Visiting Mickey and Friends is easy entertainment, but the trick to Disneyland with young kids is finding a relaxing place to change and feed baby and to find rides that do not have a 30-minute wait.
A few ideas …
Baby changing and feeding stations.
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.
Fondly called the “Pooh Pots” there is never more than a 5-minute wait and you can go on them again and again.
Lunch at Hungry Bear.
Next to the Pooh Pots, it feels like a retreat from the hustle and bustle of Disneyland. While the food is the same as every other restaurant, 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.
Tuesday: Laguna Beach
Laguna Beach is a must see on a visit to Southern California. There are great places to walk with a stroller – if you close your eyes you might even feel like you are strolling the streets of a European city. Note, parking is challenging over summer months.
Touristy, central beach in the heart of Laguna Beach – there is a playground and nice beach with tide pools.
Snack at Gelato Paradiso.
Tucked in the back of a fashionable “alley” of shops – gelato makes everyone happy (although there is no seating here).
Snack at Scandia Bakery.
On a main shopping street – there is a nice selection of baked goods here with limited seating.
Lunch at Zinc Café.
Great salads, soups and sandwiches. Outdoor seating, but the tables are close together; if you need to let the kids run around, you might want to get something to go and eat at the beach.
Wednesday: Earthroots Field School
Earthroots Field School 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 10a – 12p. 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: The Irvine Spectrum
When you don’t have anything planned but want to get out of the house, The Irvine Spectrum 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). Opens at 10 a.m. every day.
Friday: San Juan Capistrano
Mission San Juan Capistrano is considered the “Jewel of the California Missions” and is relaxing for all ages. Little walkers can chase butterflies, look at the fish in the courtyard or run around. Beverages and light snacks are available at the bookstore. Note, the mission can be overrun with school children in the mornings. Opens at 8:30a every day.
Another activity in this area is the Learning Link, located two blocks from the mission. This is a free learning resource and kindergarten readiness center for children 0-5. There is a drop-in center with story time, daily craft and every imaginable educational toy – kids love this place!
There is also a separate small area for non-walking babies. Parents are expected to do activities with their children and clean up after them. Learning Link is open when school is in session. 31642 El Camino Real by San Juan Elementary School. Hours: M, W, Th, F: 9a – 3p and Tuesdays 9a – 1p. Phone: 949-496-5198
Saturday: Dana Point Harbor
Take a relaxing walk around the Dana Point Harbor. This area is stroller-friendly and there are many outdoor, family-friendly restaurants. Mother’s Beach is at the northern end of the harbor and is good for small children. Dolphin and whale watching cruises as well at the Catalina Island ferry leave from the harbor.
Sunday: San Clemente
There is a Farmer’s Market in San Clemente on Del Mar Avenue from 9a – 2p every Sunday. After you are finished checking out the local produce, continue on Del Mar until you dead-end at the San Clemente Pier (you can walk the 1 mile stretch but it is hilly).
The beach is great here and you can watch the surfers or just stroll on the pier. As you step onto the pier, there are a few restaurants with great view 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 pizza by the slice.