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.

 Irvine Hills

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.

-          Green beerMuldoon'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.