By Kristine Emerson
Just because you have little ones at home doesn’t mean you can’t get out and have some fun! Here are some day trips that you and your toddlers and preschoolers will enjoy with an emphasis on keeping it simple.
When you hear “day trip,” you might think of an all-day affair that involves planning outfit changes, plenty of snacks, etc. But the following suggestions are easy endeavors for a few hours of fun outside the house.
Santa Ana Zoo
Pack some sunscreen, bottled water, a few ziplock bags of munchies and your camera – there are plenty of photo ops at this pint-sized (compared to the San Diego Zoo) attraction that’s the perfect size and scale to navigate in a couple of hours. And as an added bonus – there’s a great jungle gym right at the main entrance for your little ones to expend a bit of extra energy on the way in or out.
Preschoolers love getting a close-up view of creatures big and small – take time to read the info placards posted at exhibit and make it a teachable moment too.
Zoomars Petting Zoo – San Juan Capistrano
What preschooler doesn’t love petting or feeding bunnies, guinea pigs and goats? Zoomars has plenty of these, along with llamas, zedonks (a mix between zebras and donkeys), ponies and horses and even a desert tortoise. There are pony rides, train rides (on a kid-sized locomotive) and even panning for “gold,” where little ones are guaranteed to “find” a variety of gemstones.
Your local library
Many libraries offer “storytime” hours (see Marmalade Day by Day at the back of this issue) and special shows and activities during the summer months. Some branches even have special activity rooms devoted to arts and crafts and all manner of hands-on educational activities.
Your local park
Recreational parks across Orange County are adding more and more cool stuff for the smaller set. Jungle gyms, playground equipment, swings, slides and even water play. Early morning or late afternoon is probably the best time to get out and avoid the crowds and hot sun.
Indoor facilities featuring inflatables are always a great place for kids to run, jump and play in a contained, supervised, air-conditioned area. If you add your name to their email list, you’ll start receiving special “Toddler Time” rates and dates – specially set aside for kids 6 and under. Some popular picks include Frogg’s Bounce House in Fountain Valley and Scooter’s Jungle in Aliso Viejo.