The kids are back to school, the summer season is winding down – but that doesn’t mean the good times have to come to an end.

September is typically a month when the locals get to have fun in the sun, with nice weather lingering and planned activities throughout the county to get out and enjoy before fall cools things off.

Here’s a few ideas to inspire you to get out and enjoy:

Hike and learn

There are plenty of ways to not just explore nature, but learn about the landscape that native species call home.

A handful of hikes and programs aimed at exploring the biodiversity of critters and their habitats are planned, starting with a “Biodiversity Bioblitz” hike at Crystal Cove State Park on Sept. 7 to mark California Biodiversity Day.

The one-mile, easy hike through Moro Canyon explores Crystal Cove State Park’s backcountry, while identifying and documenting animal and plant species using the Inaturalist app.

Make sure to wear sturdy hiking shoes, bring water, and dress in layers. Meet at the Berns Amphitheater in the Lower Moro parking lot. The program is for ages 8 and up. Parking is $15 day-use rate and registration is required by emailing:

On Sept. 20, a bird walk guided hike will be offered in Peters Canyon Regional Park in Orange to learn about how to listen for their songs while searching high and low for the various species. The program is for all levels, but aimed at beginner-intermediate level birders. Bring your binoculars, sun protection and comfortable shoes.

Registration is required ahead of time at:

Two Canadian geese come in for a landing at the Aliso Creek location where other geese are already in the water. The area is a great place for bird watching. (File photo by Chas Metivier/ for the Register)

There’s also Birding by the Creek being offered from 8 to 10:30 a.m. on Sept. 16 at Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park. It is a program for ages 12 and up.

Aliso Creek is one of the best riparian birding sites in Orange County, according to OC Parks. Staff and volunteers will lead an easy 3-mile hike along the creek on a dirt and paved road trail.

No experience necessary, but advance registration is required at Wear hiking or walking shoes and take binoculars. The program is free and parking is $3 per vehicle.

Take a coastal stroll in Crystal Cove in Newport Beach, a way to enjoy the natural landscape. (File photo by Chas Metivier, SCNG)

Prefer an ocean view? At 9 a.m. on Sept. 16,  a State Parks naturalist will lead a group through Crystal Cove for a “Whale and Wildlife Twalk,” teaching fun facts about coastal creatures while walking along the bluff trail. If lucky, you might even see a whale from above.

Bring binoculars and meet at Pelican Point lot #4. Parking is $15 for a day pass.

Outdoor entertainment

Most summer-time outdoor movies put on at local parks are coming to an end, but it’s not too late to grab some chairs, blankets and watch a fun film after the sun goes down.

Movies in the Park are a great way to enjoy the nice summer weather while it lasts. (Photo by Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

In La Habra, show up at 6 p.m. on Sept. 8 at Oeste Park to watch “Minions: The Rise of Gru” – it is the last night in the city’s summer movie series.

In Newport Beach, the city’s last Movies in the Park will feature “The Bad Guys” on Sept. 8 at Irvine Terrace Park, located at 721 Evita Drive in Corona del Mar. The city gives out free popcorn, candy and has kid activities starting at 6 p.m.

The county’s last OC Parks outdoor movie screening will be at Bluff Park at Salt Creek Beach with the feature “Mamma Mia!” on Sept. 8. The event is free and there will be food and beverage available for purchase.

There will also be pre-show entertainment starting at 6 p.m., with the film starting just after sun down. The sunset into the ocean at the popular Dana Point beach is an extra bonus.

In Mission Viejo, fun and games will reclaim space during the Park(ing) Day Children’s Fair from 3 to 6 p.m. on Sept. 15. The second annual event at the North Paseo will feature music, arts and crafts, games and learning. The global movement repurposes street parking spaces for a day as tiny parks.

Stay cool

September can still be pretty toasty, but there are plenty of ways to stay cool when those heat waves hit.

The beach is an obvious outing and with the big tourist crowds gone, it’s a perfect time to enjoy an afternoon lounging on the sand and dipping into the ocean.

Stick around until sunset and pull out s’mores and hot dogs for a bonfire, with Huntington Beach and Newport Beach boasting hundreds of rings up for grabs.

If you have little ones, try one of the bayside beaches, where it’s more like a lake and you don’t have to worry about intimidating waves. Marina Park in Newport Beach has the bonus of a play structure right on the sand, while you can relax and enjoy the view of the boats passing by.

Marina Park in Newport Beach is a great place to cool off on the bay, with a playground for the kids and a scenic view of boats passing by on the water. (File photo: Matt Masin, Orange County Register/SCNG)

The Wild Rivers waterpark has renewed its place as a favorite cool-down spot with its reincarnation at the Irvine Great Park, and while it is closed on weekdays for the rest of its season, weekends are still an option.

New this year is an attraction geared toward younger guests, Kontiki Cove, which offers five slides and a shallow pool for toddlers and smaller children.

This time of year is great to nab deals either through the Wild Rivers website or on Groupon for an end-of-season thrill.

In Anaheim, the Ponderosa Park splash pad has been a popular place to beat the heat – it opened five years ago as part of a $16-million project.

The $500,000 splash pad is part of a 9-acre park, which also includes a skate park. It will be open until Oct. 1.

Children play in the newly opened splash pad at Ponderosa Park following its opening in 2018. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Tired of the heat and can’t wait until winter? Bundle up and hit one of the region’s many ice skating rinks for a public skate session, where you’ll be able to stay cool from the lingering summer heat.

In Irvine, the Great Park Ice is a newer complex that offers skate time on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Aliso Ice Palace has public skate on weekday mornings, Friday nights and in the afternoon on Saturdays and Sundays. There are also rinks in Westminster, Yorba Linda and Anaheim that offer time on the ice.

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