I got to visit the Orange County Great Park this past weekend and had a great time! The park is huge and there are big plans for the space that used to be the El Toro Marine Air Station in Irvine. The Base was built in 1942 and served as a training base for World War II pilots before flying overseas. One of the larger structures near the most developed area of the park is an air plane hangar from 1944. The city of Irvine aims to use the land to create “America’s greatest metropolitan park.”
The biggest attractions are the carrousel and the big orange balloon. Up until recently both were free, but will have admission come this weekend. The carousel has great artwork that is inspired by Orange County’s history like the California Poppy, Orange groves and planes flying overhead. I was most excited about riding the Great Park Balloon. The balloon is tethered and rises 400 feet above the park for some amazing views. It was pretty cloudy last Saturday but I imagine you’d be able to see much farther than we did on a clear day. I thought it was a hot air balloon but found out that it is actually a helium balloon, and can hold up to 30 people in its donut shaped gondola.
I highly recommend checking out the Farm and Food Lab. It is run by Orange County Master Gardener volunteers and they have a huge variety of plants and trees to take a look at. If you are lucky, they might choose you as a volunteer to step inside the chicken coop and collect the freshly laid eggs. They are hosting a variety of educational Spring gardening lectures in the next month so if you like gardening, check it out.
I was pretty bummed that the Palm Court Art Complex was closed since they had a World War II and Mid Century Orange County exhibit. I have yet to visit the Aviation Museum, Farmer’s Market or the Vintage Flea Market but are going on the to visit list!