Gathering Family for Fun at Irvine Regional Park in Irvine, CA
After you pass the entrance gate, this park just seems to get bigger and better. Set within Santiago Canyon at the base of the Santa Ana Mountains, but still within city limits, t477-acre Irvine Park serves as a family playground, heritage landmark, and natural wilderness. Large grassy meadows are surrounded by thick groves of black oak, western sycamore, cottonwood, pine and willow trees, giving shade for barbecues. There's even a county zoo here, housing farm animals and wild critters, but what kids really love is riding on the miniature railroad with its steam whistle and clanging bell, ruffling the feathers of the peacocks in its wake. Right through the middle flows the intermittent Santiago Creek, which floods during heavy rainstorms. Watch your picnic gear—the squirrels are quick-footed thieves!