While I’m a little late reporting on our fun Veterans Day holiday visit out at Irvine Regional Park, the good news is you haven’t missed out on much!
On our first school holiday this year, T and I went out to the park with some of our oldest and dearest friends from our long-time playgroup and spent about four hours out at the park. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect. I note that as usually when we’ve visited before it was either extremely windy (read: allergenic conditions) or raining (no kidding!). We were thankful for such a gorgeous day to enjoy all of the various activities that the space has to offer for free and otherwise.
I’ve written about the park before (especially the train, one of T’s favorites), and even mentioned the zoo in its own post previously, too. This time, while we enjoyed all of those favorite things, we also enjoyed some new-to-us fun: The pony rides.
While I knew horses are available to rent to ride the trails throughout the park’s many trails, I didn’t realize that Irvine Regional Park had ponies specifically for the kids! Maybe it’s because T’s always just been more into the train than anything else, or maybe because they weren’t ever open when we visited previously (we’d usually visit on regular weekdays well before T was in school full-time). Either way, on this day the kids were well aware that they were up and running (well, walking and trotting anyway!), so into the line we went to pony up for some rides.
The ponies here are similar to those at Griffith Park. There’s a walking ring (where parents can walk younger children aboard slower ponies around a loop) and there’s a trotting track (where employees of the park take older kids out for a truer independent horseback ride). Each level of ride has certain weight, age, and/or height minimums or restrictions, so be sure to check the signs and ask at the ticket window which would be best for your kid(s) before buying.
One hazard out at the pony rings: The peacocks. I also don’t recall ever seeing peacocks at Irvine Regional Park before, so this was some more new fun for us! The workers had to put the pony rides on hold for several minutes as a small flock of birds walked through the area. I guess the birds have a knack for startling the ponies, both with their high-pitched calls and just by getting underfoot. But after about 5-10 minutes or so, they moved on down the road and the rides resumed without a hitch.
We had such a wonderful day out at Irvine Regional Park, and most of the fun was had even when we parents weren’t spending money on the varied activities throughout the park. There are trees to climb and swing on and playgrounds scattered throughout the area. There’s even a small pond where you can feed ducks and birds. Heck, the kids are happy enough to walk around and pick up sticks, seeds, and rocks. The simple things, right, RMT’ers?
And this month is a winter-wonderful time to go check out Irvine Regional Park! ‘Tis the season for their annual Christmas Train and other assorted special holiday events for the family and kids. You can go to one of my favorite blogger‘s posts about all the activities ongoing this season, including some tips on how to go enjoy the park during this time of the year and not break the holiday budget (a Christmas miracle indeed!). Remember that it doesn’t take much to keep the little ones happy, especially our littlest ones who might not know any better about the paid activities available (heh).
Irvine Regional Park is at 1 Irvine Park Road, Orange, CA, 92869. You can click here for general information about the park, including hours, activities, and other upcoming events. The park has activity-specific websites for the train, zoo, and pony ride information. Please also note an upcoming special event THIS THURSDAY (Dec. 12) (from the Irvine Regional Park website): “KTLA Channel 5 and Henry DiCarlo will broadcast LIVE from Irvine Park Railroad to accept new and unwrapped toys for the Salvation Army’s annual toy drive! Each person who brings a new and unwrapped toy will receive a FREE regular Irvine Park Railroad train ticket (see website for ticket disclaimers and details). The broadcast begins at 4:30 a.m. and continues through 10:00 a.m. Come ride the Christmas Train and enjoy Christmas Train activities at no cost this morning only (NOTE: This event may be canceled by KTLA for major breaking news, see website for disclaimers, how to get up-to-the-minute information, and other details). You may bring your personal camera to take photos with Santa. Ride the Christmas Train from 4:30 am to 7:30 am. Enjoy Christmas Train activities from 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.” For regular Christmas Train dates and hours please go here. Please also note that tickets for the Christmas Train are available for purchase online only.