Irvine Blog - Posts from Local Experts
Long before it was a bustling, master-planned community, Irvine was an agricultural ranch.
It was owned by generations of the Irvine Family, who managed operations from the agricultural headquarters on the northwestern border of their ranch.
The site was chosen in 1876, because it was close to the stagecoach station in Tustin City.
James Irvine authorized the construction of the house that would become the home of his descendants for decades.
The house was the central point of the agricultural headquarters that surrounded it. There was a small office off the front hall and workers would eat meals on the screened porch
Soon, buildings were added as ranch operations expanded. A Mess Hall, Bunkhouse, Blacksmith Shop and Carriage Barn all sprang up at the intersection of Irvine Blvd and Myford Road. For years, this was the nerve center of an agricultural powerhouse.
Today, a visit to the Irvine Ranch Historic Park takes you back to the city’s roots; when the primary crops were lima beans and citrus instead of residential villages and business towers.
Located on the corner of Jamboree and Irvine Blvd, The Irvine Ranch Historic Park features a collection of original structures from simpler days.
The 1906 Mess Hall is still there, where Irvine Company employees heard the clanging of the cook's triange before lunch.
Meals were served "ranch style" and, after the Irvine Company headquarters were moved nearby the late 1960's, there would be as many as 125 people at a setting.
When former Irvine Company president invited distinguished guests from Farnce, they were delighted to enjoy the kitchen specialty of enchiladas, tacos and beans.
It was also the place where James H. Irvine hosted annual Christmas Dinners for his veteran employees.
The Irvine Ranch Historic park is a collection of old structures, silent reminders of a very different time.
The Bunkhouse still stands, near a row of Foremen Houses. The paint on the red Carriage Barn has worn a bit over the years, giving it a vintage charm.
Design architects consulted original blueprints and took great care to ensure that that new building matched the former home.
The large, Georgian country home witnessed many of the joys and tragedies of the Irvine Family.
It was in this home that James H. Irvine’s first grandchild, a girl named Katie, was born in 1920. Four days later, Katie’s mother Kathryn became ill with pneumonia and died.
Over the years, the home was the setting for decades of holiday celebrations and family dinners.
It was also the place where Myford Irvine, the sole surviving son of James H. Irvine, died tragically in his basement office. His suspicious death, due to multiple gunshot wounds, was ruled a suicide.
In 1965, the iconic home was severely damaged by fire.Three years later, it was demolished.
The Katie Wheeler Library was built on the former home site and opened to the public in 2008.
It seems fitting to stroll among booths of fresh fruits and vegetables in the heart of the former agricultural ranch.
After all, it’s only a few steps from the home of James Irvine, who considered himself a farmer first, landowner second.
13042 Old Myford Rd.
Irvine, CA 92602
Irvine Farmers Market – Tuesdays
The OC Great Park in Irvine offers an array of family, arts, sports, music, nature, and science events and activities for everyone to enjoy. I usually go to the OC Great Park for the Antique and Farmer's Market, but here's what I'm looking forward to with other events this month (and most events are recurring workshops every month):
-Screenprinting my Own T-shirt or Bag as apart of the Creative Centures DIY Class tomorrow March 9th!
It's FREE! Just provide your own graphic image and an item to print it on (flat surface)
Check out other DIY/Art classes here
- Stargazing; it's something I've never done before and Astronom4U will be conducting the event on March 15th! Can't wait!
-I am always looking for an opportunity to improve upon my photography skills. Why not do that (for free) through the Legacy Project Photography Workshops and have access to the historic Marine Corps Air Station El Toro to use my newly acquired photography techniques?! Space is limited and free admission passes are available the morning of the event, March 16th.
- It fascinates me that some of my friends grow their own gardens overflowing with fruits and veggies that they can just pick and eat. It's something I've been wanting to get into, and here's my chance with the Spring Gardening Workshops! All you have to do is BYOP (Bring Your Own Pot) and along with the University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners, learn how to grow your own lettuce and other greens.....taking home a newly planted salad bowl! Sustainable and healthy!
Have a great weekend!
*Images via OC Great Park
Things are looking green around Irvine. An early spring has painted the hillsides a grassy hue and with St. Patrick's Day just around the corner, Irvine is ready to celebrate. Whether you are eager to explore the beauty of Irvine's outdoors or consume green beer and corned beef inside a pub, we've got you covered.
St. Patrick's Day falls on a Sunday this year which means folks will have the entire day to celebrate. Why not start your day enjoying one Orange County's scenic parks or trails? Here is a sample of the festivities and activities OC Parks has put together for March 17th.
- Visitors to Irvine Regional Park can start their day with a Leprechaun Loop hike which end and learn about park's history and Irish connection along the way.
- After the hike, take time to say hello to the animals at Irvine Regional Park's Orange County Zoo. On St. Patrick's Day, visitors who "go green" and bring an empty cardboard box will receive free admission to the zoo. Boxes are recycled as enrichment toys for the zoo's animals.
- Just west of Irvine is the Upper Newport Bay which will play host to a "Coastal Clover" day where visitors can learn more about our region's flora and decorate a pot to take home filled with coastal California's unique Owl's Clover seeds.
- If you are interested in seeing some of those yellows, purples, and pinks that are dotting the vibrant green hillsides, be sure to take part in the 3.5-mile wildflower hike at Laguna Coast Wilderness Park.
Runners of all abilities will be eager to wear green and run in the St. Patrick's Day Dash at Concordia University. The run winds around the beautiful Concordia campus and all participants will receive a St. Patty's Day t-shirt and swag. Adults as well as children are welcome and proceeds raised by the event will benefit the Concordia Track & Field program. Register at www.racewire.com/stpatsdash.
Families with young children will want to celebrate St. Patrick's Day at Pretend City children's museum. Highlights include a rainbow ribbon dance, Irish art, leprechaun games, and an "End of the Rainbow" treasure hunt which could lead young guests to their very own pot o' gold. Of course, every visit to Pretend City allows kids to imagine being whatever they want to be, so whether they pretend to be the farmer growing potatoes, the grocery clerk selling potatoes, or the waitress serving potatoes to hungry patrons enjoying an Irish feast, they are certain to have a blast playing grownup.
So after you have run a 5K, hiked through the wildflowers, and taken the kids to have some pretend play with at the end of the rainbow, you are probably in the mood for some Irish grub and a frosty brew, no? Luckily there are a few special places in and around town that are eager to help you celebrate St. Paddy's Day in true Irish fashion.
- Muldoon's Pub in Newport serves authentic Irish food, beer, and spirits year round but the fun is certain to kick up a notch during their 38th annual St. Patrick's Day party. Stew, soda bread, pot roast, whiskey, Irish brews, and fun await!
- The Auld Dubliner inside The District serves Irish fayre such as shepherd's pie, rack of lamb, beef stew and corned beef and cabbage. Of course, there is always plenty Irish liquor and beer to keep those spirit festive.
- McCormick and Schmick's will be extending their happy hour from noon to nine on St. Patrick's Day. Dishes served will include Irish whiskey glazed salmon, Guinness steamed black mussels, and of course, corned beef and cabbage.
- Yard House at the Irvine Spectrum Center is known for its massive selection of beers on tap and during St. Patrick's Day weekend, a select few turn green for the holiday. In addition to the green beer, there will be a varied selection of Irish beers on tap, as well as signature whiskey-based mixed drinks such as the Lucky Leprechaun and the Celtic Mojito. The holiday menu includes classic such as corned beef and shepherd's pie.
Irvine has a reputation for being the land of beige. Wyland is here to add a welcome touch of blue.
The renowned marine artist has moved his Wyland Worldwide headquarters to Irvine and has already established himself as a good neighbor.
On January 17th, Wyland spent the evening with students of Woodbury Elementary School, painting and sharing his passion for marine preservation.
The event, sponsored by the Irvine Public Schools Foundation, featured the Clean Water Mobile Experience, an interactive classroom on wheels that teaches the importance of preserving water habitats.
2013 is a big year for Wyland.
It's the 35th Anniversary of his gallery and 20th Anniversary of the Wyland Foundation, the non-profit organization dedicated to promoting, protecting and preserving the world's ocean, waterways, and marine life. The foundation encourages environmental awareness through education programs, public art projects, and community events. Wyland donates more than 1,000 pieces of art annually for his foundation efforts and for charitable causes worldwide.
Wyland is a dedicated philanthropist, but he is an artist first; an artist with a mission.
He paints every day; never losing sight of his dedication to art, conservation, and the community.
Wyland has been drawn to paint marine life ever since he first visited Laguna Beach as a teenager.
"Growing up in Michigan, I learned about the ocean like every other midwestern kid," says Wyland "by watching 'The Undersea World of Jaques Cousteau' on TV."
That first trip to Laguna was a revelation.
"I couldn't wait to get in the water. I dove in at Main Beach and swam out past the waves. I came up out of the water and found two gray whales right in front of me. In those days the whales hugged the shore as they migrated."
The sight of those two whales changed Wyland's life. He returned to Laguna Beach, opened his gallery in 1978, and became one of the most influential artists in the growing environmental movement.
"I was the right artist at the right time," Wyland explains.
Now this artist is part of the Irvine community, ready to get involved with local causes.
"Irvine is a great place for me," says Wyland. "Education is a high priority here and that fits with what I do."
"Kids come first."
Does this sound familiar?
Every holiday season, you find yourself buried under an avalanche of To-Do Lists and schedules. Celebrations meant to be festive occasions become overwhelming obligations.
Somewhere, around the middle of December, you find that you have turned into the most dreaded of seasonal creatures:
The Holiday Martyr.
Don't let this happen to you!
Do what I do and schedule an all-important day off.
A Holiday from the Holidays, if you will.
It may seem that personal time is an impossible luxury at this time of year. But intentionally taking a break in the action may allow you to actually enjoy the holiday celebrations that you've worked so hard to create.
Here are my Top Stress Reducers for the Holiday Season.
Try one or two; you'll be glad you did.
Enjoy a Spa Day.
It's OK to give yourself a gift during the holidays and The Spa at The Island Hotel in Fashion Island is the perfect place to escape for an afternoon of seasonal bliss. Try a Hoiday Aromatherapy massage with hazelnut, clove and macadamia oils. Maybe a Peppermint Reflexology Treatment for your aching feet. A few hours of relaxation can refresh and recharge you for more holiday fun.
Get Some Fresh Air
If there's one thing that the City of Irvine has in abundance, it's open space trails. This collection of pathways and parks meander throughout each community. Exploring one of these trails is a healthy and economical way to battle holiday stress.
Give to Others
It's true. There's no better way to change your mood from sour to sweet than to give to others. Families Forward is a local Irvine charitable organization that supports families in crisis throughout the year. At the holidays, they sponsor the Adopt a Family Program, where you can make the holidays brighter with donated presents, gas or gift cards.
Deep, Cleansing Breaths
Exercise is important all year long, but an hour long, stress-busting yoga class can be a lifesaver during the holidays. Try a class at L.A. Fitness. Not a member? You can try a guest pass for the day and check it out.
Go ahead. You can do it. Power down your cell phone for an afternoon. Abandon your IPad. Take a few hours and escape the online madness and do something revolutionary; like read a book. The world will survive without you while you push your own personal reset button.
Be A Tourist in Your Own Town
Irvine is located smack-dab in the middle of one of the most popular vacation destinations in the country. Orange County boasts a wealth of delightful day trips that would tempt any freezing East Coaster to jump on a plane. Avoid some of the busier spots and enjoy a quiet walk on the beach at Crystal Cove, or visit Santa himself at Irvine Regional Park.
It may seem like the simplest of things, yet it's easy to forget. In the middle of holiday bustle, take intentional time to remember your blessings. The season is full of reminders of how lucky we are, we only have to choose to see them. A stack of Christmas cards to mail means lots of good friends. Boxes of decorations mean a home to make beautiful. Piles of presents to wrap mean loved ones around for the holidays.
May your holiday season be joyously peaceful and happily stress free!
Yep. It's that time of the year again. The time for baking cookies, trimming trees, and pulling your hair out trying to shop for all the people on your holiday list. There is nothing more miserable than walking up and down the mall without any gift-giving direction. Fear not! We are here to help guide you to some of our favorite shops in Irvine, in hopes of putting your frazzled holiday-dominated minds at ease.
Best place to shop
99 Fortune Drive
Irvine, CA 92618
It is virtually impossible for me to walk by Anthropologie's big picture windows filled with fabulous fashion without heading inside. Once inside, nearly every woman I know lets out an involuntary sigh of despair. You see, we want everything in the store, from the bright red holiday dress to the sequined walrus ornament (which we didn't know we needed until we saw it) yet we know we can't have it all. But you can help us have something special. The cashmere scarf is enchanting. The avocado mint candle smells divine. The iced dew bracelet set would be the perfect stocking stuffer. Just saying....
Best place to shop for men:
13702 Jamboree Road
Irvine, CA 92602
Inside the Irvine Marketplace you will find what I refer to as the trifecta of men's holiday shopping: Sport's Authority, Howard's Appliance and Flat Screen Superstore, and Lazyboy Furniture Galleries. You can park the car in one spot and shop for all the things men love the most: sports gear, massive televisions, and recliners with coolers attached. If you still haven't found everything that special man in your life desires, just head up one block to Lowe's. There enough power tools in there to unleash any man's Tim the Toolman Taylor grunts of joy.
Best place to shop for the epicurean:
Sur la Table
97 Fortune Drive
Irvine, CA 92618
I will be honest. I used to pass Sur la Table without even considering walking in the door because I figured with all that fabulousness in the window, it was most definitely out of my league. I was so wrong. Sur la Table is an epicurean's dream with all the gadgets and gizmos a baker, griller, or chef could ever desire. Cookware is available at a variety of price points, from high end Mauviel cookware to the more reasonably priced Sur la Table house brand. Whether you are looking for a paella pan, collapsible cupcake carrier, gourmet grilling sauces, or novelty mustache drink markers, Sur la Table is the place to find it!
Best place to shop for your pampered pooch:
6755 Quail Hill Pkwy
Irvine, CA 92603
If you're the type of pet parent who feels your pooch deserves but the best, then Dogma is the perfect place for you to do all your holiday shopping for Fido. They carry everything from holiday sweaters (for your puppy, of course) to leashes, carriers, and toys. My puppy is particularly fond of the dog bakery case which is filled with treats that look so good, human tummies are known to rumble while picking out their pet's goodies.
Best place to shop for the nostalgic urban hipster:
99 Fortune Drive
Irvine, CA 92618
I have simply one question to ask- who doesn't need a Clark W. Griswold Moose Mug a la National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation? Or a crazy haired good luck troll? Or a box of Nerds as big as a toddler? These gifts, plus dozens of other quirky items are the perfect answer to the question "what do I get my 28-year-old single brother who lives in an urban loft and invites fabulously dressed friends over past 10PM on a weeknight to hang out and listen to music that is too cool to be found on the radio?" These gifts also work great with 35-year-old moms who would love a bit of nostalgia to shake them from their exhausting scheduled life revolving around work, home, and kids.
Best place to shop with kids:
Irvine Spectrum Center
Irvine, CA 92618
Dragging kids around while we try to finish up our holiday shopping can be, well, a drag! Luckily, Irvine Spectrum Center is filled with kid-friendly fun so you can bribe your children (yep, I am not above bribery) to behave with rides on the carousel, train, and Ferris wheel; games at Dave and Buster's and wintry fun on the outdoor ice rink as you finish your holiday shopping. Lollipops at See's Candy and candy apples from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory are great rewards for a couple hours of retail induced torture as well. Best of all, Santa is at the Spectrum, eager to hear all of your children's Christmas wishes.
Best place to find inexpensive stocking stuffers:
14280 Culver Dr, Suite A
Irvine, CA 92604
New to Irvine this year is Daiso, the Japanese version of America's dollar store. Almost everything in this store is $1.50, and you will be amazed what a difference 50 cents can make. This is where you can buy Santa hats for the whole family, fun holiday decorations, wrapping paper, and plenty of affordable stocking stuffers. My kids will be finding scented pens, travel goodies, hair clips, toothbrushes, and Japanese candy in their stockings this year. All $1.50. All from Daiso.
Sharlene Earnshaw is the Editor in Chief of Trekaroo, a site dedicated to helping families travel better with kids.
It started as a simple remembrance; a collection of wooden monuments displaying the names and faces of fallen troops.
In 2003, neighbors in the Village of Northwood wanted to find a way to acknowledge members of the military who had been recently lost in Iraq and Afghanistan.
They took it upon themselves to create a memorial in their community park, decorating it with flags and yellow ribbons and lovingly lighting it with candles.
What began as a personal community statement of remembrance became the Northwood Gratitude and Honor Memorial, the only place in the nation that honors those who died serving their country during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Today, thanks to volunteer efforts and funding from the City of Irvine, the homemade wooden memorials have been replaced by five granite sentinels that are engraved with over 6,000 names. They stand prominently at the corner of Bryan and Yale Avenues, acting as a silent but constant reminder of service for those who cross this busy intersection every day.
On Sunday, November 11, there will be a Veteran's Day ceremony to express gratitude for those who have served their country and to honor those who were unable to return. It will be a time to feel pride for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. But it will also be a time to feel pride for the community that chose not to forget them.
A few feet behind the granite sentinels stands a lone, wooden stake displaying a hand-written letter. It was written by Sgt. Jacob Lee Butler on April 1, 2003; two hours before he was killed in action.
"Dear Mom and Dad, If you are reading this, I did not make it."
The letter ends with a simple sentiment that could be echoed by all of those whose names are written here.
"I love you. Don't forget me."
Northwood Gratitude and Honor Memorial
4531 Bryan Avenue
Veteran's Day Ceremony
Sunday, November 11, 2pm
Location, location, location! If you are looking for a jumping off point to explore all that Orange County has to offer, there is no better place to call home base than Irvine. At the center of OC, Irvine offers easy access to the best that Orange County has to offer with a travel time of 30 minutes or less! Here are 5 fun and easy daytrips from Irvine.
1. Enjoy the Laguna Beach art scene
Photo via Flckr user Neil Kremer
If you dream of a cultural hot spot in a beautiful seaside setting, look no further than Laguna Beach. This beach town borders Irvine to the west and has had a thriving art scene since the 1920s. With over 100 art galleries and artists' studios as well as a cute downtown area made for strolling, Laguna Beach is the perfect place to find the next masterpiece to hang on your wall or just window shop. During the summer months The Pageant of the Masters, a live interpretation of famous works of art put on by over 500 volunteers, is a definite must-see. The city is also home to several art festivals including the Festival of Arts and Sawdust Art Festival. Before you leave this artful city be sure to spend time at one Laguna Beach's beaches. They are amongst the most beautiful in the state.
2. Explore the vibrant history of San Juan Capistrano
Every March the swallows return to Capistrano from Argentina via air but those visiting San Juan Capistrano from Irvine should consider arriving via rail. The ride from the Irvine station to San Juan via Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner may take just 13 minutes but when you step off the train and cross the tracks into the Los Rios District, you have entered a neighborhood that is centuries in the making . Los Rios is the oldest continuously inhabited neighborhood in all of California, occupied since the original adobes were built in the 1790s to house mission workers. These days Los Rios is home to three original adobes as well as charming restaurants, unique shops, a cute tea house, and a fun petting zoo. On the other side of the tracks, Mission San Juan Capistrano is open daily for tours of its gardens and structures. Living history demonstrations and various festivals take place on select weekends.
3. Take to the water in Newport Beach
Photo via Flickr user Mastery of Maps
Directly west of Irvine lies Newport Beach, brimming with diverse opportunities for water based fun. Newport Bay is very popular with wealthy yacht owners but if you don't have a boat of your own don't fret- you can still take to the waters on one of the many boat cruises offered by various local operators. If you prefer to operate the watercraft yourself, everything from yachts to paddleboards is available for charter. Those looking to stretch their surfing muscles (or just want to watch the experts at play) should check out "The Wedge", a popular surf spot capable of producing 30 foot waves during storms. If you prefer more placid waters, consider a guided kayak tour of Upper Newport Bay. This ecological reserve is one of the largest in Southern California and serves as home to up to 35,000 birds during the winter months.
4. Bike your way to a classic beach day in Huntington Beach
The "Surf City" that Jan and Dean sang about back in 1963 is none other than Huntington Beach, a classic Southern California beach town. The best way to explore the city's main beachfront drag is via bicycle. Several outfitters will rent you everything from beach cruisers to surreys which are perfect for riding the 12 mile sand front trail. Be sure to hop off your ride to join in on a game of beach volleyball, walk the length of the pier (and grab a shake at Ruby's), play with the pups at the Huntington Beach Dog Beach, or play in the surf at one of the cleanest beaches in the USA.
5. Spend time at the Happiest Place on Earth
The center of Irvine is just 15 miles south of the Disneyland Resort, meaning an entire day's worth of fun with Mickey and his friends is just a quick jaunt up Interstate 5. 2012 has been a banner year for the Disney California Adventure which just completed a billion dollar renovation. The biggest highlights of this transformation are Cars Land, a 12-acre land based on Pixar's Cars movie franchise, and Buena Vista Street which is themed to look the 1920's version of Los Angeles that Walt Disney encountered when he first came to California. The original Disney theme park, Disneyland, has plenty to offer guests as well including a newly revamped Matterhorn and the new version of Star Tours which features 54 different 3D adventures.
Sharlene Earnshaw is the Editor in Chief of Trekaroo, a website dedicated to travel with kids.
Irvine is smack dab in the center of Orange County, making it easy to set up day trips on a moment's notice. Last weekend we squeezed the last drops out of summer by spending the day in Laguna Beach. A quick 20 minute drive and we were in the heart of Laguna Canyon, home of the Sawdust Festival.
Nestled under a canopy of fragrant eucalyptus trees, the Sawdust Festival is a tradition going back over 40 years featuring local artists every summer. We meandered through the artists' stalls, each of us having our personal favorites (paintings, pottery, glasswork, photography...candy!). We even became artists ourselves, with the help of some patient ceramic teachers. I love how we each made a cereal bowl, each as unique as its creator. This is the joy of the Sawdust Festival.
We took a walk over to Main Beach to get our toes wet and cool down from the summer heat before heading over to the Laguna Playhouse to catch The Marvelous Wonderettes: Gaps and Gowns, the jukebox musical journey of four high school friends as they graduate, then reunite ten years later. The musical showcased songs from the 50's and 60's amidst quaint and quirky comedy - a perfect family theater experience. My 10 year old wasn't too sure about the coolness factor as he waited for the show to start, but he was quickly won over with the goofy humor and amazing talent of the four stars, nudging me every time he recognized a song.
The Laguna Playhouse has a rich history of bringing an eclectic mix of theater, concerts and live performances to Orange County since 1920. Karen Wood, Executive Director says, "There's an invigorating connection between what's happening on stage, the spirit of the community and our many visitors which creates a resonance felt up and down the coast of Southern California; we're united in cultural celebration. "
Come join in the celebration at the upcoming shows at Laguna Playhouse!
Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps: Sept 25 -Oct 21
Plaid Tidings - Forever Plaid Holiday Edition: Nov 27-Dec 23
Chapter Two: Jan 8-Feb 3
Having It All: March 5 - 3
Steel Magnolias: April 30 - May 26 (which I just may have to audition for!)
Summer brings fun times like watermelon eating contests, days at the beach and backyard barbeques, but if you want to give your family a bit of culture, head over to the Irvine Museum to view the current exhibit of California Impressionist Artwork entitled Paradise Found: Summer in California.
The exhibit, on display through September 20, features a selection of paintings by California Impressionists that show various familiar views of California as they appeared nearly a century ago, before the great population growth of the late twentieth century.
I love Impressionism and can't wait to meander through the halls of the Irvine Museum to pause and ponder the beauty of my state, as captured by talented painters such as Louis Betts (1873-1961), Maurice Braun (1877-1941) Guy Rose (1867-1925)
The Irvine Museum
18881 Von Karman Avenue, Suite 100
Irvine, CA 92612
Click here for direction