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.
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.
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.
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.
If you are driving south along the coast for the day from L.A., this gallery is ideally situated near the popular Fashion Island shopping center, not even a mile from the Pacific Coast Highway. The subject of much controversy among Orange County's art crowd over the past few years, the museum expanded to almost double its original size when the Newport Harbor Art Museum (same location) and the Laguna Art Museum consolidated to form this larger complex, scandalizing the art-loving Laguna Beach community. The permanent collection focuses on late 20th-century and California art, but the museum enjoys exhibitions that have included works from artists such as Rico Lebrun and Pablo Picasso. The Plein Air Café serves lunch, and a meal will earn you free admission to the museum.
Honoring the Buddha's teachings in the Pure-Land and Zen sect, this temple located in Irvine is a member of the American Lotus Buddhist Association. This religious and educational center strives to impart a better understanding of Buddhism to all its visitors. The temple is used for various ceremonies and events throughout the year as well as regular services and classes. Be sure to visit the website for more information.
Tustin Library is located in the heart of the city and is the perfect place for anyone looking for peace and serenity. The library has a large collection of books, magazines, DVDs, audiobooks, and other electronic media as well as access to computers and free Wi-Fi. The staff is very friendly and always happy to help with any questions you may have.
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.
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.
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.