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.
Founded in 1932, this is likely the best all-around museum in Orange County. The complex has particularly come into its own since its re-opening in 1992 with expanded and improved exhibition spaces. Created with funds donated by Charles Bowers, the complex was built in the style of the California Missions, and is adorned with murals honoring that motif. Originally intended by Mr. Bowers to focus on local history, the museum has since enlarged its focus to incorporate artifacts from the cultures of Southeast Asia, Oceania, Mexico and Native America.
It is no exaggeration to say that Disneyland Resort is one of the best-known attractions in the whole world. For 45 years, Disneyland Park was the only theme park at this site, and is the better known of the two amusement parks at Disneyland Resort. While the original Disneyland is about rides and fun Disney characters, the Disney California Adventure, built-in 2001, recreates the popular sights of California. Disneyland Resort also houses three resort hotels and the famous entertainment, dining and shopping district known as Downtown Disney. The hours of operation vary for the two theme parks, restaurants and shops. One-day passes are available, but the three or five-day passes are recommended for what is sure to be an experience of a lifetime.
Sherman Library and Gardens is located on Pacific Coast Highway and has extensive botanical collections with examples of plant life from desert regions to tropical regions. It is a veritable outdoor museum of plants. Walk along the paths and smell the fragrant flowers and listen to the bubbling fountains. It really is an oasis that will take you away to a calmer, more peaceful place. The place also has a library on site which a delight for art lovers and bibliophiles.
Historic Mission San Juan Capistrano is a California icon. Perhaps most famous for visits from its annual guests of honor, the swallows, the Mission means many things to many people. For Californians, it is a powerful symbol of the state's complicated colonial history. For Catholics, it is a profound religious site, indicative of the Church's own complex heritage. History buffs spend hours reveling in the facility's many exhibits and displays, connecting viscerally with the sights, sounds and feelings of generations long past. For visitors of any background, it is an undeniably gorgeous place to spend an afternoon-replete with striking architectural elements and lovingly cared-for gardens.
Inspired by Tokyo's Imperial Gardens, the Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden opened its doors in 1981 and is a part of the California State University. The funds were donated by its namesake's widow whose love for gardens resulted in the building of this place. Dotted with trees like the Japanese black pines, pink cloud cherry, fern pines, saucer magnolias and Chinese flame trees, this serene garden is a sight to behold. A koi pond with a bridge and fish, garden art, pagoda, tea-house, fountains and a zig-zag bridge complete the beautiful landscape. The garden is a much favored spot for weddings.
Howe-Waffle House and Medical Museum is named so because it belonged to Dr. Willella Howe-Waffle, who was one of the first female physicians in the entire county till she died in 1924. Built by Stoughton and George in 1889, the Late Victorian Queen Anne style house now operates as Dr. Willella Howe-Waffle House and Medical Museum by the Santa Ana Historical Preservation Society in honor of the original owner. It open for tours on the first Saturday of every other month, starting from February.
The Old Towne district of Orange is known for its pre-1920s buildings, and the tales of paranormal activity that surround them. Hidden behind the quaint facade and elegant beauty of these buildings, lies a dark world of mystery, horror and macabre beauty. The guided ghost walk begins at the Royer Mansion and makes its way through the town's many antique stores, historic buildings and famous sites. This tour is certainly not for the faint hearted as it offers a peak in to the dark past that often haunts these historic abodes. All those who are interested in delving in to the sometimes disturbing past of these homely buildings are welcome to join in upon the purchase of a valid ticket. The tour lasts about 90 minutes and tickets must be purchased in advance. Spooky, marvelous and downright creepy, a Ghost tour of the Old Towne is sure to be one that is filled with hair-raising discoveries and unforgettable moments.
Orange County Zoo is a wonderful family friendly attraction located in Irvine Park. The zoo has an impressive collection of animals and most of the animals are native to southwestern United States. Visitors will marvel at the black bears, be awed by the turkey vultures, and get to interact with the barnyard animals including sheep and domestic goats. The idea of a zoo began in 1905 when Red Foxes were added to Irvine Park, then in 1920 an animal collection was started and continued to grow until the modern zoo was officially opened in 1985. Visit this attraction the learn about the fascinating animals in a fun filled environment.
Located in Irvine, this family owned and operated organic farm is spread out over 30 acres (12 hectares). Producing over 60 kinds of fruits and vegetables, Tanka Farms is known for offering delicious produce at their farm stand and for their one-of-a-kind tours and activities. Offered year-round, the tours and activities aim to educate children on where their food comes from and how it is grown. Changing with the seasons, tours in the winter and fall focus on pumpkins and Christmas trees. In the spring and summer, watermelons and their famed strawberry tours take place.
The Kellogg House is a historic house where Hiram Clay Kellogg lived with his family. The house is an information center for details about the Victorian era.