OC Great Park - by Daniel MillerAfter the closing of El Toro Marine base in 1999 a great debate erupted in OC. What to do with the huge real estate vacated by the marines? Some wanted a new airport, others preferred more urban sprawl, but the forces of nature won. Now we have the Orange County Great Park.

The Orange County Great Park Plan will provide a wide array of activities, including a 2.5-mile canyon and lake, miles of hiking and biking trails, a cultural terrace, Orange County's largest sports park, a botanical garden, and a tethered helium observation balloon that will be an icon for the Great Park.

The park is still being built, but you can still enjoy some of its attractions right now.

The Great Park Balloon is open and it is free. Take a ride up to 400 feet (depending on wind speed) and watch the empty land around you being transformed into a great park.

While you are at the top, gaze down to see a Historic Timeline that can only be viewed in entirety from above. Once you are done with your ride, you can walk through this 2600 ft timeline and relive 162 significant events. 

Before or after your ride walk through the passage leading to the ride to view a gallery of photos showing future plans.

Finally, check the OC Great Park Website regularly for updates and events.

Completed sections:

South Lawn Sports + Fitness Complex:  30 Acers of soccer, basketball fields and fitness path.

North Lawn: 7 Acers of multi-purpose activities: You can join a sports clinic or a family sports program here. 

Palm Court Arts Complex: Hosts Galleries, artist studios and shaded outdoors theater.

Farmers Market and Picnic Area: A Farmers Market that offers fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables along with handicrafts and live entertainment. Runs every Sunday.

FARM + FOOD LAB: A two-acre urban agriculture demonstration garden where you can do some hands-on gardening, learn about food ingredients or buy potted plants for your garden. 

Kids Rock Playground: Kids have fun climbing rocks and running through tunnels while learning about environmental conservation.

Click here for map and directions
Irvine, CA

OC Great Park Website

Related Books: