Gayle J. McCarthy
Irvine: The O.C.'s Secret City
No doubt you've heard of Orange County, the iconic destination replete with endless sunshine, organic food, and the infamous setting for the popular reality show that traces the lives of wealthy, pampered housewives and the drama that surrounds them. It's a place where people live the California dream, fitness is frenzy, clouds are a passing thought, and trendy shops and restaurants dot every corner. Most people know the area for the big name beaches and attractions (think surfer's haven, Huntington Beach, and Mickey's playground, Disneyland), but there's a secret side to the O.C. that's emerging as a premier destination location for all tastes and travelers: Irvine.
Centered at the heart of all things Southern California, Irvine is ideally situated between Loma Ridge and the San Joaquin Hills, a little big city tucked away in a pristine valley whose quiet sense of charm emerges like a quiescent California dream. Not only is it noted for its acres of outdoor space and nature parks, it also makes the list for affordable family vacations, cuisine for every palate, convenient shopping, and miles of scenic drives. Safety is paramount: the FBI has deemed it the "safest big city" since 2005, a big draw for families looking to vacation or even relocate to a trusted area...