Best Day Camp for Nature Lovers
Environmental Nature Center
This is the Environmental Nature Center’s third year topping the readers’ poll, but ENC’s nature camps have been around since 1977. Campers receive a “quality science education in an outdoor, hands-on setting.” Summer Little Naturalist Camp is for children ages 3 to 5, while Summer Nature Adventure Camp is for kids enrolled in kindergarten to third grade. Fourth- to eighth-graders can enjoy Summer Science Explorer Camp. Camp programs are also offered during winter and spring break.
encenter.org | Newport Beach
Best Traditional Day Camp
For more than 30 years, Camp James has been a place where kids ages 4 to 11 can explore the joys of nature by kayaking, interacting with wildlife and swimming in the Pacific. Campers can take a dip in the camp swimming pool or the ocean lagoon or participate in several activities like archery, martial arts, arts and crafts, laser tag, rock climbing and more. The camp has now topped our readers’ poll for the 12th time.
campjames.com | Newport Beach
Best School-Based Day Camp
Fairmont Summer Camp Programs
Fairmont Summer Camp Programs are designed to “inspire young minds with adventure and academic preparation.” With four locations to serve Orange County, the summer programs are open to non-school year students too.
fairmontsummerprograms.com | Multiple Locations
Best Overnight Camp for Island Adventure
Ocean Institute’s Catalina Island Bound Camp
Adventure awaits on the Spirit of Dana Point. The historic 118-foot schooner sets sail for Catalina Island with campers at the helm alongside a professional sailing crew. The ship moors at Two Harbors where campers go ashore for hiking, kayaking and snorkeling.
ocean-institute.org | Dana Point
Best Ranch Camp
Jameson Ranch Camp
Located in the majestic southern Sierras, this two-week program is open to children ages 6 to 16. Outdoor activities include horseback riding, rock climbing, fishing and swimming. Campers learn about teamwork and community on this working ranch while also participating in events like the Talent Show and Friday Night Barn Dance.
jamesonranchcamp.com | Glennville, Calif.
Best Overnight Camp for Girls
Camp Scherman/Girl Scouts
Girls learn to problem solve, practice independence and make new pals at this popular overnight camp. Campers can choose from different sessions to explore her artsy side, build her outdoor science skills, horseback ride or cook. This is the ninth time it’s been voted the Best Overnight Camp for Girls.
girlscoutsoc.org | Mountain Center, Calif.
Best Tech Camp
Digital Media Academy
Launched by tech educators on the campus of Stanford University, Digital Media Academy is the best place for the creative, tech-savvy kids in your family. Course topics include coding and programming, 3D modeling and design, game design and development, robotics and engineering. There are also programs centered around film, photography and music production. Consider this your student’s first step toward becoming tomorrow’s designers, developers, programmers, engineers, animators, musicians, filmmakers and creators.
digitalmediaacademy.org | Multiple Locations
Best Science Camp
Calling all aspiring scientists! Bionerds welcomes children from kindergarten through eighth grade for fun and hands-on biology activities. There are after-school programs, camp programs and parties. Little biology buffs will learn laboratory safety, enjoy guest speakers and explore a multitude of biology topics like bioengineering, dinosaurs and forensic science.
bionerdsllc.com | Multiple Locations
Best Educational Camp
Galileo is dedicated to creating tomorrow’s innovators and problem-solvers by offering a multitude of themes and majors for groups ages pre-K to fifth grade and fifth grade to eighth grade. Students can choose from a Renaissance Adventure or a Makers Workshop to 3D Model and Printing or Chefology.
galileo-camps.com | Multiple Locations
Best Indoor Sports Center
Ladera Sports Center
This high-tech and eco-minded sports and multi-use facility serves more than 750,000 visitors annually, playing host to numerous special events. Among them are week-long tournament the Adidas Gauntlet Series Summer Championships and the Klay Thompson Youth Basketball Camp, in which athletes participated in a three-day camp with elite coaches and trainers. But there are many others hosted here, including the Olympica Gymnastics Pacific Classic and Elite Euro Talent NCAA Basketball Showcase, as well as groups such as the Southern California Volleyball Association. The facility is also LEED Certified, and is equipped with solar panels, energy-efficient lighting and low-water fixtures. 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.
laderasc.com | Ladera Ranch
Best Baseball Camp
James Lowe, often referred to as Coach Ballgame, helps kids fall in love with baseball by emphasizing a core philosophy. “What A Ballplayer Does” is a mantra (and a hashtag) that aids in cultivating personal integrity and sportsmanship in players. His lessons place a strong emphasis on teamwork and helping kids develop field skills.
coachballgame.com | Multiple Locations
Best Soccer Camp
LA Galaxy Orange County
LA Galaxy Orange County (LAGOC) is committed to nurturing talented soccer players. They are the official Alliance Club of MLS’s most successful franchise. Based in Irvine, LAGOC operates male and female teams from U8 to U18 with expert coaching. This is the third time LAGOC earned the title of Best Soccer Camp.
lagalaxyoc.com | Irvine
Best Surf Camp
It doesn’t matter if your little surfer is a novice or a seasoned pro, Newport Beach surf camp offers instruction for all levels. The camp is permitted through the city of Newport Beach and located in between the 28th and 32nd street jetties. Instructors cover all aspects of surfing, from the history of the sport to water safety. Half-day and full-day camps are available and soft surfboards, wetsuits and leashes are all provided.
newportsurfcamp.com | Newport Beach
Best Special Needs Camp/Activity
School of Dance and Music for Children with Disabilities at Segerstrom Center for the Arts
The School of Dance and Music for Children with Disabilities’ mission is to “create a space for children of all abilities to explore their full physical, social and creative potential through high-quality, joyful dance and music instruction.” Children will gain confidence, build their imagination and foster a sense of health and well-being through all-inclusive classes for children with disabilities as well as children that are developmentally typical.
scfta.org | Costa Mesa
Best Theater Class
South Coast Repertory Theater
Tony Award-winning South Coast Repertory hosts a fun-filled theater camp open to kids and teens. Students get instruction in voice, movement, character development and more — all led by SCR’s staff of theater professionals. This is the sixth year South Coast Repertory has been bestowed with the title of Best Theater Class.
scr.org | Costa Mesa
Best Martial Arts Studio with Multiple Locations
United Studios of Self Defense
With 22 locations in Orange County and more than 70 locations nationwide, the self-defense studios offer lessons to children 3 and up and into adulthood in the unique Kempo martial arts style. The style incorporates comprehensive techniques, including wrestling, boxing and grappling as well as martial arts methods. The studios offer both personal and group instruction. In private training, the student trains with a sensei for 30 minutes once a week. Under the Group Class Program, students train alongside other students in all skill levels for 30 to 60 minutes each week. According to United Studios, it is the only organization in the United States to have a personal relationship with the Shaolin Temple, the birthplace of all modern martial arts and the blessing to teach Shaolin Kempo Karate throughout all of its schools.
ussd.com | Multiple Locations
Best Martial Arts Class
Team Kwon Tae Kwon Do
Once again Team Kwon Tae Kwon Do claims the title for Best Martial Arts. Their programs, lead by talented World Tae Kwon Do Federation Certified instructors will teach your child about setting goals, gaining strength and building character. They also offer special themed camps during summer break and even host private birthday parties.
teamkwon.com | Brea
Best Swim Class
Waterworks Aquatics helps children improve their swimming skills quickly and safely using a specialized muscle memory technique and rollover breathing method. Professional swim instructors work with kids in pools that are heated all year round. Private, semi-private and Parent & Me classes are available at their multiple locations in Orange County.
waterworksswim.com | Multiple Locations
Best Competitive Gymnastics Class
Wildfire offers gymnastics instruction for children 18 months to 18 years old at both recreational and competitive levels. The rigorous programs at Wildfire consistently produce state, regional and national champions. With two state-of-the-art facilities to serve your family and dedicated and experienced instructors, Wildfire raises the bar.
wildfiregymnastics.com | Tustin, Lake Forest
Best Competitive Dance Studio
OC Dance Productions
OC Dance Productions offers unique programs that go beyond the traditional world of dance. Besides jazz, tap and ballet they also offer Dance the Magic at Disneyland that teaches students parade choreography and technique to dance in the theme parks. Other classes include Parent & Me and musical theater — all of which include the Kid University program, incorporating kindness, compassion and personal growth.
ocdanceproductions.com | Multiple Locations
Best Dance Studio for Tots
This family-owned studio is built on the foundation that “all children should feel free to experience the joy of dance in a fun and nurturing environment.” Dance classes start at two years old and the first class is always free. Summer camps, birthday parties and competitive dance programs are also available.
freckledfrogdancestudio.com | Placentia, Buena Park, Tustin
Best Kids Yoga Studio
Little Peeps Mobile Yoga
This mobile kids yoga and academic enrichment company specializes in hosting play-based yoga. Classes are interactive and educational, with modifications that make flows appropriate for all age groups. Storytime Yoga, Birthday Parties and Mommy & Me classes are also available.
littlepeepsyoga.com | Multiple Locations
Best Skating Rink
The Rinks Anaheim Ice
Anaheim Ice, voted Orange County’s Best Skating Rink for the eighth time, is open to guests of all ages during daily public skating sessions. New skaters can opt for skate mates for a little extra assistance on NHL and Olympic-sized ice surfaces. Youth hockey, adult hockey, figure skating academy and even birthday parties are available too. Visit the Crossbar Restaurant & Canteen for beer and bites with a great view of the rink.
anaheimice.therinks.com | Anaheim
Best Indoor Skate Park
The 20,000-square-foot obstacle course make Vans Skatepark Orange County’s best indoor skate park for the 15th year. Ramps of varying difficulty and a warm-up course for beginners make this park perfect for little ones (above the age of six) and big kids too.
vans.com | Huntington Beach
Best Outdoor Skate Park
Etnies Skate Park
Etnies has the distinction of being the largest free skate park in California and the best outdoor skate park for the fifth year. There is 40,000 square feet of skating space, with three skating bowls, two large flow courses and a world-class street course. Lessons for skaters of all levels are hosted here along with skate camp programs and skate party packages too.
etniesskatepark.com | Lake Forest
Best Community Skate Park
Costa Mesa Skate Park
Costa Mesa Skate Park is 24,000-square-feet of fun. Besides street elements, like boxes, squares and rails, the park also has two bowls. A Vert Bowl with a V construction and a large bowl with varying depths. There is also a mini peanut bowl and a smaller peanut bowl with a roll-in section and easy transitions.
costamesaca.gov | Costa Mesa
Best Horseback Riding Facility
Irvine Regional Park’s Country Trails and Riding School
Irvine Regional Park’s Country Trails and Riding School is home to nearly 30 seasoned lesson and trail horses. And those horses are happy to take you and your family on guided trail rides or riding lessons. This is the 14th time Parenting OC readers have named it best riding facility.
ctriding.com | Orange
For the sixth year in a row, Heritage Park earns the title of Best Playground. With multiple playgrounds, a splash pad, onsite barbecues and 20 picnic tables on over 35 acres, it is pretty easy to see why. There is also a lovely duck pond and baseball and soccer fields are available for reservation.
cityofirvine.org | Irvine
Best Indoor Play Place
Children’s museum, Pretend City, is an engaging experience. Interactive exhibits allow kids to apply foundational math, reading and science skills in practical real-world settings. 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 seventh time Pretend City has been named Orange County’s Best Indoor Play Space.
pretendcity.org | Irvine
Disneyland’s King Arthur
Located in Fantasyland inside Disneyland Park, King Arthur’s Carousel is one of Disneyland’s original opening day attractions. Handcrafted by the Dentzel Carousel Company, it originally contained other animals like giraffes and deer as well as horses. But additional antique horses were incorporated when the carousel made its way to Anaheim.
disneyland.disney.go.com | Anaheim
Best Storytelling Time
Yorba Linda Public Library
Fantastic Family Storytime is open to all ages at the Yorba Linda Public Library and usually takes place on Saturday mornings. Tales, songs and interactive play help foster a life-long love of reading for children, which is part of Yorba Linda Public Library’s goal. This is the fourth time the library has earned the title.
ylpl.org | Yorba Linda
Best Birthday Party Place
Big Air Trampoline Park
Big Air Trampoline Park has been the favorite for birthday boys and girls for five years running — or should we say bouncing? There are two locations to serve you and various birthday party packages, with most including pizza and drinks, socks for guests, and at least an hour of jumping time. And Big Air is now serving Dole Whip, the popular pineapple soft serve you thought you could only get at Disneyland.
bigairusa.com | Laguna Hills and Buena Park
Best Kids Haircut
Cool Cutz 4 Kids
Cool Cuts 4 Kids is a salon where fun is always in style. Little clients have a selection of movies and Xbox games to choose from while they get cut or styled. Stylists are always gentle and often give kids an opportunity to accessorize their new hairdos before heading home. This is the ninth year Cool Cuts 4 Kids has been voted Orange County’s best kids hair salon.
coolcuts4kids.com | Multiple Locations
Splash! La Mirada Regional Aquatics Center
Splash! is home to Buccaneer Bay, which combines the excitement of a waterpark with a pirate theme. Buccaneer Bay features a flowing river channel, three water slides, a children’s interactive play structure, zero-depth beach entry and two spray pad areas. Year-round programs include Lap Swim, Rec Swim, swim lessons for all ages and abilities, swim and water polo teams, special events, and more.
splashlamirada.com | La Mirada
Leave a Reply