20 Fun Things to do this Summer
Remember how exciting it was to hear that last school bell ring, indicating the official start of summer vacation? It meant the beginning of a season of fun, fun, fun! To help you get a leg up on making summer 2016 one to remember, here are 20 Orange County events and activities that are sure keep your family entertained all summer long.
1 Get Your Fair Face On Wednesday through Sunday at the OC Fair, July 15 to August 14. Highlights include farm animal encounters at Centennial Farm, carnival rides, deep- fried treats, demolition derbies and the musical acts of the Toyota Summer Concert Series in the Pacific Amphitheatre. General admission, $12. Youths 6-12, $7. Kids 6 and younger are free.
2 Foster your child’s inner artist at one of Laguna Beach’s summer art festivals.
The 50th Sawdust Art Festival takes place June 24 to August 28 and is home to free classes at the Children’s Art Spot and Ceramic Center, where kids can have their own creations glazed and fired. From $4. Children under 12 are free. :: sawdustfestival.org
3 Witness life imitating art at the Pageant of the Masters. Debuting July 7 and running nightly through August 31, Laguna Beach’s iconic pageant (from $15) features volunteer actors creating living pictures based on famous works of art. This summer’s theme, “Partners,” celebrates the dynamic duos of the art world. Children will also enjoy the Youth Arts Education workshops and story times being offered at the adjoining Festival of Arts. Admission from $8 for adults and $5 for kids. :: foapom.org
4 Enjoy a staycation at the Great Wolf Lodge. California’s first indoor water park resort is a fun weekend getaway. Families can enjoy the resort’s waterslides, wave pool, arcade and themed rooms complete with bunk beds and magical creatures that come to life with the wave of a wand. From $319.99 per night. :: greatwolf.com
5 Experience family-friendly music and theater at Segerstrom Center for the Arts. Highlights of the theater’s summer calendar include “The Sound of Music” and screenings of “The Wizard of Oz” and “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” while a symphony plays the score. Tickets from $29. :: scfta.org
6 Get messy at Adventure Playground. Orange County is now home to two of three Adventure Playgrounds in the United States. The new Irvine location at University Park features a stream, large play castle and life-size building blocks. It is open year-round and has no entry free. Huntington Beach’s Central Park Adventure Playground is open from June 20 to August 12. The $3 admission charge allows kids 5-12 to raft on a small pond, navigate a rope bridge, slide down a mud slide and build forts. :: cityofirvine.org :: huntingonbeachca.gov
7 Celebrate the 75th anniversary of Knott’s Berry Farm’s Calico Ghost Town. Highlights of this summer’s celebration include the reopening of GhostRider – the longest, tallest and fastest wooden roller coaster on the West Coast – as well as Ghost Town Alive, which immerses guests in the Wild West life. Admission from $42. :: knotts.com
8 Discover the “Mummies of the World” at the Bowers Museum. This limited-time traveling exhibit features fascinating mummies from South America, Europe and Egypt. An audio guide is included with admission ($25 adults, $10 children, $21 students). Tickets must be purchased in advance for specific dates and times. :: mummiesoftheworld.com
9 Celebrate the sea at San Clemente’s Ocean Festival. This free, two-day festival (July 16-17) at the San Clemente Pier features paddleboard races, carnival games, an art show, a sand sculpture competition, fishing derby, beach party and woody car exhibit. :: oceanfestival.org
10 See the world’s best surfers and skimboarders compete. The US Open of Surfing (vansusopenofsurfing.com) takes place July 24-31 in Huntington Beach, drawing a half-million people to see the who’s who of the surfing world compete. The Vic: Skimboarding World Championship is held at Aliso Beach Park in Laguna Beach on August 27-28. This smaller event is a great place to witness the pros pulling tricks and competing for the title of world’s best. Both events are free to attend. :: thevic.victoriaskimboards.com
11 Stroll Orange County’s largest weekly street fair. Summer nights are meant to be savored, and Huntington Beach’s Surf City Nights is a fun place to enjoy them. Every Tuesday, Main and Fifth streets close to make way for a certified farmers market, vendors, children’s activities and live entertainment. Free. :: surfcitynights.com
12 See the wiener dog races on German Heritage Day. Dachshund races have been an entertaining mainstay at Huntington Beach’s Old World Village for years. Enjoy German music, food and dance alongside the wiener dogs on July 10 or see the dogs race on various dates now through Oktoberfest. $2 admission. :: oldworld.ws
13 Take them out to the ball game. Head to Angel Stadium, where the kids can run the bases on Family Sundays, watch the fireworks after Saturday night games, and score Angels-themed goodies from “ugly sweater” baseball caps to Rally Monkeys at various special event days held throughout the summer. Tickets from $12. :: angels.com
14 Light up the evening on an Ocean Institute Bioluminescence Cruise. Board the R/V Sea Explorer and discover bioluminescent plankton illuminating the ocean waters off Dana Point. These special night cruises take place 8-10 p.m. June 4, July 8-9 and August 5-6. Cost is $45 for adults and $25 for children. :: ocean-institute.org
15 Learn to play ice hockey for free, courtesy of the Anaheim Ducks. This four-week program is offered to children under 10 at the following rinks across Orange County: Westminster ICE, Yorba Linda ICE, Huntington Beach Inline and Irvine Inline. Check ducks.nhl.com for program dates and signups. :: ducksnhl.com
16 Rev up their minds at the Discovery Science Center. This summer brings the “Hands-On Harley” exhibit to Discovery Cube OC, where STEM concepts create an engaging and interactive exhibit about the science of motorcycles. Admission is $12.95 for children and $17.95 for adults. :: discoverycube.org
17 Have a blast at Newport’s Back Bay. Climb and splash on the Newport Dunes Water Park’s obstacle course (day passes $15), take a guided kayak tour of the Back Bay’s saltwater estuary offered by the Newport Bay Conservancy ($25, newportbay.org), or enjoy an evening of free, family-friendly outdoor movies at Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort.
18 Take advantage of the Sunday Family Skate Special at Holiday Skate Center in Orange. Lace up those roller skates and find out if you can still “shoot the duck.” Families of up to five can skate for $6.50 per person 6:30-8:30 p.m., skate rental included. :: holidayskate.com
19 Discover your inner superhero at Pretend City’s Superhero Summer. This June and July the hands-on children’s museum will feature plenty of action-packed activities, performances and opportunities to meet superheroes from your child’s favorite movies as well as our local communities. $12.50. :: pretendcity.org
20 Learn to fish at Dana Wharf. Dana Wharf Sportfishing offers free fishing clinics for kids every Sunday at noon. Join the Dana Wharf Kids Club ($39) and enjoy a half-day fishing trip for one adult and one child, a free 2-hour whale-watching trip and discounts
on future excursions. :: danawharf.com