Yikes! Ball game, ski lift and theme park ticket prices are shooting up faster than a Space Mountain rocket.
Save some green and have a blast with these Top 10 Kidsguide Faves for $10 or Less. Drop a Hamilton and get going…
1. Nature Centers
For the measly price of your parking fee, you and your kids can spend the afternoon romping through urban meadows, inspecting weird bugs and floating leaf-boats down lazy streams. (Hey, is that an egret?!) Check out our list of local Nature Centers and visit a little wilderness in your own backyard.
2. Nature Hikes
For your very own nature guide, join one of the free nature hikes you’ll find on the Kidsguide Calendar. Next up is a trek through Caspers Wilderness Park this Sunday, March 12, from 8-9:15 a.m. where a ranger will lead you through the beautiful Bell Canyon. Meet up at the Old Corral Day Use Area; parking’s just $5.
3. Great Park Balloon Rides
Thursday – Sunday: The Great Park’s tethered, 118-foot-high, helium-filled balloon lets you and your kids soar 400 feet in the air for a bird’s eye view of Orange County. And don’t miss the two-minute carousel ride nearby, which tops out at 4.5 miles per hour. Balloon rides: Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. and 7-10 p.m.; and Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. and 7-10 p.m. Adults $10; kids ages 12-18 without a paid accompanying adult, $5; kids ages 18 and younger with an adult, free. Carousel rides: Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.; and Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. – 10 p.m. All-day pass, $3; single ride, $2. Family & Friends Pass, $20 for 10 all-day passes. Riders under 42″ must be accompanied by an adult. Check in at the visitors’ center.
4. Take a Kid Mountain Biking in Trabuco Canyon
March 11: OC Parks and SHARE Mountain Bike Club invite you and your kids to enjoy a day of mountain biking at O’Neill Regional Park. With miles of mountain biking trails available at the park, kids are encouraged to practice new skills while learning important mountain bike safety. Bring own bike and a helmet, and choose from beginner, intermediate or big kids’ rides. Children must be accompanied by an adult at all times, including on the rides. There will be skill stations set up, bike and helmet safety checks and trail advice provided. Stampede Bikes will also be on-site with demo bikes even the smallest riders can try. You’ll also get a peek at exciting plans for the new Craig Regional Park Bike Facility. Saturday, 8:30-11 a.m. Free; parking, $5.
30892 Trabuco Canyon Road, Trabuco Canyon
5. Free Crafts at Crafted at the Port
Friday – Sunday: At this permanent craft marketplace inside classic World War II-era waterside warehouses, you can browse through hundreds of individual craft-artists, designers and artisanal food makers, plus creation stations, printmaking workshops, daily demonstrations, live music, special events and food trucks. Visit their website for details of upcoming creation stations and printmaking workshops, including a DIY Felt Cactus Pin Cushion craft this weekend. Friday-Sunday, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. Admission and parking, free.
6. CSULB American Indian Pow Wow
March 11-12: Celebrate Native American culture with the 46th annual CSULB Pow Wow, with dancing, arts and crafts and traditional foods, such as mutton and beef stew, Navajo tacos, fry bread and Indian burgers. Saturday, 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. Free admission.
Cal State Long Beach
7. Library Fun
Shhhhhhhh, here’s a secret. Books aren’t the only bright spots at your local library. Any day of the week you can check out the Orange County Public Library web site for a calendar of story times, crafts, homework help and family-friendly events across the county. They’re all kid- and teen-friendly, and they’re all free. Check Los Angeles County, too!
8. Tidepool Walks at Cabrillo Marine Aquarium
March 11, 12, 25, 26, April 8, 9, 22, 23, May 6 and 21: Slip on your sneakers and join CMA’s Educators on a tour of the Point Fermin tidepools. Attend an informative slide show in the John M. Olguin Auditorium, then come along on the naturalist-led ramble on the rocks to see animals in their natural habitat. Outdoor clothing and sneakers advised. Young children must be accompanied by an adult. Free.
3720 Stephen M. White Drive, San Pedro
9. Dance Sundays with Debbie Allen
Second Sundays: Want to take a whirl with a celebrity? Dancers and families of all ages can enjoy free dance lessons with three-time Emmy Award-winner Debbie Allen and Friends every second Sunday on the Promenade Terrace. Free and open to the public, each session will focus on one style of dance, listed below. Second Sundays, noon – 1:45 p.m. Free. The Wallis.
March 12: Tango on the Terrace (bring a partner!)
April 9: Salsa Sunday
May 14: Salsa Sunday
June 11: African Dance, with live drummers
July 9: Salsa Sunday
August 13: Break the Floor Hip Hop
9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills
10. Babychella in Irvine
Tickets to Coachella could set you back up to $3,400 for a VIP package and teepee camping. But Babychella’s absolutely free! This annual outdoor family music and arts festival celebrates expectant mamas, babies and children of all ages, with interactive booths offering story time, face painting, mommy and me yoga, theme photos, bubbles and arts and crafts. The main stage showcases musicians performing children’s favorite sing-along songs. Sunday, noon – 4 p.m. Free admission. Bring blanket and lawn chairs to enjoy the park. Food trucks, restrooms, changing area and breastfeeding area available.
Mason Regional Park, 18712 University Drive, Irvine