Orange County Summer Bucket List For OC Families

oc summer bucket list orange county things to do with kids

Orange County Summer Bucket List for OC Families


Our Orange County Summer Bucket List for OC Families is here!!

We are thrilled to partner with Caduceus Medical Group to bring you our Ultimate Guide to Summer Activities. Every year we search for items that would make a perfect “bucket list” for you and your kids to tackle during the summer season and this year we are proud to share a list with well over 100 activities, events, and sightseeing experiences, most of which are cheap or free!


We included anchor links at the top and bottom of our content so you are able to jump to any section you’re interested in re-reading. Otherwise, scroll and enjoy! Most of our images are linked to more great summer-friendly content.  We are sure our Orange County Ultimate Summer Bucket list for OC families will keep you busy all summer long!

But first, learn all about our amazing sponsor – Caduceus Medical Group!

Caduceus is a community-based multi-specialty medical group practice and management services company. Caduceus is owned by its doctors and is unique in its independence from interference by health plans or hospitals. Caduceus utilizes guaranteed access to care as a cornerstone of its philosophy. SAME DAY VISITS and ONLINE CONCIERGE SERVICES are an example of the innovative approach Caduceus takes to the delivery of health care. Caduceus encourages communication with patients through its smartphone App (iPhone or Android) and seeks to educate its patients through the monthly e-newsletter. Many of our patients have been with our doctors for more than 20 years. We are proud to be your preferred physicians of choice.

Summer Camps

Big Attractions

Local Fairs

Library Events

Kids Eat Free

Free Concerts

Get Out Of Town

Explore Orange County

Parks & Splash Pads

Home-Based Fun

Sign Up For A Summer Camp!

best orange county camps oc

Our Summer Camp guide is a comprehensive resource for all parents who are looking for camps in Orange County. Simply click the above image and check it out!

Explore The BEST OC Beaches

best oc beaches

Summer equals beach time and when you have little ones you want to make sure you are at the most kid-friendly (and parent-friendly) beaches you can find!

Free & Cheap Movies

Regal Summer Dollar Movies – Just in time for Summer Regal has announced their $1 movie lineups!

You can still see some great movies at the DRIVE-IN!

Big Attractions

Living in Orange County means we live in the heart of the action!  And because of that, there are some major attractions right here in our own back yard!

Just outside of the OC

Local Fairs

Fairs can be a fun place to try new foods and see live concerts – you just never know who you will run into at your local fair!

Library Events

There are so many public libraries in Orange County and almost all of them offer some type of summer reading program.

Check the calendar here!

Huntington Beach Library has a huge summer reading event kick off!

Kids Eat Free

kids eat free orange county oc

Our Kids Eat Free Guide is a comprehensive resource for all parents who are looking for a restaurant where their kids can eat free! Simply click the above image and check it out!

Free Concerts

The OC Parks Summer Concert Series beings June 20th

Almost every city has a Concert in the Park Series – check them out here!

Get Out Of Town

Looking to get out of the OC this summer? Our Orange County Summer Bucket list includes lots of OC vacation stops! #vacay!

Want to get out but be back to sleep in your own bed?  Check out our guide to day trips!

Go glamping in Santa Barbara.

Flagstaff is just a short drive and is FULL of Family fun!

San Diego is so close and has so much to offer!

Disney’s Aulani Resort & Spa in Hawaii – need we say more??!!

Keep the learning going by visiting historical getaways!

Visit Ojai and stay in a Caravan!

Glen Ivy Hot Springs – a fabulous place to relax!

Catalina Island – escape for the day or make a weekend out of it!

Explore Orange County

Our Orange County Summer Bucket list had to include OC exploration!  Orange County has SO much to offer – truly we live in one of the best places!  So don’t be afraid of those freeways and get out and explore!

  1. Local Zoos – If you want to get your steps in, check out these local zoos.  The Santa Ana Zoo has free parking and is half price after 2pm.  It’s open from 10am to 4pm.  The Orange County Zoo is located in Irvine Park.  The parking isn’t free, but entrance into the park is only $2.00, which children under two being free!  Check out the railroad for an extra fun day! You can also rent a surrey bike and paddle boat to explore more of the zoos!
  2. Kids Bowl Free – Take your kids bowling!
  3. South Coast Plaza Day – Make a day at the mall and keep cool by riding the carousel.  Tickets are $1 and the stub usually includes a restaurant coupon.  The Disney store has free daily activities and the Lego store has different lego sets that can be played with for free. Read more here about how you can make it a Disney day without actually going to Disney!
  4. Shipley Nature Center – Open from 9am to 1pm every day except for Sunday.  Take your kids along the many trails and enjoy nature together!  There’s also a parent and me time which costs $3.00.  So many fun things to do!
  5. Oak Canyon Nature Center – There are Day Camps, trails, places for picnics and even group tours.  Please be sure to read all of their guidelines as pets are not allowed.
  6. The Orange Circle – The Orange Circle offers so many fun restaurants, ice cream shops, antique shopping and of course the fountain!  Take the kids to the fountain and do a little shopping as you stroll along the Orange Circle.
  7. Carbon Canyon – If you need a little small town in your city life head over to Carbon Canyon Park.  Take the kids for a picnic and don’t forget to bring your fishing poles!
  8. Visit a “Farm” – We may live in SoCal but that doesn’t mean it’s all city.  Take your kids on a tour at Manaserro Farms or strawberry picking at Tanaka Farms.
  9. Enjoy a Farmer’s Market – Try the locally grown and sourced produce as well as other great treats!
  10. Go on a hike! – Orange County has many family-friendly hike destinations.
  11. Volunteer for a cause – There are so many children who are in need, use the free time during the summer to show your children how important it is to give back!  Whether it’s selling lemonade or donating toys – having a purpose behind their efforts benefits everyone involved!
  12. Check out Huntington Beach’s Pacific City – you can rent a surrey bike, have lunch at Ruby’s on the pier and so much more!
  13. Hike Oso Trail in Mission Viejo – There are many different trails and hikes to go on
  14. Pretend City – You can spend the whole day at this children’s museum – stay cool and enjoy the endless hours of fun!
  15. Zoomar’s Petting Zoo – Ride the train to San Juan Capistrano and visit this awesome petting zoo.
  16. San Clemente Pier – Soak in this iconic location with plenty of places to dine and explore.
  17. Casper’s Regional Park – Take an easy hike and enjoy the playground at Casper’s Regional Park.
  18. Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks Group – has SO many free family activities all across the OC.
  19. Walk the Bolsa Chica Wetlands – There are public tours as well as Animal feeding days.
  20. Beach Clean-up with OC Coastkeeper – We love our beaches and we want them to stay safe and clean for our little ones and generations to come!
  21. Ocean Institute in Dana Point – Tour the facility, participate in lab activities, go on a Whale Watching Cruise or head to see aboard a historic tallship.
  22. Balboa Pier – Take a stroll through their Fun Zone – rent a Duffy Boat, explore the Discovery Cube’s Ocean Quest
  23. Boomers Fountain Valley – Enjoy carnival games and play mini-golf
  24. Mission San Juan Capistrano – Take a tour and learn all about the history of the mission.  Children under 3 are free!
  25. Bowers Museum – Special Family events and festivals can all be found at this museum.
  26. More fun things to do in Orange County!

Parks & Splash Pads

Check out our guide to Parks in Orange County that we LOVE!

There are also several splash pads in Orange County to keep you and your kids cool this summer!

Home Based Play

We had to include home based play in our Orange County Ultimate Summer Bucket List for OC families because sometimes you have to stay at home!

Free or nearly free things to do are the best!  Yes, we love the big attractions too, but having fun at home is the best part of summer!

  1. Flying Kites – Everyone loves to fly a kite!  You’ll feel like a kid again too!
  2. Art in the Park – It’s free and is a fun way to get your kids’ creative juices flowing!
  3. Set up a Lemonade Stand – Let the kids make signs and set up a little stand outside your door.  Not only can you teach them a little bit about business, but you can also enjoy the lemonade and sunshine.
  4. Crank up the AC and have a “Frozen” Party– Pretend it’s winter – or as winter as it gets here in sunny California.  Bundle up and make some hot cocoa with marshmallows.  Put in a winter-themed movie and make memories.
  5. Have a campout in the backyard – Put up the tents and lay under the stars.  Use outdoor camping gear for your meal.  {The best part is you can still go to the bathroom inside!}
  6. Have a water balloon fight – Everyone loves a good water balloon fight!
  7. Put on a play – Give your kids a chance to wow you and use their imaginations to put on a neighborhood play!  Use their dress-up clothes, give them a theme and watch as their tale takes off!
  8. Sidewalk Art Show – Be the judge of your sidewalk art show!  Have the kids create their very best designs and give prizes to all of the winners!
  9. Create the summer Olympics in your own backyard!
  10. Host a backyard movie night –  Find a projector and a sheet and create your own movie night event!
  11. Build a backyard fort – Everyone loves a fort – spend the day building one with your little ones.
  12. Make some art. –  Get out the sidewalk chalk, watercolors, crayons, markers or whatever you fancy and create!
  13. Picnic at the park –  Pack up the picnic basket and head to the park.  Find a spot in the shade and enjoy your lunch or dinner.
  14. Make s’mores – Whether you have a fire pit or a microwave – you can make s’mores with anything!
  15. Play some board games – Get the games out of the closet and play!
  16. Write to a Penpal – Have your kids pick a relative or friend to be their penpal this summer.  Write as often as you can – getting real mail is so much fun.
  17. Make some homemade ice cream in a bag – Cool off with this delicious recipe that your kids can help you make.
  18. Create a neighborhood scavenger hunt. – Get all of the neighborhood kids together and make a scavenger hunt for them.  It’s a great way for the whole neighborhood to get to know each other.
  19. Host a neighborhood bike parade. – Your kids will love being the stars of the parade – cheer as they go by – get some candy for them to throw to the little ones who watch.
  20. Host a neighborhood popsicle party with homemade popsicles. – Cool off with these sweet treats that are easy to make at home and can be shared with everyone.
  21. Blow Bubbles – Get bubbles from the store or make your own!  See how can blow the biggest bubbles.
  22. Watch a movie series at home – There are so many great movies out there from The Chronicles of Narnia to Harry Potter – there’s something for every age and every stage!
  23. Make a treasure map – Create a treasure map for your kids.  It’ll keep them busy and thinking all day long!
  24. Check out our list of free printables and have a coloring contest!

Still not quite ready to explore the OC?  That’s okay!  We have our socially distanced and why not summer bucket lists to keep you and your kiddos entertained ALL summer long!

summer bucket list
why not summer bucket list

Make it a game!

Print out our Summer Bucket List and see how many you check off before school starts back up!

orange county summer bucket list oc


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