Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Irvine, CA

  • Published 2022/08/10

Ranked as one of the happiest cities in the United States of America, Irvine is found in the heart of Orange County in Southern California.

It is the fastest-growing city in the USA and is a trademark for exquisite standards of living.

The FBI has consistently ranked Irvine as one of the safest cities in the country since 2005.

This city may not be considered a first-choice destination to many, but there’s a lot to see and do here.

Here are the best things to do in Irvine, California:

Enjoy an Informative Visit to Tanaka Farms

Tractor at Tanaka Farm

Orange Grove /

Tanaka Farms is a generations-old family-owned farm that’s been operational since the 1970s.

It is a must-visit if you are traveling with kids, as they provide a hands-on, real-time farming experience for children.

The farm is located on a 25-acre property, and vegetables and fruits are grown on its soil and are delivered to various parts of the city.

The owners of the farm wanted to make sure that this also served as a learning experience for the kids.

Pumpkin patch in Tanaka Farms

emmavgerard /

A wagon ride takes you inside the farm, where you see how the crops are grown and collected.

Knowledgeable tour guides are there to explain everything to visitors.

They have a market where you can purchase the vegetation that is grown on the farm.

Food truck in Tanaka Farms

Steve Bruckmann /

See Orange County from the Great Park Balloon

Balloon Ride at Great Park Balloon

David Tonelson /

The Great Park Balloon in Great Park gives you an aerial view of Southern California.

This free ride is worth a try.

The balloon goes 400 feet above the ground and looks like a vast 100-foot orange ball.

Visitors may park their vehicles in the designated car park and enjoy balloon rides on a first-come, first-served basis.

The Great Park Balloon is filled with helium and stays in the sky for a while.

The bottom of a Great Park Balloon

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On the balloon ride, you can enjoy gorgeous views of the city of Irvine.

It provides visitors a guided tour via a speaker, and instructions are explained all the way.

The balloon was initially set up for individuals new to the city and those who were looking for properties to purchase.

They used the balloon as a means to offer views of all the properties and land available for real estate.

It later became open to all and eventually turned into a tourist attraction.

Play a Round at Oak Creek Golf Club

Welcome sign of Oak Creek Golf Club

LunaseeStudios /

Located on 1 Golf Club Drive, Oak Creek Golf Club offers more than just a golf experience.

There are public and private golfing areas, including an 18–hole course and an exclusive space for practice.

There are gold and kids’ memberships available at the club.

Exterior of Oak Creek Golf Club's building

Steve Cukrov /

There is an on-site golf store where you can purchase shoes, sunglasses, balls, and other souvenirs.

Weddings and other private events are occasionally hosted here.

When you drop by Oak Creek Golf Club, make sure to try the delicious food at their in-house restaurant, The Grille.

Have a Picnic at Irvine Regional Park

Aerial view of Irvine Regional Park

Steve Cukrov /

Irvine Regional Park, situated at 1 Irvine Park Road, is distinct from the rest of the city.

One can come here to spend an entire day just interacting with nature.

There are hiking trails, a zoo, horse rides, picnic areas for families, a lake for paddling boats, a nature center, and a whole lot more.

The hiking trail is around the barren island in the park and helps you connect with nature.

Paved pathway and archway of Irvine Regional Park

Steve Cukrov /

At the top of the trail, you’ll get a view of the entire park and its surrounding environment.

There’s also a pretty waterfall inside the park.

The zoo has various indigenous animals, including bears, rabbits, goats, reptiles, vultures, tortoises, raccoons, donkeys, deer, peacocks, and other birds and insects.

The nature center offers visual learning opportunities wherein you can gain fascinating information on the animals housed in the zoo.

Lake at Irvine Regional Park

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Shop till You Drop at Irvine Spectrum Center

Shops at Irvine Spectrum Center

David Tonelson /

Located on 85 Fortune Drive, Irvine Spectrum Center is a one-stop destination for all shoppers.

There are plenty of boutiques and stores, a theater, a spa, and a row of restaurants to choose from.

There are usually live events such as dramas or comedy shows going on here at any time of the day.

View of Irvine Spectrum Center's ferris wheel

The Image Party /

The center has a giant wheel that looks heavenly; it also has a carousel for the kids and escapes room for adults to have some fun.

There are plenty of iconic brands that have stores here.

The place has a chic city vibe and is a must-visit for anyone who is traveling to Irvine.

Shoppers at Irvine Spectrum Center

Tada Images /

Travel Back in Time at the Irvine Historical Museum

Welcome sign of Irvine Historical Museum

LunaseeStudios /

The Irvine Historical Museum is found in San Joaquin Ranch House and has carefully preserved pieces from the history of Irvine.

The locals and the community helped contribute these pieces together.

There are artifacts and pictures on display that tell the story of Irvine’s history long before it became the modern city that it is today.

The museum displays work by the artists who painted the city before it was urbanized.

The works of art depict how the city looked long ago and how quickly it transformed into what it is today.

There are various exhibits on the Indians and the history of the Irvine dynasty.

A large part of the museum is dedicated to ranching, since the structure used to be a ranch house before it was transformed into a museum.

Bike along the Bommer Canyon Nature Trail

Landscape of Bommer Canyon

Kittipod Pungcharoenkul /

The Bommer Canyon Nature Trail is around 4.6 miles and is situated on the outskirts of Irvine, in the Turtle Rock area.

It is a beginner-friendly bicycle trail with minimal traffic.

The trail is in a dense suburban area and has wild white flowers around.

Short wooden bridge at Bommer Canyon Nature Trail

Sueswim03, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There are trees here and there where you can rest, stretch, or do some yoga.

The main entrance is at the East Fork Gate and is a dense area with thick vegetation, including many types of weeds, California Sage brushes, and other types of sage plants.

The trail is a single track and has sage plants growing on both its sides.

Be Astounded by the Art at Irvine Barclay Theatre

Exterior of Irvine Barclay Theatre

LunaseeStudios /

This theater on Campus Drive has played a huge role in building the community of Irvine through arts and culture.

Irvine Barclay Theatre holds exclusive events for families, several workshops for kids and adults, and master classes for dancing and singing.

The theater has been well-known for its dance, music and contemporary art ever since it began working in the late 1990s.

Building sign of Irvine Barclay Theatre

Steve Cukrov /

It is an individualistic non-profit corporation that was developed solely to transfer tales through art.

Top-quality artists from around the world showcase their performances here on a live platform.

The theater offers visitors a great way to connect with the local community and understand the society.

Take the Kids to Pretend City Children’s Museum

Exterior of Pretend City Children’s Museum

David Tonelson /

Pretend City Children’s Museum is famous for its way of interacting and educating the children.

If you are traveling to Irvine with kids, this could be a great way to keep them busy and let them have some fun.

The museum is a non-profit organization that was developed for the benefit of kids.

It features a mini “city” with buildings, public facilities, and a garden where children can play and pretend to be grown-ups.

These can help develop children’s vocabulary, mathematical skills, and thinking skills.

There are libraries, grocery stores, a circus, theaters, and much more to promote children’s growth and keep them engaged.

Go Crazy at Boomers

Waterpark at Boomers!

David Tonelson /

Boomers is a theme park located on Michelson Drive.

There are a variety of fun activities for every age group, from infants to adults.

The carnival offers one big truckload of adventure.

There is a mini-golf course for golf lovers and a fun go-karting track for racing your go-karts.

Boomers also features a laser tag area where you can play with friends and family.

Exterior of Boomers

Steve Cukrov /

There is also a water park inside the carnival.

It has an outdoor seating area where tourists can sit and dine.

There are indoor arcade games available in case it gets hot outside, and you can continue fun indoors in the cool shade.

There is a rock wall where children can take turns climbing.

There are plenty of other rides available, too.

The grounds of Boomers

Steve Cukrov /

Have Lunch at Orange County Great Park

Pathway at Orange County Great Park

LunaseeStudios /

Orange County Great Park is found on Great Park Boulevard.

There are multiple entrances to this park, so make sure you enter through the main entrance only.

There is a parking area where you can park your vehicles.

Ocean County Great Park is a reconstruction of a vintage air station.

Softball stadium at Orange County Great Park

Steve Cukrov /

It is spread across 13,000 acres of land and is a multi-functional park.

There are around 25 soccer fields, 25 tennis courts, four basketball courts, five sand volleyball courts, and stadiums for tennis, basketball, baseball, and softball.

Besides all of that, there is a vast open space of green pastured land for citizens and tourists to hang out, work out, and play.

There is a greenhouse, kitchen garden, and spaced seating areas for groups and families.

Sand volleyball stadium at Orange County Great Park

Steve Cukrov /

Hike along the Turtle Rock Viewpoint Trail

This attraction is located inside Irvine Chaparral Park in the Turtle Rock area.

It is a hiking trail in the steep mountain area and is an ideal place to tour during the warm and breezy summer days.

While the park has an expansive green space and trees, the Turtle Rock area steals the show.

The viewpoint on top of the hill gives you a view of the entire city of Irvine.

The perfect take time to take the hike would be during sunset or in the evening as the city looks beautiful at night with all the lights going up.

The view from here is very scenic and can be a neat background for photographs.

Witness Nature in the San Joaquin Marsh and Wetlands Sanctuary

Waters of San Joaquin Marsh and wetlands Sanctuary

Creative Jen Designs /

Irvine is a city where there is so much to do outdoors, and it is the perfect destination for those who love spending time outside.

It really helps put life in perspective.

San Joaquin Marsh and Wetlands Sanctuary is one such green escape in the center of the city.

White pelican at San Joaquin Marsh and Wetlands Sanctuary

Kannan Sundaram /

The marsh extends across about 300 acres of land, and one can spot plenty of different birds and animal species here.

It is a restored cold water wetland and is an ideal summer destination.

In addition, there is a 12-mile trail around this natural oasis for walkers, runners, and bird enthusiasts.

Birdhouse at San Joaquin Marsh and Wetlands Sanctuary

David Eppstein, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Traverse the Quail Hill Loop Trail

Green fields at Quail Hill Loop Trail

K O Moore /

The Quail Hill Loop Trail is a hiking path ideal for friends and family.

It is located at the end of Sand Canyon Road.

This is the only hiking trail in Irvine where you can bring your pets with you.

It is a simple 1.6-mile trail and has flat paths for hiking.

View of the sunset from Quail Hill Loop Trail

K O Moore /

As evidenced by its name, the Quail Hill Loop Trail is in the form of a loop.

If you walk in a clockwise direction, you can locate the hill at the end of the loop.

Unfortunately, there are no shaded areas or resting spaces on the trail, so make sure you are well-prepared for the journey.

Spend a Day by the Stunning Woodbridge Lakes

The waters of Woodbridge Lake

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Irvine’s suburban Woodridge area is particularly known for its picturesque man-made lakes: North Lake and South Lake.

Each lake is charming in its own way and has benches where you can have a seat and admire the views.

Bridge over Woodbridge Lakes

David Eppstein, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

You can sit there and enjoy marvelous scenes of the pleasant waters or keep yourself busy by reading a book or going for a stroll around the lake.

You can also go fishing, swimming, and boating at these lakes.

Ride a Go-Kart at K1 Speed Irvine

Exterior of K1 Speed Irvine

The Image Party /

K1 Speed Irvine is a sizable indoor go-kart racing facility with two expertly constructed race circuits.

The electric go-karting is appropriate for people of all ages and abilities.

A modern racetrack, virtual reality experience, well-kept cars, and delectable cuisine choices are available at K1 Speed Irvine.

It’s worth spending hours racing around the tracks and then relaxing with drinks, wine, and mouthwatering snacks, including hamburgers, pizza, nachos, chicken fingers, tacos, and more,

Birthday celebrations and business events are among the activities the facility frequently hosts.

Engage in Outdoor Activities at William R. Mason Regional Park

The grounds of William R. Mason Regional Park

John Salatas, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

William R. Mason Regional Park, situated on University Drive, is a must-visit tourist attraction in Irvine.

The park is often recognized as Mason Park and is named after late Irvine Company President William R. Mason.

The park’s split into two: on the eastern portion, there is a native wildlife sanctuary with a bicycle path, some steep slopes, and a small stream.

The lake of William R. Mason Regional Park

John Salatas, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

On the other hand, the park’s western portion is more conventional; it features meadows, a man-made lake, and several pathways.

You may engage in various activities, including sailing model boats on the lake, bicycling, enjoying a great picnic, playing some fun volleyball or softball, outdoor games, going for a jog, using the playground, and so forth.

Relax Your Mind and Body at Irvine Spa

Irvine Spa is a lavish spa with five unique saunas that offer packages and accommodations to ensure a pleasant experience.

Additionally, Irvine Spa provides both men and women with a wide range of spa services, including massage and acupuncture.

You can get a body scrub, a full-body massage, relax in the warm water of its crystal pools, savor the warmth of the fire rooms, unwind your muscles in the ice rooms, and more.

The spa also features a restaurant, a café, and a kid’s play area for visitors with little children.

At Irvine Spa, enjoy the benefits of some much-needed relaxation time.

Enjoy Spending time with your Kids at Adventure Playground

Visit Adventure Playground when looking for inexpensive and fun destinations to take your kids.

Families in the area love Adventure Playground for its kid-friendly amenities that are perfect for kids of all ages.

Adventure Playground’s goal is to encourage children to engage in active learning activities by letting them utilize their imaginations and the available materials.

Several play spaces are available to keep your kids amused during their whole visit.

You may engage in playtime activities like chasing them across a meadow, climbing treehouses, going down slides, building sculptures with Lego pieces, and so on.

Have Dinner at Bistango

In Irvine, California’s Atrium Building, Bistango serves creative New American cuisine.

They have a sizable bar and a Wine Spectator award-winning wine pairings with more than 400 selections.

You may sample several foods top chefs prepare, including salads, spaghetti, burgers, rice dishes, steaks, and more.

Revolving modern art exhibitions, a full-service terrace with cozy couches and warming lights, and their nightly live music and dance floor add to the atmosphere’s seasonal enhancement.

For any special events, Bistango offers a beautiful and adaptive location.

Final Thoughts

With fantastic parks, museums, and exciting activities, Irvine in Orange County, California, is a delightful weekend getaway location for families and couples.

It is a lovely metropolis that offers a wealth of opportunities and is only a short distance from the coast, putting it close to stunning beaches.

You may engage in various interesting activities in Irvine, such as going shopping, touring a museum, visiting a lovely park, attending a live performance, and more.

Make the most of your trip by using the list of the best things to do in Irvine.

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