A Local’s Love – Special Tips for Vacationing with Young Children in Orange County
With Disneyland, Adventure City, and Knott’s Berry Farm all within short driving distance, Orange County is an ideal family-friendly vacation destination.
Laid-back Orange County’s pace is a far-cry from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles. Vacationing here is all about being outdoors. You’re much more likely to see babies lounging in BOB jogging strollers as mom jogs up and down the Huntington Beach Oceanfront and Boardwalk or hitching a ride on daddy’s back along the Upper Newport Bay Trails, than stuck in a car seat in endless lanes of Los Angeles traffic.
Just one beautiful view on the Upper Newport Bay Trails
John Wayne Airport is convenient for families and offers valet for local customers. Uber is allowed to drop off and pick up from John Wayne. If you don’t want to fly with car seats and other bulky baby gear, use a baby gear rental site to order what you need and have it waiting at the airport.
Orange County traffic lightens up after 10 am on weekdays. Since you’re on vacation anyway, try sleeping in to avoid morning commuters. Attractions like the Orange County Fair or Adventure Playground are perfect destinations for mid-morning arrivals on weekdays, as they don’t feature long lines like Disneyland and California Adventure. On the weekends traffic is light until about 1 pm. Most weekend warriors get out and about during the afternoon and evening.
Weather isn’t really a factor in Southern California. It’s sunny almost every day with temperatures generally in the 70s thanks to the cool Pacific Ocean breeze and Santa Ana winds. Sunscreen is a must though, as the beaches are irresistible. Seal Beach is a great family-friendly destination because of its expansive coastline, grassy fields, and convenient location close to affordable meals and welcoming ice cream stores in its downtown area.
The Seal Beach Pier
Many families are electing not to pack beach gear, opting instead for the convenience of renting it in Orange County. Rental packages can include towels, folding beach chairs and sand toys.
The Five Crowns is an upscale restaurant with the perfect $5 kid approved menu, complimentary stroller valet, special mom & dad cocktails and the full SideDoor dinner menu for your enjoyment. Another favorite is The Pizza Press restaurant where creativity is a must when crafting your own made-to-order pizzas. Prices are low, around $10 per pie, and the bad boys are BIG.
A custom Pizza Press pie
Adventure Playground is all about kids making their own fun, playing in the mud and splashing about in the tide pools. It gives kids creative ways to play and express themselves through activity. Expect your child to have a great time getting down and dirty in the sandy, muddy, and wet terrains contained in this park.
Kids exercise creativity at Adventure Playground
Another favorite is Marina Park, a brand new destination right on the marina in Newport and a fantastic place for toddlers to play in the water. Because of its position a bit further away from the ocean the water is calm and less dangerous.
Some of the many water structures at Marina Park
The Discovery Cube in Santa Ana is a children’s science museum with over one-hundred different exhibits. It will captivate your kids and introduce them to the wonders of science. The Cube offers many seasonal events, our personal favorite, Bubblefest, running in late March.
A view of the Discovery Cube
The Orange County Fair, a summertime favorite, features an ice museum with daily chainsaw sculpting displays, a barn where kids can pose for pictures with llamas, and a bevy of carnival rides and games. Don’t forget children under 12 get in free on Thursdays, and the fair includes a baby convenience center for nursing and changing diapers.
Disneyland is about 18 miles, or about a 50 minute drive from Newport Beach. Get there early, before the park opens to be first through the gates and take advantage of shorter morning lines. Be sure you have strollers for anyone under age 5. The park rents strollers, but they are a bit pricey and won’t cover you for the long walk back to your hotel at the end of the day when exhausted kids inevitably want to be carried.
Knott’s Berry Farm can’t compare to Disneyland, and that’s OK. The lines are shorter though, which mean your kids will enjoy more rides. They offer a wide variety of child-friendly rides – some that soar almost as high as the big-kid rides. The park transforms itself into Knott’s Scary Farm in the fall when the entire theme park becomes a Haunted House. For the winter holidays it become Knott’s Merry Farm.
The horizon view of Knott’s Berry Farm
Not all hotels have full-sized cribs, not to mention baby swings, baby bathtubs, high chairs, strollers, potty chairs or even stools your toddler can use to reach the sink for teeth-brushing. With the right baby gear you and your children can enjoy most of the comforts and conveniences of home while on vacation in Orange County.
Baby gear rental companies can set you up with everything you need to relax, enjoy your family holiday and make lasting happy memories during your Orange County visit. Good rental companies have a variety of gear specific to their location. In Orange County that might mean beach toys and bob strollers that are easy to roll in the sand, or lightweight strollers that are convenient for Disneyland.
Blair Gross is a Babierge Independent Trusted Partner, renting baby gear to traveling families in Orange County and nearby Beach Cities. Blair loves Orange County, home to her family and Babierge business. Find Blair at: http://www.babierge.com/blair51 or follower her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/babiergeoc
Blair and her lovely family!