I Heart on the Hunt: Places to Play
Mommies, Daddies, nannies, and pet parents alike are always on the hunt for ways to get the family movin’ and groovin’ outside. But strip away the video games, iPads, and cell phones and what are we left with?!? Well, I’m going to let you in on some not-so-secret spots around (or not far from) Old Towne Orange that are perfect for time spent in the sunshine. Some you’ve all heard of, and some might be new for you. There are so many places to explore, but these are just a few local favorites. Thanks to everyone who contributed photos and suggestions on Facebook!
Hart Park is located at 701 S. Glassell Street in Orange, but has quite a few entrances into the park. It’s a huge park, and although it runs right alongside the busy Glassell Street and the 22 Freeway, separated by a few walls, you tend to forget that aspect of it. There are several baseball fields, a football field, a seasonal community pool, a big jungle gym, tennis courts, a sand volleyball court, and a small amphitheater for summer concerts, not to mention rows of tables and benches for barbecues and parties. Parking is free, and in fact the entire sunken parking lot is open to anyone and everyone. It also gives you easy access to the Santiago Creek bike trail. Part of the trail runs right through the park. This is a very busy, very central park. People from all over Orange and surrounding neighborhoods use this park, so keep an eye on the kids at this one so they don’t get lost.
Pitcher Park is located at 204 S. Cambridge Street in Orange. This park looks teeny tiny but is actually about a half acre of trees and garden landscape. Pitcher Park is home to a few historical sites such as the Honey House and Orange Fire Museum. Unlike your typical park, bike riding, skateboards, roller-blading, and picking fruit are prohibited at Pitcher Park. There’s a reservable gazebo, and open picnic tables. It’s a quiet park tucked into a very residential area of OTO, so it’s a great place for moms to stroll down to with the kids if you’re looking for a destination that’s not to big, and not too far from home. It’s also home to the Annual Orange Persimmon Party.
Eisenhower Park is located at 2864 N. Tustin Ave in Orange. Another huge park, this baby sprawls over 16 acres of grass. As one of the more picturesque parks in Orange, it features shady trees, streams, reservable lawn space for weddings and parties, and even a lake you can fish in. The park also has barbecues, two play structures, and plenty of picnic tables scattered around. Again, this park is pretty big, so keep an eye on the kids so they don’t wander too far. It might be hard to search 16 acres!
Santiago Oaks Regional Park is located at 2145 N. Windes Drive in Orange. So many of you mentioned this place on Facebook that I had to include it, even if it’s not right here in OTO. This is an absolutely stunning park that really takes you away from the hustle and bustle of Orange County. The 1,269-acre Santiago Oaks Regional park is a nature lover’s paradise. This park includes hiking and walking/running trails, trails for equestrians, bike trails, and not to mention some incredible views. Birds, bugs, wilderness…this park has it all. Be aware that a trip to Santiago Oaks might mean you have to prepare a bit more than usual for a day at the park, so bring sunscreen and snacks, and keep an eye out for poison oaks especially during the summer.
Peter’s Canyon Regional Park is located at 8548 E. Canyon View Ave. in Orange. Another place that isn’t necessarily in OTO, but totally worth the short drive, is Peter’s Canyon. This place is all walking and hiking trails, and has some hidden gem views. It’s a place that may be more suited for adults than kids, as there aren’t any play structures, and there are some pretty steep hill climbs, but it’s about as close to a hike as some of us will get here in Orange! There’s a $3 fee to park in the lot, but here’s a sneaky secret, just park in the neighborhoods across the street for free! Hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians will enjoy this park. When it’s a bit less dry, there’s a creek and a small reservoir that fills with water and makes for some nice views.
No list here would be complete without mentioning the Orange Plaza Square…also known as the center of our special little roundabout, where the iconic Santa and Christmas tree are lit during the holiday season, and the fountain sheds red/white/blue light at night, and the American flag waves in the breeze. Picturesque, isn’t it? It’s just the perfect place to sit and watch the kids play while you sip on a cup of coffee from Cafe Lucca or chow down on some ice cream from a la minute. The kids will enjoy putting their hands in the fountain (we won’t tell), while you and your significant other can set up a little picnic in the grass area. Just make sure the kids stay in the park zone. This is in the middle of a very busy roundabout after all, and we don’t want any pets or kids running into the street.