4 Super Fun and Totally Cheap Family Outings in Orange County

If you have young kids at home, chances are they need to be entertained.

I have a 3-year-old at home who is go go go. He is a non-stop bundle of energy and happiness. We are currently living in a small 2-bedroom apartment in Orange County, California. Our little apartment also doubles as my husband’s office. So, most days, we’re all stepping on one another’s toes trying to make our little space work.


For the most part, we make it work and have adapted but with a busy toddler running around, I like to get him out of the house as much as I can.

Cash loves wide open space, he loves being able to run around and play freely so parks, playgrounds, and the beach are his favorite activities.

I’ve rounded up some of my favorite family friendly activities in Orange County…

…That will keep your kids entertained all day without breaking the bank!

  1. Going to the beach (Totally Free)
    • I grew up in Orange County so going to the beach is something I did a lot. If you can make it down to Laguna, the beaches are gorgeous, but my all-time favorite is Newport Beach. I usually pack an ice chest full of sandwiches, waters, and snacks and head down to River and 56th There’s a small strip mall nearby with Jack In The Box, Chronic Tacos, and I think a Flame Broiler.


  1. Visiting the Balboa Peninsula (Free Too!)
    • You can take the auto ferry across the harbor to the Balboa Peninsula. I think it’s a few bucks per car, but they don’t charge per person. Cash gets a kick out of driving our car onto a boat and then crossing the ocean
    • The Balboa Fun Zone – similar to the Santa Monica Pier, they have fun places to eat, arcade games, a Ferris Wheel, boat rentals, whale watching, bike rentals, and more!
  2. Irvine Regional Park ($3-$20)
    • Irvine Regional Park can be a full day if you want it to be. Parking is $3 on weekdays and $5 on the weekend. There are tons of playgrounds, hiking trails paddle boats, and BBQ’s to have a fun family picnic day.
    • There’s also our favorite activity, the zoo! It’s $2 per person and there’s a goat petting zoo, bears, birds, donkeys, mountain lions, reptiles, and so much more. Cash loves the area where you can feed the goats and brush them. He’s an animal lover!
    • Right next to the zoo is the OC Railroad. It’s $5 per person and takes you through the whole park.
    • Next, there are pony rides. Parents get to walk their kids around on their very own pony! Rides are $5 per child and they accept cash only.
    • My dad used to take me fishing here when I was Cash’s age. I don’t think they allow fishing now, but it was a great memory!



  1. Pretend City ($12.50)
    • Pretend City is a GREAT family activity when the weather isn’t in your favor. If it’s raining, humid, or too hot, this is the place to be! Pretend City in Orange County is just what it says it is: a kid-size city where kids can pretend their little hearts out. In true Orange County fashion, there is a Trader Joes, a farm, and a huuuge water play table.




Katelynn Ansari

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