Watch CBS News

Best Unique Holiday Experiences For Kids In OC

santa claus
(credit: Irvine Park Railroad)

Everyone loves a monstrous meal with the family and a hearth trimmed with holiday finery. But, in Orange County, there are more than the mere traditional ways of celebrating. Gather with the group and have your feast of course, but come out into the community and share in some fun kid-friendly festivities. Parades, train rides and even some hands-on, holiday-themed learning await you and the kids this year in OC.

discovery science center FB
Discovery Science Center: Science of Gingerbread
2500 N. Main St.
Santa Ana, CA. 92705
(714) 542-2823
Dates: November 27, 2015 – January 3, 2016

Can't get the kids to help out during the holidays? The "Science of Gingerbread" exhibit at Santa Ana's Discovery Science Center will brighten your children's impression of festive preparations and may even motivate them to pitch in in the kitchen. Discovery Science Center tailors a number of exhibits and events to promote and celebrate family and togetherness. Your kids won't be fooled by that, so there's also a hands and nose-on "Science of Smell" demonstration. Build and race a candy car in the Gingerbread Derby, then create and decorate edible holiday cookies, too.

Naples Boat Parade (

Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade
Newport Landing
309 Palm St.
Newport Beach, CA 92661
(949) 675-0551
Dates: December 16 - 20, 2015

You have either witnessed the Newport Beach Christmas Parade in person, or you wish you had. Touting over 100 years of history and a confirmed one million annual viewers, this is Southern California's "premier Christmas event." If you have ever enjoyed taking the kids out to look at holiday decorations, you are going to flip and rearrange your celebration schedule when you see this. The harbor comes alive with brightly festooned watercraft. The surrounding businesses and residents lend to the spectacle with a spirit and commitment will have you questioning your own dedication. You will never look at your own neighborhood decorations with quite the same enthusiasm.

Irvine Park Railroad Christmas
(credit: Irvine Park Railroad)

Irvine Park Railroad
1 Irvine Park Road
Orange, CA 92869
(714) 997-3968
Dates: November 27th - December 23rd

For the holidays, the Irvine Park Railroad becomes transformed into a Christmas train. The train itself and the surrounding environments take on indelible holiday character, while guests are swept off to the North Pole. Special activities include themed carnival games, food, a bouncy house, story time and a coloring corner and cookie decorating for even the youngest youngsters. The train will depart from the brightly lit train station and drop passengers off at the North Pole, where children can share their wish list with Santa and have their photo taken with him too. After visiting with Santa, hop back on the Irvine Park train and enjoy the beautiful and colorful Christmas lights and decorations, as well as the magical "Tunnel of Lights", on the ride back to Santa's Village.

Related:  Best Train Attractions In Orange County

Christmas Walk Corona Del Mar
(credit: Corona Del Mar Christmas Walk)

37th Annual Corona Del Mar Christmas Walk
3201 E. Pacific Coast Highway
Corona Del Mar, CA 92625
(949) 673-4050
Date: December 6, 2015 from 11am to 4pm

An extraordinary event in a beautiful community, the Corona del Mar Christmas walk is an exceptional incentive to getting the family off the couch. Corona del Mar's business district becomes a haven of entertainment, attractions, vending and goodies on Sunday, December 6, 2015, from 11am to 4pm. Multiple bands at numerous locations surrounded by holiday-themed decorations set the tone for this family-fashioned festival. Spoil the kids with bungee jumping and bouncy houses, a petting zoo, crafts and holiday characters. When you get hungry, follow your nose to the Fireman's Grill for some delicious and savory BBQ. Stay for the performances and raffle prizes and maybe you'll be a winner this holiday season!

turkey trot plymouth rock n run
(credit: Plymouth Rock N Run)

Plymouth Rock N' Run
Yorba Regional Park
7600 E. La Palma Ave.
Anaheim, CA 92807
(714) 779-7803
Date: November 26, 2015

Come out and run with your family for your health and for your community. The Yorba Regional Park is the setting for the county's most family-friendly turkey trot. With flat and fast 5K and 10K courses through the park and along the beautiful Santa Ana River Trail, the family can have fun getting fit together. Rather than admit you can't handle that, enter the little ones in the Kids 1K fun run and cheer them on from the safety of the sidelines. Not simply a race, the Rock N' Run is an event with food, entertainment, prizes and a costume pageant and contest. Proceeds support the Reeve-Irvine Research Center. The run takes place on Thanksgiving morning, Thursday, November 26, 2015. You will want to arrive early for these traditionally popular festivities. More information can be found here.

Related: OC's Best Spots For Family Photos

Christopher Schmidt is a freelance writer experiencing and espousing the glory that is Orange County. Driven to travel, drawn to sports, spirits and celebrity, Chris' work can be found on
View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.