At the edge of the suburb, at the northern terminus of Jamboree Road, one of Orange County’s most recognized and traveled routes, is nearly 500 acres of open space where hawks and even the occasional bald eagle soar through the skies. Soars, wildlife roam the rolling landscape and centuries-old oaks tower above visitors.
But at the same time, the 1/3-scale train moves along a large loop of tracks, with riders smiling and pointing around; Laughing couple trying to pedal across a lake; And the children point to the bear resting in the shade and the pet barn.
California’s first county park in Orange, Irvine Regional Park, is turning 125 this year. For decades it has been a place to escape to nature and entertain a family with a day of activities.
RELATED: Irvine Regional Park, OC Gems turn 125 this year
Part of the OC Park system, didn’t realize the gem that’s here in the middle of Orange County? Here is a list of 10 fun things to do in Irvine Regional Park:
Paddle-boat fare: Self-propelled boats are available to get out on the water and cruise among the ducks on the park’s small lake. Rent them at the historic Boathouse, which was built in 1914.
Fisheries: On any given day, visitors fish from the shores of the park’s two ponds that were built in 1913. A paved road encloses part of the ponds, making them easy to access. The backdrop of tall trees and the age-old boathouse create a picturesque sight. Casting your line for that big catch requires a California fishing license.
horse trail and pony ride: There is a corral pony ride for kids adjacent to the train station just inside the park entrance.
The park also has contract operators who offer horse rentals, guided equestrian tours and lessons, and has an area for horse-trailer parking, a water pool and a three-mile equestrian trail for riders who run through the park. and offers views of the surrounding hills.
OC Zoo: The zoo, which has a modest $2 admission, is a short walk from the park’s boathouse. A black bear, jaguar and mountain lion are among the zoo’s few large animals and an assortment of birds and small animals native to the southwestern United States. Regular educational activities are planned for the kids at the zoo and a fun holiday activity is watching the animals unwrap the presents of their presents.
train ride: The Irvine Park Railroad offers a 10-minute ride on a 1/3-scale train that takes visitors through the lake, historic boathouses, and hundreds of year-old sycamore and oak trees. It is known for its holiday-themed events.
Wildlife Watching: Some of the most easily seen animals in the park are squirrels, rabbits, and lizards. However, with a bit of persistence, patience, and some luck, coyotes, deer and bobcats can be spotted in the park’s vast natural areas either sooner or later in the day.
Bird Watching/Photography: A wide variety of birds can be easily seen and photographed in all parts of the park. They include: hummingbirds, bluebirds, herons, herons, acorn woodpeckers and many others.
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Often, noisy and colorful red-crowned parrots are heard sitting in the branches of sycamore trees. Various birds of prey are often heard and usually seen flying or sitting in trees. They include: red-shouldered hawks, red-tailed hawks, owls, American kestrels, white-tailed kites, and even the occasional bald eagle.
hiking trails: There are paved, flat, walking trails that allow visitors to explore more developed areas of the park, as well as half a dozen hiking trails that branch into its hills for views of the surrounding mountains and valleys . They also connect with a network of trails to neighboring Santiago Oaks Regional Park and beyond. Stop by the park’s nature center with its historic exhibition hall and nature movies.
Picnic: From the mid-1800s, the area was known as a picnic ground and was a gathering place for holiday celebrations. The tradition continues today with picnic tables and grills scattered throughout the park among historic oak and sycamore trees. Weekends are popular for birthday parts and other celebrations. There are several playgrounds and ball fields.
Cycling and mountain biking: Walking and hiking trails can be used for cycling as well as the roads running through the park. Whether it’s a kid just learning to ride a tricycle, someone who wants a more leisurely cruise through the woods, or a seasoned rider looking for a challenging trek through the hills on the park’s miles of trails There’s something for all ages and levels of riders
if you go:
When: The park is open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. during the spring and summer, closing earlier at 6 p.m. during the winter months.
Where: 1 Irvine Park Road, Orange; Find the park entrance to Jamboree Road just north of Chapman Avenue near Santiago Canyon College
Cost: Parking is $3 per vehicle on weekdays and $5 per vehicle on weekends, some holidays higher; Rent and some activities have their own cost; OC Zoo $2 per person 3 and older