Spend a week in Orange County, California

Article courtesy of Ciao Bambino, www.ciaobambino.com, a global guide to family-friendly vacation properties.
Monday:  San Clemente
It’s movie time for moms!  Mommy and Me movies at the Krikorian Theaters, www.kptmovies.com, Mondays at 10 am. 641-B Camino Los Mares.  Early bird pricing:  $7.25 and free for children under 2.   In the summer there are special $1 movies at 10 am and 12:30 pm on a weekday. Check out the website for details.
If you want some fresh air after the movie, head to the San Clemente pier. Head straight through the downtown on Del Mar Avenue and you’ll run into the pier.  The beach is great here and you can watch the surfers or just stroll on the pier.  As you step onto the pier, the restaurant to your right is more casual and to the left a little more upscale.  Both have great views of the ocean and people wait like hawks to get tables.  You can also go to the pizza place directly across the street from the pier and buy by the slice.    Parking is on the street or in the lot.
Tuesday:  Disneyland
Visiting Mickey and Friends is easy entertainment but the trick to Disneyland (www.disneyland.com) is finding a relaxing place to change and feed baby and possibly go on a ride that does not have a 30 minute wait.  Here are some tips.

·       Baby changing and feeding station.   Private cubicles with rocking chairs for nursing/feeding and a separate changing area with toddler-sized toilets.  Enter Disneyland and proceed down Main Street.  Make a right at the last candy shop on your right and half a block on your right you will see the strollers parked.

·       The Many Adventures of Pooh are located in Critter Country.  Fondly called the “Pooh Pots” there is never more than a 5 minute wait and you can go on them again and again.

·       Lunch.  Hungry Bear restaurant is next to the Pooh Pots.  It feels like a retreat from the hustle and bustle of Disneyland.  Food is the same as every other restaurant but it is on the “lake” and you can watch ducks and paddle boats go by as you dine.  Bathrooms below the eating area are large and not busy.
Wednesday: Explore Nature
Earthroots Field School (www.earthrootsfieldschool.org) holds unique “classes” that promote a sense of care, connection and awareness between children and nature.  Classes meet every week at different locations in Orange County including tide pools, farms and wilderness parks. The Toddlers in the Garden class, ages 0 – 3, generally meets Mondays or Wednesdays from 10 am – 12:00 pm. Six or ten-week series.  Drop-in if space permits. General cost depending on series is $20 per class, drop-in $25.  This class gets rave reviews from moms.
Thursday: Laguna Beach
Laguna Beach (www.lagunabeachinfo.org) is a must see on a visit to Southern California.  Great place to walk with a stroller and if you close your eyes you might even feel like you are strolling the streets of a European city.  Parking is challenging in the summer.
·       Main Beach.  Touristy, central beach in the heart of Laguna Beach.  Playground, boardwalk, nice beach with tide pools.

·       Snack.  Gelato Paradiso.  Tucked in the back of a fashionable “alley” of shops.  No seating. There is a popular parking garage right behind them. 448 S Coast Hwy Peppertree Lane, Ste A.

·       Snack. Scandia Bakery.  On a main shopping street.  Some seating. 248 Forest Avenue.

·       Lunch.  Zinc Café.  Great salads, soups and sandwiches.  Outdoor seating but if you need to let the kids run you might want to get something to go and eat at the beach as the tables are close together.
Friday:  San Juan Capistrano
There are several great options here.

·       Mission San Juan Capistrano (www.missionsjc.com). Considered the “Jewel of the California Missions”, this is relaxing for all ages.  Little walkers can chase butterflies, look at the fish in the courtyard or run around.  Beverages and light snacks at book store.  Can be overrun with school children in the morning.  Opens at 8:30 am.  Admission:  $9 adult, under 3 is free.  A family membership is $50 and worth it if you will visit often.  Free parking on street or in parking lot. 26801 Ortega Highway.
·       Learning Link.  Two blocks from the Mission.  A FREE learning resource and kindergarten readiness center for children 0 -5.  This is a drop-in center with story time, daily craft and every imaginable educational toy – kids love this place!  Separate small area for non-walking babies.  Parents are expected to do activities with their children and clean-up.  Learning Link is open when school is in session.  31642 El Camino Real by San Juan Elementary School.  Hours: M, W, Th, F:  9 am – 3 pm and Tuesdays 9 am – 1 pm. Phone:  (949) 496-5198. Free.
Saturday:  Dana Point Harbor
Take a relaxing walk around the harbor (www.danapointharbor.com). Stroller friendly.  Lots of outdoor, family-friendly restaurants.  Mother’s Beach is at the northern end of the harbor and has a decent beach for small children.  Free 4 hour parking.  Dolphin and whale watching cruises as well at the Catalina Island ferry leave from the harbor.
Sunday: Irvine Sip and Stroll
When you don’t have anything planned but want to get out of the house, The Irvine Spectrum (www.shopirvinespectrumcenter.com) is an easy fix.  It is an outdoor mall that is relaxing to stroll with the kids and has many dining, shopping and entertainment options.  Kids can run around or for more fun there is a carousel, Ferris wheel, train (Friday – Sunday only) and bubbling fountains (one by food court and movie theaters and a second one between Target and H&M stores). Open at 10 am every day.