Save your money to buy Valentine’s treats for your loved ones this month by attending these free events taking place throughout Orange County.

February 3
Monarch Butterfly Day
Mile Square Regional Park, Fountain Valley

On the ninth annual Monarch Butterfly Day, celebrate the graceful orange creatures with a one-of-a-kind event. There will be a netted butterfly enclosure on site to get up close and personal with them, but guests can also learn about plants that attract monarchs and take part in crafts.
February 3
Black History Parade and Cultural Faire
Center Street Promenade. Anaheim

Watch a parade celebrating black heritage as vintage vehicles, 50 marching bands, horseback riders and local organizations take to the streets of downtown Anaheim. There will also be a cultural street faire with boutique vendors, food, live music and special events.

February 5
Dinner with the Doc
Whole Foods Market, Tustin

Wellness Choice, a whole-body health center in Newport Beach, is hosting a free dinner along with a chat on how to transform the way you think about health in an effort to make 2018 the healthiest year yet.

February 9
Public Reading and Q&A with Jill Lepore
UCI Student Center, Irvine

Currently a history professor at Harvard University and a staff writer for “The New Yorker,” Jill Lepore will visit UCI for a chat on “American Identity and the Democratic Ideal in the 21st Century.” Her keynote speech is part of a two-day event on the topic, which will also includes various panels.

February 10
Art Crawl Experience
Center Street Promenade. Anaheim

Also known as ACE, this quarterly event was created as a way to bring art to Downtown Anaheim. You’ll find plenty of art on display alongside pop-up galleries in local shops and an indie craft fair. The event will be held again in May, August and November.

February 11
Celebrate China
La Habra Children’s Museum, La Habra

As part of the Target Free Days series, the Celebrate China event presents the perfect time to welcome the Year of the Dog. Enjoy an array of Chinese cultural traditions by making your own lantern, learning to do the lion dance, adding a wish to the New Year’s wish tree or playing a traditional game.

February 17
Kids’ Pet Parade
Los Rios Park, San Juan Capistrano

Marking the first Fiesta Association event of the year, the Kids’ Pet Parade is a great family event that allows children between the ages of 5 and 12 to show off their favorites pets and compete for fun prizes in categories like Best Team Costume, Best Exotic Pet, Best Barnyard Animal and more.

February 18
Earthcache Hike to Dripping Springs
Limestone Canyon Nature Preserve, Silverado

Whether you’re an experienced geocacher or are simply looking for a quality hike, this seven-mile trek provides plenty of exercise and fun—at no cost. Simply register to participate, then find yourself traveling to Dripping Springs to explore, observe and record info about the geocache found there.

February 23
California Lilacs and Other Early Bloomers
Black Star Canyon Wilderness Park, Silverado

One of the earliest blooming plants in California is the California lilac. Take advantage with this four-mile hike through various habitat areas and, before spring rolls around, learn to identify which plants will begin to bloom the soonest.

February 24-25
Irvine Park Railroad Anniversary Celebration
Irvine Park, Orange

Celebrate the last 22 years with Irvine Park Railroad’s anniversary fair. Entrance is free, and there will be live entertainment, photo opportunities, raffles with prizes and free balloons available for each guest. Visitors can also purchase activity tickets at discounted rates for things like games, train rides, panning for gold and face painting.

Ashley Ryan is an Orange County native that loves traveling, live music and photography. She works as an editor at Firebrand Media, blogs at Pure Wander and writes for a variety of publications.


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