Orange County Great Park is one of the newest, most extensive, and appealing park developments that the county has seen in decades. With features and amenities to accommodate a variety of needs and interests, the Great Park has something for every one, from play areas for toddlers to championship soccer fields, to the Farm + Food Lab where gardeners can work on their green thumb.
The Orange County Great Park is built on the land of the former Marine Corps Air Station El Toro. When it is complete the park will include a 194-acre sports complex, much of which is already open, a 270,000 square-foot ice facility for ice hockey and ice skating (currently under construction), a 188-acre golf course, miles of walking and biking trails, an agriculture area, and so much more. The Great Park is surrounded by new residential communities that include new schools, additional community parks, pools, and specialized community spaces like green houses, gallery spaces, and outdoor amphitheaters. Art classes, gardening workshops, and performances are just a few of the events that take place regularly at the Orange County Great Park. Take a look at all the Great Park has to offer.
Orange County Great Park Features
Farm + Food Lab – The Farm + Food Lab is a two-acre demonstration garden that offers hands on gardening and educational programming for visiting gardeners of all ages. Themed, raised bed planters offer a look at the Spaghetti Garden, the Pizza Garden, and the Fruit Salad Garden, giving a view of how fruits, flowers, vegetables, and herbs are grown and combined to become delicious final products. Visitors will learn about sustainable gardening concepts including vertical gardening, composting, and solar and wind-powered lighting.
Farmers Market and Picnic Area – The farmers market and picnic area is designated for the farmers market held at the Great Park every Sunday.
Festival Site – The Festival Site is a 14-acre space that offers 530,000 square feet of paved event space. The Great Park hosted Cirqu du Soleil here in 2010 and 2013.
Giving Grove – The Giving Grove, located on the end of the park near the Festival Site consists of fruit trees. The harvest from the trees in the Giving Grove are donated to local food banks.
Great Park Balloon – Step aboard the Great Park Balloon and climb 400 feet into the air. The tethered helium balloon is the first of its kind in the United States, and offers 360-degree views up to 40 miles away. The balloon was the first attraction to open at the Great Park and serves as an observation platform for the development of the park, in addition to being a fun attraction for visitors. The visitor’s center is located next to the Great Park Balloon and features a lobby, office space, and restrooms.
Great Park Carousel – Take a spin on the Great Park Carousel. The 38-foot carousel was originally located at Fashion Island in Newport Beach. The hand-painted carousel includes colorful panels that pay homage to the heritage of Orange County.
Kids Rock Playground – The Kids Rock playground is located near the Great Park Visitors Center. The environmentally friendly play area is ideal for toddler and elementary aged kids. Seating areas are made from recycled runway concrete from the former airstrip, illustrated lakes and streams are made from recycled rubber flooring. There are rocks to climb, tunnels to explore, and cloud-like shade structures that provide a cooling mist on warm days.
North Lawn – The North Lawn is a seven acre recreational space for group and family sports activities. The Great Park offers continuously scheduled sports clinics and family sports programs that take place on the North Lawn.
Palm Court Arts Complex – The Palm Court Arts Complex is a gathering space for the community with many great features. There is a shaded outdoor performance plaza, the Great Park Gallery, and Great Park Artist Studios. Historic Hangar 244 is a former squadron complex that has been restored to become a 10,000 square foot event center. Visitors will enjoy events like Yoga and Movies on the Lawn in the Great Park Palm Court Arts Complex.
Reflecting Ponds & Viewing Pier – Near the Marine Way entrance, visitors are welcomed by two reflecting ponds and a 2,200 square foot viewing pier made of redwood. From the reflecting ponds, follow the walkable timeline to connect to the balloon, Palm Court Art Complex and other features of the park.
South Lawn Sports + Fitness Complex – The 30 acre South Lawn Sports + Fitness Complex features four full size basketball courts, four tournament-quality soccer fields, new restrooms and the Kaiser Permanente Thrive Path. The Thrive Path is a one-mile long fitness path that features markers for measuring distance and interpretive signboards offering health and fitness information for users.
Sports Complex – In addition to the amenities on the South Lawn, the Sport’s Complex also features 25 tennis courts, sand volleyball courts, a new children’s play area, and a championship soccer stadium. Come to the visitors center to check out sports equipment like a football, Frisbee, Bocce ball set, and more.
Terraced Lawn – The Terraced Lawn sits between the North Lawn and Palm Court. It serves as an outdoor performance space for events at the Great Park.
Walkable Historical Timeline – The 2,604 foot long historical timeline lines the path that connects the Great Park Balloon and the Reflecting Ponds. The Timeline notes 162 significant events through history from 13,000 BC to 1990. The Great Park offers an online Walkable Historical Timeline Handbook for people interested in learning more about the events, some of which include the development of the Santa Ana Naval Air Station and the development of Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, the Cold War, and the opening of Disneyland.
Orange County Great Park Events
Children’s Garden Workshop – The Children’s Garden Workshop is a free event for children ages 3-9. It takes place once a month on Sunday’s during the Farmer’s Market. Registration is required for this event due to limited space and supplies. Garden workshop activities include planting summer vegetables, making a sunflower house, and making homemade seed pots.
Family Game Day – Come out to the Great Park for Family Game Day. One Saturday per month, the free event offers fun family lawn games, board games, and other activities on the Balloon Lawn.
Farmer’s Market – The Farmer’s Market is held every Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and offers free admission and parking. Visitors to the farmer’s market will enjoy fresh produce from the farms at the Great Park, fresh fruits and vegetables from local vendors, hand made artisan products, live music, food trucks, entertainment, and more. Other special events that sometimes take place at the farmer’s market include car shows, gardening workshops, and health and wellness services.
Garden Workshop – The garden work shop for ages 12 and up happens twice a month during the summer and offers useful gardening tips like what herbs you can use from your garden that are great for barbecuing and safe solutions for garden pest control. This is a free event on select Saturday mornings at the Farm + Food Lab.
Movies On The Lawn – Summer is a great time for movies on the lawn. Food trucks arrive at 6:30 p.m. to provide food and beverages for moviegoers to purchase. The movies begin at dusk. Movies On The Lawn take place on select Fridays and Saturdays.
Park Explorations – One Saturday per month the park explorations mobile cart comes out to different locations within the park offering opportunities to learn with hands on activities and crafts, all free of charge.
Storytime In The Garden – Once a month, kids ages 3 – 8 are invited to meet in the Farm + Food Lab for storytime. The event is free.
Yoga In The Elements – Sign up for this weekly yoga class and enjoy the morning with friends from the community in the grass area near the Palm Court Arts Complex.
Coming Soon to the Orange County Great Park
The Great Park has room to grow and they are adding more every day. Yet to come:
- Baseball stadium, softball stadium, and 10 ball diamonds
- 270,000 square foot community ice facility for ice hockey and ice skating
- Additional trails and open space
- Golf course
- Wildlife corridor and an agricultural area
- A cultural terrace and bosque
Visit the Orange County Great Park online for more information about features and events.
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