As the mommy of a little one, you know just how important it is to have engaging and entertaining activities on your go-to list. Sometimes your little guy just needs a change of scenery and for your sanity, so do you! Ladera Ranch, a quiet little community near the southern California coast, has plenty to keep your toddler or preschooler occupied.
1. Play Groups
Find a play group in the area for you and your little man to join. The Ladera Ranch Moms Group (meetup.com/TheLaderaRanchMomsGroup) regularly plans playdates and trips around the Ladera Ranch community. Attend one of these playdates so you can meet other moms and let your little guy interact with other kiddos his age. Moms of Saddleback Valley (meetup.com/Moms-of-Saddleback-Valley) is a group made up of moms from Ladera Ranch and the surrounding communities and their children, ranging from babies to preschoolers. This group plans park days, holiday parties and field trips to local venues with the kiddos. The group even plans events for you to get out by yourself for some "you" time, like the mom's night out holiday party. You deserve it! South County Moms (meetup.com/South-County-Moms) plans activities like zoo trips and home playdates for the kiddos, and spa days and happy hours just for the mommas.
When the weather isn't ideal for outdoor play, spend the day indoors at one of the area libraries. Cuddle with your sweetie in your lap in the children's section and share some stories. Visit the Ladera Ranch Library (laderaranchlibrary.com) for activities like Kids' Craft Afternoons for all ages of kids or Pajama Storytime for the whole family. Head over to the Mission Viejo Libary (cityofmissionviejo.org/Library), just 10 minutes away, for Music Time with Miss Elena, where you and your little man can sing and move to the music. Don't worry about looking silly, your kiddo will love it! Go to The Laguna Niguel Library (egov.ocgov.com/ocgov/OC%20Public%20Libraries/Library%20Locator/Laguna%20Niguel), a short 11-minute drive away, for storytime with stories, fingerplays, puppets and songs or family movie night. Best of all, library activities are free!
Enjoy some sunshine and fresh air with your little monkey at one of the parks in or near Ladera Ranch. This will give him the opportunity to run off some of that steam and will hopefully mean quiet time for you when he naps after you get home. (Naptime equals mom time!) The Chaparral Park in Ladera Ranch (laderalife.com) features a totlot play area where you can let your kiddo play safely. If you make the 10-minute drive to Mission Viejo (cityofmissionviejo.org), you'll find more parks for your little one like Doria Park with a fantastic toddler playground, sand play area, and plenty of benches and picnic tables. Just a little further, 22 minutes away, in Irvine is the Orange County Great Park (ocgp.org/visit) where you'll find a gorgeous (and fun!) carousel to ride with your munchkin and the Great Park Balloon, which is free.
4. Museums & Zoos
Plan a wild day at Zoomars Petting Zoo (zoomars.com), just 10 minutes away in San Juan Capistrano. Your little guy will squeal with delight as he gets to meet adorable sheep, potbellied pigs, llamas, cows, turkeys and donkeys. He'll love cuddling with one of the super soft bunny rabbits and feeding the emu a carrot. Hop on the mini-train to take a ride around the zoo or pan for treasure at Miner's Gulch. Let your inner child shine through as you play with your munchkin at Pretend City Children's Museum (pretendcity.org), a 20-minute drive away in Irvine. Make your way through 17 hands-on exhibits and activities including the Art Studio, Beach, Marina, Farm and Cafe. Attend one of the special events at the museum like Way to Play Days for kids 5 and younger or Mission Nutrition for 3- to 5-year-olds.