By Susan Hornik, Irvine Weekly

According to WalletHub.com, Irvine is one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States. It’s no wonder the area has a myriad of nightlife choices.

Destination Irvine, a resource for where to stay, play, eat and meet in the area, promotes the city as a preferred overnight destination in Southern California for groups, sports events, leisure visitors and business travelers.

“From the rooftop bar Hive & Honey offering 360° views and signature cocktails to Red Bar and Lounge’s nightly specials including a DJ, these venues are a few of Orange County’s hot spots,” says Wendy Haase, senior director, Destination Irvine.

Whether you’re new to this diverse city, just visiting or have lived here all your life, here are some fun places to hang out and enjoy with friends:

Hotel Irvine

17900 Jamboree Road

Red Bar – Photo courtesy of Red Bar

Hotel Irvine has an exciting nightlife scene every weekend. On Fridays from 5 to 9 p.m., their restaurant, Eats Kitchen, features a Spanish guitarist who plays while you eat. Also on the premises is Red Bar and Lounge, which attracts both hotel guests and local clientele alike.

“We strive to maintain Red Bar as a ‘local spot’ and not simply a hotel, which both travelers and locals appreciate,” notes general manager Jeroen Quint. “We have a very successful happy hour, as well as a busy weekend business, with our live DJ program. We think and care about our guests’ needs and expectations, which keeps them coming.”

Johnny Hawkes, one of the busiest DJs in the world, is making his debut at the hotel this month.

“Irvine is a really diverse city that has a lot to offer,” says Hawkes. “I get an opportunity to meet really interesting people from all walks of life. Red Bar is unique because it has a local vibe mixed with people from out of town staying at the hotel.”

As one of Bronson Music and Entertainment Productions’ rotating DJs at Red Bar, Hawkes plays a wide mix of contemporary artists and music with dance hits from the past decades (60s/70s/80s/90s).

For Halloween, Hotel Irvine has their annual Eat, Drink and Be Scary Costume Party. Dress up and win their raffle prizes!

Bistango Restaurant

19100 Von Karman Avenue

Bistango Patio – Photo courtesy of Bistango

Bistango has been around for 31 years, and yet, is still considered an Irvine hidden gem. The stunning restaurant has a lively outdoor patio and vibrant music six nights a week (every night they are open), as well as a happy hour.

You will love these amazing musicians, who play from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 7:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

“We are happy to provide one of the few nightly entertainment venues in Irvine,” says Bistango proprietor, John Ghoukassian. “We love seeking out new musical talent, and as the population of our city continues to expand with a new generation, we think more residents will be seeking out great spots that offer not only entertainment, but great dining and service as well.”

Tracy Longstreth plays piano there on Mondays and Tuesdays with a blues band.

“At night the music is an added touch to complete a great dining occasion,” she enthuses. “Bistango has its own curator to ensure world class art is on display with quarterly artist openings. I was born here in Orange County and have seen places come and go — Bistango is well worth a visit.”

Hive & Honey Rooftop Bar

15th floor, Marriott Irvine Spectrum, 7905 Irvine Center Drive

Have & Honey – Photo courtesy of Hive & Honey

Irvine’s newest rooftop bar, Hive & Honey, is perfect for a hot date. Have a drink at sunset while you wander around their impressive 3,500 square foot lounge.

“When we opened the hotel, our goal was to be a true member of the community, and Hive & Honey does just that by delivering an authentic nightlife experience,” says Keith Meadows, Director of Hotel Operations, Food and Beverage at Marriott Irvine Spectrum.

The views alone are worth a visit, but their inventive cocktails, on-trend culinary creations, events and overall atmosphere are what keeps guests coming back, he says.

Hive & Honey has many drink specials and is continuously improving their bar space.

“Honey remains one of the staples of our cocktail program, bringing the name of our bar to life using fresh, local and seasonal ingredients,” Meadows adds. “Our ultimate goal is to create a fun, interactive space that complements our spectacular views.”

Irvine Marriott

18000 Von Karman Avenue

Irvine Marriott is the home of Floe, an indoor/outdoor upscale bar with nightly drink specials and a fireplace, for cool Irvine nights. Also, the Marriott’s unique concealed bar, YNK (You Never Know) is extending its residency until the end of the year, but will then close. They have some fun cocktails, try them out before the end of the year!

Irvine Improv Comedy Club

Irvine Improv – Photo courtesy of Irvine Improv

527 Spectrum Center Drive

The Irvine Improv Comedy Club is always a hilarious night out, especially this month, when veteran comedian Arsenio Hall returns to Irvine. The former late night host is on a stand-up comedy tour and has loved getting back to his roots.

The venue has an impressive lineup. Other comedians headlining soon are Maz Jobrani, Ian Bagg and Rob Schneider. Get there early to snag a great seat!

Irvine Spectrum Center

670 Spectrum Center Drive

Looking for something festive for the holidays? Starting November 1, you can go outdoor ice skating at Irvine Spectrum, which also has live weekend entertainment. “Skating Under the Stars” is only $20 for a rental; get your squad together for a group party!

Irvine Barclay Theatre

4242 Campus Drive

Irvine Barclay is a cornucopia of fantastic arts entertainment to satisfy your discerning palate. They have a little something for anyone who loves live music – everything from jazz, opera and classical to ballet, modern dance and acrobatic performances.

This fall, MenAlive, the Orange County Gay Men’s Chorus, Broadway vocalist/actress Christine Ebersole and Mozart Classical Orchestra will be performing. During intermission, head to the lobby bar and meet new Irvine friends!

Dave and Buster’s

661 Spectrum Center Drive

Love MMA? Dave and Buster’s is a cool sports bar to watch your favorite fights. After, head to their fun Arcade Room which has lots of games. Dave & Buster’s is a great place to hang out while watching Sunday football and enjoy happy hour.