Archives For Nature Centers

Muth Interpretive Center

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A visit to the Muth Interpretive Center is a must for all Orange County families. This 10,000-square-foot educational facility is dedicated to the preservation of the Upper Newport Bay, the largest of only a few remaining natural estuaries in Southern California. This wonderful place has tons of free activities that will entertain you and your kids for several hours. 

Free Activities at the Muth Interpretive Center:

  • Lots of exhibits and interactive displays that teach you about the wildlife of the Upper Newport bay.
  • Watch the award-winning “Saltmarsh Seasons” in the Ray and Elsa Watson Theater.
  • Check out live reptile and amphibian displays.
  • Have fun with animal puppets, puzzles, books and crafts.
  • Take a walk or a bike ride around the bay and look for birds, fish and animals that hang out in the area. Do you know that Upper Newport Bay is an important rest stop for birds migrating from Canada and Alaska? Up to 30,000 birds can be seen here on any one day during the winter months.

Other Kids’s Activities at the Muth Interpretive Center:

  • On Friday morning from 10:30-11:30 they have super fun parent & child classes which may include arts and crafts, storytelling, live animal presentation, hands-on activities and a nature walk. The class is $5 per child and it is well worth it. Reservations are preferred so that they can make sure they have enough craft material for everyone. For ages 2-5. To register call (949) 923 2269 or email carissa.macias@newportbay.org.

Other Activities close by:

  • Free: explore the Back Bay Science Center, tour the teaching lab and aquarium tanks, visit the touch pool touch tank, and do some bird watching. Every Sunday from 10am-2pm. Click here for more info.
  • Free: see the diverse plants, birds and other wildlife of six distinct habitats as you take a self-guided tour on a ½ mile nature trail starting at the Big Canyon parking lot. Click here for more info. 
  • For a fee: on Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 12pm you can join an experienced naturalist for a guided kayak tour of the back bay. $25/person, ages 8 and up. Click here for more info. 
  • For a fee: you can also rent a kayak any day of the week for $15/hour ($20/hour for a two person kayak). Ages 8 and up. Click here for more info.

Address:

2301 University Avenue, Newport Beach, 92660

Opening Hours:

Tuesday – Sunday: 10am – 4pm.
Free admission, free parking.

Listing On PlanDayOut:

Click here to get all the information about the Muth Interpretive Center. If you scroll at the bottom of the page you will see a list of events at this location.

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.