Archives For Nature Activities

Oso Creek TrailThe Oso Creek trail provides you and your family with an afternoon of natural beauty. While walking along the creek you get to explore different points of interest such as the character garden, the plant maze, the butterfly garden, the peace obelisk and more. This trail is just gorgeous and your kids will love to run around to explore and see all kinds of plants and animals such as bunnies, lizards, butterflies and lots of birds. At the end of your walk don’t forget to stop by the Oso Viejo Community Park for some extra fun.


Know Before you go

  • Print out the map below before exploring this area. Trust me, it is much easier than me trying to explain to you where to go. Once you print out the map, you just have to decide where you want to park and then just go and have fun.
  • Where to park? I parked on Marguerite next to the Character garden but I would suggest to park at the Oso Viejo Community Park. If you start from Marguerite the walk is over an hour and you can’t really shorten it. If you start from the Oso Viejo Community Park you have most points of interest close to you and you can make the walk as long or as short as you want. See below for directions to both parking spots.
  • No restrooms on the walk. The only restroom I found was at the Oso Viejo Community Park.
  • If your kids can ride a bike, I would bike these trails, especially if you start from Marguerite. Well thinking about it, if you bike it you don’t notice all the details, so maybe walk it the first time you visit, bike it the second time.
  • I could not find the butterfly garden, so don’t look for it too hard since you will be able to see butterflies everywhere along the trail.



See my comments above to decide which is the best parking spot for you.

–>Character Garden Trailhead parking: See number 1 (in red) on the map below. The parking lot is between Pacific Pl and Oso Creek Rd. There are only 4 parking spots here and it is not paved, so don’t look for a big parking lot. After you park you can check out the mosaic history walls and then look for a sign that says “Trail Access”. Click here to see this parking lot on Google Map.

–>Oso Viejo Community Park parking: 24932 Veterans Day, Mission Viejo, CA 92692. If you decide to park at the Oso Viejo Community Park, the trail will be behind the park. Just look at the map below and you will easily find it.

Oso Creek Trail map

Fullerton Arboretum - Free Family outing in OC

Click on picture to enlarge

The Fullerton Arboretum in one of my favorite places to explore with the kids. It is never crowded, free, easily accessible and such a great adventure for everyone.

The main purpose of the Fullerton Arboretum is to provide their visitors the opportunity to learn about plants, but for families with young kids this place becomes a fantastic natural playground: beautiful trails, weird looking plants everywhere, lots of places to hide, large trees to climb. And lots of wildlife: we saw tons of lizards, butterflies, all kinds of birds, and blue dragonflies. Also, the pond has lots of turtles swimming around and large red fish. It is such a great outdoor adventure! 

More Information:

Click here for opening hours and address.

Ocean InstituteDid you know a portion of the Ocean Institute is open on weekdays? At a reduced price of $5.00 a person, you can visit the sea star and sea snail touch tank, view the headlands aquarium, play on the small playground, and participate in science experiments about ocean animals and sand.

You can also take a guided tour of the biodiversity lab where a docent will teach you about local sea life, lift up “plates” that have sea organisms from near and far, and possibly explore the maritime exhibits.

After visiting the Ocean Institute, you may want to take a short drive to the Headlands Interpretive Center, have a picnic or play on the Baby Beach, or explore the tide pools at the beach directly below the Ocean Institute.

For hours, address, and more info click here.

Headlands Interpretive Center

Kelly Rafter
Blog Contributor

About the Author
Kelly and her husband have two little boys, ages 3 and 5. She loves taking her boys on adventures around Southern California that focus on learning, getting their wiggles out, and having fun! When she isn’t fulfilling her mommy duties she teaches at a local
 community college and is an educational consultant.