Archives For Nature Centers

Turtle Rock Nature Center

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The Turtle Rock Nature Center is another hidden gem in Orange County. First take the kids to explore the nature center and then go for a walk along their beautiful woodsy trails. This place is just beautiful, lots of fun and free. Your kids will love it and so will you.

What to expect:

  • You can first spend some time inside the nature center that has fun and educational games and displays.
  • Afterwards walk the trails which are beautiful and wind through different Southern Californian habitats. You can see all kinds of plants and animals, such as crayfish, turtles, ducks, hummingbirds, rabbits, squirrels, and lots of lizards.
  • Along the path there is a small creek that ends in a beautiful pond that attracts ducks, and lots of other insects. We even saw several red fish in it.
  • Make sure to find the super fun labyrinth. The kids and I always run after each other and see who reaches the end first. I know it is a silly game, but I love hearing my kids laughing while I am running after them.
  • Next to the labyrinth, you can find one of those clocks that uses the position of the sun to tell time. Your shade will tell you what time it is.
  • They recently added three new activities, a tree stump tic-tac-toe, a giant checkerboard and a jump touch station. You can borrow the checker pieces and the tic-tac-toe tokens from the office.
  • Take a picnic with you and stop at the Turtle Rock Community Park just outside the nature center. There are two terrific playgrounds and lots of grassy areas.

Tips:

  • Make sure to grab the scavenger hunt sheet before leaving the nature center. My kids still love searching for bugs and other nature items while walking the trails.
  • Wear comfortable shoes.
  • Most of the trail is in the shade, so you can also visit on a hot day.
  • The trail is paved, so feel free to bring a stroller.
  • The trail is fairly short so this place is perfect for toddlers. My son used to hate getting out of his stroller, but when I took him here, he actually didn’t mind walking while exploring nature. So this place is perfect if you have a little one that loves sitting in a stroller.

Address/Hours:

Click over to get all the details.

Fullerton Arboretum - Free Family outing in OC

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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.

Whale Watching from Shore

Maruska —  March 14, 2017

Whale Watching from ShoreWhale watching on a boat is not an option for me. I get sea sick just thinking about it. A visit to the Dana Point Interpretive Center is a great alternative and a cheap one.

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First explore their natural history exhibits which are fun for the whole family, then borrow their binoculars and go outside to look for whales. It is actually much more fun to walk down the trail behind the center so you get closer to the ocean. The trail is really short, but you won’t be able to use a stroller, so if you have a little one just enjoy the breathtaking view from the interpretive center.

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Make sure to talk to the volunteers since they will share all kind of neat information with the kids and they will also teach you how to spot a whale.

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Address:

Dana Point Nature Interpretive Center
34558 Scenic Dr
Dana Point, CA, 92629

Hours:

Tuesday-Sunday: 10am – 4pm

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