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Irvine Blog - Posts from Local Experts

Posts for February 2016

Filed In: Family Friendly

Irvine's New Adventure Playground

Posted by: Sharlene Earnshaw
Posted on: Thursday, Feb 25, 2016

Remember when play was unstructured? Back before play dates, technology, and organized activities dominated the typical child's after-school schedule? When I was a kid, imagination ruled my play time and we had the freedom of wandering around the neighborhood, playing Little House on the Prairie in a grove of walnut trees or building forts in a nearby field. Albert Einstein once said, "Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere".  Jean- Jacques Rousseau reminds us that "The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless". Irvine's new Adventure  Playground is designed to allow children to play without bounds.


There are currently only 3 Adventure Playgrounds in the United States- one in Berkeley, another in Huntington Beach, and the third located in Irvine's University Park. Irvine's Adventure Playground was originally opened in the 1970's and was built almost entirely by the children who came to play there. It closed in the 1990's, leaving a hole in the community.  Thankfully, community activists and local government officials  with a passion for play banded together and this winter, Adventure Playground reopened its gates to eager children once again.


If your children are heading to Adventure Playground, prepare to get dirty (and bring a change of clothes for the ride home).  At the heart of the playground is a creek bed and 3 water pumps, the perfect place to create plenty of  muddy, wet fun.  Two concrete slides meander down a hill where a large play structure filled with all sorts of places to climb and explore awaits.  The bamboo forest is still in its infancy but will one day becomes the perfect place to play a killer game of hide-and-go-seek.  Life-sized Lego-type blocks allow children to build forts, castles, or whatever their imagination desires. Craft stations are often run by park staff.  If kids need a break from the excitement, a sensory garden is the perfect place to escape. Thankfully, the entire park is fenced in so an actual "escape" is highly unlikely. 


Adventure Playground is destined to grow with the children who visit. Much of the park is still a blank slate, and the organizers have stated that the building of this magical place will never be complete.

Good to know: Adventure Playground is open daily from 10am to dusk.  Since the playground is staffed, it is closed on government holidays and during bad weather.

For more information, visit

*All photos by Michelle McCoy. 

Filed In: Events

Women in Travel Summit Comes to Irvine

Posted by: Ellen Bell
Posted on: Tuesday, Feb 09, 2016

This March 18th - 20th, Irvine will host the third annual Women In Travel Summit. 

WITS (the Women in Travel Summit) is the first and only travel blogging summit by and for women. The conference will help connect female travelers, bloggers and entrepreneurs together while simultaneously providing them with great tools, networking opportunities with some top companies looking to work with bloggers, and valuable inspiration and support.


"It's a truly special conference," said organizer Beth Santos. "Our attendees don't just come out of it informed and motivated, but they also feel connected to the greater cause of empowering women to travel the world, and have better access to the tools they need to develop careers upon this mission."

Speakers will cover everything from the latest social network tools and strategies, branding and media partnership, even tips for making the best travel video. 

Women will be arriving from all of the country, but we Southern California locals are lucky to have this wealth of information right in our own backyard at Hotel Irvine.  


WITS is the creation of Wanderful, a global network for women travelers. They bring women travelers together (and not just bloggers and entrepreneurs either) by providing a safe and trusted forum for them to share travel tips, exchange stories and just be with a community of women who understand what it is to be a female abroad.

Click Here for Registration Info and Details...

Be sure to enter the code CALI for a 10% discount!



Valentine's Day on a Budget

Posted by: Amanda Nguyen
Posted on: Tuesday, Feb 02, 2016

It starts with the Valentine cards, then the candy, then decorations and mailboxes and such. Before you know it, you've spent much more than you would have liked on yet another holiday; whether for yourself, your kids or an event you're hosting, here are three stores in and around Irvine that provide a plethora of Valentine's Day-themed goodies and craft supplies at surprisingly affordabe prices!

Daiso Japan

14280 Culver Dr
Ste A
Irvine, CA 92604

(949) 786-1302 

I didn't realize that Daiso Japan stores were so in tune with the US holidays. I always knew Daiso to be filled with all sorts of housewares; decor; paper, art and organizer goods; school and beauty supplies; and plethora of other nifty things that make life easier, and usually have some kind of cute factor to it. They also have a great stash of imporated Japanese candies, snacks and drinks. The best part is everything, well almost everything in the store is $1.50 unless otherwise marked. The most I've paid for a marked item is $6, but that is usually rare. This past Halloween, I walked into a Daiso and noticed that the entire front of the store was filled with any and all things Halloween; decorations, costumes, dog costumes, more decorations, you name it! Subsequently, decked out for Christmas, Hannukah, and NYE as well; and now Valentine's Day. This past week, I stopped in a found an array of Valentine cards, gift boxes, candy, decor and gifts. I snatched up heart printed washi (paper) tape and card stock to create my own Valentine cards. I have no doubt that once you have found everything you need for Valentine's Day (and without breaking the bank), you'll stray into the other aisles. *Image via Daiso Japan USA.

Dollar Tree Store 

Find the Nearest Location Here

If you're looking to entertain, The Dollar Tree Store is your place! They have a vast selection of party goods, decor, candy as well as gifts such as mugs, toys, plushie. Everything in this store is $1 or less each! Wow! Now that's savings right there! I always stop in for holiday goods as well as office and party supplies. This past summer, my friend and I hosted a summer birthday BBQ and purchased most of our supplies at the Dollar Tree! I love stopping in here to grab greeting cards which are yes, $1 each (so I stock up on cards for many occasions), and sometimes cards are two for $1. *Images and header image via Dollar Tree.

Target Dollar Section

Find the Nearest Location Here or Shop Online

I shopped at Target for specific items that I wanted for Valentine's Day. For example, I had been seeing this letter balloon garland that I knew I had to have, and would probably have trouble finding something similar at other stores so I purchased one for $5. Target has a surprising array of holiday and fun items in their dollar section at the front of the store. A week ago I found valentine mailboxes, colored glass bottles and craft items. Yesterday the section was filled to the brim with popular and novelty Valentine candies and heart-shaped chocolate boxes. When shopping in this section I usually only see a handful of items that are $1 each, but it's great to find the unique holiday-inspired items at a more affordable price (usually around $3 each). Target also has an expansive Valentine's Day section towards the back of the store where you will find an even wider selection of candy. A Valentine's Day craft-oriented section sits near the greeting cards and party supplu aisles. I found plastic 3D hearts that I purchased gold stickers to turn the hearts into conversation hearts like the candy. *Image via Target.

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