Orange County is one of the best places in the world – but I may be a little biased. There is so much to do and explore, and so much of what Orange County offers is for families with kids! I’ve put together this list of things to do in Orange County with kids; if you haven’t yet had the chance to explore these fabulous spots, I highly encourage you to do so!
Roller coaster enthusiasts, water park lovers, and foodies alike will all find something fun to discover at Knott’s Berry Farm! They have dozens of thrilling rides, entertaining shows, refreshing water slides, and so much more to enjoy, all of which celebrate the culture of the great state of California. Make it a day trip and spend the day at the theme park, or book a room at the Knott’s Hotel (which is about to undergo a massive renovation!) and take advantage of even more fun in the sun! Kids will love exploring the authentic 1800s Ghost Town, celebrating California’s Hispanic Roots in Fiesta Village, and meeting their favorite Peanuts characters. Be sure to visit the California Marketplace to pick up some delicious souvenirs or indulge in a legendary fried chicken dinner. It’s part theme park, part water park, part resort, and 100% fun!!
There’s no such thing as a rainy day at Great Wolf Lodge! That’s because it is a 105,000-square-foot indoor water park and resort where the water is always warm, and the sun always shines! The water park has something for everyone, from the adventurous young adults to your splashing little guppies. Older kids (or braver young ones!) will enjoy River Canyon Run, a raft water slide, or Alberta Falls, which has an exhilarating drop. There’s a Lazy River for play and relaxation, and Slap Tail Pond is their gentle wave pool that is perfect for all ages.
If you have an explorer, they’ll love Fort Mackenzie, a four-story water fort treehouse where adventure awaits! Then, when fingers and toes are pruney from being in the water all day long, take advantage of the resort’s other fantastic attractions, like Howl at the Moon Glow Golf, Ten Paw Alley for bowling, the Northern Lights Arcade, and Magiquest. Magiquest is a unique adventure that turns the Lodge into a live-action game where your child is the star!
At Pretend City, you’ll watch your kids interact with the “real world” – but better. That’s because it models real-world situations on a scale where children can use their imaginations, build essential life skills, and challenge the world as they know it. They’ll get to perform in the amphitheater as they build confidence and social-emotional skills, develop basic mathematical skills while playing pretend at the Bank and counting fake money, and gain interest in STEM as they design and build new structures as construction workers (complete with hard hats and vests, of course.)
Kids will learn about multicultural dishes and diversity while “cooking” in the Cafe and love roleplaying as hometown heroes like police officers and firefighters! You’ll love watching them practice farming skills, perform necessary medical checks as doctors and nurses, and much more. Pretend City is the ultimate place for imagination to thrive and for your kids to have a hands-on learning experience in a safe space made just for them!
I couldn’t put together a list of things to do in Orange County with kids and not mention Disneyland!! Families travel from all over the world to experience the wonder and excitement of Disneyland, and living nearby, we sometimes count it out simply because of its convenience. I promise it’s just as unique for locals as for anyone else. Disneyland Park is full of beloved classics like The Haunted Mansion and Jungle Cruise but has plenty of new attractions that feature newer characters from movies and shows your kids love. Disney California Adventure Park showcases a lot of familiar faces, too, like Lightning McQueen and his buddies and the Incredibles. Don’t count out the exceptional dining and accommodations at Disneyland; make it a whole staycation and take advantage of every moment of Disney magic!
If you have kids (or even know a few), you know how much energy they have. We Play Loud is the perfect place for kids ages six months to seven years old to come and play, all while developing agility, physical strength, and imagination! Their indoor playgrounds are colorful, safe, and built just for kids. A two-level play structure spans over 3,600 square feet and includes elements like a four-person wave slide, a foam ball fountain, rainbow bridges, a two-level tube slide, and so much more. Have a little friend who needs a space to play? Their gated toddler section is full of soft play rides and isolated from other play equipment so toddlers can crawl and explore safely and uninterrupted.
There are few things better than unplugging from the world and heading out for good old-fashioned berry picking. Tanaka Farms has provided delicious, high-quality products and exciting educational experiences for over 80 years! While they grow over 60 different kinds of fruits and vegetables, they offer seasonal U-Pick activities like strawberries, pumpkins, and sunflowers. Take a farm tour and learn how food makes its way to our tables, or enjoy a fantastic hay ride around the property. Are you looking for fresh fruits and veggies all year long? Join their CSA and teach your kids about the different kinds of delicious California produce grown in our neighborhood!
I hope this list of things to do in Orange County with kids has inspired you to try something new and take a family adventure soon! I think you’ll find you’re making many great memories along the way.
If you’re looking for another way to enjoy parenthood, why not book some pictures? I am an Orange County-based photographer who loves taking pictures that let you hang onto these gorgeous memories for years to come. If you’ve considered scheduling a photo session for your little one, I’d love to connect! Contact me today to find out more.