15 Free Things to Do in Tustin, CA

Enjoy a fantastic and unforgettable vacation in Tustin, California, without breaking the bank.

Locals refer to Tustin as “the city of trees” due to its location in central Orange County, between Irvine and Santa Ana.

It sits amidst verdant hills with breathtaking vistas of the Saddleback Mountains and the Pacific Ocean.

When the city was founded, native sycamores and oaks grew abundantly, thanks to city founder Columbus Tustin.

He planted many more of them along the city’s roadways.

Tustin’s Mediterranean climate is a significant draw for tourists from Europe.

The city has the best of both worlds, with the mountains to the north and big cities to the south and west.

Despite being part of the Greater Los Angeles Area, Tustin has managed to preserve its historic, small-town charm.

Formerly teeming with citrus orchards, the region is now home to only one protected orchard in Citrus Ranch Park.

Discover a way to enjoy a memorable budget-friendly vacation by checking out this list of free things to do in Tustin, California.

Check out the Last Citrus Grove at Citrus Ranch Park

One of the few remaining citrus groves in Orange County lies in Citrus Ranch Park.

The grove sits on a slope that is 40 feet higher than the surrounding park.

Park officials wanted to ensure that this significant piece of California history would be kept alive, so they planted 1,000 lemon trees throughout 17 acres of property.

Relaxing away from the neighboring metropolitan atmosphere, with the fresh scent of citrus and the natural surroundings, makes for a delightful experience.

You may see beautiful mountain views from the gazebo at the park’s peak and see the various local flora as you meander through the park.

Playground equipment, a picnic area, and a hiking trail are available at Citrus Ranch Park.

Bring Your Family to Centennial Park

Centennial Park is a great spot to spend time with family and young people.

While the children have the time of their lives on the playground, you may play guitar or read a book.

Apart from the BBQ pits, basketball field, and expansive grassy space, the park also features covered picnic spots, perfect for Sunday afternoon get-togethers with the family.

Unsurprisingly, Centennial Park is constantly busy and considered one of the area’s liveliest spots.

Let Your Children Play at Cedar Grove Park

Cedar Grove Park is a popular place for family picnics and recreational activities in Tustin.

It’s a lovely green place with plenty of trees and shady spots to take it easy in.

There are many playgrounds for youngsters, complete with swing sets, life-size frogs, and other creatures.

In addition, there are basketball courts, an amphitheater, a workout facility, and picnic areas.

Cedar Grove Park also features a treehouse, arguably its most unique feature.

The enormous building provides overhead shade and other places to seek shelter from the sun.

Play Ball at Magnolia Tree Park

The magnolia trees that line the park’s perimeter inspired its name.

Magnolia Tree Park lies along Tustin’s verdant Fig Tree Drive, with a playground and sports fields for kids and adults.

The park contains a tennis court, a basketball court, and a picnic shelter, making it ideal for any outdoor activity.

You and your pals may engage in these recreational activities or develop your creative skills here.

There’s a great picnic shelter, so families with kids may come here, too.

Bring Your Kids to Victory Park

Located at the Park Avenue and Victory Road intersection, the 4.7-acre Victory Park first opened to the public in 2015.

Children will have a blast at Victory Park.

There’s loads of fun stuff for kids to explore and loads of playground equipment.

You’ll feel like a kid as you watch your kids play on the swings, slides, bridges, tubes, obstacle courses, and the massive airport control tower.

The Victory Garden has informative signs and resting seats.

Victory Park could be an excellent birthday party venue if your child loves airplanes.

There’s a picnic area with a grill, so you may bring the family for a BBQ while you’re here.

Join the Parade at Tustin Tiller Days

Since 1957, the city has celebrated its agricultural heritage with Tustin Tiller Days.

The three-day festival is a chance for locals to honor Orange County’s history.

Moreover, it celebrates local tilers.

Since roads and sidewalks are made of concrete, it’s only sensible for Tustin, a city with kilometers of roadways, to celebrate a holiday dedicated to laying tiles.

It’s a good chance for charities in the area to make some money, too.

Live music, tasty treats, carnival rides, and fun games are all part of the fun at Tustin Tiller Days.

The festival’s highlight is the parade, where you can see floats and people dressed in colorful costumes without spending a dime.

Many community groups have raised funds to assist with various issues throughout the years.

Listen to Awesome Performances at Concerts in the Park

Another Tustin tradition is the free summer event called Concerts in the Park.

Every year from June through July, Peppertree Park becomes a stage for fantastic concerts by talented local musicians.

Every Wednesday night, the most incredible local bands play anything from the 1940s to cover songs to classic rock for the audience to enjoy.

Bring your food, drinks, blankets, and lawn chairs.

Conveniently, vendors around the park sell a wide range of foods and beverages.

Otherwise, sit back and enjoy the show at Concerts in the Park.

Browse the Stalls at Tustin Certified Farmers Market

Tustin Certified Farmers Market has thrived for over 20 years in its current location at the intersection of Third Street and El Camino Real in historic downtown Tustin.

Its compact size allows for speedy restocking, and the abundance of its selection belies its relatively tiny footprint.

It sells fresh produce, ready-made meals, flowers, and local crafts.

The nearby gravel lot and nearby side streets make parking a breeze.

Visiting the market and browsing its offerings is an excellent way to kill time.

The best part about the Tustin Certified Farmers Market is that you don’t need to shell out anything to explore.

Other Free Things to Do Nearby

The cities of Santa Ana and Irvine, California, are only a quick drive from Tustin.

Santa Ana has a vibrant Hispanic populace, and its attractions reflect it with a unique fusion of funk and folk styles.

Meanwhile, Irvine is a fascinating planned city with a premium on culture, history, and success.

It is home to several well-known businesses, green areas, and a prestigious educational institution.

Here are other free things to do in near Tustin, California.

Stroll around Downtown Santa Ana Historic District

Buildings along Downtown Santa Ana Historic District
Matt Gush / Shutterstock.com

Orange County is quite pleased with the variety of its downtown areas.

It’s home to historic nodes and thriving commercial districts full of restaurants and shops.

Visit the Santa Ana Historic District in Santa Ana, California, just an eight-minute drive from Tustin, and take in the stunning architecture.

You may find Santa Ana’s city hall, library, courtroom, and district attorney’s office in the central Civic Center district.

Old orange county courthouse at Downtown Santa Ana Historic District
Debbie Eckert / Shutterstock.com

In 1984, the area now known as Downtown Santa Ana in Orange County became part of the National Register of Historic Places.

Wandering the downtown area of Santa Ana won’t cost you a dime, and it will teach you all about the city’s rich history and vibrant culture.

Take in the lively atmosphere created by the influx of people looking to have a good time.

A church at Downtown Santa Ana Historic District
Steve Cukrov / Shutterstock.com

Pay Respects at Northwood Gratitude and Honor Memorial

Welcome sign of Northwood Gratitude and Honor Memorial
Brian MacIntosh, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Northwood Gratitude and Honor Memorial are located in Irvine, California, nine minutes from Tustin.

The names of every American military member killed in Iraq and Afghanistan are inscribed on this memorial.

There are currently 6,786 complete names listed, up from 5,714 at the beginning of the project.

Close view of Northwood Gratitude and Honor Memorial
Brian MacIntosh, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Visiting this memorial is one of the most moving things to do in Irvine if you love your country and respect these extraordinary people who gave their lives defending it.

Consider adding this free attraction to your itinerary to remember the nation’s fallen heroes.

The grounds of Northwood Gratitude and Honor Memorial
Brian MacIntosh, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Discover Local History at Old Orange County Courthouse

Exterior of Old Orange County Courthouse
Steve Cukrov / Shutterstock.com

Are you in the mood for a quick history lesson?

Old Orange County Courthouse exhibits local and regional history through images and artifacts in the oldest courthouse in Southern California.

There is a museum located in the historic Santa Ana Old Courthouse, which is worth a trip in and of itself.

A hallway in Old Orange County Courthouse
Steve Cukrov / Shutterstock.com

This courthouse will transport you to another era with its fascinating collection of vintage photographs and artifacts.

Visiting the Old Orange County Courthouse in Santa Ana, just nine minutes from Tustin, calls for a photo op in front of its iconic exterior.

The building followed the Romanesque Revival style; it was constructed of granite and sandstone and was dedicated in 1901.

Interior of Old Orange County Courthouse
mikeledray / Shutterstock.com

Climb Turtle Rock Viewpoint

The summit of the Turtle Rock Trail in Irvine Chaparral Park is where you’ll find Turtle Rock Viewpoint.

On a beautiful, windless day, you should go exploring among the craggy mountains in the turtle rock region.

While there are many beautiful sights to behold in the park, such as the rolling grassland and towering trees, Turtle Rock is the most popular attraction.

Visiting the Turtle Rock Viewpoint in the evening is well worth the effort.

Watch the city light up against a stunning sunset backdrop.

Hiking to Turtle Rock Viewpoint is one of the best activities in Irvine, 19 minutes from Tustin.

It’s a terrific destination for photographers, hikers, and dog owners wishing to take their pets on an adventure.

Check Out the Rankin Building

Exterior of Rankin Building
Steve Cukrov / Shutterstock.com

Look for the historic Rankin Building in Santa Ana, which was originally the city’s department store.

A nine-minute ride from Tustin brings you to the former home of Rankin Dry Goods and T. D. Huff & Sons, established in the late 1800s.

It stands at the corner of West Fourth and Sycamore.

Entrance to Rankin Building
Cbl62, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The structure was completed in 1917.

It was constructed from blue-grey ceramic brick, rectangular sand-colored brick, and Chicago-style windows.

In 1983, the Rutherford building became part of the National Register of Historic Places.

Admire the View from the Great Park Balloon

Daytime view of a Great Park Balloon
mikeledray / Shutterstock.com

The massive orange hot-air balloon can reach heights of up to 400 feet, providing passengers with breathtaking views of Irvine below.

Just 12 minutes from Tustin, the Great Park Balloon is a once-in-a-lifetime chance.

You won’t be able to resist riding the balloon, especially since admission is free.

Picture yourself gliding effortlessly through the air above the clouds, a light breeze caressing your hair.

Bottom of a Great Park Balloon
mikeledray / Shutterstock.com

Come to the venue at least an hour before the start of the first session since demand causes the waiting list for flights to fill up quickly.

All balloon rides are first-come, first-served.

Sign in to secure your slot at the Great Park Balloon!

Practice Wildlife Photography at San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary

A heron at San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary
Phil Feyerabend / Shutterstock.com

Photographers, birdwatchers, and those simply interested in nature will love the San Joaquin Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary in Irvine, 15 minutes from Tustin.

The San Joaquin Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary provides a genuine wilderness experience within Irvine’s relatively bustling urban landscape.

It is conveniently located on Riparian View.

As a freshwater marsh with a total area of 300 acres, the San Joaquin Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary is a protected habitat for several species.

There are almost 11 miles of paths to explore, with dozens of watering holes along the route.

Explore various paths, from paved roads to winding footpaths that lead deeper and deeper into the “forest.”

A pelican at San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary
Kannan Sundaram / Shutterstock.com

Geese, egrets, ducks, eagles, and herons live in the sanctuary.

Raccoons, coyotes, and bobcats are some mammals you might encounter; amphibians, reptiles, and fish are also abundant.

Along the trails of the sanctuary, you won’t find many modern conveniences beyond the plumbing in the occasional restroom.

You are responsible for collecting and disposing of any waste you generate during your exploration.

The Audubon House, an observation platform, and a boardwalk are some of the most recent additions.

Birds at San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary
SunflowerMomma / Shutterstock.com

Final Thoughts

Don’t be fooled by Tustin’s lower profile relative to other American cities.

A vacation to Tustin and its neighboring California cities will reward you with magnificent scenery and vibrant local culture.

Try the free things to do in Tustin, California!


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