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Best Places To Entertain Grandparents On A Budget In OC

irvine park railroad header
(credit: Irvine Park Railroad)

Grandpa and Grandma want to spend the day with their grandkids, but what can you do that spans two generations and will keep both a 6-year-old and a 76-year-old entertained? Orange County has so many fun places to visit and activities to enjoy, there is no shortage of entertainment for both young and old. Schedule a little generational bonding this weekend!

(credit: Erin Johnson)

Discovery Science Center
2500 North Main St.
Santa Ana, CA 92705
(714) 542-2823

Where else can you find Bob the Builder, Star Wars, Elmo, Dora, Indiana Jones, gingerbread and a Zamboni? Discovery Science Center is fun for young and old alike, with tons of hands-on exhibits, video demonstrations, interactive displays and science illustrations. In addition to the constantly changing temporary and seasonal exhibits, the Discovery Science Center has regular featured exhibits like the new environmentally-themed Eco Challenge, the popular Dino Quest Adventure, Boeing Rocket Lab and the Science of Hockey exhibit where you can sit on a real Zamboni! Discovery Science Center also offers free admission to Santa Ana residents and Bank of America cardholders on special days each month (see museum website for details).

Related: The Best Museum Gift Shops in Orange County

la habra children's museum
(credit: The Children's Museum at La Habra)

The Children's Museum At La Habra
301 S Euclid St.
La Habra, CA 90631
(562) 905-9793

This museum caters to kids with 14 hands-on exhibits and seven galleries, including a science station, theater gallery, historic caboose, mini-market, model train village, O.C.T.A. bus and family art center. In addition to this variety of activities, the museum features an exhibit that changes three times a year. Look for the upcoming exhibits "Swashbuckled!" which runs through May 26 and "Blazin' Buckaroos!" from June 11 to Sept. 8. Target sponsors the first Saturday of every month and admission is free from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., except on special scheduled events and holidays. See museum website for details.

irvine park railroad
(credit: Irvine Park Railroad)

Irvine Regional Park
1 Irvine Park Road
Orange, CA 92869
(714) 997-3968

Irvine Regional Park offers year-round activities and special events to celebrate Easter, Halloween and Christmas. If you are looking for a day out away from the bustle of Orange County, there are hiking trails to walk or grassy fields where you can enjoy playing frisbee or have a picnic. You can event rent horseshoes! You can also relax on a bench while the kids enjoy one of the playgrounds. If you are looking for more entertainment, you can visit the Orange County Zoo or ride the train at the Irvine Park Railroad. How about renting a paddle boat or bike? There are also pony rides for the little ones or horse rentals for the older kids and adults. Old or young, Irvine Regional Park has something for everyone to enjoy.

Jumpstart?s Read for the Record at the LA Public Library
(credit: Charley Gallay/Getty Images)

Orange County Public Libraries

Often, the closest and best entertainment isforgotten! Family story times, puppet shows, crafts, reading programs, classes, talent shows, book clubs, homework help and even movies are all available at your local public library. Most of these programs are free although some are offered for a small fee. In addition to all of the activities and events offered, you can always find a great book to read while you enjoy time together or check a few out to take home. Libraries even offer eBooks for your eReaders that you can reserve or place on hold online! If reading is not your style, you can check out a DVD and watch your favorite movie classic – some are available for a week and there is no charge. Don't underestimate how much fun you can have at your local library – for free!

(credit: Erin Johnson)

Newport Beach Pier
On Balboa Blvd., at Oceanfront and 21st Street.
Newport Beach CA 92663
(949) 644-3000

The Newport Pier area roughly runs from about 18th Street up to 21st Street. You can park on the street for free if you can find a spot. Come people watch, play in the sand, watch the fishermen at work, buy a corn dog, fly a kite or window shop for a bathing suit. Even if it's cold and gloomy, there is plenty to do in Newport Beach. In addition to skating, biking or just walking down the boardwalk, there are shops, restaurants and bars to entice you and your wallet to have some fun. Metered parking is $1 per hour from
6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Related: Best Kids Beaches in OC

Erin Johnson is a freelance writer covering all things Orange County. Her work can be found on


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