I am so, so excited about summer this year. My son is 2 years old and it’s way easier to get out of the house these days. Jones loves to be social, so I’m planning on taking full advantage of the summer weather and local happenings with family and friends.
While I was filling up our calendar with SoCal events – I thought it wrong to keep all the fun to myself. So below, you’ll find my “summer bucket list”. I hope it inspires you to get outside, disconnect with technology and reconnect with those you love this summer. You deserve it!
My SoCal Summer Bucket List
Most of my summer bucket list suggestions are free (*) or very inexpensive. Many are specific to summer only, but some can be enjoyed all year long.
*Irvine Sizzlin’ Summer Concert Series – Most cities do some sort of free summer concerts in the summer, but we look forward to the ones in Irvine all year long! We went last year for the first time and had a blast with friends picnicking, dancing and people watching.
*Marina Park & Playground – This is our go-to beach day spot because it’s situated on the channel side, making the water calm for little ones. There is a cute playground, and you can easily spend the whole day soaking up all the sun and fun. I usually swing by Bear Flag Fish Co. on the way out of Newport to pick up my favorite burrito!
Summer Kids Movies – Most movie theaters do some sort of kids showings during the summer which is perfect for us with little ones who likely won’t make it through an entire movie. Starlight Cinema has a free series Monday – Wednesday at select locations, and AMC offers them on Wednesday’s at select locations for $4.
Duffy Boat Rental – This is the best way to see Newport Harbor and so much fun with your family and friends! Sip your favorite cocktail, nibble light bites and cruise through the water with your favorite tunes playing.
Splash Pads – Since my son doesn’t know how to swim on his own yet, splash pads are life, and a great way to stay cool on our hottest summer days. We have several awesome ones all over OC so you definitely need to spend some time sifting the ones in the link above.
Irvine Park – From the lake, zoo, pony rides, and bike rentals there is no shortage of things to do at Irvine Park. On Tuesday’s they host a small but wonderful Farmers Market from 9am -1pm (let them know you’re going to the Farmers Market and admission is free). We love to grab fresh fruit, and snacks before moving onto a walk, train ride or zoo visit.
OC Fair – What say’s “summer” more than a day at the fair? There is so much to do and you can easily go back again and again. If you can go mid-week check out the We Care Wednesday Drives for free admission and other specials that happen during the week. The fair will be open from July 12th – August 11th this summer.
*Kids Bowling – Irvine Lanes offers 2 free games of bowling for kids all summer long! And, it’s a great way to beat the heat!
*Movies in the Park – While this is past bedtime for my son, I can’t wait to take him to Movies in the Park when he’s a bit older. Many places do these, so check your city and see what is local to you.
*Tide Pools in Laguna Beach – Beach days are the best! When the timing works out, I love spending the day in Laguna enjoying the rocky landscape, and exploring tide pools!
*Make Ice Cream in a Bag – I remember doing this as a kid, and I cannot wait to make it a regular family summer activity!
*Orange County Model Engineers – The third weekend of every month offers free rides on these super cool trains. Perfect for train-obsessed little ones and while you’re in the area – swing by Fermentation Farm for the best Kombucha and fermented goodies around!
Balboa Ferry & Fun Zone – Start on Balboa Island, take the short ferry ride across to the Balboa Peninsula (you can walk on, or take your car across on the ferry), then spend a few hours walking around Balboa Pier, playing in the Fun Zone, and don’t forget to get a Frozen Banana or ice cream!
*Beach Bonfire (with s’mores of course) – I can’t think of a better way to close out the day than enjoying a beach bonfire at sunset. I might save this for the end of summer because it seems like a great way to close out the season.
For even more family activity ideas that aren’t summer specific check out Plan A Day Out!
So there you have it, my SoCal Summer Bucket List. You’ll notice that I didn’t list anything like theme parks, pools, BBQs, or malls. These are trusty old standbys that may work for your family, too. Have other great places or activities to share? Leave a comment below.