Girl and boy attending a cake decorating class.
Neighborhood Guides

Fall and Holiday Family Adventures in Orange County

ByEssex

November 13, 2020

November is upon us! The holidays are just around the corner, the weather is cooling down, and everything starts to feel a little more jubilant this time of year. It’s the perfect time to fill up your calendar with fun and festive activities, and luckily, Orange County is ripe with fun outdoor activities to keep your family entertained.

To help you set up your fall family calendar, we’ve compiled some great, budget-friendly, outdoor fall activities for the whole family to enjoy. Which are you most excited about?

Irvine Regional Park's Santa's Village at dusk.

Visit Irvine Regional Park

If you want an authentic nature experience, Irvine Regional Park is a must-visit. This park is unlike any other in Southern California. You could spend an entire day here with its diverse array of activities. If you’re looking for a more mellow outing, the area is also perfect for picnicking and relaxing. Irvine Lake fishing is an excellent option, too. Keep an eye out for horses as a three-mile equestrian trail circles the area. You can even plan a scenic guided trail ride on horseback!

The park is home to the Irvine Park Railroad, which runs daily. Families can rent bikes and paddle boats or go for scenic hikes. Tucked among coastal live oak and giant sycamore groves, the Orange County Zoo also resides at the park.

Irvine Regional Park hosts several seasonal activities as well. The 2020 Christmas Train will run as usual, with a few added precautions to adapt to the pandemic, like asking passengers to remain seated. There will also be carnival games, ice fishing, and blizzard ball. Stop by Santa’s Village open weekdays from 4 – 9 p.m. and on weekends from 10 a.m. - 9 p.m.

The park has put proper COVID-19 safety measures in place. Visitors are always encouraged to stay six-feet apart and wear face coverings. Hand sanitizer stations are present, and train benches, bikes, and paddleboards are sanitized after each use. Be sure to check the website regularly for updates since the park sometimes closes based on wind activity and local fire trends.

Friends at Irvine Spectrum Center's The Escape Game.

Shop, Dine and Play at Irvine Spectrum Center

Irvine Spectrum Center is one of Southern California’s most popular entertainment and shopping destinations. With a variety of options for all ages. It’s the perfect outdoor area to spend time with family.

In addition to an abundance of stores and restaurants, Irvine Spectrum Center offers a variety of fun-filled attractions. Food Network’s Ace of Cakes star Duff Goldman has created an interactive cake decorating experience at Duff’s Cakemix, where you can frost with buttercream, design with fondant and add tasty toppings as the finishing touch. The studio provides all the tools you’ll need, as well as expert guidance on becoming a cake decorating master, making it the perfect opportunity for everyone in the family to get creative!

The recently revitalized Regal movie theater is one of the few theaters open in the area. They’re currently showing an assortment of family-friendly classics for just $5. One of Irvine Spectrum Center’s newer tenants is The Escape Game, a live 60-minute adventure that lets participants choose from various themes: explore space, escape prison, take part in a heist, and more. You and your team will have 60 minutes to uncover clues, crack codes, solve puzzles, and complete your mission. Their adventures are great for families.

Wagon rides at Tanaka Farms in Orange County.

Stock Up on Veggies at Tanaka Farms

Another crowd-pleasing Orange County staple is Tanaka Farms, a long-running interactive farm that hosts seasonal events. The 30-acre farm supplies fruits and vegetables to stands across the county, local grocery stores, their CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program, and various educational tours.

Tanaka Farms offers many activities like wagon rides and a petting zoo, plus seasonal events like the recent Pumpkin Patch. For the upcoming holidays, the farm will present Hikari – A Festival of Lights. Translated, Hikari means "shine" in Japanese. Tanaka Farms will shine with over a mile of twinkling lights. Your family will love the farm-themed lighting from trees to scarecrows to tractors. Visit over the weekend to see Santa himself!

Due to COVID-19, all visitors that would like to go on a farm tour must make a reservation. The farm offers a drive-thru produce market stand that’s open daily from 9 a.m. -5 p.m. You can also place a curbside pickup order Thursday - Sunday from 9:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Crystal Cove Beach in Orange County.

Explore Pristine OC Beaches

With beaches open in Orange County, it’s never been a better time to plan a fun day in the sun. OC has both large sandy beaches as well as small cove beaches. Plus, many of the local spots have distinct personalities!

If you’re into art, Laguna Beach is ripe with art galleries. Newport Beach’s boardwalk and Balboa Village are great areas to explore in between hanging out on the sand. Or treat your family to a meal at popular dining spot The Beachcomber, located right on the sand of Crystal Cove in Newport Coast and known for their decadent brunch and lunch offerings and stunning sunset views for dinner.

If you’d like to watch surfers, Huntington Beach is the perfect option. Did you know Huntington Beach is home to the US Open of Surfing? Be sure to walk the pier, too! If you head a little further south, San Clemente and Dana Point also have great waterfront options.

Whether you prefer relaxing or being active, Orange County offers something for everyone. We hope you make fun family memories this holiday season!

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Photos courtesy of Irvine Regional Park, Irvine Spectrum Center and Tanaka Farms.