BY TRIPVEEL EDITORIAL STAFF

Nestled between Loma Ridge and the San Joaquin Hills in the heart of Orange County—Irvine, California is recognized as one of the “100 Best Places to Live in America.” Just minutes to the Pacific Ocean, Irvine is home to numerous Fortune 500 companies and is where community, business and nature meet together in harmony.

1. THE HIKING

Irvine offers preserved natural habitats and wildlands with miles and miles of hiking trails. Nestled in the heart of Bommer Canyon is part of the old Irvine Ranch Cattle Camp. A few of the original structures exist today, adding to the rustic feel of the canyon. Stroll past ancient oak and sycamore groves on the Bommer Canyon Trail or check out the Quail Hill Trail, an easy two-mile hike at the foot of Quail Hill.

Image courtesy of Destination Irvine

Image courtesy of Destination Irvine

Although dogs are not permitted on trails in Bommer Canyon, they are permitted on the Quail Hill Loop Trail in connecting Quail Hill Park. For a trailhead map, click here.

2. THE ART

The Institute and Museum of California Art (IMCA) is home to a significant collection of California art. The Buck Collection consists of over 3,200 works of California art in a range of genres and mediums from the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The Irvine Museum Collection consists of over 1300 works of California Impressionism and plein air painting. This collection chronicles the history of California’s environment from the early nineteenth century to the present day.

UCI Institute and Museum of California Art

UCI Institute and Museum of California Art

The IMCA strives to expand our understanding of California art, its social and cultural framework, as well as its role in the creative evolution of society and aesthetics in both the United States and worldwide. For upcoming exhibitions, click here.

3. THE COCKTAILS

Indulge in delicious American cuisine with a California twist at Aura Bar and Grill at the Hilton Irvine/Orange County. This hidden oasis provides a lush, relaxing poolside atmosphere and the outdoor setting comes complete with fire pits for those chillier Orange County evenings. Kick back and socialize while sampling their revolving collection of handcrafted cocktails. We recommend trying the tantalizing Apple Cider Mojito for your artisanal cocktail fix—concocted with Bacardi superior rum, sparkling apple cider and fresh-squeezed lime juice.

Aura Bar & Grill at the Hilton Irvine/Orange County

Aura Bar & Grill at the Hilton Irvine/Orange County

With cuisine influenced by California, favorites at Aura Bar and Grill include BBQ Pulled Pork Sliders with smoked pork, Granny Smith apple slaw and house BBQ sauce, California Salad with blackened shrimp and avocado, as well as Thin Crust Pizza with fresh, plum tomato sauce and mozzarella.

  Aura Bar & Grill at the Hilton Irvine/Orange County

  Aura Bar & Grill at the Hilton Irvine/Orange County

  Aura Bar & Grill at the Hilton Irvine/Orange County

Aura Bar & Grill at the Hilton Irvine/Orange County

For those craving something sweet, end your experience with a Molten Fudge Cake with chocolate coulis, warm caramel and fresh California berries. Hungry yet?

4. THE GARDENS

The University of California, Irvine Arboretum is a 12.5-acre botanical garden and arboretum near the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary and the Upper Newport Bay. The two major emphases of the collection are the plants of the California Floristic Province and plants of South Africa.

  University of California, Irvine Arboretum

  University of California, Irvine Arboretum

University of California, Irvine Arboretum

Notable among the arboretum's collection of California native plants are species from Baja California, the Channel Islands of California, the Mojave Desert, Southern maritime chaparral, Otay Mesa and California oak woodland.

University of California, Irvine Arboretum

University of California, Irvine Arboretum

California native grasslands, wildflowers, and maritime succulent scrub are in the collection. There is also an aloe collection.

5. THE ARCHITECTURE

The circa 1864 Irvine Ranch Historic Park is the site of the original Irvine Ranch headquarters, once one of the world’s greatest producers of Valencia oranges. Several original buildings still stand, including the Irvine Family Home.

Image courtesy of Explore Charleston

Image courtesy of Explore Charleston

The jewel of the Irvine Ranch Historic Park is The Katie Wheeler Library. This large, Georgian country home is an exact replica of the original Irvine Family Home which was partially destroyed by fire.

Ready to book your Irvine, California vacation?