Off the Beaten Track Vacation in Irvine, California

By Linda Kissam 'Food, Wine & Shopping Diva'

The really smart traveler heads off the beaten track and away from the tourist traps of the world's big cities to uncover some amazing attractions. From little-known markets to hidden wineries and culinary schools; looking beyond well-known destinations to discover the less-explored side of small cities makes a whole lot of sense to me, and may just help bag you one of your most memorable vacations ever.

Southern California's San Diego and Los Angeles are one of the world's most touristy cities and for good reason. Visitors are enthralled with their symbolic sights. After all, isn't that what a holiday is all about? Not so much, I think. Sure it's fun to see Disneyland, Lego Land, Hollywood and Sea World, but there's a whole lot more to an area than mouse ears, tacos and fancy malls.

Just a few miles down the road from either San Diego, Los Angeles or the John Wayne Airport is one of coolest hidden gems in the area, Irvine.

Long known for its business acumen, Irvine is reinventing itself into a vacation haven of trendy restaurants, upscale hotels and specialty activities that are likely to engage even the most "been there, done that" sophisticated traveler. From cosmopolitan shopping, to hiking, to bird-watching, international ballet, world-class golf, balloon rides, bike riding and one of the most diverse dining scenes on the West Coast, Irvine has it all. The best part is it's all packed into the space of about 45 square miles and everything you want to do is less than 15 minutes apart. With the price of gas, Irvine certainly has my attention. This vibrant city, it is a multi-ethnic cultural hothouse and bastion of the new, the exotic, and the trendy just waiting to be discovered.

Base yourself at Irvine's only AAA four diamond property, the Hyatt Regency Irvine. Centrally located just a few minutes (and a free shuttle ride) from John Wayne Airport, stylish guestrooms, well-appointed amenities, a variety of dining options, and outstanding service make Hyatt Regency Irvine the perfect hotel for the leisure traveler. You'll be inspired by a refreshing swim in the pool and get recharged in the fitness center. Hyatt Regency Irvine offers a contemporary resort-style atmosphere where you can relax, meet, connect, dine and celebrate.