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Rancho Santa Margarita Central Park: Bug Out and Then Travel by Train

Rancho Santa Margarita Central Park: Bug Out and Then Travel by Train

Rancho Santa Margarita Central Park isn’t necessarily a summer-friendly location, since it can get rather hot. 

I speak from experience – I think it was 95 degrees on the day I took photos and met my blogging friend, Kara-Noel

I always get turned around when I head to Rancho Santa Margarita, but I’m starting to learn my way to the town’s center.

How to Get to Central Park in Rancho Santa Margarita: I usually take Alicia to Santa Margarita Parkway. You will turn right onto El Paseo. You can either park in the shopping area between Kohl’s and the library. Or you can turn left on La Miranda and pull into the Bell Tower parking lot. I parked on the street closer to the playground.  MAP TO RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA CENTRAL PARK

Recommended by: #1 Robin and #2 Jenny:  The first mom to recommend this park to me had a PLAN.

Robin told me to go to the park early, before it gets hot. When the kids are good and worn out you can check out books across the street at the Rancho Santa Margarita Library and head to Cinnamon Productions for a scrumptious snack. (Unfortunately, Cinnamon Productions isn’t here anymore, but there are plenty of other restaurants nearby.) 

Jenny pointed me in this direction so I could add it to my list of train parks. Thanks for the great tips!


Big kid structure looks like it has lily pads growing above it. Lends itself to “bug” play. There is a cool crawling tunnel and a variety of slides.

The huge bank of swings (4 bench and 2 baby) sits near the big kid structure.

Train is a definite highlight with multiple boxcars.

Lots of options for younger kids with the train and structure for 2 -5 year olds.

Fun blue-netted spider web climber! I even like climbing these.

As always, my kids liked to play OFF the playground the best. There’s a great hill for “adventuring” and the amphitheater is perfect for impromptu shows.

Nice shade from tall sycamore trees – unfortunately it’s off the playground.

Picnic tables are mostly shaded. Lots of benches surrounding the park.

Visit the library (part of OCPL system) and even the Friends of the Library bookstore — just across the street.

Be Aware:

  • All Rancho Santa Margarita parks are run by SAMLARC which, according to the city website, means: “While most of the parks are open to the general public, SAMLARC and the other HOAs (where applicable) may have specific restrictions on use or require keyed access of some amenities.”
  • Slides and sand are HOT on hot days.
  • Lots of play choices, but I know if my kids were toddlers they’d be drawn to the tallest points with the steepest drops.
  • I call this a “run around” park. There’s central seating area where you could probably see the kids everywhere – but it was full and I wanted to stick to the shade. If you like to have visual contact with your kids then it’d be a little tough here.
  • This park is a central community park and there are often scheduled community events here (concerts, festivals, etc.) – so just be aware there might be crowds when you are not expecting them.


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