Dana Zepeda

Dana Zepeda

Latest posts by Dana Zepeda

Adventure Playground: Orange County's Park for Free-range Kids

I had been hearing rave reviews about Orange County’s Adventure Playground—the so-called free-range playground—ever since I first moved to the area. The hype around this place makes it sound something like a time machine, throwing back to a day of mud puddles in the vacant lot. I finally loaded two kids, a bag of snacks, extra clothes, and beach towels into my car and headed to Irvine to see what the fuss was all about.

25 Things To Do in Newport Beach and Costa Mesa with Kids

Newport Beach may be synonymous with surf, sun, and sand, but there's plenty more to do in this scenic community beyond lying on the (admittedly inviting) beach. From sports fishing to skate parks and petting zoos, there are countless kid-friendly activities to engage a family in the heart of Newport Beach—plus a wide variety of enriching options in adjoining Costa Mesa as well. And when SoCal's version of winter rolls around, some of the season's most memorable events take place in these two communities, including one of the oldest holiday traditions in the country.

Skypark at Santa's Village: Christmas Spirit Returns to the SoCal Mountains

There's nothing like a winter day in LA, when you can see the snowy mountaintops from the traffic on the Santa Monica Freeway. It makes you want to grab a sled and head for the hills. This season brings back another way to get up there and enjoy the snow: Skypark at Santa's Village in Lake Arrowhead. Christmases may come and go, but Santa's sleigh bells keep on ringing year-round at this 230-acre, holiday-themed amusement park, which recently reopened its doors after nearly 20 years. This year's special holiday celebration kicks off November 9 and keeps jingling the bells until January 7, 2018, much to the delight of kids throughout Southern California

ChocXO Chocolate Tour: Is There a Willy Wonka Factory in Orange County?

The answer to this tantalizing question is yes and no—but mostly yes.

Down the 5 freeway, in a nondescript Orange County strip mall past the Irvine Spectrum, is one of SoCal's best-kept secrets. ChocXO is a bean-to-bar chocolate factory, complete with direct trade cacao beans, organic chocolate, and an on-site retail store that whips up steaming mugs of decadent hot chocolate. But most remarkable of all is that your kids can go behind the scenes and witness for themselves the magic that turns those little beans into the most revered food in their diet. It's the closest thing to Mr. Wonka's factory this side of Hershey.

Kids Free October in San Diego: Zoo, Legoland, Seaworld, and More

The lazy days of summer may be over, but that's no reason to trade adventurous family outings for a never ending cycle of school drop-offs, pick-ups, and algebra homework. Instead, pack up the car and head south during San Diego Tourism Authority's annual Kids Free promotion.

The citywide campaign kicks off October 1, enticing families to visit San Diego's big-ticket attractions like Legoland, San Diego Zoo, San Diego Wildlife Park, and Seaworld. Children can eat, stay, and play for free at more than 100 participating hotels, restaurants, museums, and parks until October 31.

We've selected 10 offers that we think are particularly good deals; put two or three together, and you've definitely got savings worth traveling for. Scroll down for a link to all 100+ free opportunities for kids in October.

Top 10 Reasons Orange County Is the Best Place To Raise Kids

Disneyland may be the Happiest Place on Earth, but it's far from the only reason locals brag about living in Orange County. Great beaches, picturesque parks, and close proximity to the desert and mountains are just a few of the many perks of raising your kids within a stone's throw of Mickey Mouse. That, and the fact that it's not LA. Here are the top 10 reasons why children and parents alike love growing up in The OC.

American Ninja Warrior Kids Learn Parkour at this Freerunning Orange County Gym

If your kid bounces off the walls even after a full day of activities, you might be raising a little ninja warrior, and a candidate for Orange County's hip and hopping gym, Firestorm Freerunning & Acrobatics. This Santa Ana gym is owned and operated by local fitness guru Justin Taylor (who appeared on the reality TV show American Ninja Warrior). It's also a premier training site for parkour, the latest fitness craze to capture the imagination of active kids.

Buccaneer Cove: OC's Pirate-Themed Water Park Cools off Little Kids

Aarrgghh! Beating the heat is no easy feat when SoCal temperatures can rise well into the hundreds. Luckily, little pirates can stay cool all summer long at Buccaneer Cove. This Orange County pirate-themed water park, located just off the 405 freeway in Irvine, is the perfect spot to introduce mini swashbuckling adrenaline junkies to the rush of riding water slides. It's great for younger children, is easy to navigate, and doesn't plunder as much treasure as other water parks–so parents won't feel like walking the plank after paying the entrance fee.

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