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Guide To The Orange County Zoo

OC Zoo header 610x250
(credit: Orange County Parks And Recreation)

Located within Irvine Regional Park, the Orange County Zoo is a local favorite. So, while you can visit the zoo, you can also make a day out of it by enjoying one of the many activities within Irvine Regional Park without overwhelming the family with a total zoo adventure. There are also toddler programs and junior zookeeper events to add to your experience. With Tustin Marketplace just down the road, there are plenty of eating options if you choose not to "do-it-yourself" with a picnic lunch. Read on for an all-inclusive guide to a day at the Orange County Zoo.
Orange County Zoo

Irvine Regional Park
1 Irvine Park Rd
Orange, CA 92869
(714) 973-6847

Kids love the Orange County Zoo. (credit: Erin Johnson)


It's always a great time to visit the Orange County Zoo! Open daily from 10am to 3:30pm, and on the weekends from 10am to 4:30pm, there is an admission fee for just $2 per person ages 3 years and over and under the age of 2 gets in free!

OC Zoo
(credit: Orange County Parks And Recreation)

Zoo Activities

There are special toddler programs at the zoo for little ones ages 3 to 4. The price includes zoo admission for one child participant and one adult. Check the zoo calendar for details on programs like Animals in My Backyard and Feathery Friends. Scout and school programs are also available. The zoo now offers an audio tour on your cell phone narrated by the zoo's animal keepers, curator and veterinarian, among others. Ever wonder where the animals came from or how old the bald eagles are? Discover the answer to these questions and additional interesting animal facts by tuning in at (714) 481-0355. Put it on speaker phone and your little ones can listen in too.

(credit: OC Zoo)

Special Audio Tours

New to the park is their special audio tour. All you need to do is simply dial (714) 481-0355 on your mobile phone to begin the audio tour. Refer to the guide (available at the zoo), and as you enter the animal exhibit number followed by the "#" key, you can listen to fun and interesting information about the zoo's animals. Hear from our animal keepers, veterinarian, education coordinator, curator and manager and learn more about their animals. Discover what the bears get to eat everyday, what the coyotes' names are, how old the bald eagles are, what treats raccoon get, why animals are at the zoo, where they came from, and much more interesting and fun information! The cell phone tour is free and you can even put it on speaker phone for your family or friends to hear!

Smiles abound at the zoo (credit: Erin Johnson)

Animals Galore!

The OC Zoo's focus is on animals and plants that are native to the southwestern United States, so you'll be certain to find many mountain lions, bald eagles, black bears, island foxes, great horned owls, turkey vultures, jacob sheep, pot-bellied pigs, doves and many more animals. The beauty alone of seeing the animals up close will put you in awe. In addition, they are always introducing new animals to the park, so you'll want to make sure to check their website for introductions like new black bears!

Related: Best Zoos and Aquariums In Orange County

OC Zoo eating
(credit: Orange County Parks And Recreation)

Great Food

Irvine Regional Park is a great place for a picnic. With a beautiful lake and peaceful surroundings, picnicking is a wonderful option before or after your visit to the zoo. Bring a blanket and watch the kids play at one of the four fun playgrounds at the park. If you don't feel like packing a lunch, head over to Tustin Marketplace, only 10 minutes from the zoo, where your eating options are endless with restaurants ranging from casual eateries like Chick-fil-A and Taco Bell to finer establishments like OPAH and WaSa Sushi.

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Park Activities

Since the zoo is located in Irvine Regional Park, you will surely want to make a day out of it and ride the train at the locally famous Irvine Park Railroad. Or if you'd rather travel the old-fashioned way, you can take a pony ride (not available on Mondays). If water is your thing, you can rent a paddle boat from Wheel Fun Rentals and cruise the lake while you get some exercise. Wheel Fun also offers bike rentals with cool names like the quad sport, deuce coupe and double surrey. If you're in the mood for walking, there are miles of hiking trails within the park with ratings from easy to difficult. Seasonal activities like the pumpkin patch, Christmas train and Easter Eggstravaganza are always a huge hit with the kids and can make your holiday extra special.

Related:  Cycling Expert's Favorite Rides In OC

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

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