Visiting Turtle Rock Nature Center and playground in Irvine turned into a very enjoyable afternoon for my kids and I. I recorded the visit in my Simple Nature Adventures post, but neglected to write up a full post about Turtle Rock Community Park or the nature center. So now you get to learn about both!
Location of Turtle Rock Nature Center and Community Park in Irvine: Take Culver Drive to Bonita Canyon Drive and turn on Sunnyhill. There is a large parking lot near the tennis courts. MAP to Turtle Rock Nature Center and Community Park in Irvine
- Turtle Rock Nature Center is very modest, but packed with small exhibits and items for exploration. It occupied my 7 year old and 4 year old for a good 20-30 minutes. The center is a gateway to a paved nature walk. On our visit in September it was spider season. Webs everywhere! It made for a murky and somewhat nervous walk thinking we were going to smack into a web. However, it is not this way all the time – and on subsequent visits we never encountered critters like the first time.
- I loved the creek and picnic area past the playground. So beautiful and peaceful.
- The larger play structure at this Irvine community park had some great slides and lots of opportunities for climbing.
- The smaller structure had a few steering wheels and a smaller slide.
- There were 4 baby swings next to the smaller structure — two different types.
- The 4 big kid bench swings were by the bigger kid equipment.
- The Nature Center even offers nature birthday party programs.
- Check the Nature Center hours before you go. The City of Irvine website says M-F from 9am-5pm, Sat 9am-4pm, and closed Sundays.
- Kids might get good and dirty. Bring a change of clothes. My little girl ended up soaking wet (I knew she would) when I let her navigate the rocks across the creek.
- I’m guessing a visit could possibly coincide with a community or sporting event. For us, it was very quiet.
- Small nature center
- Large, dedicated parking lot
- Sand and recycled rubber play surface
- Drinking fountains
- Bathrooms outside the Nature Center entrance and by the playground
- Picnic area and grills across the bridge from the playground
- Lots of trees for shade
- Big grassy area for running
- Official City of Irvine Turtle Rock Community Park website (park reservations)
- Official City of Irvine Turtle Rock Nature Center website
Originally posted in October 2009.