Best Family Beach and Family Hiking Trail
Crystal Cove State Park
The secluded, protected and usually uncrowded three-and-a-half-mile cove offers a tranquil day at the beach for families, especially those with small children. Now in its seventh year on the readers’ list with 31 percent of the vote.
crystalcovestatepark.org | Newport Beach/Laguna Beach
Best Park and Kids Bike Trails
Irvine Regional Park
Beneath the Oak and Sycamore is the nearly 500-acre park. Picnic areas, sports fields, miles of hiking and equestrian trails, a lake and Santiago Creek are all available to families, along with the Orange County Zoo and the Irvine Park Railroad. With nearly 60 percent of the vote, the popular park secured its 12th year on the reader’s list.
ocparks.com/parks/irvine | Orange
Best Community Pool
La Mirada Splash!
Learning to swim, swimming for fitness or just for fun is on order all-year round. The 50-meter, 16-lane competition pool is available for lessons, while three waterslides, a “lazy river” to float in and play pools make the facility perfect for picnics and parties. In its fifth year on the readers’ list, it earned 37 percent of the vote.
splashlamirada.com | La Mirada
Best Historical Site
Mission San Juan Capistrano
Known most famously for the swallows that return each spring, the mission is a treasure trove of historical and religious value. Educational programs allow kids to explore the 242-year-old mission through history, geology or anthropology. The mission continues to make history by topping the readers’ list for the 12th year.
missionsjc.com | San Juan Capistrano
A kid’s birthday party or just a family hang out can happen any day or night of the week at the spot that features an arcade, bar and grill, billiard tables and big screen TVs as well as plenty of lanes for limitless bowling. Concourse topped our readers’ list for the second time with 40 percent of the vote.
concoursebowling.com | Anaheim
Best Family Fun Center
With locations in Irvine and Fountain Valley, families never have to travel far for a whole day of miniature golf, go karts, rides, climbing walls, batting cages and arcade games. Nearly half of readers put this number one on the list for the 11th year.
boomersparks.com | Fountain Valley and Irvine
One reader said of the annual summer fair, “There is so much fun to be had by all, this is an event we never miss.” A mixture of rides, food, exhibits and concerts keep the fair very popular with 77 percent of readers putting it on top for the 14th year.
ocfair.com | Costa Mesa
Best Theme Park
Since 1955, it’s been the most famous theme park in the world, and with fireworks and shows every night and new attractions like the Pixar Short Film Festival and the Guardians of the Galaxy—Mission: Breakout ride, it tops the readers’ list for the 15th year with 64 percent of the vote.
disneyland.disney.go.com | Anaheim
Best Theme Park for Tots
Legoland tops the readers’ list in this category for the third year for its toddler-friendly attractions Playtown, Dig for Dinos sand box, the Lego Life Zone, Legoland Express, Heartlake Fountain, Fairytale Brook, and kids can take a trip from the Arctic to the desert to the rainforest at the Adventurer’s Club.
legoland.com/california | Carlsbad
Best Park for Thrill Ride
Knott’s Berry Farm
If your family needs their hearts pumping faster, latest Knott’s ride, Hangtime, will do the trick, along with Silver Bullet, Ghost Rider and several others. “You can enjoy Soak City in the morning and go hit some of the best rides in the afternoon, without all the long lines,” said one reader.
knotts.com | Buena Park
Editors’ Choice – Best Theme Park Attraction
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood
This theme park attraction brings the world of Harry Potter to life with magic, mischief and heroics. From Hogwarts castle to the shops of Hogsmeade, adults and children alike will succumb to the wizardry of a mystical land.
universalstudioshollywood.com | Hollywood
Best Performing Arts Center
Segerstrom Center for the Arts
SCFTA, topping the list for the sixth year, consistently draws world-class talent to the stage, from ballet and modern dance to orchestral, jazz and contemporary music. Plays and Tony Award-winning musicals too. Upcoming events include the Carole King musical Beautiful, Diana Krall in concert and the Pacific Symphony’s performance of Handel’s Messiah.
scfta.org | Costa Mesa
Best Place To Catch Your First Fish
Dana Wharf Sportfishing & Whale Watching
Nothing beats a morning out on the water, and half-day fishing trips as well as twilight fishing trips can be booked every day. Kids-fish-free trips run every Sunday but sell out quickly—as do the half-day trips, so plan in advance. In its third year topping the list, it earned 44 percent of the vote.
danawharf.com | Dana Point
Editors’ Choice – Family Shopping & Entertainment Center
Irvine Spectrum Center
Irvine Company has completed a $200-million reinvestment in this shopping, dining and lifestyle destination. Expect an elevated retail experience with new store openings, extensive outdoor renovations and enhanced restaurant and entertainment options continuing through 2019. Guests can enjoy a wide array of new and enhanced outdoor spaces and amenities, including courtyards and rolling lawns, beautiful trees, lush landscaping and comfortable seating areas.
shopirvinespectrumcenter.com | Irvine
Best Dog Beach/Park
Huntington Beach Dog Beach
Beach days with your family AND your best friend are extra special and the designated stretch north of the pier, with public restrooms and grassy picnic areas, earned its first spot at the top of the readers’ list with nearly 60 percent of the vote.
dogbeach.org | Huntington Beach
Best Place to See Sea Creatures
Aquarium of the Pacific
Celebrating its 20th anniversary, its latest exhibit, Tentacles and Ink, as well as new sea lion, Cain, and a baby harbor seal born in April are just a few reasons for a visit. “The kids just love the touch exhibits where you can touch starfish, sea anemones, stingrays and even sharks,” said one reader. It earned a whopping 85 percent of the vote.
aquariumofpacific.org | Long Beach
San Diego Zoo
Daily Animal Encounters include zoo keepers talking about lions, Tasmanian devils, lemurs, rhinos, baboons and insects. On your own, you can discover everything from Arctic foxes to zebras. Some animals you can even meet up close with the Animals in Action Experience.
sandiegozoo.org | San Diego
Best Zoo for Tots
Santa Ana Zoo
Primates abound at the Santa Ana Zoo, allowing kids to get a good look at their closest relatives in the animal world. Focused on Central and South American animals, the family-friendly 20-acre zoo—which has topped the readers’ list for 10 years—still has room for a family farm setting where kids can feed sheep and goats.
santaanazoo.org | Santa Ana
Editors’ Choice – Best Animal Education Park/Zoo
San Diego Zoo Safari Park
Run by the nonprofit San Diego Zoo Global, which is committed to animal species conservation, this park is a unique experience for parents wishing to share with their kids the wonders of wild animals in a more natural habitat. The park’s newest attraction, Walkabout Australia, where guests can get up-close-and-personal to kangaroos and wallabies, really is like no other.
sdzsafaripark.org | Escondido
Best Science Museum
The popular kid’s museum, which earned nearly 60 percent of the vote in its second year topping the readers’ list, includes a planetary research station, where kids can learn about weather and earthquakes, take a virtual helicopter flight over Orange County, make healthy meals at the Petersonville Healthy Kitchen and get in the rink with the Anaheim Ducks.
oc.discoverycube.org | Santa Ana