Best Day Camp
Camp James — 8 Year Winner
“Camp James have a wide variety of activity choices from stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking, to a ocean playground, go-carts, archery… they have something for everything. It reminds me of old school camps from my childhood. The counselors are great and there are no electronics allowed, so they get exercise and fresh air.”
— Lisa Shulman | www.campjames.com
Best Overnight Camp
Camp Scherman — 4 Year Winner
This Girl Scout Camp near Idyllwild is over 40 years old. Girls experience the great outdoors, with 700 acres of trails, lakes, and wildlife, plus a swimming pool and archery range. Girls also experience the great indoors in the dining hall/recreational center, sleeping cabins, and modern bathrooms.
Best Dance Studio
OC Dance Productions — Debut Winner
At 16 locations in Orange County, the studios offer children and adults all kinds of dance instruction: ballet, tap, musical theater, break dance, hip hop, and more. Twice a year, students have the opportunity to perform a choreographed dance in Disneyland’s parade. Owner Kim Downie says that her instructors love children and dance. She adds, “We want to give children a passion for dance in a positive and noncompetitive environment.”
Best Theatre Class
South Coast Repertory Theatre — 3 Year Winner
“This place has become my second home. The teachers are amazing and I have learned more about acting and myself.
“I met new friends and learned to just be myself and have fun. I also love that in theatre there are no wrong answers and no one can judge you for being you!”
Best Martial Arts Class
Boys and Girls Club of Fountain Valley — 2 Year Winner
Karate classes in Fountain Valley are run by the Boys and Girls Club of Huntington Valley and taught by Akira Fukuda, a 3rd degree black belt and 2-time national champion. Classes are offered 6 days a week for children and adults of all skill levels. Aspiring ninjas will develop better motor skills and self-esteem and learn self-defense.
Best Swim Class
Waterworks Aquatics — 7 Year Winner
7 is a lucky number for Waterworks: It has 7 locations in Orange County, and has been a Readers Choice for 7 consecutive years. Waterworks offers swim classes for all ages, from 3 months old to 103 years old, and promises a money-back guarantee after the first lesson. Waterworks also provides swimming and lifesaving merit badge courses, swim competitions, half-day summer camps, and family swim nights.
Best Gymnastics Class
Team OC — 3 Year Winner
Future Olympians and hobbyists can train in Team OC’s 45,000-square-foot facility in Costa Mesa. Parents can watch the action in theatre-style seating with large plasma screen monitors. And they can surf the Net while doing so, using the facility’s free Wi-Fi
Best Horseback Riding Facility
Country Trails and Riding School at Irvine Regional Park — 8 Year Winner
Lessons are offered to children and adults, beginners and intermediates, and Western and English riders in Irvine Regional Park. Students also learn to care for the horses. The school prides itself on its noncompetitive, community atmosphere.
Heritage Park — 2 Year Winner
The park, in a residential neighborhood in Cerritos, offers a perfect combination of beauty and fun. There’s a duck and turtle pond, a giant statue of Paul Revere, two children’s play areas, a softball diamond, basketball courts, picnic tables, barbeques, a large grassy area, and abundant parking.
Best Skate Park
Vans Skatepark — 11 Year Winner
This indoor skate park in Orange has a huge variety of obstacles for all skill levels, with minimal crowds and maximum fun. It’s relatively inexpensive, clean, and well-kept, with plenty of seating for parents and kids to watch the goings-on. The skate park also offers private lessons, equipment rental, and birthday parties.
Best Skating Rink
The Rinks – Anaheim Ice — 4 Year Winner
Parenting OC readers aren’t the only ones choosing The Rinks-Anaheim Ice. The Anaheim Ducks choose to practice here. There are two rinks at Anaheim Ice, one NHL-sized and one Olympic-sized. The snack bar serves beer and the locker rooms have showers. The rink offers public skating, figure skating and hockey classes, hockey leagues, birthday parties, and a weekly skills clinic just for adults.
Best Indoor Play Place
Pretend City — 4 Year Winner
“We know that kids learn best through play and Pretend City provides children the opportunity to play, explore, learn and discover their full potential.”
— Director of Advancement at Pretend City Children’s Museum | pretendcity.org
“I love taking Vivienne to Pretend City because she gets the chance to run around and play to her heart’s content in a fun and engaging environment. Her favorite exhibit is the Farm where she gets to dig, plant vegetables and pick fruit from the trees. She loves it!”
— Brenda Springer
The Carousel at Irvine Spectrum Center — 8 Year Winner
The carousel is always lovely. In the daytime, watch and ride 32 ornately decorated horses and other animals. In the evening, see the carousel beautifully illuminated by hundreds of white lights. Near the carousel are a big fountain, Barnes and Noble bookstore, and many shops and restaurants.
Best Storytelling Time
Yorba Linda Public Library — 2 Year Winner
Storytime is extra fun here. It’s interactive, with stories, rhymes, puppets, fingerplay, songs, and musical instruments. The library offers separate weekly storytimes for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. At monthly Pajama-Rama storytimes, children of all ages and the librarians meet in their pajamas for storytime and snacks.
“The Staff is so helpful at finding/recommending books and the Summer Challenge is a MUST for every child!”
— Stephanie Delano
Best Birthday Party
Sky Zone Trampoline Park — Debut Winner
Anaheim’s Sky Zone makes parties easy, supplying a private party room, pizza, drinks, ice cream, and birthday cake. Kids can fly high on indoor trampoline courts reserved just for the partygoers, flip into the Foam Zone filled with 10,000 foam cubes, and take dunk shots on SkySlam hoops.
Best Kids Haircut Place
Cool Cutz 4 Kids — 5 Year Winner
How did these 6 Orange County salons make the cut for our readers? Maybe by stocking lots of movies and Xbox games to entertain clients in the beauty chair. Or is it because of the many toys available in the waiting area? Or perhaps the credit goes to the stylists who work with each child’s temperament, special needs, and sensory issues.
“Cool Cutz 4 Kids was great with my 1 year old and his first hair cut. We were in an out in under 15 minutes!”
— Kevin McDonald, Irvine