Destination Irvine

Great Reasons To Visit Irvine, California

You know the saying, “It’s a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.” Well the city of Irvine, CA is both. Listed as #4 on CNNMoney’s “2008 Best Places to Live in America”, Irvine is not just a great place to plant your roots, but an impressive travel destination as well. With world-class shopping, its own airport and train station, close proximity to beaches and amusement parks, not to mention the nearly year-round sunshine and mild temperatures, Irvine should be on every traveler’s Top 10 list. But if you’re still not convinced, here are 5 reasons to make Irvine, CA your travel destination:

Reason #1 to visit Irvine – Fun!

From the “Happiest Place on Earth” to the famous Orange County beaches of Newport and Laguna, Irvine is centrally located to some of the best places in the nation for having fun. With an Amtrak station that takes you to popular Orange County destinations, and hotel rooms starting at only $89, Irvine is the perfect place to unpack your suitcase.

Disneyland and California Adventure: From nostalgic Main Street to tummy-turning roller coasters, a day at Disneyland and California Adventure is a must when traveling to Orange County. Disneyland is not just a place to explore your inner thrill-seeker, but also holds live performances, parades, fireworks and those adorable character appearances throughout the park. Rides range from the palm-sweating, jumbling jeep ride on Indiana Jones, to the coaster-lovers California Screamer, and the more mellow laser-zapping Buzz Light-year Astro Blaster. Of course, no trip to Disneyland is complete without a ride on the classic Matterhorn.

Wild Rivers: A family water park offering over 40 water rides and attractions. Enjoy thrilling waterslides or simply relax as you float down the Lazy River. Located in Irvine, Wild Rivers is close to Irvine hotels and offers discounted prices for large groups.

Knott’s Berry Farm: Living in the shadow of Disneyland for years, Knott’s Berry Farm often doesn’t get the attention it deserves. If you love a good roller coaster, Knott’s is one of the best places in California to ride one. With rides like the Xceleratorsm and Boomerang, this is the place to plummet, plunge, and catapult yourself into the air. Knott’s also has its own water park next door, Soak City, in case you need to cool down after those adrenalin-pumping thrill rides.

Outside of Orange County, there are other popular theme parks just a quick freeway drive or train ride away. San Diego is just an hour from Irvine and is home to Sea World, Legoland, the San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park. Although Hollywood is an attraction of its own, the Los Angeles area is also home to Universal Studios where you can get a behind-the-scenes look at Hollywood movie making.

Beaches: Orange County is home to world famous beaches and Irvine is centrally located to all of them. By choosing a hotel in Irvine, you are just minutes away from the beautiful and prestigious resort city of Newport Beach (featured on the Fox TV show, The OC) without paying the high prices of Newport’s hotels. The nearby seaside artist colony of Laguna Beach is not just a picturesque and serene beach to stroll on, but a great place for some unique shopping. There are also the famous surf cities of Huntington Beach and San Clemente and the tide-pool-aplenty Corona Del Mar and Dana Point beaches, all just a few minutes away from Irvine.

Reason #2 to visit Irvine – Convenience and Affordability

Don’t you hate it when you plan a trip somewhere and find that the closest airport is an hour away? One of the best reasons to visit Irvine is its centrally located airport, John Wayne Airport. This airport is literally minutes away from the best of Orange County. This sleek, sunny and spacious airport serves most U.S. commercial airlines, most notably American, United and Southwest airlines.

Amtrak and Metrolink train service will get you where you need to go, whether its surfing in San Clemente, visiting the historic San Juan Mission or riding the Matterhorn at Disneyland. The train station is just minutes from John Wayne airport and most Irvine hotels.

Irvine offers a variety of hotel possibilities. From luxury to family-friendly, the hotels in Irvine are sure to fit everyone’s budget and lifestyle. The following hotels are located only about a mile from John Wayne Airport and close to shopping and dining:

Hilton Irvine/Orange County Airport – Where luxury is combined with comfort. Notable features include: shuttle service, Olympic size pool, tennis courts and the “Serenity Bed”.

Hyatt Regency Irvine – Central to both Irvine and Newport Beach. Notable features include: heated swimming pool, tennis courts, shuttle service and the popular 6ix Park Grill Restaurant.

Residence Inn by Marriott Irvine/John Wayne Airport – Perfect for longer visits. Notable features include: kitchenette, all suites, complimentary breakfast, laundry facility, and pets are allowed.

*TIP – For the Best Online Rate on the above hotels and many more, book through the Irvine Chamber Visitors Bureau website at

Reason #3 to visit Irvine – Arts & Entertainment

The University of California, Irvine (UCI) is a nationally ranked university and home to both the Barclay Theater and the Bren Event Center. The Barclay Theater provides top-notch performances in dance, music and theater. It’s intimate size of 750 seats, guarantees everyone a great view. The Bren Event Center is a modern arena with state-of-the-art lighting and sound. The perfect venue for concerts and sporting events, this 5000 capacity seating stadium has played host to a variety of events, from the Dalai Lama to Blink 182 concerts.

Down the freeway from UCI, is the Verizon Amphitheater. Formerly known as Irvine Meadows, this large outdoor arena is nestled up against the rolling green hills of Irvine. With reserved and lawn seating of nearly 15,000 the Verizon Amphitheater has been host to some of the biggest names in music.

Adjacent to Irvine is the city of Costa Mesa, with its critically acclaimed Orange County Performing Arts Center. This nationally respected center presents performances in ballet and other dance forms, Broadway shows, classical music, jazz, cabaret and family-friendly programs.

The coastal city of Laguna Beach is as rich in natural beauty as any of the art produced in it. This quaint seaside town is the nucleus for artistic expression in Orange County. Every summer Laguna’s Festival of the Arts presents its world famous Pageant of the Masters, where actors, paint, costumes and lighting combine to recreate contemporary and classical artwork. Performed in a packed outdoor theater, this popular yearly event is an unforgettable experience.

Reason #4 to visit Irvine – Sports & Recreation:

UCI sports teams (nicknamed the Anteaters) have won 25 national team championships in nine different sports, and have captured 58 conference championships. Their most popular sports are basketball, baseball, soccer, volleyball and water polo. In addition to the Bren Event Center, which is home to the Anteaters’ basketball & volleyball teams, UCI also offers the Anteater Ballpark with 900 chair back seats and 2000 festival capacity seating; the Anteater Stadium, which is a multi-purpose venue servicing both soccer and track meets with 2500 spectator seating; and the Anteater Complex, which has a 210 ft x 75 ft swimming pool for swim meets or water polo matches (or both simultaneously) and can also be configured for diving competitions.

With its mild temperatures, rolling hills, ocean breezes and championship golf courses, Irvine is a perfect place for vacationing golfers. Some of the popular golf courses in the area are Strawberry Farms Golf Club, Rancho San Joaquin Golf Course, Pelican Hill Golf Club and one of the most beautiful courses, Oak Creek Golf Club. This 18-hole golf course is set against the backdrop of the Saddleback Mountains. Designed by Tom Fazio, one of the most respected and admired golf course designers in the world, this course offers generous fairways and well bunkered greens. The serene beauty of its two lakes, meandering stream and mixture of oak, eucalyptus and palm trees will make spending a few hours on this golf course a pleasure.

Although Irvine is located in the middle of Orange County, the Irvine Ranch Land Reserve comprises more than fifty thousand acres of protected wilderness that invites hikers, mountain bikers and campers year round. There is also the large Irvine Regional Park with 477 acres of rolling hills shaded by oak and sycamore trees. It is the perfect place for a picnic, a game of football or horseback riding. If fishing is your sport, Irvine Lake is located only minutes from the busy freeways of Orange County, but feels like you’ve traveled miles away. The lake is stocked with bass, catfish, trout and many more.

If watching sports is more your style, the 12 professional teams of Orange County, San Diego and Los Angeles are sure to have a team you can root for.

Reason #5 to visit Irvine – Shopping and Dining

Irvine, CA is a shopper’s dream come true! With 4 major shopping and entertainment centers nearby, there is something for everyone when it comes to shopping in Irvine. Visit South Coast Plaza, located just down the freeway in Costa Mesa, for world-class shopping. Its high-end labels, exclusive boutiques and top-rated restaurants draw visitors and shopping enthusiasts from around the world. With over 300 stores, including the posh Gucci, Versace & Cartier, this is one of the largest shopping malls you will ever visit, so wear comfortable shoes.

The Irvine Spectrum is a large outdoor shopping and entertainment complex. Its more casual atmosphere, live entertainment, seasonal ice rink, and 108 foot tall ferris wheel create a more youthful shopping environment than South Coast and Fashion Island. The Spectrum has over 120 stores, restaurants and entertainment venues, including the Irvine Improv, Edwards 21 Cinemas and Orange County’s only IMAX Theater.

Irvine’s dining choices offer a wide variety of international and American cuisine.

Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly restaurant or a romantic steakhouse, there is a restaurant in Irvine for every palate and every occasion. Visit Jimmy Z Grill for a warm relaxing atmosphere and Persian inspired unique dishes. Waters Lake House offers lakeside patio views and an award-winning menu of fresh California cuisine. Although Bucca di Beppos is a national restaurant chain, its traditional Italian dishes served “family style” for sharing, is always a unique dining experience.

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