While racking our brains thinking of something new and fun to do last weekend, we happened across a free family pass for the Orange County Zoo. The zoo’s home is inside of Irvine Regional Park, and though we’d been to the Irvine Park Railroad several times over the years, we’d never made it over to the zoo despite it being pretty much right next door.
The best way to describe the OC Zoo is that it’s a cozy collection of regional animals, and it is an absolutely perfect outing for toddlers and preschoolers. Walking the entire grounds of the zoo takes about 15 to 20 minutes tops, though having said that I’m sure your kiddos will find something to focus on for a tad longer just like T did.
The zoo also offers up a couple of hands-on activities for the kiddos, including a small petting zoo. However, this isn’t your typical petting zoo but more like a grooming zoo. Visitors can grab a hairbrush and help groom the animals rather than just plain-old pet them.
Boy, did the kids love this… well at least T did, and so much so, T forced a brush into each of our hands so we could brush a goat or two, too. And the goats loved the attention just as much if not more than the kids loved giving attention to them.
While our free passes saved us a handful of cash, admission to the OC Zoo is negligible at just $2 per person three-and-up (two-and-unders are free), plus the general parking fee per vehicle inside the park ($3 weekdays, $5 weekends; major holidays: $7 to $10 per entry as posted). We’re happy we finally ventured over to the OC Zoo and most likely will again, free passes or not.
And since we were already inside Irvine Regional Park, we explored more than just the zoo. We walked the grounds of the park where we checked out the historical cannon and the duck and fishing ponds. Oh and of course, we made time for a ride on the Irvine Park Railroad, one of T’s favorites.
Take note, RMT’ers… this year’s Easter Eggstravaganza at Irvine Regional Park and Irvine Park Railroad runs from Saturday March 17 through Saturday April 17. We attended this event last year and had a blast! However, do be prepared that the costs associated with this outing are similar to attending a small county fair or carnival (read: not a negligible cost), so if you do go take advantage of their bulk ticket buy. Entrance to the event itself is free (parking aside), but almost all of the activities require tickets, which cost $4 a piece or $50 for a 15-count ticket booklet (a $10 savings). Rides and activities vary in price from one to two tickets, and a visit with the Easter Bunny is $10 per visit. There’s a selection of moon bounces, cookie decorating station, face painting booth, ride on the train, and many more fun things to do during this festival.
Happy Spring a few weeks early, RMT’ers!