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Irvine Regional Park=4 Playgrounds + 1 Zoo + 1 Railroad + 1 Lake + Lots of Ponies

Irvine Regional Park=4 Playgrounds + 1 Zoo + 1 Railroad + 1 Lake + Lots of Ponies

Irvine Regional Park is located in Orange, but you’ll pass through Tustin, Irvine, and Orange as you climb Jamboree to reach this massive regional park. I even filed it under all three cities since it’s close to them all and worth a little extra drive.

You can get in with your OC Parks annual pass or pay $3 at the gate on weekdays ($5 on weekends). You’ll find the scoop on the FOUR playgrounds in this blog postplus all the other fun things for families to do at Irvine Regional Park.

Irvine Regional Park view of hillside with grill and tree with sunlight

Directions to Irvine Regional Park in Orange County, CA: Follow Jamboree Road east to where it dead ends. You’ll need to go through an entrance kiosk and pay to park. (Address: 1 Irvine Park Road, Orange) MAP to Irvine Regional Park in Orange

Playgrounds at Irvine Regional Park

FOUR playgrounds within one park!

You will probably need to look at the Park Map as you go through the playground descriptions below, but I have tried to make it easy and matched it up with the map from April 2022.

This park would my pick for a fall/winter/spring birthday party – it has bathrooms and reservable picnic areas with grills. (The private Irvine Park Railroad also offers birthday party packages).

Playground Near the Entrance – Park in Lot B

My favorite play area is visible from the entrance (park in Lot B). Love the large boulders accenting play area.

4 big kid and 2 baby swings.

Zip track and lots of slides.

Irvine Regional Park main playground
Irvine Regional Park small playground
Irvine Regional Park swingset

Playground Nearest Outdoor Education Center – Park in Lot C

Learn to ride bikes near play area by Sycamore Hill. Start on the grassy hill and continue in the parking lot.

This play area has swings, too.

Zip tracks and monkey bars.

Small Playground Near Zoo and Lake – Park in Lot U

Smallest play area near Squirrel Square Group Picnic Area and parking Lot U.

This one is closest to the zoo and lake.

But no swings here – just fun little ride-on spring animals.

Irvine Regional Park playground near the zoo

Playground at the Far End of the Park – Park in Lot M or Lot R

The last play area is tucked in a wooded area between parking lot M and R.

You’ll have to walk in from either lot. On the map, this shows as two playgrounds, but I count it as one because you can park once and access both.

2 baby swings and 4 big kid swings.

This is also the location of the fitness equipment for working out outdoors.

Irvine Regional Park swing area

Lake at Irvine Regional Park

The lakes and waterfalls provide unique opportunities for family photos.

There is also Wheel Fun Rentals where you can rent paddle boats to go out on the lake.

And the lake is also stocked with fish for those who like to do that!

Going to the OC Zoo at Irvine Regional Park

This is such a favorite destination! It’s cheap – only $2 for adults. The animals are mostly rescues and mostly wildlife that you can see in nature in Orange County. There’s also a petting zoo area.

In 2022, the OC Zoo was updated with a new Large Mammal Exhibit for cougars and a jaguar.

Irvine Regional Park - Orange County Zoo sign

Visit Irvine Park Railroad at Irvine Regional Park

Irvine Park Railroad is a nice outing any time of year for the sweet little train ride. But they really amp things up for holidays! There are annual events like the Pumpkin Patch and Christmas Train. You can visit for free and walk the grounds, but they charge for the activity booths and train rides.

Pumpkins at Irvine Park Railroad

The Christmas Train features a train ride to the North Pole to visit Santa. It’s fun to be at the park on a chilly December night and drink hot chocolate in the dark.

Surrey Cart and Paddle Boat Rides at Irvine Regional Park

There’s a snack bar near the zoo and Wheel Fun Rentals rents out surrey carts and paddleboats from this location.

Nature Center at Irvine Regional Park

If you’re lucky, you’ll get there on a weekend when there are volunteers to staff the nature center. There are lots of hands-on activities for kids and educational displays about our local natural history. The last time we visited, the center was open from 11:30am to 3:30pm on Saturday and Sunday.

This nature center is also on my list of 17+ Family-Friendly Nature Centers in Orange County!

Exercise Course at Irvine Regional Park

There is a full bank of exercise equipment near the last playgrounds in between Lot M and Lot R.

Be Aware:

  • Parking can be hard to come by when there are special events with LONG lines of cars extended far out of the park onto Jamboree!  So bring your patience and try to get there early.
  • Get a map at the entrance to locate the play areas and reference the numbered parking lots.


  • Multiple lots ($3-$5 per entry into park)
  • Bark play surface at most playgrounds, although some have switch to recycled rubber
  • Drinking fountains at each play area
  • Bathrooms at each playground and near picnic areas
  • Plenty of shade with large trees surrounding the playgrounds
  • Easy to supervise kids at each playground with tons of room to roam
  • King of all picnic parks! Grills and picnic tables everywhere for large or small groups.
  • Trash cans nearer to parking lots than play areas.
  • Great for wildlife viewing – look for peacocks roaming the park.
  • OC Zoo charges $2 (kids under 2 free) – Restrooms inside the zoo and inside the zoo parking lots. Try the Scavenger Hunt brochure available at the ticket booth for school-age readers – finish it and get a prize.
  • Park opens at 6 a.m. and closes at 6 p.m. (Fall and Winter Hours) and 9 p.m. (Spring and Summer Hours).
  • Official page for Irvine Park
  • Find other nearby parks in my Central OC Parks and Playgrounds index

Privately-owned enterprises charging their own fees – but located inside the park:

Originally published November 2008.


Saturday 29th of September 2012

Just an FYI, during special events such as the Pumpkin Patch, parking can be very difficult to come by on the weekends.


Tuesday 14th of June 2011

Under the "Highlights" and "Checklist" categories above, I was disappointed that it did not mention the fun hiking trails surrounding the whole park! My sisters, my mom, and I used to have so much fun exploring and hiking the hills/mountains that surround this park when I was a school-aged child in the 70s. In fact, we loved the hiking trails (not paved) so much that we rarely did anything else at this park when I was young, except we always had a picnic!


Tuesday 14th of June 2011

Irvine Regional is such a big park that it's hard to squeeze all the info into one post! In fact, I have more than one post for most of the regional parks because they are so massive and offer so many recreational opportunities. I count on readers, like you, to comment on the posts and fill in any holes. So thanks for the added info!! Here are my other posts on Irvine Regional: Zoo Quiz and Nature Center.


Friday 23rd of January 2009

I love this park. We have huge group meetups here and the kids always have a blast!Its a wonderful place for a birthday party but spots go quick on the weekends to claim your tables early!

Just Spotted

Tuesday 2nd of December 2008

one of our favorite parks! i love the walking/ riding trails... they are perfect for running or biking & the little ones don't mid coming along because they know they can play at all the playgrounds or feed the ducks at the lake.

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