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.
Irvine Park Railroad is located in beautiful Irvine Regional Park. The one-third scale train takes visitors on a scenic, 12-minute ride through the 477-acre park. Other park attractions include pony rides, the Orange County Zoo, walking trails, horseback riding, snack bars and more. You can rent paddle boats, bikes, and horseshoe and volleyball sets. Annual Irvine Park Railroad events include the Pumpkin Patch, Christmas Train, Easter Eggstravaganza, California History Education Program and Anniversary Celebration. School field trips are available. You can also reserve space for private parties.
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.
Imaginations turn, twist and fly through 120 exciting hands-on exhibits at Discovery Cube Orange County. The park, which was formerly called the Discovery Science Center, is located in Santa Ana and has been inspiring kids of all ages for years. Experience science in the museum's themed areas, which include Quake Zone, Techno Arts, Discovery Stadium, Perception, Dynamic Earth, Air & Space, Kids Station and Dino Quest. Kids and adults alike are given a chance to lie on a bed of needles, run with dinosaurs, and dive to the depths of the ocean, all in one building! The establishment also hosts educational programs throughout the year.
With a self-explanatory name, Pretend City Children's Museum is as it implies, a small "pretend" version of a city! Set up like a regular city over an expansive 28,000 square feet (2,600 square meters), this museum showcases displays like the Library, the City Hall, and The Farm. While traversing across this fascinating museum, children can interact with the displays and learn through play. Watch as your two-year-old has fun in the Orange Plaza while your eight-year-old pretends to be a firefighter at the Fire Station. Your children won't want to leave!
The center, funded largely by a mega-million dollar endowment from Renée and Henry Segerstrom, was originally inaugurated in 1986, with the first venue Sergestrom Hall as part of what was then the Orange County Performing Arts Center. The latest addition, a community plaza uniting the newer and older venues was built in 2006, and the center renamed the Segerstrom Center for the Arts. The complex has drawn huge audiences for symphony, ballet, and Broadway events. The Segerstrom Center for the Arts, featuring the 2000-seat Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, 500-seat Samueli Theater, Founders Hall and Segerstrom Hall as well as a variety of educational exhibits and recreation services, continues this tradition of artistic expansion. The halls are well suited to hold symphony performances, as they features state of the art acoustics that can be adjusted for large as well as intimate events. Tours are available on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 10:30a, and offer a great glimpse into the backstage area, as well as notes about the architecture and design.
Downey History Center is an educational center that provides a wealth of historical information, preservation, education and research. Whether you are just curious about Downey's history or are a serious scholar, you will find everything you need. Resources include Downey newspapers dating from 1888, photographs dating from 1870, books and periodicals about Downey, Los Angeles County, California and more. There is also a lot of information on Downey's namesake, Governor John Gately Downey. Call ahead for varying days.
The West Coast Theatre is one of the oldest theaters of the city. It's a part of the National Register of Historic Places and is one of the must-visit places in the city.
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.