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.
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.
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.
Marconi Automotive Museum, a part of the Marconi Foundation for Kids, houses a vast array of cars that will delight not only children but also automobile connoisseurs. Visitors can view Foxfire Firetrucks, unusual Ferraris and Jaguars. Do not miss Frank Williams' FX Ferrari and the Top Fuel Dragster designed by Kenny Bernstein. This venue can be hired for weddings, business functions and fundraisers.
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.
The Orange County Center For Contemporary Art (OCCCA) is run entirely by artists and showcases art by both emerging and established artists. The emphasis is on local artists. It also features lectures on various subjects, performance art and musical concerts, and participates in public outreach programs that are committed to cultural diversity. The main purpose is the pursuit of freedom of expression in the arts and to provide a forum to explore and develop ideas in contemporary art.
In collaboration with the city of Santa Ana, the Grand Central Art Center at Cal State Fullerton features exhibits and performances by established and emerging artists. The complex consists of live/work studios for graduate students, in addition to art galleries and a theater for performance art.
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.