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.
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.
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.
Erin Johnson is a freelance writer covering all things Orange County. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.