OC PARKS SUMMER CONCERT SERIES
When: Thursdays at 5 p.m., June 23 through Aug. 25
Where: Craig Regional Park, Mason Regional Park, Irvine Regional Park, Mile Square Regional Park, and Bluff Park at Salt Creek Beach
Why: Free parking, free live music, and a summer evening in the parks are great reasons to meet up with friends. Need more motivation? Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Donavon Frankenreiter, and Uptown Funk are just a few of the performers scheduled this summer.
More here: ocparks.com
When: Wednesdays through Sundays from July 15 through Aug. 14
Where: OC Fair and Event Center in Costa Mesa
Why: Even if you don’t want to eat huge portions of fried food, there are plenty of ways to enjoy this annual event: cooking demonstrations, live performances, table-setting contests, a hypnotist, and baby farm animals are just a few of the options. Advance tickets only, no tickets available at the gate.
More here: ocfair.com
SAN CLEMENTE OCEAN FESTIVAL
When: July 16 and 17
Where: San Clemente Pier
Why: In its 45th year, the festival known as “The Greatest Show on Surf” returns after a pandemic hiatus. Families and professional athletes flock to the two-day event known for surfing competitions, swimming and running races, an art show, a Woody car exhibit, sand sculptures, free concerts, and more.
More here: oceanfestival.org
BALBOA FUN ZONE
Where: Newport Beach
Why: An Orange County icon since 1936, the Fun Zone features an arcade, Ferris wheel, restaurants, and shops including a recently opened makers market. Local developers acquired the waterfront venue last year and plan to revitalize the classic summer hangout.
More here: balboafunzone.com
SUMMER NATURE DAY CAMPS
Environmental Nature Center
The ENC has offered nature camps since 1977. Children ages 4 through 13 spend the season outdoors with hands-on activities and weekly themes such as “Nature Detectives” and “Planet Protectors.”
Newport Beach, encenter.org/camps/summer
Pacific Marine Mammal Center
Camp Pinniped is open to children ages 8 through 12 who are interested in learning about the operations of a real marine mammal hospital.
Laguna Beach, pacificmmc.org/camp-pinniped
City of Anaheim
A Wilderness Survival Camp for kids 12 through 14 years old focuses on the skills such as building shelters, first aid, and archery. The city’s O.A.K.S. Summer Day Camp is open to children ages 5 through 12 and features topics such as trail walks, nature, art, and Native American traditions.
Campers ages 5 through 13 are separated into six age groups, from Sea Squirts to Coastal Explorers, to learn about marine life, shipwrecks, and more. There’s also a weeklong Marine Science Careers + Internships Academy for older teens.
Dana Point, oceaninstitute.org/summer-camp
The Ecology Center
Open to ages 6 through 12, the two-week Grow-Eat-Make Summer Camp teaches children the fundamentals of farm work and environmental stewardship. The program emphasizes “learn by doing” activities.
San Juan Capistrano, theecologycenter.org/program/grow-eat-make-summer-camps
LIVE COMEDY AND MUSIC AT THE BEACH
When: Fridays to Sundays
Where: 17851 Pacific Coast Hwy, Huntington Beach
Why: Head to SeaLegs at the Beach for stand-up comedy and music. Past comedians have included Tiffany Haddish and Bill Burr. Keep an eye out on the wine bar’s website for upcoming dates and times.
More here: sealegsatthebeach.com
FESTIVAL OF ARTS and PAGEANT OF THE MASTERS
When: July 5 through Sept. 2
Where: Festival of Arts, Laguna Beach
Why: The Festival of the Arts celebrates its 90th anniversary this year. Peruse juried works from more than 100 O.C. artists. This year’s Pageant of the Masters theme, “Wonderful World,” promises to be special as famous artwork comes to life.
More here: foapom.com
FIREWORKS AT NEWPORT DUNES
When: July 4
Where: Newport Dunes
Why: Enjoy the largest fireworks show in Southern California at the Newport Dunes. With activities starting at 8 a.m. and running until 10 p.m. there’s something for the whole family.
More here: newportdunes.com/event/independence-day-on-the-back-bay
NEW SWAN SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL
When: Weekends, July 8 through Sept. 3
Where: UC Irvine
Why: Getting to sit in the 15-ton, portable, mini-Elizabethan theater is experience enough; watching actors perform “The Comedy of Errrors” or “Pericles, Prince of Tyre” for the 10th anniversary season makes the evening sublime.
More here: newswanshakespeare.com
CRYSTAL COVE SHAKE SHACK
When: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily; sunset is packed for good reason
Where: 7703 E. Coast Highway, Newport Beach
Why: The patio here offers one of the best ocean views in the county; shakes in 29 flavors make it worth your while to brave the year-round lines. What do you mean you’ve never been?
More here: crystalcoveshakeshack.com