Category Archives: Outings - Grandparent Autism Network

Things to Do In and Near Orange County, CA

Whether you reside in or near Orange County, California or plan to visit the area, there are a number of inexpensive things to do and places to visit with grandchildren.  Some similar types of attractions may also be available in other communities.  Check online for hours of operation, admission fees, discount coupons or free admission days:

Visit your local library to check out books and see what activities are scheduled there and in your community.

Irvine Park has a train ride (“child free with adult” coupon has been online) and a pony ride.  It also has a lake nearby  nearby with paddle boats and a little zoo.

The Santa Ana Zoo is small and easy to navigate with small children.

The Ocean Institute in Dana Point Harbor has educational exhibits, boat excursions from a pirate ship and tide pools with hands-on learning opportunities.

Adventure City is a tiny amusement park (Beach Blvd south of Knott’s Berry Farm) 714/ 236-9300.  Admission includes unlimited rides, free parking. Call ahead for current pricing, hours, etc.

Bowers Museum is located on Main Street in Santa Ana and one block south there is a “Kidseum.” Admission is included with the Bowers ticket.  Kids can have fun on their own, dress up, play drums and lounge under a silky tent.  It has a craft room and a project to do!  There are wonderful books and at the Kidseum desk you can get special loaners– like Russian nesting doll sets, to play with carefully, accompanied by a book that tells the story.

On Balboa Island, visit the Fun Zone and ride the Balboa Ferry.  You can rent a fishing boat behind the Pavilion to travel around the Bay.

Little Corona beach located at the end of Poppy  Street has tide pools  gentle surf, rock formations and alcoves to explore.

Take an Amtrak train ride from Santa Ana station to San Juan Capistrano to visit the mission.

Pretend City in Irvine has hands-on learning experiences.  Check the calendar online for events and hours.

In Long Beach, visit the Aquarium of the Pacfic.   There are special exhibits and events throughout the year.

Sherman Library and Gardens in Corona del Mar has 2.2 acres of plants, gardens and walkways.  They provide free Storytime and garden activities at scheduled times for children.  Check their website for a calendar of events.

Rancho Santa Margarita has a lake with good dining and great walking. As you walk around the lake there are exercising stations with instructions.


Going to A National Park? Get a Free, Lifetime Pass…

A free, lifetime pass – available to U.S. citizens or permanent residents of the United States that have been medically determined to have a permanent disability – that provides access to more than 2,000 recreation sites managed by five Federal agencies. At many sites the Access Pass provides the pass owner a discount on Expanded Amenity Fees  (such as camping, swimming, boat launching, and guided tours). The pass admits the pass holder and passengers in a non-commercial vehicle at per vehicle fee areas and pass holder + 3 adults, not to exceed 4 adults, at per person fee areas (children under 16 are admitted free).

The Access Pass may be issued to U.S. citizens or permanent residents of any age that have been medically determined to have a permanent disability that severely limits one or more major life activities.

permanent disability is a permanent physical, mental, or sensory impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working.

The Access Pass is valid only at participating Federal recreation sites. Visit for information about Federal recreation sites.

* National Park Service

At many sites the Access Pass provides the pass owner a discount on Expanded Amenity Fees (such as camping, swimming, boat launching, and guided tours).

For more information on how to obtain an Access Pass go to and search Access Pass

2015 Recreation Guide

You’ll get some great ideas for outings, camps and other recreational opportunities from the 2015 Recreation Resource Guide for Orange County,California, provided by the Regional Center of Orange County and the Comfort Connection Family Resource Center.  Some listings are for summer months but there are many opportunities that are available throughout the year.

Be sure to call ahead to confirm that the information is correct BEFORE you visit.

You can view the Guide here


Bounce on Trampolines … Not Off Walls!

Jump Sky High offers a child one hour of jumping for $10 and spectators do not have to pay.  It is by appointment only so it is not over crowded and there is a special court for little jumpers 8 years old or younger and another for 9 year olds to adults.  There are floor guards who help to ensure that jumpers will observe safety rules.   Special Days for Special Needs Kids:   The first Tuesday of every month (excluding holidays) from 2-5 p.m.,  special needs children can jump for only $5 (one caretaker per child may participate for free).  Sky High Sports is open to the public during these hours, but music is turned off for the comfort of the guests.  Sky High Sports, The Trampoline Place is located at 2970 Airway Ave., Costa Mesa, CA  92626.  Call ahead for an appointment (714) 437-5867.  Learn more on their website,

Silence isn’t always “golden” at the movies….

AMC Entertainment (AMC) and Autism Society of America have teamed up to bring families affected by autism and other disabilities a special opportunity to enjoy their favorite films in a safe and accepting environment on a monthly basis with the “Sensory Friendly Films” program. In order to provide a more accepting and comfortable setting for this unique audience, the movie auditoriums will have their lights brought up and the sound turned down, families will be able to bring in their own gluten-free, casein-free snacks, and no previews or advertisements will be shown before the movie. Additionally, audience members are welcome to get up and dance, walk, shout or sing – in other words, AMC’s “Silence is Golden” policy will not be enforced unless the safety of the audience is questioned. Contact your local AMC theatre for current schedules and costs.