152. Laser Tag – Camelot Golfland, Anaeheim
153. Laser Tag – Boomers!, Irvine

Downtown Disney
154. Build-a-bearLEGO Store – Anaheim, Pop Up Disney!, Disney Store

Art Fun
155. Sawdust Art Festival (Laguna Beach) June 28 – September 1, 2019
156. Color Me Mine – Brea Paint your own pottery
157. Color Me Mine – Costa Mesa Paint your own pottery
158. Color Me Mine – Tustin Paint your own pottery
159. Hidden Talents Ceramic Studio Paint your own pottery
160. Fired Up (San Clemente) Paint your own pottery
161. Timree Paint Studio (Newport Beach)
162. The Ceramic Studio (San Juan Capistrano)

Shopping Area Fun
163. Old Towne Orange
164. Fashion Island (Newport Beach) Visit the Koi Pond, Pet store, Casey’s Cupcakes, Fountains, Build-A-Bear
165. Irvine Spectrum (Irvine) Carousel, Train Ride, Big Wheel Ride, Fountain splash pads, Movie Theater, Casey’s Cupcakes and shopping.
166. South Coast Plaza (Costa Mesa) Carousel, LEGO Store, Disney Store, Train, Pottery Barn Kids Book Club on tuesdays.
167. Pacific City (Huntington Beach)

Don’t forget to check out the Sandy Toes and Popsicles Facebook Page for daily updates of events happening in Orange County!

AND….

How about entertaining the tweens and teens….

Fun Things to Do With Teens in Orange County

how about these great summer camps!

best-orange-county-summer-camps-for-kids

PLUS….

how about these 10 Family Outings for $30!

Best Family Outings in Orange County

PLUS….

the best popsicles in town. where to get ice cream truck popsicles and ice creams in bulk right here in the OC.

best-popsicles-in-orange-county

PLUS…

101 Places toFind the Best Treats in Orange County

Ventura Ranch KOA in San Paula California

I constantly get asked where the best family-friendly campgrounds in Southern California are. If I had to make a list, then Ventura Ranch KOA in San Paula, California would be at the top. Located just north of Los Angeles in Ventura County, is has all the amenities to make camping enjoyable for all different levels of campers. From areas to tent camp, to RV spots, and even clamping cabins and teepees, you are sure to find the perfect camp spot for your family. I love that it is not too far of a drive from Orange County, but enough of a drive where you feel like you are going on vacation.

Ventura Ranch KOA is a Holiday KOA, meaning there are extra amenities on the property to make your stay more of a fun vacation! One thing I love about staying at KOA’s is that you always know that you are going to get a nice clean campground with KOA standards. You will most always find a camp general store and laundry facilities. I’ve stayed at dozens and dozens of KOA’s with no surprises of below standard amenities.

The Ventura Ranch KOA is a 76-acre campground nestled at the foot of Ventura County’s highest mountain, Topa Topa. It’s just off the scenic highway, 7 miles between Santa Paula and Ojai. The views are really amazing. Here are some of the views I caught while taking a morning walk.

Ventura Ranch KOA is Family Friendly

Ventura Ranch KOA is so fun for families because of all the amenities it has. Kids can not only playing free range in nature, there are unique experiences not available at most campgrounds.

First of all, they have a Jumping Pillow! This was definitely a favorite of my kids and all the other kids at the campground. The Jumping Pillow is huge and big enough for lots of kids to enjoy. During the daytime hours, it is pumped with air and everyone can run and jump on it while enjoying the beautiful sights and sounds of nature.

The Ventura Ranch KOA also has a pool…as does most KOA’s. I must say that the Ventura Ranch KOA’s pool is exceptionally nice, and has nice bathrooms located on deck.

For a small fee, you can enjoy to climbing wall. You can go as many times as you want during designated climbing times. And there are camp counselors there to help you along the way!

Almost every KOA has at least a small playground. The Ventura Ranch KOA happened to have a pretty large one with lots of play equipment for the kids to enjoy. I recommend reserving a camp spot near the playground so it’s easy to keep an eye on the kids. Or pack a picnic and enjoy an afternoon playing on the swings or jumping on the Jumping Pillow.

I would have to say one of my kids most favorite activities was mining for gems and minerals. At a designated time each day, you can head over to the mining area and enjoy mining. The mining kits are available for purchase at the KOA general store in a variety of prices depending on what you want to mine for. The camp provides you with the tools to mine with.

Later on in our stay we wondered down to the stream that flows along the campground. We really enjoyed that family time together exploring the waters and nature, and also took some of the mining kits and did them in the stream. It really was fun. I would say this was one of my personal favorite activities on the trip. There are also plenty of areas to hike and explore.

And check out this little frog meadow we saw along our walk. It’s the little things like this that made our stay so memorable.

And did I mention that there are wild peacocks everywhere! They are so pretty.

Finally, I know I have talked a lot about the fun activities and amenities that the Ventura Ranch KOA has to offer. But I know that you are probably really want to know more about the different camping accommodations available.

Ventura Ranch KOA Camping Accommodations

The Ventura Ranch KOA offer five types of accommodations, from the very rustic to deluxe, so you are sure to find one that fits your camping style. You can choose from tent sites with no electricity, RV sites with full and partial hook ups, Teepee’s with no electricity, Safari Tents or Cabins. Ventura Ranch KOA is a very large campground with sections of different accommodations.

Our family normally choose to camp with our travel trailer. We like to stay where they have full hook-ups and electricity. Ventura Ranch KOA has some great rv/trailer spots that have a grassy area and picnic tables.

This time we didn’t bring our travel trailer, we stayed in the Safari Tents! If you are looking to camp…but not totally rough it, then I recommend the Safari Tents. They have electricity, a small refrigerator, futons, beds, and plenty of room to enjoy your stay. They are also decorated really cute. We were totally spoiled and really enjoyed our stay. You can sleep 4 in each Safari Tent.

The bathrooms are located near the Safari Tents….and the aren’t gross!! Nothing like what you would imagine a camp bathroom to look like. So when I said glamping, I really meant it. Here are some pictures of the bathrooms. Actually, these are what all the bathrooms at the Ventura Ranch KOA look like, so you don’t have to worry at all that you will be using a port-a-potty or showering outside.

I also wanted to mention that each of the Safari Tents has it’s own outdoor picnic table, grill and fire pit. You will want to bring all your own food as there aren’t any stores within walking distance of camp. The refridgerator is small, but big enough to hold milk, eggs and necessities. Make sure to bring coal for the grill, or wood for the fire pit. The camp store has wood for purchase and small food items like s’more kits and convenience store type foods.

If you want to get even more fancy with your glamping, Ventura Ranch KOA has some cabins available and even some cottages that are professionally decorated. Pricing varies between all the different types, and there are many options available. Check out a few of the ones I toured.

Finally, if my kids had their way, we would be staying in a teepee! They looked so cute along the trails. I would consider them glamping tents as they don’t have electricity, but don’t have to set up a tent, so that’s a win. They have wood floors and do have beds inside…you bring your own bedding for them. And they also have a grill and campfire pit outside.

As you can see, the Ventura Ranch KOA is a great place for families to enjoy camping and still stay close to the OC. There are lots of fun things to do in the campgrounds, but if you choose to venture out, you can easily get to the Ventura Coast and enjoy a lot of the fun things to do in Oxnard, Ventura, and Carpinteria. Hope this helps you decided whether or not this camp group is right for you family. Feel free to comment if you have any questions, I am happy to help!

{ Disclosure: We were invited guests of the Ventura Ranch KOA. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own!}

Knott’s Summer Nights Debuts This Summer!

Knott’s Summer Nights will debut for the first time ever tonight at Knott’s Berry Farm. Last Night I was able to preview the fun, and I can tell you that Knott’s Summer Nights will most definitely become a family summer tradition! Beginning June 7 – August 11th, you will be able to enjoy a variety of traditional summer experiences, including live music, food and games. It all begins when the sun goes down on the Knott’s midway – between the Calico Square Stage and the Boardwalk.

Knott’s Summer Night Food Options

A summer night party is not complete without food and drinks, and no theme park does food quite like Knott’s. Seasonal flavors collide as the Knott’s culinary team creates tasty twists to classic summer favorites. 

You also have the option to buy a Summer Night’s Tasting Card so that you can pick and choose 8 of your favorites for only $35.

You can choose from ice cream treats to kettle corn, to fish tacos and chili corn chip pie. There are also craft beers and wines to choose from. All of the Summer Night’s Food and Drinks can be purchased separately or with a ticket from the tasting card.

My favorite item so far were the fudge dipped apples. You get to pick and choose your toppings and they make the apples right in front of you.

There is a map located on the back of the Summer Night’s Tasting card that will help you find where each of the Summer Night’s Food items are located. You also don’t have to use the entire card in one evening. if you would like to bring it back on another night…you can use your remaining tickets then!

Knott’s Summer Nights Band Line-up

Summer Night’s are better with live music, so get ready for some great music and live bands each night at Knott’s Summer Nights.

Guests can enjoy a variety of bands nightly, rock out to a top 40’s band at the Calico Mine Stage or bop to beats of the Boardwalk DJ around Charleston Circle Fountain. Looking at the schedule, Knott’s did an outstanding job of lining up some great bands of all different styles. Click here for the Knott’s Summer Nights Band line-up.

The bands will be rotating between 3 stages, so there will always be some great music to enjoy!

Knott’s Summer Night is Fun for the Entire Family

Along with the food and live music, there will Instagram-able photo opportunities, interactive experiences, and family-friendly games. Games include corn hole, tiki toss, giant checkers and giant pong!

Characters from Knott’s Backyard Barbecue join in the fun with funny story lines and props to make your stay at the Summer Nights full of laughter and energy.

Finally, make sure to take some time to sit down and relax by the fire. There are table top fire pits set up all around Calico Stage. You can even buy a s’more kit for $7.00 and make s’mores! Annual pass discounts do apply and the kit come with enough supplies to make two s’mores. You will find the booth to buy the kits next to the stage.

I am really looking forward to attending Knott’s Summer Nights multiple times this summer. I can tell that it will become a popular event to enjoy here in Orange County. It’s just one more reason to buy an season pass to Knott’s Berry Farm. Even though it’s six months into the year, there is still soooo much more fun to enjoy the rest of the year at Knott’s. Happy Summer!