OC zoo in Irvine regional park may be the smallest zoo I have ever been to but at the same time, it is also one of the nicest ones. It is located inside the park so you have to pay $ 3 to enter (weekdays), the park itself is nice. You can do horse riding, go on the little train, there are playgrounds, rental bikes. Perfect for a day out. The zoo focuses on animals and plants native to the southwestern United States. You'll find black bears, mountain lions, bald eagle, great horned owls, coyotes, turkey vultures and more. There is also a petting zoo with goats and sheep. Quite scary when you realize all these animals are out there! Especially mountain lions, not sure I am ready to go hiking just quite yet. Entry fee is only $ 2, so we will definitely come back here again. Great place for kids too, you don't need to prepare a lot since you won't be gone all day. Who ever though I would be taking little things like these into consideration!
Orange Country Zoo
Stopped at this place later on the same day. On the way to Laguna Beach on the Canoyon Road you'll find the Pacific Mammal Marine Centre, which is a rescue centre for seals, sea lions etc. Always wanted to pop in and this time we did. Super nice! Go if you ever get a chance.