By Ashley Burnett
When it comes to family-friendly cities, Irvine should be on the top of any list. With a plethora of parks and fun, kid-friendly spots, there is plenty for families to do in this city. So if you’re trying to figure out where to take the kiddos, read on for our guide to family-friendly fun.
Irvine Regional Park
Whether it’s riding bikes around the park’s myriad paths, playing games out on the grass, or having fun on the playground, Irvine Regional Park has everything you need for a fun day out. Pack a picnic to enjoy on one of the many picnic tables, or rent a tandem bike or paddle boat for the whole family. You can also have the kids take a ride on the Irvine Park Railroad, ride ponies, buy a ticket to the OC Zoo, and during the summer, enjoy music in the park. There’s something for everyone at this sprawling regional park.
Pretend City Children’s Museum
If the world were shrunk down to the size of a child, that might explain the concept of Pretend City Children’s Museum, where different exhibits aim to teach kids “the world in a nut-shell.” In the exhibits, which are centered on real-world places like the grocery store, bank, art studio and more, kids will learn math and reading skills, problem-solving, and teamwork. Kids will also enjoy the Imagination Playground and stopping for a snack at the Real Café.
Seasonal events mean it’s always a good time to visit Tanaka Farms. Whether it’s pumpkin patches in the fall, melon or sunflower tours in the summer, or taking a look at Christmas trees during the winter, there is always something fun happening for the whole family at this local farm. You can even sign up the little ones for their Li’l Farmer for a Day workshops or have the older kids enrolled in the Junior Farmers Workshop.
A unique experience for both kids and their parents in Irvine. Different bubble stations are set up all around the area for interactive play. Kids will play together with bubbles of different sizes at this fun playground, while also being introduced to different scientific theories.
Hello Kitty Grand Cafe
Sanrio lovers (both young and young-at-heart), rejoice! The Hello Kitty Grand Café is the perfect spot for lovers of Hello Kitty to visit and snap fun pictures of cute, Hello Kitty-themed treats, whether it’s Hello Kitty-shaped cookies or macarons with her face on it. You might also book a reservation for you and the kids at the Bow Room’s afternoon tea, where adults will love the various teas and kids will enjoy the mini-cakes, scones and tarts.
Photo: McCoy Photography
For unstructured play, no playground beats the Adventure Playground. In fact, there are only three similarly unstructured playgrounds in the United States. Kids will love the tunnel slide, the loose play pieces scattered around, and various hideouts, while the sensory and bamboo garden will appeal to adults.
Ashley Burnett is a writer and editor living in southern California. Her work has previously appeared in Locale, LA Travel Magazine, TravelAge West and various other publications.