Irvine is in the heart of Orange County, California, just 40 miles south of Los Angeles. Although its landlocked between the Loma Ridge and San Joaquin Hills, the Pacific Ocean is only ten miles to the west. This family-friendly city features abundant green spaces and fun things to do year-round. If you're looking for cultural enrichment, seeking adventure, or want to relax and take in the beautiful scenery, there are tons of fun ways to spend your time in Irvine.
Bommer Canyon sits just outside of Irvine on what was once the Irvine Ranch Cattle Camp. This natural area has more than 4.5 miles of trails meandering through outcrops, groves, ancient oaks, and ridgelines. They vary in difficulty, but regardless of your skill level, this is an excellent spot for biking, hiking, and horseback riding.
If you prefer to spend your downtime shopping and eating delicious food, head to the Spectrum Center. You'll find dozens of restaurants, including popular chains and small local favorites. There are more than 100 stores and shops to check out, along with a Ferris wheel, carousel, fountains, and gardens to enjoy. Want more? You'll also find a VR space with virtual games and rides, a bakery where you can make and decorate your own cake, and venues to see a comedy show or a movie.
Boomers is a local amusement park with something for everyone. Older kids and adults can ride go-carts or bumper boats, play laser tag, or brave thrill rides like the Flame Thrower and Starship, and little ones will love the kid-sized rides in King Arthur's Carnival. There are plenty of more relaxing ways to spend your time here, too. Check out the miniature golf course, batting cages, state-of-the-art arcade, and Boomers Backyard, an outdoor area with cabanas, firepits, big-screen TVs, and yummy food.
A trek to the top of Turtle Rock offers stunning views of the city, mountains, and surrounding areas. To get to the Turtle Rock viewpoint, head to Chaparral Park and follow the Turtle Rock Trail to the top. The hike is of moderate intensity as it has some steep areas, but it's a great place to explore, and the views at the end are worth the effort. This trail and viewpoint are popular, so don't be surprised if you see other hikers, photographers, or people out exploring with their dogs along the way.
K1 Speed is an impressive indoor go-kart center with two professionally-designed tracks suitable for drivers of all skill levels. If you're a racing fan, check out the collection of racing art and memorabilia. When you're done on the track, head to the arcade to play state-of-the-art video games, take a turn on the punching bag, play pool or air hockey, and win a prize at the claw machines. Hungry? Stop by Paddock Lounge for nachos, pizza, wings, and more.
The San Joaquin Marsh & Wildlife Sanctuary is the perfect stop for outdoor enthusiasts, photographers, and bird lovers, with over 11 miles of trails. Some are accessible dirt roads to follow, while others are a little more challenging and take you deeper into the forest. When you get out onto the trails, keep your eyes peeled for the many types of birds that call this marsh home, including ducks, herons, eagles, and geese. You may even spot bobcats, coyotes, or raccoons along the way.
Orange Country Great Park is one of the more popular attractions in the area, packed with exciting things to see and do. The Great Park Balloon is the central attraction, lifting you 400 feet up into the air for stunning views of the area. There's also a carousel, walking trails, a hands-on agricultural classroom, multiple themed playgrounds, an art gallery, and a heritage and aviation exhibit. Sports enthusiasts will love the ice skating complex, baseball fields, and volleyball, basketball, and tennis courts. On Sundays, this park is home to the Irvine Farmers Market, where you can buy locally grown produce and crafts and get lunch at the gourmet food trucks.
Irvine strives to balance new development with respect for the natural environment, and the Open Space Preserve is an excellent example. It links many popular outdoor spaces in Irvine and protects the natural wetland, meadow, woodland, and coastal habitats. This land is a perfect place for biking, walking, hiking, and horseback riding and is home to mountain lions, mule deer, coyotes, and endangered birds.
Tanaka Farms is one of the most unique experiences Irvine has to offer. It has everything you might expect from a visit to the farm, like a produce stand and market, but offers educational and enrichment activities you won't find anywhere else. Some activities change with the seasons, so you'll find pumpkin patch tours in the fall and watermelon tours in the summer. Summer is also when the farm's corn is in season, and in the spring, you'll find an abundance of homegrown strawberries. Tanaka Farms also offers pick-your-own sunflowers events, a barnyard exhibit, farm-to-table cooking classes, and much more.
William R. Mason Regional Park is another great place to experience the outdoors in Irvine with activities you'd expect, like paved bicycle trails, a golf course, playgrounds, and picnic areas, but the nine-acre man-made lake sets this park apart. While you can't swim in the lake, it's home to various waterfowl and a great place to race model boats. There is a small entrance fee, and although the park is popular, the crowds are usually manageable.