The Amazing Bubblefest Show at Discovery Cube

Making Bubbles at Bubblefestfor my boys and myself, spring break means going to Bubblefest at Discovery Cube. Bubblefest happens every year during spring break, and for the last couple years, it’s been two weeks long. we always have a tradition of going on opening day, it is my personal favorite event that takes place oat The Cube. when you see bubbles, you just have to smile….there is just something about them. and Bubblefest sure does make a lot of smiles.

Bubblefest has two parts to it. first there the Mega Bubblefest Laser Show and then there are the Hands-on Bubble Exhibits. the Mega Bubblefest Laser Show is performed by the talented Deni Yang, a magical bubble show that’s unlike anything we have experienced. this year’s show takes place inside the brand new expansion of Discovery Science Center – in the state of the art auditorium that was especially designed for the Mega Bubblefest Laser Show.

as always, the show was awesome! we enjoyed….The Best Bubble Show in the World

giant mega bubbles….

Southern California Bubble ShowAmazing Bubblefest Show
snow bubbles….

Snowing Bubbles at Bubblefest
lasers and bubbles….

Amazing Bubblefest Show at Discovery CubeLaser Light and Bubble Show at Discovery Cube
lasers, fog and smoke bubbles…

Bubble OceanThe Best Bubble Show in Southern California

kids inside bubbles…

Deni Yang Bubble Show

and even bouncing bubble balls that danced around the audience!

Fun things to do on Sprink Break in Orange County

people of ALL AGES love the bubble show….even my grandma who wanted to come back with us this year since she loved it so much last year.

Grandparents Love Bubblefest

the Bubblefest Show is simply magical. you won’t believe how many bubbles there are. plus there are bubble tricks, a bubble movie, and bubbles dancing to the music…all of it being performed of course by Deni Yang. the coolest bubble show we’ve have seen.
Deni Yang Show at Bubblefest
after the show we headed to the other part of the Bubblefest experience – the hands-on bubble exhibits. this year, the set-up is different from years past. everything is inside The Cube except for the bubble blowing. this is nice because you don’t have to wait out in the hot sun for the bubble spheres. this is a favorite of many of those at Bubblefest.
Playing In the Water Bubble SpheresKids Having Fun at Bubblefest
the boys also enjoyed racing against each other on the bubble house obstacle course.
Bubblefest Bounce House
some of the other interactive exhibits included making a bubble wall, learning about bubbles from the bubble scientist, making shadows on the bubble light wall and trying some cool laser tricks.
Bubble WallMaking a Bubble Wall at BubblefestBubble ScientistBubblefest Light ExhibitLaser Game at Bubblefest
outside in the Discovery Cube courtyard, the boys had the most fun making their own giant bubbles. they had these great bubble wands with the perfect solution to make enormous bubbles. i was pretty impressed at my boys ability to blow bubble out of the hands. it was so much fun to watch the joy in their faces as they created amazing bubbles.
The Best Bubble Solution at BubblefestFun things to Do During Spring Break in Orange County
and before you leave Bubbliest, be sure to get your photo inside a giant bubble, and if you want to take home some bubble making supplies, there are lots of kits to choose from in the gift shop.
Getting A Photo in a BubbleBubblefest Merchandise
Bubblefest made for a nice and relaxing afternoon with my boys, and inspired some fun new ideas for my boys to think about. my oldest now wants to design laser shows. thank you Discovery Cube Orange County for hosting this fabulous Bubblefest experience…it was AWESOME!!!!!!  and if you would like to see if for yourself, which i highly suggest, hurry. it all ends on April 10th. click here for the details.

Bubblefest Discovery Science Center Spring Break

101 Things to Do with Teens and Tweens in Orange County

Fun Things to Do With Teens in Orange Countyentertaining teens and tweens can be hard! most of the time, they just want to be with their friends or playing on their electronic devices or social media. they’re too big to play on park playgrounds and a lot of the activities on my list of 101 Kid-friendly Things to do in Orange County aren’t geared toward this age range. i’ve had a lot of requests to share more tween and teen friendly activities, so to start off, i made this list of 101 Things to Do with Teens and Teens in Orange County.

some of these activities are free or low cost…most cost money, some are pricey. as the kids get older, it becomes harder and harder to entertain them for free. most of the free community events happening in Orange County i will post on my Sandy Toes and Popsicles Facebook Page. below is everything i could think of for you to have fun with those teens and tweens.  NOW lets have some fun!!!!!!!

Parks & Nature Centers
Fun Orange County Play Parks has written an article on Parks for Teens in Orange County, and Go Explore Nature has written a great article about Getting your Tweens Outside. Here is a list of Tween and Teen-friendly parks in Orange County.

1. Irvine Regional Park OC Zoo & Fun Wheel Rentals – Spend an hour in the zoo and then rent a paddle boat or surrey bike. There are nice trails to hike and also horse rentals.
2. Mile Square Park Archery Range (Fountain Valley)
3. Carbon Canyon Nature Trail (Brea)
4. Turtle Rock Nature Center (Irvine)
5. San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary (San Juan Capistrano)
6. Aliso Wood Canyon (Aliso Viejo) free
7. San Onofre State Beach (San Clemente) free
8. Environmental Nature Center (Newport Beach) A 3.5 acre facility with nature trails, a native plant reserve and a nture center with kid-friendly exhibits. It is open 7 days a week. Admission and parking are free.
9. Oak Canyon Nature Center (Anaheim Hills) Hike the nature trails, visit the nature center and have a picnic at the picnic tables. Admission and parking are free.
10. Fullerton Arboredum (Fullerton near Cal State Fullerton) Beautiful gardens host plants from different regions such as the Mediterranean, Woodlands and the Desert. Yoga in the garden and nature walk are often hosted on the weekend, and family-friendly nature classes are scheduled every few weeks.
11. Peter Mary Muth Interpretive Center (Newport Beach Back Bay) 10,000 square foot facility has hands-on exhibits for the public to learn about the Back Bay’s wildlife nature. Family events are held on various days, so check their calendar for dates. Open Tuesday – Sunday. Admission and parking are free.
12. Shipley’s Nature Center (Huntington Beach)
13. Orange County Great Park (Irvine) Ride the Big Balloon, stroll through the gardens enjoy events on the weekends.

Museums & Historical Centers
14. Discovery Science Center (Santa Ana)
15. Bowers Museum (Santa Ana)
16. Orange County Museum of Art (Newport Beach)
17. The MUZEO (Santa Ana) Museum and cultural center that engages the community by exploring and celebrating our diverse heritage, culture and arts through creative programming.
18. Orange County Center for Contemporary Art (Santa Ana)
19. San Juan Capistrano Mission (San Juan Capistrano)
20. Richard Nixon Library (Yorba Linda)
21. Beall Center for Art + Technology (Irvine) Icludes exhibitions that explore new relationships between the arts, sciences, engineering, and promote new forms of creation and expression using digital technologies.
22. Heritage Museum of Orange County (Buena Park)
23. Laguna Art Museum (Laguna Beach)
24. Susanna Bixby Bryant Ranch House and Museum (Yorba Linda) visitors can glimpse some of Yorba Linda’s unique heritage – each room depicts a different period or aspect of the area’s history, from Indian times to the first settlement by the Yorba family, and into the modern age. Opened to the public on limited days.
25. Dr. Willeta Howe-Waffle House  (Santa Ana) built in 1889, the House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, as a California Historic Point of Interest, and as a landmark building on the City of Santa Ana’s Historic Register. Limited tours available the first Saturday of selected months.
26. International Surfing Museum (Huntington Beach)
27.  Marconi Automotive Museum (Irvine) Museum displaying an impressive 30 million-dollar collection of historical, exotic, and classic cars. Not open to the public on the weekends. $5, Kids are free

Unique Experiences
28. Murder Mystery Scavenger Hunt (Laguna Beach & San Clemente) Interactive scavenger hunt.
29. Exodus Escape Room (Anaheim Hills) Beat the clock to turn the lock! Exodus Escape Room is a real life
adventure game where you are locked in a room. The goal is simple – you have 60 minutes to work together with other players, crack codes and solve ciphers to escape.
30. Howie’s Game Shack (Mission Viejo & Buena Park) The largest online interactive game centers in North America. Featuring over 800 PC and Xbox stations. $8 per hour or $18 for 3 hours.
31. Titanic Artifact Exhibit (Buena Park)
32. Bodies Exhibit (Buena Park)
33. FlightDeck (Anaheim) Experience aerial maneuvers at 600 knots and air-to-air combat in an authentic military flight simulator, and feel what it’s like to take the controls of a commercial airliner in our Boeing 737 flight simulator. Guests who are not flying can relax in our Officers Club and watch all the aerial action on large LCD screens. reservations required.
34. Field Time Target & Training (Stanton) Shooting range with 25 yard shooting lanes. Shoot handguns, rifles and shotguns. computerized target retrieval systems on each lane, complete with adjustable lighting, and training classes.
35. 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. Admission is $5.

36. K1 Speed (Anaheim & Irvine) Indoor go-karting. open 7 days a week.
37. Boomers! (Irvine and Fountain Valley)
38. Camelot Golfland (Anaheim off of the 91 freeway)

Read More…

Fun at Adventure Playground in Irvine

Adventure Playground in Irvine Photos

the boys and i are so excited that a new interactive park has opened in Orange County. Adventure Playground at University Park in Irvine is going to be the new favorite park of kids in the OC. we couldn’t wait to check it out, so we went over on opening weekend to get a glimpse of the new play space.

Adventure Playground in IrvineAdventure Playground at University Park in Irvine has been around since the 70’s, but in recent years has been closed to the community. it used to be a place where kids could build, play in the dirt and mud, and use their imaginations to play in nature. and although the new park is not the same as the original, the goal is still the same – to let kids play, roam, imagine and explore. it’s only one of three parks in the United States of this kind…what a treat to have it located in the OC.

i wasn’t sure what to expect, but when i first arrived at the park with the boys, my first thought was AWESOME…and that it was a lot different than i expected. there were some fun play structures….but there is also a lot of empty space and areas with mud, water and sidewalks. the entire park is landscaped with native plants and natural rock and wood structures for kids to climb and explore. and it’s completely enclosed besides the entrance, so you don’t have to worry about the kids getting lost while they play.

Irvine Adventure Playground Orange County Mom Blogmy boys immediately went to playing, totally in awe of everything they could do. to most adults it may look like there isn’t much to do, but there is! kids can build, dig, run, jump, hide, slide and best of all…get dirty. there are sand boxes, areas of mud and there are also water pumps. you probably want to bring a change of clothes for the kids just in case they choose to play in the mud, and definitely wear your grubbies when you go.

Adventure Playground Irvine StreamThe Mud at Adventure Playground in Irvine

and beware! even adults are going to want to join in the fun. Adventure Playground is a great park for parents to interact and play with their kiddies.

Adventure Playground Irvine Giant LegosParents Playing at Adventure Playground in IrvineKids Playing at Adventure Playground in Irvine
check out some of the photos i took on our visit…

Adventure Playground in Irvine InformationPlaying at Adventure Playground Irvine Adventure Playground Rope BridgeIrvine Adventure Playground Free Admission Adventure Playground in Irvine, CaliforniaIrvine Adventure Playground Water Pumps Irvine Adventure Playground OC Mom BlogIrvine Adventure Playground FortsAdventure Playground Contruction ToysAdventure Playground Irvine SandboxAdventure Playground Irvine Slides
we had a blast playing at the new park, and the boys can’t wait to go back. i see this being a favorite place to visit in the summer and all year round for that matter. you have got to check it out with your kids.

Irvine Adventure Playground Telescope

Adventure Playground in located inside University Park in Irvine near the Library. there is a small parking lot located outside of the Adventure Playground entrance. it’s open daily from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, and it’s FREE!  there are always two staffed workers onsite if you need help or if there is a problem. if you would like more information on the new Adventure Playground in Irvine, head over to Fun Orange County Parks!

Adventure Playground in Irvine, CA

Family Fun at the Drive-In Movie Theater

Where is are the Drive In Movie Theatersa couple weeks ago, we had a fun impromptu family outing to the Van Buren Drive-In Movie Theatre in Riverside just outside of the OC. i have been wanting to take the kids to a drive-in movie for a long time, but either there weren’t good family shows playing or we didn’t have the time, or the weather wasn’t that great. finally, the stars aligned and the opening weekend of Jurassic Park was the perfect time for us to go to the drive-in movies. i was so excited to share an activity i enjoyed as a child with my boys.

as you may or may not know, there are no more drive-in movie theaters in Orange County….sad. however, there are quite a few drive-ins just outside of OC’s boundaries that are just a short drive. we chose to go to the Van Buren Drive-In Theatre because it had the show we wanted to watch and it was the closest to our home.

Riverside Van Buren Drive In

here is a list of Drive-In Movie Theaters the are close to Orange County

Van Buren Drive-In Theatre
3035 Van Buren Boulevard, Riverside, CA

Vineland Drive-In Movie Theater
443 N. Vineland Avenue, City of Industry, CA

Mission Tiki Drive-In Theatre
10798 Ramona Avenue, Montclair, CA

Rubidoux Drive-In Theatre
3770 Opal Street, Riverside, CA

South Bay Drive-In Theaters
2170 Coronado Avenue, San Diego, CA

prices vary with each theater, most having the child’s admission being around $1 and adult admission around $9. a good deal considering most movies are double features.
Van Buren Drive In Movie Theater

you want to arrive to the drive-in movie theater early. i would suggest 1 to 1-1/2 hours early, especially if it is a popular movie. we got there 1 hour early and it was already packed. it was opening night of Jurassic Park, so that could have been some of it, but there were lots of big families with lots of cars piling into the drive-in. we still got a good spot, but it was in the back, and against the fence of another movie, so we could hear it during our movie. Drive In Movie Theater near Orange Countywhile we waited for the sun to go down and the movie to start, we set up our car. we decided to bring my husbands truck and watch the movie from the truck bed. we filled up an air mattress that fit perfect inside of it, and filled the bed with blankets and lots of pillows. most people did the same as us, or turned their mini vans and suv’s around with the trunk opened and sat in the back. many people also brought lawn chairs to sit next to their cars. now days, drive-ins don’t have speaker boxes, you just tune your car radio to a certain channel to listen to the movie.

Riveside Drive In Theaterthe boys wanted to explore the theater, so we walked around while it was still light outside and check it out. the Van Buren Drive-In Movie Theatre is an older theater, like most drive-ins, and has a vintage charm. it is old, but not run down.

Vintage OC Drive In Movie Theater
we also brought a really good picnic dinner to enjoy while we waited. that’s the best part….eating outside while watching a movie. so make sure to bring lots of yummy food and treats. there is a snack bar, so you can still get those movie snacks we all crave. we didn’t go to it since we brought our own food, but it looked very popular.

Drive In Movie Theater Snackbar there is popcorn, candy, drinks and even dinner items you could buy like these Mexican food combination plates.Orange County Drive In Theater
Van Buren Drive In Snack Bar
finally, the sun was almost down and movie about to start.
Drive In Movie Theaterwe piled into the back of the truck and cuddled up together. we were really excited!Fun OC Family Activities

the sun disappeared and the movie started. it was one of the best times we have had as a family in a long time. everyone was happy and loved watching a movie under the stars. little Vann tried his hardest to stay awake during the entire movie, but didn’t quite make it. but it didn’t matter…we were already cuddled up on our air mattress. during the movie it even rained  little…but it was kind of magical and we didn’t mind.

Riverside Outdoor Movie Theatergoing to the drive-in movies was AWESOME, and we had so much fun!!!! even with the fact that we killed our car battery and had to get the battery jumped (make sure to start the car engine a few times during the movie to avoid this…we lived and learned the hard way). i highly recommend taking the family to the drive-in movies at least once this summer. it’s a fun experience that everyone will remember for years to come.

10 Orange County Family Outings for $30

Best Family Outings in Orange Countyi get requests from readers all the time asking for affordable family activities in Orange County. things have changed a lot since i began this blog over 7 years ago. there used to be plenty of free activities to do in the OC, but many of those free places have now added parking charges or admission fees. Orange County has the luxury of year-round warm weather so us residents can enjoy the beaches, outdoor spaces and all these Fun Orange County Parks whenever we want….usually for just the cost of parking or free. BUT sometimes families need some other options. so, i made a list of 10 Orange County Family Outings for $30 (give or take a dollar or two). i would consider these outings as cheap family fun in Orange County. the cost breakdown for each of these adventures is calculated for a family of four (two adults, two children). however, children under 3 are often free.

in order to make these outings stay at $30, families are going to need to resist temptation to buying the kids or themselves any extras (i.e. food, souvenirs, etc.).  the trick for me when i take outings with my kids, is to discourage begging before we leave the house. i tell the kids ahead of time what is included in our outing and what we will be able to purchase during it. i ask them not to ask for any extras, as we are already going to be doing something fun. i can’t remember the last time any of my kids have asked me to buy them a treat or souvenir…they just think it is the norm not to beg. in addition, be sure to bring water bottles and snacks on your outings to avoid expensive food costs. i have included a treat in each of these outings, so there is something good to eat that kids and adults can look forward to.

so, are you ready for some fun ideas????

here is my list of 10 Orange County Family Outings for $30 that are available for families to do in the OC all year round…..

Best Family Outings in Orange County CaliforniaEnvironmental Nature Center and Ruby’s Dinette Outing

the Environmental Nature Center (ENC) is one of the few free resources in Orange County. there is a lot to learn about at the center, and there are volunteers there to teach. the ENC inspires all generations to protect the natural world by serving as our community’s foremost authority on ecological responsibility, environmental education and sustainable practices. children can get have hands-on experiences in the center. also, check the calendar for FREE community events at the center.

after your outing at the ENC, head over to Ruby’s Dinette located at 428 E. 17th Street in Costa Mesa. Ruby’s Dinette is different than the traditional Ruby’s Diner. instead of the 50’s theme, it has a 60’s theme with cool retro decor like kidney bean shaped tables and lava lamp. the food is the same Ruby’s Diner food, just served in a different groovy way! let everyone order a homespun milkshake, a sundae or fries. of course it will cost much more than $5 per person if you order full meals, so keep that in mind. if you haven’t been to Ruby’s Dinette, i highly recommend it.

Cost Breakdown:
Environmental Nature Center admission FREE
Ruby’s Dinette Treat $5 per person = $20 + tax
Total $22 

Best Family Outings in Orange CountyBalboa Island & Fun Zone Outing

i have done this outing dozens of times with my boys, and it has to be one of my favorites. as long as it is not raining, it is a fun outing. just dress according to the weather…bring a jacket if it’s breezy. hopefully you can find parking close to the Balboa Fun Zone. sometimes you can snag a free parking space on the street or metered parking near the zone. if you still can’t find a space, there is paid parking near the Balboa Pier.

first, take a ride on the Balboa Island Ferry. if you have small children, i recommend bringing a stroller, especially if you plan on walking around Balboa Island. you will pay separately for each ride while you are riding the ferry across, so have some change available.

once you arrive on the island, either walk 1 block north to the little playground and enjoy a picnic lunch and playground time, and/or take a stroll around the island walkway. if you head to the west, you will have a scenic view of ocean front homes, if your head east, you will also have a view of ocean front homes, but also there are shops about a half a mile down that you can window shop at. when you feel you have had enough fun on the island, head back to the Balboa Fun Zone via the Ferry to finish out the rest of your outing.

when you return from your Ferry adventure, take a ride on the ferris wheel or visit the ExploreOcean Nautical Museum. either choice is fun, so pick what you think your family will enjoy most.

after, a ferris wheel ride or visit to the museum, follow the boardwalk east all the way to Main Street (one block) to Balboa Candy. here they have salt water taffy and lots of different treats to choose from. let everyone have $2 to get some candy. kids love to pick out their own treats. this will make a nice treat to end the day or a souvenir to take home.

Cost Breakdown:
Adult $1 per person x round trip = $4
Child (5 through 11) $.50 per person x round trip = $2
Child (under 5) Free
PLUS (pick one)
Ferris Wheel Rides $4 per person = $16
ExploreOcean $4 per child + $5 per adult = $18
Balboa Candy Treat: $2 per person = $8
Total $30-32 + parking

suggestion: Bring – picnic lunch to eat at the park, stroller for small children and camera. Bring cash for the Ferry.

Best Family Outings in Orange County10Irvine Regional Park Outing

the Irvine Regional Park has many fun activities to offer families. it is so much more than just your average park. besides the expected amenities, you also have the Irvine Park RailroadOC Zoo and OC Fun Rentals. families can easily spend all day here with the fun activities. i suggest visiting the OC Zoo, then head over to the railroad and ride the train. after, rent a paddle boat at Fun Wheel Rentals and enjoy a picnic lunch.

Cost Breakdown:
Parking $3-5
Train using BYGO coupon = $10
OC Zoo (weekday BYGO coupon) $2 per person = $8
PLUS (pick one)
Treat at the Snack Bar ($.5o off coupon) $2.50 per person = $10
Paddle boats for a half and hour using $5.00 off coupon = $10
Total: $29-$31

suggestion: Bring – picnic lunch, treat, waters, small blanket and sunscreen. Hand wipes to wash up after park. DON’T FORGET TO PRINT OUT THE COUPONS.

Best Family Outings in Orange County1Laser Tag Outing

my boys love laser tag, and Camelot Golfland in Anaheim offers the best price for families. you can get a family of 4 package for laser tag at $23, must be ordered online. this is a great outing for kids 4 and up. if your child is too little to carry one of the laser packs, just play together by wearing the pack yourself and have the little one carry the laser. it’s fun to run around with each other and trying to hit each others targets.

and since you can’t get out of the arcade without the kids playing some games, give each person $2 of tokens to play some games.

cost breakdown:
Laser Tag $23 -28
Game Tokens $2 per person = $8
Total $31

Best Family Outings in Orange County2Atlantis Play Center & Ice Cream Outing 

Atlantis Play Center in Garden Grove is a unique park unlike the others in Orange County. kids will have a blast playing on the concrete animals or sliding down the sea serpent slide. all of the other expected playground amenities are here as well, from swings to climbers. there are plenty of areas for picnicking under the trees and a picnic area for parties or large groups. adults are not allowed into the park without kids, and kids are not allowed without adults, so it’s the perfect chance for a little together time. spend the day exploring this special park. have a picnic and run around.

after your park date, head over to Snow Monster OCFrozen Bar or Snow Station all located in Garden Grove. each of them offer a unique ice cream experience different than the average ice cream shop.

cost breakdown:
Atlantis Play Center entrance $2 per person = $8
Ice Cream Treat $5 per person = $20
$28 total

suggestion: Bring – picnic lunch, waters, small blanket, park toys and sunscreen. Hand wipes to wash up after park.

Best Family Outings in Orange County3Reptile Zoo & Ice Cream Treat Outing

if your children love animals, particularly the scaly kind, then the Reptile Zoo is a great outing. i have never seen so many varieties of snakes and lizards in my life. there are hundreds of them here wall to wall. kids can learn about the reptiles, see unique species including Twinkie, the world’s largest snake, and even touch or hold a lizard. plan on spending a good 1 – 1-1/2 hours at the zoo. the Reptile Zoo is located at 18822 Brookhurst Street in Fountain Valley. you can also feed the turtles meal worms for $3…but i didn’t include that in the outing price. before you head out of the Reptile Zoo, make sure to wash the kids hands.

next, head over to one of two fun Ice Cream places. Afters Ice Cream Bar located at 18030 Brookhurst Street in Fountain Valley and home of the famous Milky Bar, or Milk Bar OC located at 16051 Brookhurst Street in Fountain Valley, who is known for their macaron ice cream sandwiches. both of these places have unique and yummy desserts that you won’t find at the average ice cream shop. get a large dessert to share or a couple of smaller ones.

Cost breakdown:
Reptile Zoo $5 per person = $20
Reptile food (optional) $3
Milk Bar OC or Afters Ice Cream, 1 or 2 treats to share = $10
Total $30-33 

suggestions: Bring your camera.

Best Family Outings in Orange County8Day in Laguna Beach Outing

start you day stopping at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center (PMMC) located on Laguna Canyon Road about 2 miles from the beach. the PMMC rescues, rehabilitates and releases marine mammals and inspires ocean stewardship through research, education and collaboration. here  you can see the seals and sea lions playing in the rehabilitation pools, check out the informational displays and even talk to one of the volunteers at the center. this is a fun way to get up close and personal with local animals.

next, head down to the main Laguna Beach and find parking. there are meters, street parking and parking structures. where ever you can find a parking spot, get it! beach parking is usually the pits.

now, take a walk down PCH along the beach south of main beach and check out some of the many shops and galleries. the Wyland Gallery is one of my boys favorites. if you are nervous bringing the children in the galleries, don’t be. explain your expectations to them ahead of time. i make my boys keep their hands in their pockets when we are inside. i make sure to show them interesting pieces of art and explain the art to them…asking questions and their thoughts to keep them entertained.

after you check out a few of the galleries, head over to Chantilly’s Ice Cream Parlor. it is located on PCH right across from the main beach. if you are not up for ice cream, there are also a few other places to get a bit to eat.

once you get your ice cream, walk across the street and enjoy the beach. there is a large playground that you can enjoy year round. when you are done playing, head back across the street and walk over to The Candy Baron. it is located at 231 Forest Avenue, just a couple blocks from the beach. here, everyone can get $2 of bulk candy as a souvenir. enjoy it on the way home or save for home.

this has to be one of my favorite outings our family takes. i love the beach and the artistic details you find around Laguna Beach.

Cost breakdown:
Pacific Mammal Center FREE
Parking $2-4
Walk through Wyland Museum FREE
Play on Beach Playground  FREE
Get a treat at Ice Cream Store $4.50 per person = $18
Candy at The Candy Baron $2 per person = $8
Total: $28-30

suggestions:  bring – bucket and shovel, cash for parking, small blanket, stroller for small children. eat and early lunch at home and arrive home around dinner time…or pack a picnic lunch/dinner.

Best Family Outings in Orange County9Cheap Movie Family Outing

when in doubt, there is always the movie theater…something that adults and children can both enjoy together. here is a list of cheap movie theaters that are found in the OC.

if you want to get movie treats, i recommend picking up a few boxes of candy from the grocery store before the movie. if you love popcorn, purchase a large bucket of popcorn at the theater, it should be enough to share. also, theaters often provide water cups, or you could have everyone bring a water bottle with them if you want to avoid high soda costs.

Picture Show at Main Place Mall (Santa Ana) $2 movies before 6pm, $3 movies after 6pm, $4 for 3-d movies. they offer $1 hotdogs.
Woodbridge 5 Starplex Cinema (Irvine) $2 movies before 6pm, $3 movies after 6pm, $4 for 3-d movies. they offer $1 hotdogs.
Regency Theater (Huntington Beach) $3 movies all day, $2 surcharge for 3-d. they have 2 ticket, 2 sodas and a popcorn combo for $10.
Brea Plaza 5 (Brea) $3 daytime and $3.75 evening
Cinema City (Yorba Linda) $5 before noon, Mondays, Tuesdays and before 6pm on Sundays.

Cost breakdown:
Tickets $3-5 per person = $15-20
Bucket of Popcorn or Treat from the Grocery Store = $6-10
Total: $25-30

Best Family Outings in Orange County4Orange County Great Park Outing

the Orange County Great Park or OCGP in Irvine is a great resource for our community. the park often hosts free community events that are actually quite awesome. practically any day you would like to visit, you can take a ride on the Great Park Balloon, and ride on the Great Park Carousel. i recommend making a day of it and bringing a picnic lunch. kids can play at the rock, a playground located near the Great Park Balloon and even check out sport equipment free of charge to play with. if you walk around the grounds near the Great Park Carousel, you will find the Farm + Food Lab, an area where many kinds of plants and vegetables have been planted and are growing. it is pretty cool to see them growing in their natural habitat. check the website often for free sports and gardening classes, if you come to the park during one of these events, you get more for your outing.

Cost breakdown:
OCGP entrance FREE
OCGP Playground FREE
Farm + Food Lab FREE
Great Park Balloon: $10 per adult, Kids 18 and under FREE with paying adult = $20
Great Park Carousel Rides: $2 per person single ride or $3 all day pass = $8
Total: $30

suggestions:  bring – picnic, drinks, sunscreen, small blanket, stroller for small children. double check the weather and balloon schedule. if it is windy, they balloon isn’t allowed to fly. usually before noon of after 6pm is the best time to fly.


Best Family Outings in Orange County11Drive-In Movie Outing

many families have never experienced a drive-in movie. so i have included a list of drive-ins closest to Orange County as and idea for a family outing. pack up the car with comfy pillows and blankets, pack a picnic, pop some popcorn and gather some treats for an adventure of snuggling up for an evening watching movies under the stars. be sure to check the schedule, as the selection of kid-friendly movies is slim.

Vineland Drive-In Movie Theater located at 443 N. Vineland Avenue in the City of Industry
Mission Tiki Drive-In Theatre located at 10798 Ramona Avenue in Montclair (coupons)
Van Buren Drive-In Theatre located at 3035 Van Buren Boulevard in Riverside (coupons)
Rubidoux Drive-In Theatre located at 3770 Opal Street in Riverside (coupons)

Cost breakdown:
Adult Tickets: $9-$9.50 per adult x 2 = $18-$19
Children Tickets: $1-$3.25 = $2-$7
Total: $20 – 26

suggestion: dress the kids in jammies to make transfer from the late night movie to bedtime easier on everyone. pack hand wipes, extra drinks and blankets.


and those are my top suggestions for inexpensive outing for families in the OC. be sure to double check the websites before heading out on your family outings, as prices, times and hours are subject to change at any time. and if you are still looking for some more fun outing options, be sure to check out my list of 101 Things to Do in Orange County or search for special events on sites such as OC Register or OC Events. many times there are free activities hosted in the community each week.

do you have any suggestions for cheap family outings in Orange County?