Best Traditional Day Camp
A “summer magic” has put smiles on the faces of an estimated 40,000 kids during the camp’s 26-year run and It’s a place where kids aged 4 to 11 can relish in the joys of nature by kayaking, interacting with wildlife and splashing in the Pacific. The camp has now topped our readers’ poll for the 11th time.
campjames.com | Newport Beach
Best Day Camp for Nature Lovers
Environmental Nature Center
In just its second year topping the readers’ poll, the rave reviews really said it all, with one parent praising the “comprehensive, educational, hands-on programs” and a grandparent saying “it just keeps getting better.” Another parent said, “I wish I had gone to camp like this as a kid.”
encenter.org | Newport Beach
Best Overnight Camp
Jameson Ranch Camp
This sleepaway summer camp is a child’s paradise. Kids spend their days biking down mountains, learning to sail, and participating in a slew of other outdoor activities. This is the second consecutive year Jameson Ranch has earned the best overnight camp title; it took in 28 percent of reader votes.
jamesonranchcamp.com | Glennville, Calif.
Best Overnight Camp for Girls
Camp Scherman/Girl Scouts
Little campers learn to problem solve, practice independence, and make new pals at this popular overnight getaway.
“Camp Scherman is the place for every girl to discover her greatness and make memories she will cherish for a lifetime,” says Camp Director Erin Johnson. This is the eighth time it’s been voted the best overnight camp for girls.
girlscoutsoc.org/campscherman | Mountain Center, Calif.
Best Music School
Orange County School of the Arts
Readers are continuing to sing the praises of this beloved college preparatory school. This is the fifth year the Orange County School of the Arts has been named the best music school – and for good reason. The charter school helps students excel in a creative, nurturing environment. It received 38 percent of reader votes.
ocsarts.net | Santa Ana
Best Theater Class
South Coast Repertory
This school takes center stage for helping children master the art of storytelling, movement and character development. “We’re here for our students and we tell them that the skills it takes to succeed as an actor are the same skills that will help them enjoy a richer, fuller life,” says Educational Programs Director Hisa Takakuwa. This is the fifth year South Coast Repertory has been bestowed with the title.
scr.org | Costa Mesa
Best Martial Arts Instruction
Team Kwan Tae Kwan Do
If you’re wondering what makes this taekwondo school so special, head instructor Jasmine Sanchez can explain it.
“Our team provides an ideal environment for building confidence, discipline and a healthy lifestyle in all of our students,” says Sanchez. “We are experts at disguising learning with fun for all ages.” This is the first time the studio has won the award.
teamkwon.com | Brea
Best Swim Education
Waterworks Aquatics hails itself as offering the finest swimming lessons in California—and Parenting OC readers seem to agree. The Irvine swim school took 44 percent of reader votes, making this the 10th year it’s been named Orange County’s best spot for swim education.
waterworksswim.com | Irvine
Best Competitive Gymnastics
This state-of-the-art facility has produced 14 Olympians throughout the past 55 years. Its “every child is a champion” philosophy helps children develop a lifelong passion for the sport. Just ask former student, and current coach, Mitch Claman. “I couldn’t ask for a better place to teach than the very same place that I learned so much,” he says. “It’s truly my home away from home.” This is the fourth time SCATS has earned the title.
scatsgymnastics.com | Huntington Beach
Best Gymnastics for Babies
Little ones dance, sing and tumble their way through My Gym’s popular 50-minute classes. The gym is a fun place for babies to develop motor control skills, become mobile and enhance physical and cognitive development. This is the fourth time My Gym has been named the best gymnastics venue for babies.
mygym.com | Multiple Locations
Best Horseback Riding Facility
Irvine Regional Park
Irvine Regional Park’s Country Trails and Riding School is a horse lover’s dream. It offers Western and English lessons, scenic trail rides and ponies for children to ride. The riding school has passed the longevity test—this is the 12th time Parenting OC readers have named it best riding facility. This year, it took in 51 percent of reader votes.
irvineparkrailroad.com | Orange
It’s tough to compete with a place that boasts a splash pad, multiple play areas, and a scenic lake filled with waterfowl. With onsite barbecues and 29 picnic tables, Heritage Park is the perfect place to pack a lunch and enjoy a picnic with friends. This is the fifth time Heritage Park has been named Orange County’s best playground.
cityofirvine.org | Irvine
Best Indoor Skate Park
Vans Skate Park
This skating wonderland features a 20,000-square-foot obstacle course, ramps of varying difficulty and a warm-up course for beginners. It’s no wonder Vans Skate Park has been voted Orange County’s best indoor skate park for 14 years. This year, it grabbed 68 percent of reader votes.
vans.com/skateparks-hb.html | Huntington Beach
Best Outdoor Skate Park
Etnies Skate Park of Lake Forest
With more than 40,000 square feet of skating space, Etnies is the largest free skate park in California. The concrete park includes three skating bowls, two large flow courses and a world-class street course. This is the fourth year Etnies has been voted the best outdoor skate park.
etniesskatepark.com | Lake Forest
Best Skating Rink
Energetic music and pumped-up air conditioning greet visitors at Anaheim Ice, voted Orange County’s best skating rink for the seventh time. Daily public skating sessions give visitors a reprieve from the heat, and a chance to master the art of gliding along its Olympic-sized rink.
anaheimice.therinks.com | Anaheim
Best Indoor Play Space
The imagination goes into overdrive at Pretend City, a children’s museum bursting with interactive exhibits. Kids can shop at a grocery store, play dress-up at the amphitheater, or whip up a delicious meal at a pretend café. This is the sixth time Pretend City has been named Orange County’s best indoor play space. It snapped up 38 percent of the votes.
pretendcity.org | Irvine
Irvine Spectrum Center
It took a hiatus during construction at the Irvine Spectrum, but the mall’s carousel has made a comeback. And the merry-go-round is still a favorite among children. It features antique-designed horses and an assortment of rideable animals. The ride has been a longstanding choice for Parenting OC readers; this is the 12th time it’s been named Orange County’s best carousel.
shopirvinespectrumcenter.com | Irvine
Yorba Linda Public Library
Fantastical tales, songs and heaps of interactive fun make Yorba Linda Public Library’s storytime a favorite. Puppets and crafts are also on the agenda. This is the third time the library has earned the title; this year, it snapped up 35 percent of reader votes.
ylpl.org | Yorba Linda
Best Birthday Party Spot
Big Air Trampoline
Birthday boys and girls can bounce their way to a new year at one of two local Big Air Trampoline locations. Packages vary, but most include pizza and drinks, socks for guests, and at least an hour of jumping time. This is the fourth time Big Air has been named Orange County’s best spot to host a birthday party. It took 34 percent of reader votes.
bigairusa.com | Laguna Hills and Buena Park
Best Kids Hair Salon
Cool Cuts 4 Kids
It isn’t just a hair salon—Cool Cuts 4 Kids is a place where kids can play video games, watch cartoons and play with toy trains. Stylists are gentle with little clients, and often give them an opportunity to accessorize their new hairdos before heading home. This is the eighth year Cool Cuts 4 Kids has been voted Orange County’s best kids hair salon.
coolcuts4kids.com | Multiple Locations
Best Surf Camp
Aspiring surfer dudes and dudettes can learn to master the waves at this popular Newport Beach surf camp. Classes provide hands-on lessons for all levels of athletes. Instructors cover all aspects of surfing, from the history of the sport to water safety. This is the third time Newport Surf has received the “best surf camp” title. It received 45 percent of votes in the category.
newportsurfcamp.com | Newport Beach
Best Baseball Camp
James Lowe (also known as Coach Ballgame) is known for his playful and unique approach to making kids fall in love with baseball. His lessons place a strong emphasis on teamwork and helping kids develop field skills. This is the first time Coach Ballgame’s camp has been voted the county’s best; 35 percent of voters endorsed it.
coachballgame.com | Multiple Locations
Best Soccer Camp
L.A. Galaxy O.C.
Soccer stars are born at L.A. Galaxy Orange County (LAGOC), a sports development program that helps students master the game. “[Our] soccer camps allow players to develop their soccer skills whilst working on the four key player actions: first touch, striking, 1V1 [drills] and running with the ball,” says Camp Director Samuel Ridgard. “LAGOC provides a fun and challenging environment for players of all ages and abilities.” This is the second time LAGOC earned the title.
lagalaxyoc.com | Irvine
Editors’ Choice: Best Indoor Sports Center
Ladera Sports Center
With eight basketball/volleyball courts, wood flooring, climate control, 28 LCD monitors including a video wall, live-streaming cameras on each court, a noise attenuation system and the All-Star Café, this state-of-the-art facility is at the top of its game. In 2018, the center hosted the national Adidas Summer Championships and the Klay Thompson Basketball Camp.
laderasc.com | Ladera Ranch
Best Dance Studio for Tots
Celebrating 11 years bringing the love of dance to Orange County children, the studio also celebrates its 10th Readers’ Choice win. The dance classes build confidence, teach valuable coordination skills and how to explore movement in a fun way. Dance classes start at two years old and the first class is always free.
freckledfrogdancestudio.com | Placentia, Buena Park, Tustin
Best Dance Studio for Competition
OC Dance Productions
In its third-year win and with 47 percent of votes, this dance studio offers an extensive list of programs, including Dance the Magic at Disneyland that teaches students parade choreography and technique to dance in the theme parks. Other classes include ballet, tap, hip-hop, Parent & Me and musical theater—all of which include the Kid University program, incorporating kindness, compassion and personal growth.
ocdanceproductions.com | Multiple Locations
Best Kids Yoga Studio
Little Peeps Yoga
A mobile enrichment company specializing in hosting fun events and classes for children at studios and schools, the play-based yoga and fitness classes are interactive and educational. Each class is designed to be modified and are developmentally appropriate for all children. Founded in 2015, it has already gained recognition from neurologists, and speech and language pathologists because of its work with children with special needs, including autism, scoliosis and ADHD.
littlepeepsyoga.com | Multiple Locations
Best Science/Tech Camp
Digital Media Academy
It’s difficult to get much more tech than this. With course topics ranging from coding and programming, and 3D modeling and design to game design and development, and robotics and engineering—move over Tony Stark and Bruce Banner. There’s some new kids in town.
digitalmediaacademy.org | Multiple Locations
Editors’ Choice: Best Indoor Family Fun Center
John’s Incredible Pizza Company
John’s Incredible Pizza Company is a family entertainment center with food and fun for the entire family. Admission to John’s includes an All You Can Eat Buffet with items made from scratch, including freshly made pizzas, chicken, pasta with homemade sauces, a 40+ item salad bar, dessert and more. Then guests of all ages can enjoy Fun World filled with more than 100 of the latest video and redemption games plus exciting rides, like Twister and bumper cars.
johnspizza.com. | Buena Park and Westminster
Best Special Needs Camp/Center
No Limits Creative Arts
No Limits provides creative arts classes for all kids with special needs. Sessions run for eight weeks and performance opportunities are offered after every session. Current programs include musical theater, tumbling and dance in Yorba Linda and a dance class in Los Alamitos.
nolimitscreativearts.com | Yorba Linda and Los Alamitos