Warm weather is right around the corner in Southern California. After months of heavy rain and wind, my kids and I are excited to get out of the house. We have a couple of favorite places we love to frequent that are perfect for families with young kids. I’ve listed three places that my toddlers love going to.
Pretend City Children’s Museum
Pretend City Children’s Museum is an indoor children’s museum that has 17 fun interactive play areas for toddlers, preschoolers, and children alike. The children’s museum has 17 exhibits that resemble real-world places. These include :
- a gas station
- Trader Joe’s grocery store
- a library
- an amphitheater
- yoga studio, a beach
- police department
- fire station
- restaurant with rotating themes
- a garden center
- a medical center
- a doctor’s office
- a dentist’s office
- construction area
- an automotive center
- a marine center.
Children will get an opportunity to:
- Practice mindfulness and understand the importance of exercise at the yoga studio
- Develop basic math concepts as they ring up groceries at the grocery store
- Fix your “boo boo” as they pretend to be doctors and veterinarians in the health center
- Be rockstars and play the tambourine, maracas, and xylophone at the amphitheater
- Be a hero as they put on their fire chief and police uniforms and are encouraged to learn about safety
All of the exhibits are childproof and safe for children to play in. They’re all designed with children in mind and everything is created at the perfect height for little children. The props are designed for little hands such as small pots and pans for cooking, plastic fruits and vegetables and
This real-world child-sized museum introduces and encourages many fundamental concepts for life skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, and social skills. Basic math and science concepts and creative thinking are also encouraged. Parents are discouraged from being on their phones and encouraged to participate in interactive pretend play with their kids. Ask questions, encourage discussion,
Activities at Pretend City Children’s Museum
What’s exciting about Pretend City Children’s Museum is that they are always celebrating holidays and changing up their exhibits to make it fresh and exciting for kids and parents. There’s a calendar that they keep updated with events and activities. There are always new activities and themes depending on the month and holiday.
In the fall, they have Halloween decorations out for October and Christmas decorations out during December. They also make special days to celebrate such as bubble bath day, Winnie the Pooh Day, kid’s inventors day, and national puzzle day. During these days, you can find fun toys and objects throughout the museum celebrating the special theme of that day. If you want to go on a specific day or want to see if they are celebrating a particular holiday, you can go to their website or call ahead to see what they will be celebrating that week.
Benefits of Pretend Play
Kids can come here to explore, play, and use their creative imaginations to participate in pretend play. The benefits of pretend play for children is enormous. Some of the benefits of pretend play for kids is that it encourages children to develop real-life skills improves communication, encourages social and emotional development, supports learning and encourages problem-solving abilities, and improves confidence as children learn how to develop new skills.
A great benefit of children playing at Pretend City Children’s Museum is that it can help to develop their social skills. Depending on the day, pretend city children’s museum can be jampacked with kids there with their parents, kids coming with their preschool, and elementary school-age children coming with their classrooms. Kids get an opportunity to learn how to play with other kids, learn how to take turns, share their toys, and work together. They can improve their social and communication skills
Hours of Operation
Pretend city children’s museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 AM to 12:30 PM closed for lunch and then reopened again from 1:30 PM to 4 PM. General admission tickets are 1995 for adults and children. infants to 12 months are free. There is free parking in their parking lot. There is an area for stroller parking inside the museum and free lockers to store your personal belongings and diaper bags.
You can pack snacks for your kids but if not, they do have vending machines offering snacks, juices, water, and even ice cream! There’s even a Keurig machine that offers a wide variety of coffee for all of you sleep-deprived parents! Because let’s face it, we’re all tired and sleep-deprived and if we can take our kids somewhere to burn off that energy- this is it!
Irvine Regional Park
Irvine Regional Park is a 477 ft.² park established in 1897. It is one of the oldest regional parks in California. The park has plenty of activities for kids and your whole family! Some of the activities that Irvine Regional Park has to offer include:
- Train rides
- Bike rentals
- Paddle boat rentals
- Orange County zoo
- Pony rides
- Horse rentals by appointment only
- Hiking trails
- Barbecue and picnic areas
- Farmers market every Tuesday from 9 AM to 1 PM
Your family will have such a blast here at Irvine Regional Park! There is so much to do and so much to see. Your little ones will have fun walking through the hiking trails, riding on the trains, riding the ponies, and exploring the pond.
Irvine regional park is a fantastic option for adding time to spring and summer just because there are so many fun outdoor activities to do. You can bounce around between all the activities and spend the whole day here. We usually will start by having breakfast at home and then you can go for a hike in the morning, have a picnic for lunch on the grass or one of their picnic tables, go for a bike ride, or rent, a paddle boat, and then, and with a train ride in the evening.
There are so many benefits to spending time outside and in the sun. Some of the benefits are:
- Being outside in the sun helps to regulate our normal sleep-wake cycles and may help us sleep better in the evenings
- May improve our stress and anxiety levels by decreasing stress hormones
- Keeping us healthier physically by having more opportunities for play and physical activity
- Help improve our mental health
Irvine Park Hours of Operation
You can also visit the OC Zoo inside Irvine Regional Park. Admission is only $2 per person. Children two and under are free. The zoo opens daily at 10:00 am. It is a much smaller zoo but it is home to some adorable animals such as mountain lions, black bears, a bald eagle, a porcupine, and coyotes. There are also farm animals there such as goats, sheep, chickens, and ducks. If you go to the zoo, remember to go early because they close at 3:30 p.m. on weekdays and 4:30 PM on weekends.
During many holidays, Irvine Regional Park also celebrates by having events such as the Easter Extravaganza around Easter, Halloween, and Pumpkin Patch in October and the Festival of Lights and Santa’s Village in December. During Easter, kids can hunt for eggs, meet the Easter Bunny, jump in a bounce house, and even get their faces painted. Activities during Halloween include pumpkin decorating, going on a hay ride, pumpkin ring toss, and racing in John Deere race carts. During Christmas, kids get an opportunity to take pictures with Santa, ride the train to the North Pole to give Santa their wish list, play in carnival games, make crafts at the craft corner, and decorate some cookies!
There are barbecue and picnic areas located throughout the park which are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. You can bring your own food or you can also purchase food from the two snack bars inside the park.
- $3 per vehicle on the weekdays
- $5 per vehicle on the weekends
- $7 dollars per vehicle on holidays (such as Easter Sunday Mother’s Day memorial day Fourth of July and Labor Day) All other holidays are either three dollars or five dollars depending on the day of the week.
Remember to pack a diaper bag, SPF, plenty of water, juice, and snacks for a fun-filled day ahead! I hope that you and your loved ones will find Irvine Regional Park as fun and interesting as we did and come back again.
Adventure Playground in Irvine, CA
Adventure Playground at University Park in Irvine is an enormous playground for toddlers, preschoolers, and kids alike! Your kids will have the best time playing, exploring, laughing, and going on adventures at this adventure playground!
Adventure Playground at University Park in Irvine is open from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. It is an enormous playground that is open, spacious, and free to the public (except during city-recognized holidays). There is plenty of free parking and it’s right next to the public library.
Adventure Playground is a great option for getting your kids outside during the summer, running around, and burning off all the toddler energy. There is plenty of room for exploration and curiosity. There is lots of space for climbing, jumping, running, and moving all of those large muscle groups- working on those gross motor skills.
Adventure Playground has several play areas for toddlers, preschools, and kids of all ages. The play areas include sand, dirt, a rubber play area, and a giant Lego area. The main play area is built to resemble a large wooden castle with dark wooden pieces, towers, stairs, and a slide.