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Posts for April 2017

Five Sunday Day Trips from Irvine

Posted by: Guest
Posted on: Thursday, Apr 20, 2017

By Joe Laing 

In Irvine for the weekend and wondering what's close enough for a Sunday day trip? Possible day trip destinations near Irvine run the gamut from exploring galleries in a beachside artists' colony to a voyage in search of giant marine mammals.

Consider these day trips close to Irvine as you plan your Sunday excursions. There's enough here to have you planning a return trip soon!

Whale Watcher's Sunday Day Trip from Irvine

All visitors to the Irvine area should discover the magnificent whales that move along the coast just 30 minutes south of the city. From Newport Beach, whale watchers can book excursions with a variety of outfitters, from catamarans to larger vessels that hold dozens of passengers. Thanks to Laguna Beach State Marine Preserve, adjacent to the launch point of most tours, tour boat passengers are likely to spy an amazing variety of marine life, including the largest of mammals.

From migrating gray whales in late winter to enormous blue whales, as well as baleen whales, humpback whales, fin whales and Minke whales that spend at least part of the year along the Southern California coastline, you're sure to go home with stories to tell and a deeper appreciation for these incredible mammals.

Sunday at the Park in Irvine

A special spot right in the city has plenty to do, see and savor on Sundays. Orange County Great Park hosts a Certified Farmers Market for visitors who love buying locally grown produce in a festive atmosphere. On any given Sunday, you're liable to find a car show, live music and a lively collection of food trucks to tempt your senses.

While spending Sunday in the park, plan to take a ride in the Great Park Balloon, a tethered helium balloon rising 400 feet, for views you won't see anywhere else. Speaking of memorable rides, be sure to go ‘round on the Great Park Carousel as well. One more treat-Palm Court Art Complex, features revolving exhibits in a memorable setting.

Credit: Lunasee Studios /

Art Lover's Sunday Day Trip from Irvine

Speaking of art in the Irvine area, there's a beachside town just 30 minutes south that's home to a stunning array of galleries. Laguna Beach tempts Sunday day-trippers, making it easy to visit many studios and galleries without ever leaving Coast Hwy (CA-1).

One "must-see" place for those who love both art and nature is Wyland Gallery, where internationally famous marine artist, Wyland, has a studio, gallery and gift shop. Wyland International, housed in Irvine, is the epicenter of the artist's decades-long effort to link art and conservation through educational programs, children's art competitions and his own artistic

Credit: Lunasee Studios /

Sunday Day Trip from Irvine to San Juan Capistrano

Gas up the rental car and bring along your favorite walking shoes and camera. Just 30 minutes south of Irvine, in the city of San Juan Capistrano, history buffs can spend a full day getting to know how Native Americans, early missionaries and Spanish soldiers clashed and blended during the state's earliest years.

From the iconic Mission San Juan Capistrano, established in 1776, to two historic districts within easy walking distance, you'll be immersed in Native American and early California history. Centuries-old adobe houses, shops, restaurants, museums and galleries surround the Mission, enriching your experience of the town where the swallows return every March 19.

Sunday Day Trip from Irvine to Enjoy State Beaches

One of the most glorious things about Irvine's location in Orange County (OC) is the city's proximity to so many state beaches. Bring your sunscreen and swim gear when you come to Irvine-you're going to want to spend at least one day soaking up rays on one of the OC's scenic beaches.

Here are just a few state beaches to consider as you plan your Sunday day trip to beaches from your home base in Irvine:

Bolsa Chica State Beach in Huntington Beach, less than 30 minutes from Irvine, is a nice place to watch the surfers or enjoy surf fishing for corbina and sand sharks.

Crystal Cove State Park at Laguna Beach is a scenic wonder, with wooded coves, stretches of pristine sand and a colorful historic district nearby. Don't miss the sunsets!

Doheny State Beach at Dana Point, just 25 miles south of Irvine, is a picturesque place to explore tide pools or learn to surf.

Corona State Beach, at the entrance to Newport Harbor, is the place to be for clifftop views of the Pacific, as well as snorkeling and swimming in warm waters surrounded by cliffs and jetties.

Next time you're in Irvine on a Sunday afternoon, don't miss the chance to explore the sites and attractions within an easy drive. Day-tripping possibilities might just become some of your favorite reasons to keep coming back to Irvine.

Joe Laing is the Marketing Director for El Monte RV, a nationwide RV rental company. Joe has been on the road working within the travel industry for over 20 years, and greatly enjoys exploring the outdoors. Joe has been camping across the United States, from coast-to-coast, and makes a point to stop at national landmarks along the way. He is also actively involved
in numerous campground associations, including RVIA's Go RV-ing committee, as well as travel industry associations.

The Latest News in Hotel Dining & Cocktail Happenings

Posted by: Deirdre Michalski
Posted on: Monday, Apr 17, 2017

Hotels are really stepping up their game in the "dining & cocktail" categories. We thought we would share with you some of the most recent openings, and interesting updates in the hotel dining and lounge scene here in Irvine.  One observation we have established right off the top is that hotel cuisine and craft cocktails are taking creativity to a whole new level. No longer is the hotel dining room or bar just a convenient place to stop off on the way back to one's guestroom. It has become a sought after destination for locals, visitors and business groups alike.  So let's explore some of these venues that are making news and garnering repeat patronage left and right.

Hotel Irvine

Stepping into this hotel lobby guests know instantly THIS is different. The lobby is dramatic with high ceilings, sleek, modern décor with an orange, yellow and cream color palate. There are low-profile, contemporary conversation seating areas sprinkled throughout.  Here at Hotel Irvine there are four distinct areas to enjoy both dining and cocktails. This includes: EATS Kitchen & Bar restaurant, its lovely palm-shaded patio with a fire pit and comfy Adirondack-style chairs, Red Bar and Lounge and The Backyard, featuring a gigantic grass lawn for special movie nights and special events.

EATS Kitchen & Bar recently welcomed a new Executive Chef Jeff Moore who defines his cuisine as "modern California" cooking and is committed to a California farm-to-table kitchen. The décor here is bright and airy with accordion glass doors that open out to the lovely patio. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, they are well-known for their tasty burgers and shared plates. On Saturdays and Sundays they have an over-the-top brunch with an epic "build your own" Blood Mary bar, Taco Tuesday, One Buck Shuck Oysters on Wednesday evenings, Wine & Beer Dinners, nightly Happy Hour from 5 to 7 p.m. and other events as well.

When the weather is right, The Patio at EATS Kitchen & Bar is the perfect spot to cozy up to the fire and roast some s'mores, or enjoy a glass of wine or beer. The backdrop of lush greenery and a canopy of palms provide that quintessential SoCal vibe.

Red Bar and Lounge continues the modern look with great circular booths and nests of seating that are perfect for a power-meeting or networking get-together. There is a lanky-long bar with flat screens and bartenders that enjoy showcasing their talents making showy, crafty cocktails. Happy Hour is nightly from 3 to 7 p.m. with lots of choices at half price. A massive nine-panel multi-screen TV is also in the lounge for game-cheering events. Beginning at 9 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings guests enjoy a rotating list of stellar DJs who rock it at Red Bar and Lounge. 

I have attended many outdoor events in The Backyard---from Movie Nights to BBQ's and Wine Tasting festivals. As the name implies, this is an outdoor space and I cannot think of another venue quite like this in a hotel in Orange County. There is a patio, an 8,000 sq. ft. lawn area with suspended lights above, a 6,000 sq. ft. Pavilion and a Cabana. Events are held here throughout the year and many encourage locals to join in---especially during various holidays.

17900 Jamboree Road-Irvine, CA 92614

The Irvine Marriott

The lobby has a modern, hipster vibe. Instead of the restaurant and bar tucked away in the back, it is right up front-and-center. The FLOE Lounge offers a variety of tempting coastal dishes with a lanky bar serving handcrafted specialty cocktails. Offering indoor and outdoor seating it is just so California! There is also a Speakeasy tucked -away... and what a wonderful surprise that is!

The FLOE Lounge has four eclectic areas to meet friends and enjoy an enchanting cocktail
and dining experience. And with a drum roll, here they are:

1) the Gather Spaces where "sea meets city" vibe and features local artisans, 2) the Bar in a European pub-style bar area with illuminated colorful bottles that seem to dance along the back wall illuminating all the amazing liquors available, 3) Indoor Dining in a modern seaside setting features up-lit stainless steel cables, sculptures, and even large communal tables, however my favorite spot is,  4) the Outdoor Patio featuring a heated terrace with fire pits. It is a layground for adults---by day the umbrellas shade the patio and there are ping-pong tables and a 70-inch TV. By night the space comes to life with LED lighting, fire pits, and dive-in movies by the pool area.

The all-day menu (breakfast/lunch/dinner) features modern coastal cuisine and signature cocktails. In the morning there are classic dishes and pancakes, along with signature breakfast fare. Lunch and dinner menus are quite flexible. It is more like a grazing menu versus a dinner house. There are quick bites, share-able bites like fish tacos and flatbreads, heirloom tomato caprese, soups & salads and casual dining "big meal bowls" whereby guests customize their order with their favorite starch, protein and seasonal vegetables. What a great idea!
Yes, numerous sweets can be found on the menu along with an impressive wine and
beer list. There is seriously something for everyone here!

On Tuesday and Thursday evenings there is live music from 5:30-7:30pm. They also offer 3-hour complimentary valet parking with Lounge validation.

Restaurant hours are: Monday-Friday: 6:00am to midnight, and Saturday-Sunday from 7:00am to midnight.

Because "You Never Know." And thus the name ---the YNK Speakeasy! This is where classic cocktails meet travel and innovation. This is a very special find. They are re-defining what it means to have the "perfect cocktail experience."  It is an ever-changing beverage experience created by the Ellis Adams Group. The cocktail journey varies seasonally, so visitors don't get bored and YOU NEVER KNOW where the cocktail experts will take you next!

The lead bartender (Ravin Buzzel) is so personable he makes the entire experience very extra-special. My favorite drink is his Applewood Smoked Cardamom Old Fashion. The smoke contraption he uses to infuse the cocktail---it is just fun to watch him make them! And it is a sheer classic cocktail to sip ever-so-slowly! (Ask to see Ravin's book of hand-drawn drinks with all the descriptions.)

This month (April) is an immersion in Spain. This means the specialty beverages include: Gin and Tonics, Sangria, Queimada, Rebujiot, Calimocho, and Spanish Armada. There are videos playing on both side walls to transport you to Spain. And as the location changes, so do the beverages and video muse. Come along for the ride. Immerse yourself. Their passion for veiled & smoky concoctions is magical and intoxicating. YNK Hours are: Tuesday thru Saturday 5:00

18000 Von Karman Avenue, Irvine, CA 92612

Doubletree @ Irvine Spectrum

This hotel is all business, but located just a few blocks from Irvine Spectrum it is a great location! The 90 Pacifica Restaurant & Wine Bar is warm and inviting. There is a long bar with plenty of room for friends to gather, flat screen TV's, and dining tables for appetizers and drinks. I love the colors here with dark woods. When entering the dining room, it is modern and cheerful with greens and bright colors. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, you will find the latest in California culinary trends on their seasonal menu.  This is also a frequent stop for area

Examples of some of the bar nibbles include: Bedeviled Eggs with Bacon, Jalapeno and Cilantro, Meatballs with Spicy Marinara Sauce, Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Bacon, Maple Syrup and Pine Nuts, Mango and Shrimp Jicama Taco with Spicy Sauce.  In addition to an extensive wine list featuring the finest vintages from California and abroad, they feature handcrafted cocktails and seven beers on tap.

In the dining room there is a lovely selection of Small Plates---from Eggplant Hummus to Ahi Poke and Roasted Tomato Bisque.  There are four Flat Breads to select from and my favorite is the BBQ Chicken, however the Fig and Arugula is delicious too topped with Bourbon Bacon and Goat Cheese.  Salads are a meal in and of themselves---from Flat Iron Caesar to Salmon Bibb and Chinese Chicken Salad too.  Larger plates include burgers and fresh fish, Lobster mac n' cheese and more. The hours are: Daily from 6:00am to 10:00pm, and until 11:00pm on Friday and Saturday nights.

90 Pacifica, Irvine, CA 92618


The AC Hotel Irvine is a brand new hotel that just opened early April 2017. The hotel is located in the Park Place business park (at the corner of Jamboree Road and Michaelson). The hotel features 176 spacious guest rooms with a modern décor and integrated work stations in the guestrooms. There is a fitness center and heated swimming pool on the second floor.

Imagine waking up to croissants that have been flown in from France, and baked here on the premises? Yes they are! The breakfast spread in the AC Kitchen is buffet-style with the freshest of ingredients, such as hand-sliced prosciutto.  The AC Breakfast is served Monday-Fri 6:00-
10:30am, and on Saturday and Sunday from 6:30-11:00am.

In the evening, the attention turns to the AC Lounge with tapas-inspired small plates and handcrafted cocktails. The Lounge is flanked by the bar on one end, and a large, comfortable room with flexible seating and large picture windows. Some of the creative small plates include: Manchego & Quince Paste, Tomato Braised Eggplant and Ricotta Toast, Crispy Sea Salt Potatoes, smoked Paprika and Aioli, Arugula with Grilled Salmon and Green Beans, and these are just a
few examples. On tap are four beverages including: a Sparkling Wine, Chardonnay, Cabernet and a Wild Ruby Vodka Cocktail.  There are 14 beers served via bottles. This is definitely worth checking out and for those staying at the hotel, there are numerous restaurants just steps away for complete lunch and dinner options.

3309 Michelson Drive, Irvine, CA 92612

Filed In: History

Irvine: What's In A Name?

Posted by: Ellen Bell
Posted on: Tuesday, Apr 11, 2017

The Stories Behind some of Irvine's Place Names.

Irvine was designed to be the quintessential, master-planned city, with careful attention paid to every little detail. So it's not surprising that even its major streets and parks were given their names for a reason.

Culver Drive


Culver's Corner

Before there was a city of Irvine, there was Culver Road, which ran past Fred Culver's home. Culver was one of the most successful tenant farmers on the Irvine Ranch in 1902. His home, called "Culver's Corner" was located where the present day 5 Freeway intersects with Culver Dr. Fred and his wife Mabel's home was a local landmark. A newspaper article in 1910 called it an elegant house "filled with all the modern conveniences," including "acetylene gas lighting and a furnace that heats the home throughout."  

Jeffrey Road


George Jeffrey (left) at Ortega Highway

Jeffrey Road....Jeffrey Open Space Trail....Jeffrey Trail Middle School...The name goes back over a century ago, to Irvine’s agricultural heritage. In 1897, a scottish immigrant named George Jeffrey leased one of the earliest lima bean farms on the Irvine Ranch. Later, he went on to plant citrus and site of the original Jeffrey orange groves is now a housing development on Irvine Center Drive, appropriately named “Orangetree.” Jeffery Road got its name because, like Culver Drive, it was typical to name the roads after the farmer who’s land was nearby. 

It’s only fitting that George Jeffrey should have a major local road named for him. The universally-liked farmer went on to represent the 5th district on the Orange County Board of Supervisors in 1922, and oversaw the paving of the roads.

Mason Regional Park

Irvine Company President William Mason (seated center) at Irvine Incoporation in 1971

Mason Regional Park is named for William Mason, President of the Irvine Company from 1966 - 1973.  Mason was one of the group of young execuitves hired by the Irvine Co. in the early 1960's to help with the transition from agricultural operation to master-planned community. Along with Ray Watson, who focused on urban planning, Bill Mason handled the engineering and infrastructure challenges of the young city.

The park, originally named University Park reflecting nearby U.C. Irvine, was renamed after William R. Mason, who served as President of the Irvine Company until his untimely death in 1973. The Board of Supervisors changed the name of the park from University Regional Park to William R. Mason Regional Park in recognition of the impact his direction had and will continue to have on Orange County, not the least of which was the donation by the Irvine Company of land for this park. The first phase of the park, forty-five acres, opened to public use in 1973. A 50-acre second phase was completed in 1978. The second phase of development included a 9.2 acre lake which has proven to be a very popular attraction for park visitors.

The Village of Walnut


Walnut Trees

The name of Walnut is prominent in the north part of Irvine. The village and the road were both named to honor the agricultural heritage of the Irvine Ranch and one of its important crops.  The Irvine Ranch was famous for oranges and lima beans, but for 74 years, walnuts were a also major export. From 1893 - 1931, Orange County led the nation in the production of English Walnuts, providing one-third of the world’s supply. The Costa Mesa/ Tustin area was known as “The Walnut Capitol of the World.” 

1935 was one of Irvine’s peak years for production. 7,775 tons of walnuts were produced with an income of nearly $1,700,000. Gradually, as the trees aged and the groves were not as productive, the growers decided it was no longer profitable to maintain them. The Irvine walnut industry came to an end in 1967, when the last 300 acres of trees were removed and replaced with citrus.

Jamboree Road


Boy Scout Jamboree 1953

Jamboree Road was named to commemorate the Boy Scout Jamboree, held on the Irvine Ranch in the summer of 1953. The Irvine Company cleared the land and leveled the hills in preparation for the week-long event which hosted 50,000 boy scouts from across the country. An eight-mile road. later named Jamboree, was graded to access the camp.  

The Jamboree site was just north of Pacific Coast Highway between the new Jamboree Road and MacArthur Boulevard in Newport Beach. The tent city, called “Jamboree Town,” covered present day Newport Center and the East Bluff neighborhood. 

All in all, the National Boy Scout Jamboree was an overwhelming success. The Irvine Company had created a city the size of Miami Beach on undeveloped ranch land. A new road had been graded with access all the way to the ocean, and the infrastructure for new development had been established. Most importantly,  51,000 boys were sent home, happy and healthy, with memories to last a lifetime. 

The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch

Posted by: Amanda Nguyen
Posted on: Monday, Apr 03, 2017

The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch is about a 45 minute drive south of Irvine and worth the trek to get to see and experience the ranunculus covered hillsides. The season, the Flower Fields opened to the public in March and remains open for 10 weeks ending on May 14, 2017. 

You could spend hours on the 50 acres of blooming hillsides, nursery, gardens and more; which overlook the Pacific Ocean and Carlsbad Outlets. Come with family and friends and enjoy a day taking in the colorful ranunculus flowers which you can walk up to or take an antique tractor wagon ride around the fields to access the numerous rows of flowers. There are educational programs, workshops and exciting events; as well as an Arts & Crafts show, food vendors and live music entertainment during the weekends. If you'd like to take home fresh cut ranunculus blooms, stop by the Armstrong Garden Center Gift Shop on your way out. For ticket information, click here


  • If you're visiting over the weekend, be sure to get here before or when the Flower Fields open to avoid long lines a the ticket booth and tractor rides. It'll also be less congested so you can move about the gardens and fields freely. 
  • You can take photos, but any professional equipment would need prior approval.
  • You can't step in between the rows of flowers, but there are inlets with small benches where you can take photos within the flowers, some inlets have a photographer assistant that can take photos for/of you. 
  • Wear sunscreen and any other sun protection necessary since you will be under direct sunlight.
  • Bring a light jacket or cover up as it can get windy
  • If you're planning on walking up to the fields instead of taking the tractor, be sure to wear comfortable shoes.
  • For FAQs, click here
  • You can purchase tickets online and avoid waiting in line to purchase tickets. 

The Flower Fields History 

Today, the fields are a direct result of over 85 years of floral cultivation that began when Luther Gage, an early settler and grower settled in the area in the early 1920's. Mr. Gage brought Ranunculus seeds to the area and began growing them in his fields next to Frank Frazee's small vegetable farm in South Oceanside. This started a business called "Luther Gage Giant Tecolote Ranunculus bulbs". The name "Tecolote" came from the owls that nested on his property. 

Read more about the Flower Fields History here. If you're not able to make it down to the Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch this season, check out this previous post on the wildflower bloom in Orange County! 


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