Best Family Day Trip in Orange County: Irvine Park

Where is the best place to take a family for a fun day trip in Orange County?  Try Irvine Park where there is something for everyone.  Fishing Lakes, hiking trails, pony rides, playgrounds, train rides and even a zoo.  Good luck trying to find enough time to do it all in one day. You will find yourself looking forward to your next trip. Bring a picnic or buy lunch at the snack bars. Plan a family reunion with plenty of room for the whole tribe. This hidden gem is the oldest park in all of Orange County with plenty of shade from Sycamore and Oak trees and is a reasonable drive from from anywhere in Orange County, so make your plans to enjoy some family time at Irvine Park.

Irvine Regional Park

1 Irvine Park Road

Orange, CA  92869


$3 entry fee M-F, $5 weekends



There are two ponds available for fishing.  Being stocked in the winter months with trout and in the summer months with catfish, there is always a chance to catch something. Bass, bluegill and carp are also on the prowl. A valid California fishing license is required but no additional fees for fishing. Your best bet is to use worms fished under a bobber.  Powerbait and catfish dough baits work well too. Light line and small hooks are a must. A 2-4 lb test line and #10 salmon egg hooks are my go to in any park fishing situation. Walk the shore trying different spots or just plop down in a chair and relax as the kids have fun. The park train will come by about every 20 minutes, so make sure to wave to the passengers.


The Zoo

Orange County Zoo at Irvine Park is maybe the favorite activity here. This eight acre zoo is nestled among Live Oaks and Sycamore Trees to provide a cool, relaxing environment for both the animals and visitors. The two main draws are the black bear and mountain lion exhibits. You can get up real close to both if you are able to time it right around feeding time. Ask any ranger and they will let you know. The zoo is also home to Bald Eagles, Beaver, Ocelot, Porcupine, Coyotes and Owls. Kids can touch the farm animals at the petting zoo. Be sure to make plans for the zoo.

$2.00 Per Person

Children 2 and younger enter free

Open 7 days a week
Weekday: 10:00 am – 3:30 pm
Weekend: 10:00 am – 4:30 pm

Closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day


Train Rides

Irvine Park Railroad is a 1/3 scale train that takes both children and adults on a ride through the beautiful and historic Irvine Regional Park.  Learn the history of the oldest park in Orange County as your family enjoys a train ride around the park.  Kids love it.

Spring – Summer
Weekday: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

$5.00 Per Person
Children and Adults

$60.00 for a book of 15 tickets
($15.00 savings)

Children 12 months and younger ride free

Weekend: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm

Fall – Winter
Weekday: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Weekend: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm


Pony Rides

Another favorite activity for the little ones are the pony rides. Located next to the train depot. Kids can either have trot or walk around the corral. Closed on Mondays.

Open Tuesday through Sunday
11:00 am – 4:00 pm             

5.00 per child – cash only

Horseback Rentals

Country Trails & Riding School is Orange County’s best choice for guided horseback tours as well as Western and English riding lessons. Additional services offered include: Trail rides, group activities, children’s summer programs, gift certificates, photo shoots, special events, and more.


Trail rides are available Tuesday – Sunday:

SUMMER  – 9:00 am, 10:30 am, 12:00 pm, 1:30 pm, 3:00 pm, and 4:30 pm
WINTER – 9:00 am, 10:30 am, 12:00 pm, 1:30 pm, 3:00 pm                                                                 

$55 per rider per hour trail ride
$110 per rider per two-hour trail ride

Bike Riding

There are many different bike paths to enjoy throughout the park. Bike rentals, including multi person pedal cars can be rented along with peddle boats for the lake.

Weekday: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Weekend: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm


There are many hiking trails located within Irvine Park’s  475 acres. From an easy stroll around the lakes and zoo to the more challenging Lone, 4 mile, Pine Ridge Trail.  Try a different trail each visit to take in all the beauty of the park.

LENGTH: 1.5 miles
WIDTH: 3-12 feet

Roadrunner Trail Loop

This trail begins at the elimination of the Horseshoe Loop Trail in the park’s Villa Park Dam Basin east of the reservoir. The trail follows relatively level terrain as it heads north towards Weir Canyon. The trail borders willow groves, and low land vegetation to its termination and completion of the “loop.” This hiking trail’s proximity to Villa Park Reservoir and Willow Woodland provides a unique experience and interpretive opportunities.

LENGTH: 1.5 miles
WIDTH: 8-12 feet

Santiago Creek trail

This hiking trail is used primarily by equestrians from Peacock Hill Stable as well as equestrians accessing Irvine Regional Park from Santiago Oaks Park and Orange Park Acres community.

LENGTH: 1 mile
SURFACE: Clay, Rock
WIDTH: 1-2 feet
RATING: Moderate to Difficult

Puma Ridge trail

A single-track trail that parallels the Loop Equestrian Trail, along the top of the parks western ridge. This trail appears to be illegally cut but not maintained. Tread has grown with vegetation in some areas. The trail provides great views in all directions with an intimate view of prime coastal sage scrub habitat. Due to habitat sensitivity and thickness of vegetation, which obstructs user’s sight of vision, the trail should be used by experienced hikers only.

LENGTH: 4 mile
WIDTH: 12 feet
RATING: Moderate

Lone pine Ridge Trail

This trail commences at the paved bicycle/walking trail in the park’s natural area on the east of Santiago Creek. Approximately ¾ mile up the east ridge, the trail is joined by a side trail that provides access to the ‘Lone Pine Vista Point’. The lone pine is perched on the top of a popular park ecological feature of sandstone outcroppings. The vista point provides views to the south, east and west.

LENGTH: 4 mile
WIDTH: 2-3 feet

Toyon Trail

This hiking trail is between the natural area paved bicycle/walking trail and Equestrian (upper ridge) trail. The trail commences at the pine tree grove near restroom #11 and the bicycle/walking trail. It then follows gentle terrain along the sage covered hill crossing a foot bridge and then joining the proposed Lone Pine Ridge Trail.

LENGTH: 3.25 mile
SURFACE: Clay, Sand
WIDTH: 3-12 feet
RATING: Easy to Difficult

Horseshoe Loop trail

This trail provides a loop around Irvine Regional Parks Historic Section and panoramic views of the park. A “side trail” provides benches, a shade shelter, drinking fountain, horse trough and hitching post. The views of the park, Santiago Creek and surrounding topography are excellent.


Well there you have it. More fun than you could possibly have in one day. Make this your best year ever. Get out and enjoy the outdoors and all it has to offer. Irvine Regional Park is a great place to start. Make sure to subscribe to our site so you never miss any information-packed ideas that we will be sharing. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram too.

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