Irvine Regional Park is one of the most popular recreational destinations in Orange County. Home to the Irvine Park Railroad, the Orange County Zoo, and a pride of roaming peacocks whose sightings delight visitors with their colorful train.
In addition to the plethora of amenities at the 491-acre Irvine Regional Park, you’ll find a full roster of events from the Christmas Train to the annual anniversary celebration.
Here’s a look a look at everything you can explore and enjoy at Irvine Regional Park.
Irvine Park Details
1 Irvine Park Road
Orange, CA 92869
Fall & Winter Hours: 6 am – 6 pm
Spring & Summer Hours: 6 am – 9 pm
Monday – Friday $3
Saturday & Sunday $5
What’s At Irvine Park?
Irvine Park has several over-the top features, but it also has the standard park elements like picnic areas, playgrounds, and sports fields.
Irvine Park Railroad
Irvine Park Railroad is a 1/3 scale train that meanders through the lush park. Train rides run seven days a week with the exception of Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Years Day. Train tickets can be purchased at the depot, where concessions and gifts are also available. Irvine Park Railroad is also the centerpiece to many of the most popular events at the park.
Orange County Zoo
The 8-acre Orange County Zoo is home to a collection of rescued animals including a pair of mountain lion siblings, black bears, a bald eagle, porcupines, and more. There’s also a barnyard petting zoo where kids (and adults) can spend time with the goats, sheep, chickens, and pigs.
Pony Rides & Horse Rentals
Introduce little ones to the world of horses as they trot around the track. Pony rides are open every day except for Monday. Riders must be less than 70 pounds and cannot be over 45 inches tall for walking ponies. For trotting ponies, riders must be under 100 pounds and 54 1/2 inches tall.
For bigger riders, Country Trails and Riding School is open for guided horseback rides, riding lessons, group activities, children’s programs, and more.
Bike & Paddle Boat Rentals
Wheel Fun Rentals is onsite with surreys, double-surreys, tandems, and kids bikes so you can spend the afternoon exploring the paved paths in the park. Note that bike helmets are required for everyone under 18. If a day on the lake is more your style, rent a paddle boat. Rentals before noon are 50% off.
Children’s Garden: This short loop trail near the Irvine Park Railroad Parking lot takes mini-hikers on a short trip through a natural area with native plants and stepping stones.
Equestrian Trails: There is a 4-mile equestrian trail around the perimeter of the park. Parking for equestrian trailers is available, or to rent a horse on site, contact Country Trails & Riding School and book a guided trail ride or lessons in English or Western Riding.
Hiking Trails: Hiking trails are available around the park. For an easy hike, try the 1.5 mile Roadrunner Loop or the Santiago Creek Trail. For something a little tougher, try the 4-mile Lone Pine Ridge Trail. See a park map for all the park trails.
The Irvine Park Nature Center highlights some of the parks history and natural elements with interpretive displays, hands on activities, and a theater for films. Bring in the kids to see the historic displays and maybe fill in a few coloring pages. The nature center is open on weekends.
Irvine Regional Park Events
Celebrate Irvine Park Railroad at the annual Anniversary event. Prices roll back to 1996, $2 per ticket! Families can enjoy a day of panning for gold, carnival games, hay rides, bounce houses, and of course, train rides.
Every Spring, Irvine Park Railroad hosts the Easter Eggstravaganza. Families can meet the Easter Bunny and get their photo taken, participate in an egg hunt, and take part in activities like the egg toss, cookie decorating, and carnival games.
Everyone loves a good pumpkin patch. Irvine park goes all out, with a great pumpkin weigh-off, train rides and hay rides, bounce houses, pumpkin decorating, panning for gold, and more.
One of Orange County’s most popular events of the season, the Christmas Train delights as holiday lights sparkle and families flock to the park for train rides to the North Pole. Kids can get their photos taken with Santa, then travel back through the Tunnel of Lights to Santa’s Village. Purchase tickets to go ice fishing, play carnival games, and create something to take home at the craft corner.
The park hosts an annual kids fishing derby. The free event is for kids only ages 15 and under. Bring out your pole and your favorite bait to fish for trout in the stocked lake. Trophies are given to the kids who catch the biggest fish.
Educational Programs Through the OC Zoo
The OC Zoo hosts a variety of events throughout the year, especially preschool-aged education programs that offer hands on activities, arts and crafts, and meet and greet with local zoo residents.
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Heidi Deal is the author of the Newcomers Handbook to Living In Los Angeles & Orange County, an expert at exploring all that Orange County has to offer, and a children’s book author specializing in history and human rights.