Monday, October 19, 2009

Halloween Fun in Orange County

Halloween is a fun time to enjoy all of the great family activities in Orange County. There are many Harvest Festivals and Haunted Houses to enjoy this season. Our family loves these special, once a year pastimes that mark the beginning of Fall. I have listed below the Halloween Haunted Houses and Fun Houses in Orange County to help make your Halloween season fun. Most all of the Haunted Houses are geared towards children 10 years and older and would not be appropriate for a younger child. There are several Fun Houses and Pumpkin Patches that offer fun festivities for the little ones. We do enjoy going to both because with a 12 year old and a 5 year old we have a wide spectrum of activities to be sure everyone has a fun filled Halloween.

Aliso Viejo:
Soka University 8th Annual Haunted House and Fun House

Terry Haunt - Oct. 23rd - Oct 31st
The Empty Grave Haunted Attraction - Fri & Sat until Halloween

Sinister Pointe Haunted House

Haunted Fullerton Walking Tour
Fullerton Arboretum's 6th Annual Haunted Garden - Oct. 23rd & 24th
Fullerton Arboretum's Garden Halloween Party (3-5 yrs old) - Oct 24th

Tanaka Farms Pumpkin Patch

Haunted Trails - Oct 22nd-24th

Mission Viejo:
Higgin's Manor - Oct 31st

Newport Beach:
Mariner's Harvest Carnival - Oct. 23rd

Haunted Tour at Blackstone Canyon - Oct 24th
Halloween at the OC Zoo - Oct 31st
Irvine Park Railroad Pumpkin Patch

San Juan Capistrano:
Los Rios Street Ghost Walk - Oct. 24th

Santa Ana:
Boo at the Zoo - Fri & Sat until Halloween (for younger children)

Please feel free to add to the list with your comments. It is always great to hear what other activities are happening in Orange County we can all enjoy!

Happy Halloween!

For more information on fun family activities in Orange County please visit

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Winner of San Juan Capistrano Mission Tickets Giveaway

The winner of the OC Fun Guide San Juan Capistrano Mission Giveaway is mommyjen99, who wrote "I would love to be able to take my youngest son to the mission as his school stopped taking the kids on field trips there." Congratulations! I hope you enjoy your trip!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Funny has made a comeback to Prime Time TV

On Friday I ventured outside of the Orange Curtain to Los Angeles where I had the opportunity to hang out with the cast of the show “Accidentally on Purpose” with a bunch of us bloggers and tweeters as we watched a taping (while on the set of the show) of an episode. This was an amazing and fun experience and wouldn't have believed there could be such a welcoming and down to earth group of people on TV. This show was so funny I couldn’t wait to get home and go online to CBS and show my husband the episodes. The cast was so cool and really fun to be around. At first I naturally felt a little uncomfortable being around celebrities but that quickly faded because they were so real and normal it felt like I was hanging out with neighbors or friends. They were really that awesome! I laughed so hard at times I almost peed my pants (wish I were kidding). They were all so cool easy to talk to.

This show has renewed my interest in watching Prime Time TV.

Quick Synopsis of the show:

Immediately captivated by the characters, Billie (Jenna Elfman) a 37 years old accomplished film critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, who finds herself pregnant after a one night stand with 20 something slacker Zack (Jon Foster), after breaking up with her boyfriend, James (Grant Show), who also happens to be her boss. Billie decides to go through with the pregnancy and invites Zack to live with her temporarily while he works out his living arrangements. Sparks fly between the two and make for an unorthodox arrangement with random twists and spontaneous surprises that leave you wanting more.

The dynamics are brought together with Billie’s two funny comrades, her co-worker, Olivia (Ashley Jensen) and sister Abby (Lennon Parham) who add a hysterical dimension to the clever storyline. Zack’s best friend, David (Nicolas Wright) is his right hand man who attempts to support him in the perils of impending fatherhood that left me laughing so hard I nearly fell out of my seat.

You’ll want to watch the show as the real live Jenna Elfman grows along with her character and goes through her real pregnancy with her second child with husband, Bodhi Elfman. She was so cute and had that adorable pregnancy glow we all wish we could carry with us after birth. Her son Story Elias was on set with her and in between scenes she brought him out and you could see what a nurturing mom she is.

In case you want to catch an episode of the show it’s on CBS Mondays at 8:30pm. Watch the next episode and let me know how much you liked it!

The group of bloggers were also very cool. One that especially caught my attention was a mother of 7 kids. She literally looked like she just walked off a page of Vogue Magazine. Take a look at her blog after reading about her after the show, I thought damn, I have no room to complain with just two kids. This girl is just inspiring.
Happy TV Watching!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Giveaway ~ San Juan Capistrano Mission

See bottom of post for Giveaway Contest.
An amazing jewel sits quietly on the coast of San Juan Capistrano. Home to the oldest building and the first inhabitants of Orange County lays a pristine piece of history that we can see and touch. The Mission of San Juan Capistrano has such a unique presence in today's modern world. As we live our daily lives in a place where there is not much remnants of past, the building blocks of a world that began what we enjoy today, sits quietly waiting to tell you its story. The walls of these buildings have seen so much. My experience at The Mission San Juan Capistrano was incredible. I usually travel to far away places to learn about and see incredible monuments with historical relevance and impact but I have realized that our native land has much rich history to absorb and appreciate.
The staff at The Mission was warm and friendly as we arrived. We were greeted at the entrance by a gentleman who gave us the handheld device we could use for our self-guided audio tour (which is available in 5 languages). They have adult and children's audio tours available, which make the experience interesting on each level of attention span. The greatest part was being able to hear the basic information on the landmarks and displays and then if a particular spot of interest was more appealing to me, I could hear a more in depth story by a push of a button.
The South Wing exhibit, which houses museum rooms that replicate the dormitory, kitchen, pantry, guest bedroom, Padre's dining room and The Rancho Room has only been open for two weeks and we were lucky enough to be able to see it. It really gives you a feel for how life was during this time over 200 years ago.
The Mission is a large compound with so many areas to visit so plan to spend a couple of hours and enjoy this at your own pace. The Mission San Juan Capistrano is featuring its upcoming exhibit "Gold Fever" which will give the opportunity to relive the California Gold Rush through the stories and exhibits from this time. Learn about the legacy that lured frenzied gold seekers to California. This exhibit will run from October 15 ~ March 30. There are so many family events that take place at The Mission so be sure to check their calendar of events. You an visit their website directly by clicking here.
The Mission San Juan Capistrano was gracious enough to offer 2 free admission tickets to one lucky OC Fun Guide Winner! Just leave a comment here by Monday, October 5th and you will be automatically entered into the contest for this giveaway. The Winner will be announced on Tuesday, October 6th.
For more information on free or low cost activities in Orange County visit or click here.
Happy Exploring!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Fall Is Here ~ Irvine Railroad Pumpkin Patch

You wouldn't know it from our extraordinarily Hot weather this year, but Fall is Here! What better way is there to celebrate the Fall season than to visit the pumpkin patch. Irvine Park Railroad is one of the first of the season in Orange County to host it's annual pumpkin patch which runs from September 19th - November 1st. This is one pumpkin patch you won't want to miss this season. There are so many fun activities happening here. From the John Deere Tractor Races to Hay Rides in a real John Deere Tractor, a huge pumpkin bounce house, the coolest Hay Maze I've seen (well it's the only one I've seen but cool nevertheless), face painting, an awesome haunted house and carnival games. Of course there is the train ride throughout the park and you can print discount (buy one, get one free) coupons directly from their website.
There are so many size pumpkins to choose from and the prices are reasonable. I believe they even have a coupon for a discount on pumpkins as well. So be sure to print all your coupons before your trip. While you're there you can stop in and visit the animals at the OC Zoo. So gather up your kids and make a day of it. Fall is here! Celebrate!
To visit the Irvine Park Railroad website click here and for more fun free or low cost local activities in Orange County click here to visit
Happy Pumpkin Pickin!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Orange County Museum of Art

Imagination, Creativity and Illumination. This was our family adventure yesterday at The Orange County Museum of Art. Target sponsors FREE admission to The Orange County Museum of Art in Newport Beach every second Sunday of the month.
The museum hosts a program of events all day from 11am-4pm with entertainment consisting of various performances, hands on art projects for children, and family art exhibits. This month's display at the museum was Illumination. It is really a great way to introduce your children to art. My daughters were able to create their own landscape scene with construction paper and an illumination design with paints and the help of the great staff. After they completed their projects we visited the family art exhibition where they were able to see Illumination artists' work on display and really understand more of what it takes to create this type of art. I was really amazed at how their analytical skills were stimulated by just relating to the art from the projects they worked on.
Target's sponsorship of the arts with their free museum days in cities across the US is such a great gift. We love Target FREE days and will be sharing many more of our visits througout the year. To find out more information on the future free Target days at The Orange County Museum of Art, you can click here to visit their website. The next Target Free Second Sunday is October 11th featuring "October Rush" with live entertainment provided by students freom our local Newport-Mesa Unified School District.

For a list of FREE activities in Orange County visit

Happy Museum Hunting!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Birthday Celebration at Disneyland

Celebrating our daughter's 5th birthday at Disneyland was our latest family adventure. Birthdays are the few times I splurge on activities. We gave our little one a choice between a birthday party or a family adventure to Disneyland. Of course she choose to spend her special day with the princesses. What five year old princess loving girl in her right mind would pass that up?

We started our day early so we could make the most of our adventure. So much to see, so little time. The parks are great in the morning because the crowds don't arrive until after 10am. Season pass holders can arrive at 8am and have privilege of experiencing the parks for an hour before they open to the general public at 9am. This weekend was a hot one so we made sure to pack at least a 12 pack of water and stuffed it in the ever-handy stroller. The little one is getting big but she still gets tired mid-day so the stroller eliminates half the whining. Plus it is a great place to store food, water and other essentials so we didn't have to carry much. On hot days I would recommend packing water to bring because you pay about $3-4 per bottle. Our family of went through 14 so that can add up.

We started at California Adventure which was full of exciting construction for the new upcoming attractions "The World of Color" (Opening Spring 2010) and "Ariel's Undersea Adventure" (Opening Spring 2011). The park was not as full as I expected. Upon arrival we visited the City Hall and the birthday girl was given a special pin to wear. She was recognized all day long for her birthday. On rides they gave her special recognition over the loud speaker and all. She really felt like a star.

Our special engagement for the day was lunch at Ariel's Grotto. This is where she was able to meet the princesses all in one place. The prices is a little high for the food but you really are paying for the experience this brings to the little ones so this was definitely worth it in my book. After lunch was served each princess was announced before making their grand entrances to the dining room floor. All of the princesses stopped at each table for photo ops and a meet and greet. This is a surefire way to meet them all in one place. There was so much excitement from the kids during this time it really was contagious. At the end she was serenaded with Happy Birthday and served her very own birthday cake with candles and all. The cake was served in a souvenir treasure box with a few treasures to go with it. It has now become her special jewelry box at home.

After lunch we headed over to Disneyland and had a blast for the remainder of our day. We were able to ride Pirate's a few times and I am so excited that It's A Small World was finally open again after all that time in construction. We ended our day with the "Celebration Parade" where our little one was a dancing queen. Disneyland is a great place to celebrate a birthday and the best part is that you get in FREE on the day of your birthday.

For more information on Disney's California Adventure or Disneyland you can click here to visit their website.

Happy Celebrating!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Pretend City! Children's Museum

What an amazing place Pretend City is. Upon arrival we were given a map to the city where each child can choose to visit, work and play. There was a doctor's office, Post office, Fire Station, Police Station, Gas Station, a cafe, a working farm, a theater, and many many more pint size buildings/offices inside this museum. It is definitley not your typical "look but don't touch" museum that we are all used to.

This imagination emporium stimulates creativity through pretend play using props right down to the pedal cars, street lights and stop signs.

My daughter gassed up her car, which was a pink cadillac, on the way to her pretend jobs at the cafe and the doctor's office. At the cafe, she took my order, made me an amazing pizza and served it right to my table. At the doctor's office she reviewed x-rays and tended to patients, giving them their shots and taking their vital signs. There was even a volunteer doctor on hand to help along with this pretend office.

After she worked at each job site she clocked out with her time card given to us upon our arrival. She was then able to take her time card to the ATM and received her pretend cash where she indulged herself shopping at the pretend Ralph's grocery store buying pretend eggs, milk and produce.

She was then ready for a little playtime at the beach equipped with sand, toys to build sand castles, beach chairs and umbrellas. After her exciting day at work and playing at the beach, she drove home along pretend streets stopping for pedestrians and all. Once she arrived to the pretend house fully equipped with a living room, kitchen, bathroom and bedroom she played house for quite some time.

Each station is set up with a telephone that can be used to call the other stations. My daughter called the cafe from the doctor's office to let them know that she would see them tomorrow when she returned to work.

There was a theater stage with lights and music. The backstage area was full of costumes ranging from butterfly wings to wedding dresses where your child can be the star they always wanted to be.

Pretend City is such a great experience because there are so many stations that appeal to different interest and age levels. We saw infants on up to older school aged children that were stimulated by what this place has to offer each child on their own learning and absorbtion level.

We will definitley be returning to this museum many times in the future. The regular admission price is $10 for adults and children. If you visit after 4pm the price is only $5 per person but that only allows an hour of play time which from my experience is not enough. They do have memberships ranging in price from $90 and up.

For more information about Pretend City click here.

Can't wait for our next trip to Pretend City!

Happy Pretending!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Peter and Mary Muth Interpretive Center

It is remarkable how many free or low cost activities their are available for children in Orange County. Today I was pleasantly surprised at the interactive and educational fun we had at The Peter and Mary Muth's Interpretive Center in Newport Beach.

The center is located in the Back Bay and parking is free. Their is a great little trail that lead right up to the center's building that is tucked away and cannot be seen from the road. Not having been to this amazing center, I was curious as to what we would find when we arrived after our short 2 minute hike. The views along the way were absolutely spectacular so bring your camera for bright sky days like today.

Once we arrive inside we made our way to the children's activity room where we found Ranger Sue reading a book about bats, which was the theme of today's "Wild Tales" program they hold every week on Friday from 10:30-11:15am for ages 2-8 years old. She explained all of the places bats like to call their home and their eating and sleeping habits. She prepared all the little ones for possibly spotting a bat in the night and gave tips on where they like to sleep locally (under the Jamboree bridge).

After the story, the kids were kept interactively entertained with a craft that was all focused on bats, which they all enjoyed. Then we were led on a nature hike on the trail that connects the center to the back bay guided by Ranger Sue, a real park ranger. She was very knowledgeable and pointed out all the wildlife around us such as the lizards, dragonflies, any species of birds that flew overhead and our favorite, the flying fish in the channel. Our destination on this hike was to the bat boxes the nature scouts made for the center where the bats are able to hide in the day. It was really amazing and even the mommies and daddies learned so much.

After the hike, the kids were able to play at the center with all of the toys that feature a wild life theme. Among their assortment of toys were stuffed bats, coyotes, raccoons, possums, and many more local wildlife animals. They had a display of live snakes common among the area (in their aquariums of course) and they had all sorts of information on each species.

The cost for this great morning full of fun and learning was only $5 including the craft. Now that's a bargain! For more information on this program or the many others at The Peter & Mary Muth Interpretive Center click here to visit their website directly.

Happy Bat Hunting!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Centennial Farms

Today we visited Centennial Farms in Costa Mesa at the OC Fairgrounds. The kids of course loved the farm animals and within the last 2 months there were several piglets born as well as a La Mancha so this was a special treat to see these little animals. This was another one of those great FREE activities that can be so much fun.

Walking onto the grounds of the farm it felt like we were transformed out of suburban Orange County and into the country. The barns, farmhouse and silo were scattered among the livestock and rows of crops on display. Centennial Farms is a 4 acre working farm and hosts educational programs for elementary age children to show the important role agriculture not only played in Orange County's history but also in their every day lives today.

The crops were amazing. There was so much information to absorb. They have such a variety of crops ranging from tomatoes, peppers, gourds, beans, and many more as well as papaya trees, pineapple trees as well as of course orange trees. They had the harvest times and information on each crop and what method they used to plant. When we left I wanted to go home and start a garden of my own. Very inspirational!

I would recommend either before or after your visit that you go on to their website (you can click here to visit their site) and they have educational print outs and games that kids can play that directly relate to what they will see at the farm.
Happy Farming!

Environmental Nature Center

Yesterday we had the great opportunity of exploring the Environmental Nature Center. What a gem of a facility. The center's building is the first LEED Green Building in Orange County built using recycled materials and solar panels and includes a natural ventilation system which eliminates the need for air conditioning. They really are showing the community a great example of how these changes can really benefit the environment.

Inside the ENC there are so many hands on displays to keep kids engaged and my kids had so much fun playing the games on display which were common among the native indigenous people so long ago. There are stations which show the wildlife such as coyotes, foxes, live snakes (the snakes were not my favorite particularly but the kids loved them), and different species of toads and insects. There are examples of the different plant species that are native of California.

As you head outside for the trails, which are host to the several different ecological areas native to California such as Desert, Wetlands, Woodlands, Forest, Valley Grassland, and Channel Island Flores, along with many more, you will find the Butterfly House which is a greenhouse that contains native species of butterflies at their various stages of life and the plant life they live from.

The staff at the ENC were the most friendly volunteer bunch I have met. They were so informative and genuinely involved in a cause they truly believe in. This just makes their passion for teaching so much easier to absorb and love as well. The best part of this center is that admission is FREE! They have several programs and events throughout the year which include Nature Walks, a Fall Faire and Pumpkin Patch and Family Wilderness Survival Classes. You can find out more about this center by clicking here.
Happy Nature Trails!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Children's Juggling Show ~ Fun for Everyone

Yesterday, my 4 year old daughter and I decided to head to the Newport Beach Library, Balboa Branch on the peninsula to check out the Juggling show with Michael Rayner. We were both pleasantly surprised at hilarious jokes and sense of humor that this comedic juggler showed. There were amazing tricks as well as the silly and wacky stunts that you would expect at a children's show. The Balboa branch is a fairly small library but the small beach side feel to the environment gave a great sense of comfort right as you walk through the door. All the kids were mesmerized by the juggler's tricks. To watch 20 children ranging in ages from 2 years old to 10 years old sit still during a show is an amazing spectacle. The kids were entertained and the juggler kept the children involved by using volunteers from the audience on several tricks. He made each child feel as if the show was just for them alone, remembering names and complimenting each child. For a free children's show, this one will be difficult to top. This show will be held at The Newport Beach Central Library on Avocado St. on Monday July 6th at 10:30am. This is a must see!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

FREE Summer Movie Day

Today was a great day! I experienced my 1st FREE summer movie that is offered at selected Edwards Cinemas. Each of my daughters brought a friend so the five us had a good time. This summer's free movies are at Irvine Spectrum and Tustin Market Place. We went to Irvine Spectrum. The movies begin at 10am on each Tuesday and Wednesday at Irvine Spectrum and they have 2 movies to choose from both days. Expecting a line of people when we arrived, I planned the morning out to arrive at 9:30am. You can view their full summer schedule on the Edwards Cinema website. We were running a bit behind schedule (with 4 kids I was surprised that we were early at all). I was amazed when we arrived and there was no line. The movie was about 50% full and by the time the movie began the theater was about 75% full. We brought our bag of goodies packed with chips, drinks, candy and all the goods. We had a choice of seeing "American Girl" or "Meet Dave". We chose American Girl. It was a fun free way to spend the morning and the kids love to play at the fountains at The Spectrum so it was a blast. These free summer movies are great and I was surprised that there were not as many people as I expected. We will be continuing this free family movie day each week. I thought the dollar movies were great but this jut topped that.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Protect Our Ocean

The girls and I embarked on our Free Friday adventure. This week we visited the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach. This is a rescue center for marine mammals such as sea lions, seals and other injured or sick mammals that become beached. The center is next to the animal shelter. Once we arrived we were pleasantly surprised at the structure of the buildings. They are barn like buildings and house the marine mammals which are in rehabilitation. The Pacific Marine Mammal Center is designed to Rescue the injured or sick mammals, Rehabilitate each one and then Return them to their home in the ocean.

I was surprised that my 4 year old daughter absorbed the educational lessons and there are many. This center has a FREE self guided tour with a host of information about how each one of us can help protect these mammals by avoiding harmful actions such as throwing trash, car oil, detergent or soap, and pet waste in the drains and gutters that lead directly to the ocean waters. My daughter was surprised however when we arrived to the center and she had her first glimpse of the seal lions in the pools, she asked me "Mommy, when is the show going to start?" Once I explained that this is not Sea World and these are sea lions and harbor seals with injuries or they are sick and the center is helping make them better she started to grasp the idea of how we can change our behaviors to help keep the ocean clean and these mammals safe in their home. The staff is on hand for any questions and the volunteers are very friendly and knowledgeable. There are docent led guided tours available for a small fee and are great for groups such as school field trips and girl scout or boy scout troops.

This center operates on donations and this is a great way to directly impact the ability to rehabilitate these beautiful sea creatures. You can become a member for as little as $25 a year. I would recommend this facility for anyone interested in learning about marine ecology and ocean marine life. You will see first hand how we can help assist and protect the mammals and their home. Who knows, maybe this will spark an interest in your child and they child will have a future in marine biology or ecology of the ocean.For more information on FREE Fun Activities you can enjoy in Orange County visit You can visit the website for the Pacific Marine Mammal Center directly at