I approached the hill with great anticipation. Normally this would be the moment when I’m afraid to ride a bike, but I turned the gas pedal and the electric bike flew me up the hill. “MUAHAHAHA!!, “I calmly thought as I looked over at the other bikers pedaling intensely.
13 BEST THINGS TO DO IN IRVINE CALIFORNIA
Irvine, California is a master-planned community located just an hour and a half away from LA. The city has over 16,000 acres of Parks and dedicated open space with tons of access to natural habitats, hiking trails and bike paths. In addition, you are less than half an hour from Disneyland and less than 16 km from the beach.
One of the biggest incentives to stay in Irvine is that hotel tax is 10% here as opposed to 17% in Anaheim. Also, it is a business center so more people travel here on weekends, which means the hotels have more competitive weekend prices than the surrounding cities.
To help you plan your visit, we’ve put together a list of the best things to do here.
1. TANAKA FARM TOUR
Learn more about farming at Tanaka Farm. It changes throughout the year. There are also cooking classes and other special events, and you can pick your own fruits and vegetables.
2. TURTLE ROCK VIEWPOINT
This was one of our favorite places! You can get there through a short easy walk, or take the longer route via self-destruction Hill. On clear days, you can see downtown LA, Santa Ana Mountains, stunning views of the OC, and the Pacific Ocean. This is a great place for sunset.
3. IRVINE SPECTRUM
The Irvine Spectrum is a large shopping center. it has 130 shops, restaurants, pubs, and there’s even a pop-up Hello Kitty Cafe there. On top of that, you can take a ride on their 108 ft Ferris wheel.
4. THE COLLECTION OF THE IRVINE MUSEUM
This small gallery focuses on Californian Impressionist paintings. It’s free to enter and they even validate parking for you.
5. IRVINE HISTORICAL MUSEUM
This museum is housed in one of the oldest standing structures within the original boundaries of Irvine Ranch. In addition to the exhibits, you will find a research library and an extensive photo collection of local history. It is open Tuesday through Sunday from 1am to 4pm and you can join a one-hour walking tour of Irvine’s old town every first Sunday.
6. CHOCXO BEAN TO CHOCOLATE BAR
Take a tour of this specialized Chocolate Factory. Learn about the process of making chocolate, what it takes to make quality chocolate, and taste samples throughout the tour. In the end, you can take home 3 pieces of chocolate from the chocolate matter. If you can’t do the tour, come by and get an 80% bag. We were so surprised how sweet it tasted without a lot of added sugar. Usually everything above 60% begins to taste so bitter.
7. SAN JOAQUIN MARSH AND WILDLIFE SANCTUARY
This game reserve is located in the middle of the city and is a great place for bird watchers. Keep your eyes peeled for birds, bobcats, coyotes, raccoons and butterflies.
8. BIKE IRVINE
On top of all the bike-friendly streets, there are another 54 miles of paved off-street bike lanes. If you’re looking for exercise, you can rent a bike from Trail’s End Cycling Center and do the Mountains to Sea Trail that takes you on a 22-mile journey to the ocean. If you are looking for a more relaxed ride, rent an electric bike from Pedego Electric Bikes where you can pedal as much or as little as possible. This was our first time on an electric bike. After zooming in without sweating, I was hooked! I may never go back to a regular bike.
9. IRVINE SPA
If you are looking to relax or unwind your muscles after a long bike ride, Irvine Spa or iSPA is one of the largest Korean spas in the OC. We didn’t get the chance to check it out on our trip, but our friends have been and recommend it.
10. UCI ARBORETUM
This Botanical Gardens and research facility is open and free to the public from Tuesday to Saturday. Discover the 12.5 hectares of native plants from Socal, Mexico and South Africa.
11. BOMMER CANYON
This open space preserve gives you the chance to hike, jog, or mountain bike along the trails. It is part of the old Irvine Ranch cattle camp and some of the structures still exist today. Remember the Windows 95 rolling hills? In the spring, the hills are green and lush that it looks just like that.
12. GREAT LOCATION
Great Park is the largest park in Irvine. It has a farmers market, Sports Complex, and they develop much more in the 1300 hectares. While driving around Irvine, you may notice a giant orange balloon in the sky. Head to the Great Park Balloon Ride to get a great view of the city.
13. HOTELS NEAR WILLIAM R. MASON REGIONAL PARK
Mason Park is 345 acres of trails, frisbee courses, and open areas. We cycled through the park during our visit and saw many people walking the trails.
BONUS: THE ESCAPE GAME
We always love doing escape rooms and have done a ton in NYC and Las Vegas. The Escape Game has locations all over the US and we loved the ones in Vegas. Check out their brand new Irvine location!