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Best Outdoor Activities in Orange County

By: Cityseeker
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Santa Ana Zoo

This small zoo has a lot to offer its visitors. There is a recreation of an Amazon rainforest that will awe and inspire both young and old alike. In the Children's Zoo youngsters can pet everything from a sheep to pot-bellied pigs. The Zoofari Express train offers a few thrills. Monkey Row is home to all kinds of primates, from lemurs to apes to Dusky Titi monkeys. The Australian Yard features wallabies and emus while the Endangered Species area features bald eagles and Diana Guenon monkeys. There is something to delight and educate just about anybody with a sense of curiosity about the wonderful world of animals.

Santa Ana, CA, United States
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Heritage Park

The 36.5-acre Heritage Park is a place for everyone to have a good time. Sports enthusiasts can happily lose themselves among any of the twelve tennis courts, three pools, three basketball courts, three lighted soccer fields, two racquetball courts, and the volleyball court. The lively ducks welcome nature-lovers to join them in a peaceful time by the pond. Families and friends with children, be sure not to miss the two children's playgrounds and the verdant picnic area with 22 barbecues and 29 tables. If you're a fan of culture, pleasantly explore the library and the park's amphitheater. Heritage Park also hosts popular annual events, such as the Studio Arts Festival in June, and Target Symphony in the Cities in August.

Irvine, CA, United States
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Orange County Great Park

Orange County's Great Park is a popular venue for concerts, plays and other events. It's also known for its giant orange tethered balloon, which visitors can ride for a fee. Soaring 400 feet in the air, on a clear day you can see 40 miles out. Other park attractions include a beautiful carousel, a playground, and a visitor center where you can rent sports equipment for free. Great Park is also home to the Orange County FC.

Irvine, CA, United States
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Newport Aquatic Center

For some fun and excitement within the city, the Newport Aquatic Center provides multiple choices. Kayaking, rowing, outrigger and dragon boat teams compete at this center's bayside location. Training sessions and lessons are available for those interested in the various kinds of water sports on offer here. For the more experienced, kayak and paddle board rentals are also available at an hourly rate.

Newport Beach, CA, United States
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Balboa Fun Zone

This place recalls the days when a Saturday night date meant a trip to the local amusement park, complete with a ride on the ferris wheel and a few games of skill where a boy could win a teddy bear for his sweetheart. It opened in 1936 and has remained a Newport Beach institution to this day. It's not that big, so don't count on a full day of activity, but it is a nice place to spend a couple of hours. Nights are especially festive here, so bring the family, a group of friends or special someone. There is no entrance fee, but each ride requires tickets.

Newport Beach, CA, United States
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Pelican Hill Golf Club

Spread over acres of lush greenery, this golf course designed by Tom Fazio offers visitors a chance to tee off in a breathtaking oceanside setting. Considered one of California's most popular luxury golf courses, the Pelican Hill Golf Club is suitable for beginners to seasoned veterans. This posh course features a variety of amenities from professional caddies, shoe attendants and club cleaning services to luxurious locker rooms and practice facilities. If you want to improve your game, take part in one of the workshops or private lessons on offer.

Newport Beach, CA, United States
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Crystal Cove State Park

Crystal Cove State Park spans 3.2 miles (5.15 kilometers) of beach and over 2000 acres (809.37 hectares) of wilderness. Offering the best of nature, visitors to the park can relax on the beach and hike or horseback ride on the many trails that criss-cross the wilderness. Explore tide pools and hidden coves as well as canyon flora and fauna. Visitors can also take guided nature tours. The crystal clear waters have been designated as an underwater park and are great for scuba diving, skin diving, and underwater photography.

Laguna Beach, CA, United States
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Laguna Coast Wilderness Park

Laguna Coast Wilderness Park is a locals' favorite for hiking and biking, particularly during spring when a spectrum of wild flowers bloom. Two entrances are available. One is at the junction of El Toro Road and Aliso Creek Road where limited street parking is available for free. Despite its isolation from the majority of the park, this area features Barbara's Lake, Orange County's only natural lake. The other entrance is across Laguna Canyon, by the junction of Laguna Canyon Road and El Toro Road. Although there is no free parking, you can head straight to Crystal Cove from here. With "wilderness" in its name, no pets are allowed in the park. Some residents you may have the pleasure of seeing are deer, mountain lions, and snakes.

Laguna Beach, CA, United States
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Aliso Beach Park

Bordered by Aliso Creek to the north and rocky headlands to the south, Aliso Beach Park is not only picturesque, but also a unique Laguna Beach attraction. Many family-friendly features, particularly for families with toddlers, can be found here. A large parking lot is right by the sand, and the beach is on street level instead of down the bluff with steep steps. There is a designated children's playground with swings, a pirate ship, and other fun toys. But Aliso Beach Park is not just a family hangout place. Surfers frequent here to ride the waves, and friends often gather around the fire pits on the sand. There is no admission fee for the beach park itself, but there is a small parking fee.

Laguna Beach, CA, United States
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Ocean Institute

The Ocean Institute is located in beautiful Dana Point Harbor and offers ocean science and maritime history programs perfect for kids and adults alike. See hundreds of marine animals in aquariums, watch animal feedings, experience ocean-themed exhibits, and have fun with hands-on activities. For an extra charge, take a tall ship or a whale watching cruise. The Dana Point Marine Protected Area is steps away from the Institute.

Dana Point, CA, United States
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