Things to do in Orange County

20 Things to Do With Kids in Orange County

Discover the best things to do with kids in Orange County. Meet animals, connect with history, learn about the world, and have fun!

There are so many things to do in Orange County that you need to be selective when crafting the perfect family itinerary. From theme parks to whale watching, these fun family activities will create memories that never fade. Join us as we explore the many ways you can have fun with your kids.

Newport Beach

The gorgeous city of Newport Beach offers a range of exciting activities. Take your kids out on a boat to see whales or ride the Ferris wheel for great views over the bay.

1. Newport Beach Whale and Dolphin Watching Cruise

A cruise with Newport Landing Whale Watching is the perfect activity for a fun-filled family outing. Imagine the excitement on your kids’ faces as they spot majestic whales breaching or playful pods of dolphins dancing alongside the boat.

Throughout the tour, your children will learn fascinating facts about these incredible marine animals and their ocean habitats. Newport Landing Whale Watching has been providing whale-watching trips for more than 20 years.

The boat has a snack bar on board in case your kids get hungry. Winter is the best time to see migrating gray whales, while in summer, you’re more likely to see blue, fin, and humpback whales.

2. Balboa Island Ferry

Take your little buccaneers on an adventure across the harbor aboard the Balboa Island Ferry. Operating since 1919, this iconic California ferry offers a short but delightful cruise between Balboa Island and the Balboa Peninsula.

This mini-voyage is fun and educational for kids. It only costs a couple of dollars to go across, and you'll get to watch your kids' eyes widen as they take in the harbor views.

Photographer: jdoms

3. Balboa Fun Zone

Looking for a day the whole family will love? Balboa Fun Zone offers a classic amusement park experience on the Balboa Peninsula. We love going for a ride on its iconic Ferris wheel, which offers breathtaking views of the harbor and Pacific Ocean.

You can challenge your kids on the Coconut Climb or bounce higher than one of our acrobats on the Ocean Motion trampoline.


Irvine is full of ideal spots for a family day, including great museums, farms, and kiddie railroads. It's also one of the best places for Orange County birthday parties.

4. Pretend City Children's Museum

Unleash your kids’ imagination at Pretend City Children’s Museum. This interactive haven lets kids explore unique exhibits like the construction zone or art studio. They can even practice being a bank teller or conservationist. Through imaginative play, little ones develop essential skills while having a blast.

5. Irvine Spectrum Center

Irvine Spectrum Center is so much more than a California shopping mall. Kids can ride the classic carousel, play video games at Dave & Buster’s, and help you puzzle your way out of an escape room.

You can even enjoy a family movie marathon in Regal Theaters' IMAX theater. Why not take a trip on the giant wheel to see the sights of the city from above? Irvine Spectrum Center even has a virtual reality suite where kids can race cars and more.

Photographer: Andrea Arana

6. Tanaka Farms

Tanaka Farms is a family-owned and operated farm offering wholesome, kid-friendly activities. It’s the perfect place for your children to connect with nature and learn where their food comes from. Here, they can explore the barnyard educational exhibit, where farmyard friends, including sheep, turkeys, pigs, and a pony, await.

They can even take part in seasonal activities, such as pumpkin picking in the fall or harvesting strawberries from the vine during spring. With delicious farm-fresh produce available for purchase and a calendar of engaging events, Tanaka Farms promises a memorable day out for all the family.

7. Irvine Park Railroad

Irvine Park Railroad runs through scenic Irvine Regional Park. It’s child-sized, at only one-third the size of a normal train, and winds its way through the Orange Foothills. Watch out for local birds and other wildlife as the train chugs along.

After your train ride, visit the Orange County Zoo, which is also located in the park. Kids can see black bears, bald eagles, mountain lions, and more.

Dana Point

Dana Point is the ideal place to investigate the mysteries of the ocean with your little marine explorers in tow.

8. Ocean Institute

The Ocean Institute brims with educational activities for the whole family. Dive into a world of hands-on learning and enjoy immersive programs designed for people of all ages. Feed sea stars, watch a squid dissection, or take a hike to a tide pool teeming with marine life.

You can even set sail on an educational cruise where you can witness the wonders of the ocean firsthand.

9. Whale Watching

Dana Wharf Sportfishing & Whale Watching has been running whale-watching tours from Dana Point since 1971. Take a two-hour trip that gives you the chance to see whales up to 100 ft. long. You might even catch a glimpse of the iconic killer whales that sometimes pass through this area.

Expert naturalists onboard teach you and your kids about the fascinating creatures that call the ocean home. If your family would rather keep the adventure to your group, you can book a private tour.

Santa Ana

Santa Ana is one of the best places in Orange County for kids. It’s also the home of two of our favorite family-friendly venues.

10. Santa Ana Zoo

Delight your animal-loving kids with a trip to the Santa Ana Zoo. More than 80 species of animals are just waiting to meet them. Get nose-to-nose with playful monkeys, watch majestic boa constrictors slither and coil, and marvel at the vivid colors of the Amazon rainforest.

Little ones will love the Crean Family Farm, where they can meet furry friends, such as guinea hogs, Jacob sheep, and adorable Exmoor ponies. Beyond the animals, the Santa Ana Zoo boasts exciting experiences, such as a cute train ride, a whimsical endangered species carousel, and the Fifty Monkeys Ferris Wheel.

We love the Tierra de las Pampas exhibit, which immerses visitors in anteater territory on safe walkways.

11. Discovery Cube Orange County

Is your child curious about everything under the sun? Does their imagination soar with dreams of undersea exploration or digging for dinosaur bones? If so, a trip to Discovery Cube offers the perfect adventure.

Through hands-on exhibits, Discovery Cube lets kids become the scientists, engineers, and paleontologists they’ve always wanted to be. They can drive a remote-controlled lunar rover, race toy cars on a winding track, and even become eco-inspectors, protecting the planet from harm.


Anaheim is home to Disneyland Resort and lots of Orange County family activities.

12. Disneyland Resort

Every kid dreams of going to Disneyland Resort, and their eyes will sparkle with excitement if you surprise them with a visit. Here, you can soar through the sky with Peter Pan in Fantasyland or brave a thrilling runaway train ride in Frontierland.

Watch your kids’ faces light up during dazzling fireworks displays that illuminate the sky every evening. However you choose to spend your time at Disneyland, it’s a truly magical experience your kids will remember.

Photographer: kaleb tapp

13. Angel Stadium

We love to take our little sluggers to Angel Stadium. Cheer on the Los Angeles Angels as they battle it out on the diamond, creating memories that last a lifetime. The stadium’s electric atmosphere, with the roar of the crowd and the crack of the bar, is sure to ignite a love of the game in your youngsters.

Beyond the action on the field, kids can race around the bases during the post-game event Kids Run the Bases, and they can cool off with a refreshing treat from one of the venue's many concession stands.

Huntington Beach

Head to Huntington Beach for oceanside fun with your littlest loved ones.

14. Huntington Beach Pier

The Huntington Beach Pier stretches 1,850 ft. into the Pacific Ocean and offers endless entertainment for families. Watch in awe as surfers glide along the ocean, cast a line to see what you can catch (no license required), or grab a scoop of ice cream and enjoy the salty breeze.

With shops full of souvenirs and a restaurant with stunning sea views, Huntington Beach Pier is the perfect place to spend a family day out.

15. Bolsa Chica Conservancy

The Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve boasts diverse ecosystems, including sparkling wetlands teeming with birdlife. The Conservancy’s Interpretive Center brings the wonders of Bolsa Chica with fascinating exhibits of live animals and aquariums.

Meet a California spiny lobster and get up close and personal with alligator lizards. With its easy-to-navigate trails and educational programs, the Bolsa Chica Conservancy promises to spark a love of nature in your kids.

San Juan Capistrano

Take the time to connect with history in San Juan Capistrano. It’s the ideal place for your kids to learn about the region’s traditions.

16. Mission San Juan Capistrano

Journey back in time at Mission San Juan Capistrano. This California landmark isn’t just another museum. Explore the chapel that still stands where Saint Sierra once worshiped and learn about the mixed Native American, Spanish, Mexican, and European heritage of this sacred place.

Here, your kids can get a glimpse of what life was like for Spanish padres and Native American people centuries ago.

Photographer: Victor

17. Zoomars at River Street Ranch

Enjoy a day out with your kids at Zoomars at River Street Ranch. Established in 1980, this family-owned and operated attraction offers old-fashioned, wholesome fun. You can make friends with a delightful cast of furry and feathered creatures, from cuddly goats and sheep to fluffy alpacas.

There’s even a family of adorable guinea pigs with twitchy noses. Zoomars also offers pony rides, train rides, and activities where kids can learn about mining and digging for gold. With a down-home atmosphere, this venue is sure to put smiles on small faces.

Laguna Beach

Who needs to visit a water park in Orange County when there are so many fantastic activities available right here on the natural shoreline?

18. Laguna Beach Pirate Tower

Spark your children’s swashbuckling spirits with a trip to Laguna Beach’s Pirate Tower. This historic stone tower, built in 1926, perches dramatically on Victoria Beach, stretching to a height of 60 ft. The tower isn’t open for climbing, but at low tide, we love poking around the base in search of buried treasure.

Photographer: jonbilous

19. Pacific Marine Mammal Center

The Pacific Marine Mammal Center is the ideal place to ignite a love for the ocean and its amazing creatures. This nonprofit organization rescues, rehabilitates, and releases marine mammals like sea lions and seals.

It’s currently undergoing renovations to make it bigger and better than ever and will reopen in the fall of 2024. Kids will be able to learn about these fascinating animals and their vital role in the ocean ecosystem.

20. Big Air Trampoline Park

If your kids bounce with energy, Big Air Trampoline Park is a great way to tire them out. They’ll bounce, flip, and soar like our performers as they venture through an indoor play zone of interconnected trampolines, dodgeball courts, and ninja-warrior obstacle courses.

While they burn off energy and push the limits of their acrobatic abilities, you can relax and watch them have a blast in a safe, supervised environment.

Embracing Family Fun With Endless Activities in Orange County

Treat your kids to an unforgettable experience that will ignite their imaginations and leave them starry-eyed. For another experience they won't forget, bring them to one of our shows. We combine dazzling acrobatics, dance, and storytelling to create an awe-inspiring performance.

Witness jaw-dropping feats of human agility, whimsical characters, and a captivating narrative that will transport you to a world of pure wonder. Your whole family will be buzzing with excitement.

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