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.
Once known as the "Tin Can Beach", Bolsa Chica State Beach is now a popular beach which attracts visitors all year-round. It is an ideal place to go sunbathing, play volleyball, have a family day out and try other water sports. Surf fishing of fishes like croaker and corbina are among the other activities you can partake in here. Also, on this three-mile long sandy stretch is a designated place where you can camp in your RV vans. Bolsa Chica is a great spot to sit back and enjoy everything that the beach has to offer.
The area is 900 acres (364 hectares) of estuary, marsh, and coastal sage scrub habit, and it is home to several endangered bird species. Seventy species of fish use the bay and during winter migration thousands of shorebirds and ducks either visit or spend the winter here. Kayak, canoe, walking and electric boat tours are offered and a state of the art Interpretive Center is located at 2301 University Dr., Newport Beach.
For those who can make only one stop in Corona del Mar, make it the Corona del Mar State Beach. This area alone can make everyone fall in love with CdM, a laid-back multi-million-dollar neighborhood accented by the Pacific, with streets lined by palm trees and flower beds. On the bluff, three signs mark beach access: Lookout Point, Main Beach and Inspiration Point. Each point has a different view, but all share Catalina Island in the background, and Newport Bay and Balboa Island in the foreground. A few steps towards the south end of Ocean Boulevard is a secluded cove near the Robert E. Badham Marine Life Refuge, and some of the most extravagant mansions follow.
A paradise for surfers, the Wedge is the name given to a particular location off the Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach. The spot is called so owing to the huge wedge-like waves that occur here due to the outstretched Newport Beach Jetty that lies in the path of the incoming tides from the North Pacific Ocean. With waves reaching as high as 30 feet (nine meters) at times, the Wedge occupies a very special place on the bucket list of most surfers and adventure seekers.
The Environmental Nature Center is a must-visit for every nature lovers touring Newport Beach. It’s a beautiful attraction lined with native plants and trees where several bird species dwell. A getaway for birding enthusiasts as well as those who love hiking, the center is a perfect break from city noises. It is dedicated to teaching children as well as adults about sustainable development and waste management, in addition to other subjects that aid in maintaining a healthy ecosystem.
Named in honor of former mayor in 2013, Mike Ward Community Park was earlier known as Woodbridge Community Park. This 22-acre (8.90 hectares) park is besides the South Lake and by the San Diego Creek. This scenic spot features basketball courts, a volleyball court, picnic areas and barbecue pits. Its amphitheater is used for concerts and musicals regularly.
If you are looking for the perfect place to have a picnic, look no further than Hicks Canyon Park. The 16.7 acre (4046 square meters) park two picnic gazebo areas as well as four barbecues and six separate picnic tables. Families from all over Irvine flock to this are for sporting events and fun days out with the family. The lush, green park also features two lighted soccer fields, two lighten baseball diamonds, a concessions stand that is generally open during games, and a playground that kids will love.
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.
Located in Santa Ana, the Heritage Museum of Orange County is 12 acre (4 hectares) complex that features a museum, historic buildings, manicured gardens and citrus grove. Promoting and preserving the history and culture of Orange County, the museum offers unique, educational hands-on programs for both students and visitors. Public tours, fundraisers and themed events such as tea parties and more are offered throughout the year. This beautiful site is also rented out for weddings.
Located off the 405 Interstate, the Quail Hill Park and Trailhead are one of those hidden gems that you may pleasantly stumble upon. While the park is well-maintained and has a manicured area for playing baseball, the trail is surrounded by lush green hills. As you walk along the trail, you may find jack rabbits or the occasional deer, especially during dusk. The park allows dogs on a leash and is a popular spot for family picnics.