The Orange County Great Park is already a landmark for the area and plans for expansion already underway will make this former airfield an impressive destination for all of Southern California.
The expansion of the park is an ongoing project set to cover about 1,300 acres of the former Marine Corps Air Station El Toro at completion. Environmentalism and conservation is a major theme throughout the design of the project in addition to promoting sports and recreation, and preserving the site’s agricultural and military legacy.
The park has a lot going on already and is open 7 days a week, with the exception of some holidays, from 10am on weekdays and 9am on weekends. Read on to find out what activities you can enjoy at the Great Park today, as well as the many great things to come.
Activities and Attractions at the Orange County Great Park
The park is well known for its Great Park Balloon and Carousel. The Great Park Balloon carries up to 30 passengers 400 feet into the air for a 360-degree view of the surrounding area with a 40-mile line of sight on a clear day. Both the Balloon and the Carousel have entrance fees but also offer family discounts. For more information on the two iconic Great Park attractions, click here.
The Orange County Great Park hosts an impressive farmers market every Sunday from 10am to 2pm. Expect food trucks, artisan products, local organizations, nursery plants and fresh, local produce. Come hungry to enjoy all the fun food truck fare and vendor samples.
The Farm + Food Lab is another must-visit attraction at the Great Park. Open daily from 10am to 3pm, the space features themed planters with fruits, flowers, vegetables and herbs along with chicken coops, a worm compost bin and wind and solar-powered lighting. The Great Park Farm supplies organic produce sold at the Farmers Market and also donated to local food banks. The Farm + Food Lab is staffed by University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners and is therefore a premier place in Orange County to learn about horticulture.
Other things to explore include the Great Park Gallery and Great Park Artist Studios at the Palm Court Arts Complex, Kids Rock educational recreation structures, reflecting ponds, viewing pier, walkable historic timeline and free checkout for sports equipment to play with at the North Lawn, South Lawn or Fitness Complex.
In addition, the park offers regular events including cooking instruction, family crafts, gardening workshops, art exhibitions and much more. Click here to check out the schedule of events.
New Amenities Coming Soon to the Park
There are many attractions and activities to enjoy at the Great Park and even more to come! The Sports Park is next on the schedule of things to come. This section will span 194 acres, complimenting the existing sports fields. The project will add 18 additional soccer and multi-use fields, 25 tennis courts, 4 sports courts, 12 baseball/softball fields and 5 sand volleyball courts.
The Orange County Great Park will include a Community Ice Facility, opening in 2018. The park will also feature a 71-acre Agriculture area, 188-acre golf course and practice facility, 40-acre Bosque area in addition to wildlife corridors and canyon trails. Future plans for the Great Park’s 260-acre Cultural Terrace are still under consideration but the general idea is that it will be a gathering place for education, culture, entertainment, community involvement, innovation, art and history. The space may include an amphitheater for outdoor festivals, a lake for water recreation, a collection of museums and a library with arts and cultural space, community event space and a multi-cultural center.
The entire project once complete will be a gathering place for all of Orange County and beyond, offering unique, flexible spaces with a focus on education and healthy activity. So how should you keep up to date with developments at the Orange County Great Park? Consider signing up for the City of Irvine newsletter or follow the City’s updates on social media, such as through Facebook.