Whether you like big parks or small playgrounds, grass and trees or sand and surf, Orange County has the top playgrounds and “best of the best” for kids. Whatever inspires your children, you can find a local playground to spark their curiosity and imagination. From parks with pirate ships, bridges and swings to climbing walls, fossils, jeeps and even a kid-sized lifeguard tower, your family is sure to find a playground just your style to call “favorite.”
Heritage Park Irvine
14341 Yale Ave.
Irvine, CA 92604
Heritage Park in Irvine can’t be beat. Recommended by local moms, it’s a big park with lots of room for walking and enjoying a picnic. With a community center, lake (complete with ducks and geese), library and fine arts center, this park has a lot to offer. Not only is there a traditional playground with swings, teeter-totter, climbing net and pretend boat, there is a splash pad for water play. With shade trees, barbecues, restrooms nearby, soccer fields, basketball courts and lots of parking, this is a fun place for a family get-together.
Atlantis Play Center
13630 Atlantis Way
Garden Grove, CA 92844
Children of all ages will have a great time playing on the concrete animals that await them at Atlantis Play Center. Or, let them slide down the sea serpent slide for some fun. Opened in 1964, this terrific playground is well known for its blue whale which has a metal slide spilling out of its mouth as well as Danny Sea Dragon, a 50 foot green serpent which kids for generations have slid on. All other playground amenities are offered here as well including swings and climbers and they offer plenty of areas to picnic under large trees. Adults are not allowed without attending with a child and kids are not allowed without adults.
798 Blue Bird Canyon Dr
Laguna Beach, CA 9265
Located in a secluded spot on a hill overlooking the ocean, Bluebird Park is a definite must visit for a great playground in Orange County. Kids call it the Rocketship Park because of the 4 story structure that will greet you as soon as you walk through the park gates. Your kids will love the climbing structure which is truly one of a kind when it comes to any park in Orange County. It features metal-tube slides which were built to look like exhaust tubes and will have your kids screaming in enjoyment as they slide through. The park is also fenced in for added security and parents will be able to see almost every part of the park from the shaded picnic area.
25555 Alicia Parkway
Laguna Hills, CA 92653
A kid-favorite, Dinosaur Park is a two-level playground with fake fossils and bones, playground equipment, caves, bridges, water and stuff to explore. The side-by-side slides from top level to bottom are perfect for racing your best friend. For those kids that like to get dizzy, there is a tire swing as well as regular swings. Located next door to the Laguna Hills Community Center and public library, this run-around park is popular with little and big kids alike. There are soccer fields, restrooms, picnic tables, shade and shopping and restaurants just down the street if you want to pick up lunch on your way in. The park is a bit of a walk from the parking lot, but parking is plentiful and the playground is worth the walk.
2910 Portola Pkwy
Tustin, CA 92780
Located in Tustin, Citrus Park features not just one but two playgrounds on it’s sprawling 17-acre expanse. The playground features toddler sections as well as ones for more grown up kids so whatever the age you can be sure they will enjoy it. The large park features a citrus theme with roes of lemon trees as well. Visitors also can enjoy a panoramic view of the city with great views that will amaze both children and adults.
10250 Pioneer Rd
Tustin, CA 92782
As you walk into Pioneer Park, you’ll notice that a lot of detail and thought went into the creation of this one-of-a-kind park in Tustin. From Wagon Wheels from the olden days to fantastic slides and monkey bars, this park offers it all. Just down the road from Citrus Park, this is definitely a park you’ll want to bring your kids to. The park features a special themed playground and offers two amazing play structures which is separated by great big rocks for kids to climb all over. A play structure which was once an old west hotel with getaway horses will have your kids smiling with excitement as well. Aside from the great play areas, the park also features an abundance of grassy open areas for your kids to play in, as well as a splash pad, picnic area and more. If you have small kids, make sure to keep your eye on them if you plan to take them to the tree house structure as the rock bridge can be tricky to get over.
Box Canyon Park
22400 Foxtail Drive
Yorba Linda, CA 92887
Prepare to walk the plank at Yorba Linda’s Box Canyon Park. An accessible playground with ramps everywhere, this playground holds excitement for anyone with an imagination and desire for fun. With both a pirate ship and a castle, as well as traditional swings, play structures and slides, kids of all ages will enjoy exploring this play area that encourages interaction and pretend play. There’s no shade and you’ll have to park on the street, but there are picnic tables and a restroom. A basketball court and a sidewalk loop provide a little something extra for mom or dad.
Related: Best Mommy And Me Classes In OC
Coastkeeper Natural Play Garden
E. Santiago Canyon Road
Orange, CA 92869
If you want to try something different and a playground you will never forget, check out the Coastkeeper Natural Play Garden. Not your typical plastic and melamine manufactured playground, this park inspires families to get back to the simplicity of nature and experience life as we knew it “back in the day.” Kids hear about recycling and “going green,” and this natural world will help them understand and experience what it means to really connect to nature. Instead of swings and slides, kids can look forward to getting creative with stones and wood. Using tree stumps for paths, willow trees for tunnels and deer grass for camouflage, kids will love playing in a gravel stream bed and running up a rocky hill. Click here for aerial map and directions.
Main Beach Park Laguna
373 S. Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Where else can you enjoy a beachfront playground? Main Beach Park Laguna offers something for kids and adults. Although parking is always an issue at the beach, this beach and tide pool-themed playground is worth the effort. With slides, bridges, climbers, interpretive panels and even a lifeguard tower, this playground has an amazing view and is prime real estate. Stop by and play on your way to lunch or eat first and burn off that sugar by running around in the sand. Bring sand toys, a towel and money for snacks and parking (just in case). People watching will keep adults occupied for hours while little ones play. And who knows, you may just be lucky enough to see some dolphins dancing in the surf.
Northwood Community Park
4531 Bryan Ave
Irvine, CA 92620
Visit Northwood Community Park in Irvine for a life-sized castle filled with fun. A recent renovation of the park has also given it new life and made it a great destination for you and your kids for a day out. Driving by, you literally can’t miss this castle and kids will love it. Aside from the castle, a variety of other playground amenities await you and your kids as well. And, if that wasn’t enough, picnic tables and a soccer field are part of the park as well. Other amenities include drinking fountains, tennis courts, basketball courts, bicycle trails, racquetball courts and more!
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Erin Johnson is a freelance writer covering all things Orange County. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.