Lives in Corona del Mar, CA
Since Jun. 2007
I live in So Cal (two different areas), work in the Bay Area and travel on business way too much.
Disney Parks & Activities, Theme Parks
Piers & Boardwalks, Beaches
Lessons & Workshops
Dolphin & Whale Watching, Boat Hire, Nature & Wildlife Tours, Boat Tours, Fishing Charters & Tours
Surfing, Windsurfing & Kitesurfing, Lessons & Workshops, Sports Camps & Clinics
Dolphin & Whale Watching, Science Museums
Game & Entertainment Centres, Parks
Parks, Hiking Trails, Biking Trails, Playgrounds
The popular catchphrase, 'It started with a mouse' is true. Walt Disney made a fortune from his animation business, and used it to bring to life his vision of an entertainment venue that the whole family could enjoy. And it succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. Disneyland is a magical place for kids and adults alike, with terrific rides, shows, and dining. It now offers two theme parks (Disneyland and Disney California Adventure) as well as a themed dining and shopping area (Downtown Disney).
During the early days of colonization, Spanish Franciscan priests founded the mission system to bring Christianity to the native population of California. Today, Mission San Juan Capistrano, founded in 1776, is one of the best preserved of the state's 21 missions.The buildings and grounds are extensive and beautiful, and the surrounding area is also charming and worth exploring. This is a great place enjoy some family fun — and to slip in a bit of education without the kids noticing!
More than just a shopping center, the Irvine Spectrum is also a local venue for fun and entertainment. There is a giant Ferris wheel, a carousel, and water fountains that are welcome play areas in the hot summer months. Plus, there is also an IMAX theater and 20 other premium theaters, as well as more than 120 shops and restaurants, ranging from fine dining to fast food.
It is hard to call a successful business that has been around since 1919 a 'hidden gem,' but that is how I'd class the Balboa Island Ferry. This isn't just a means of transportation between Balboa Island and the Balboa Peninsula — it transports you between eras. The simple ride across the bay in Newport Harbor harkens back to the days when a tent city sprang up on the Balboa beaches and the Balboa Pavilion was a venue for top entertainment. Whether you use the ferry as a pedestrian, cyclist or motorist, it is a 'must do' attraction — as is spending time on Balboa Island and the Balboa Peninsula.
Knott's Soak City is a great family water park attached to the larger Knott's Berry Farm, America's first theme park. There are rides and attractions for people of all ages, with thrill rides for teens and adults, a special section for 'gremmies' (California surf speak for 'little ones'), a lazy river the family can enjoy together, and a wave pool.
Surfing wasn't born in California, but it is indelibly linked to the California lifestyle — and rightly so. The International Surfing Museum isn't a large place, but it's a great choice for a family outing and for visiting the Huntington Pier area of Huntington Beach. Featuring memorabilia from some of the biggest names in surfing, the collection provides a great intro to surfing history — or a nostalgic look back for those who lived it.
With California's famed Pacific Coast Highway residing between it and downtown, Main Beach sits at the crux of Laguna Beach's shopping, dining, and beach entertainments. There is a wooden boardwalk — the only one in Orange County — that runs the length of the beach, and both ends offer play areas, restroom facilities, convenient parking, and easy access to food and drinks.
While the Sawdust Festival is most famous for its summer arts and crafts festival, it also holds a special Winter Festival just before Christmas, as well as year-round art classes and workshops.
Davey's Locker offers year-round dolphin and whale watching tours. While some months make for better sightings than others, it's always fun to get out on the water and look out for sea creatures.
At only 17 years old, the Aquarium of the Pacific is one of the newer attractions in Southern California, but has quickly taken its place among the most respected aquariums in the world. The exhibits focus heavily on the California and Baja California ocean environment, but the shark exhibit, with its 'pet a shark' feature, has to be the most popular.
Nothing says California more than surfing! Endless Sun Surf School is one of the best year-round places to learn how to surf. You can get two-hour lessons, or have the kids do a whole week of surfing day camp. It's a skill they can enjoy their whole lives, and this is a good place to start.
The Ocean Institute in Dana Point Harbor is a hands-on ocean education center that features two historic tall ships, an oceanographic research vessel, and a learning center where kids can interact with ocean life. Don't tell the kids it's educational — they'll be having too much fun to realize it!
Van's Skate Park at the Outlets at Orange (formerly The Block at Orange) is a surefire way to please the kids. They can gear and 'shred' on their own, or just watch as other skilled skaters tear up the obstacles in the skate park. Lessons are offered for everyone from beginning shredders to more advanced skaters.
Irvine Regional Park is a good distance from Laguna Beach, but it's worth the drive to enjoy everything the park has to offer. The most popular attractions are the Irvine Park Railroad, the Orange County Zoo, and the trail rides on horseback, but there are also pony rides, horseshoe pits, volleyball courts, lakes, hiking trails, and more. It is a valuable open space in the urban landscape of Orange County.