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Irvine Blog - Posts from Local Experts

Posts for July 2015

Filed In: Events, Insider Scoop

It’s Beginning to Feel Like New Year’s! “Innovation Rocks!” Is Taking Shape

Posted by: Laura Berthold Monteros
Posted on: Wednesday, Jul 29, 2015

Construction on "Innovation Rocks!" the Destination Irvine Rose Parade float, began this week at Phoenix Decorating Company in Pasadena.  The artisans have a good start on the metal work that is the foundation of the beautiful and humorous float.  It takes several weeks before the vehicle is ready to be covered in flowers, but seeing this float come together bit by bit in preparation for the New Year's Day parade is exciting.

Destination Irvine Rose Parade float chassis and deck.

The process begins in the float barn, which has a floor marked in one-foot squares for measuring.  A heavy-duty chassis is fitted with spaces for a driver, observer, and if there is float animation, operators to run it.  The tires will be filled with a special kind of foam so that there is no chance of a flat along the 5½ mile route. 

Metal sculptors go to work bending and welding lengths of pencil wire and steel rods to shape the deck of the float, and to build frames for the elements that will be hoisted and welded onto it.  Peter the Anteater, mascot of UC Irvine, is well on the way to taking his place aboard the float as an innovative scientist working in a fantastical laboratory.

UC Irvine Anteater is being sculpted at Phoenix Decorating Company.

Most exciting of all, you can sign up to decorate the float!  Hundreds of volunteers come together on weekends in December and the week between Christmas and New Year's to glue dry and fresh botanical materials on floats and make sure every square inch is covered.  It's easy to sign up on the Phoenix Decorating Company website.  Be sure to choose Rose Palace, 835 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena and note in the comments that you would like to work on the Irvine float.  Volunteers are expected to take 8-hour shifts.  FAQs and the decoration schedule are on the site, but check our posts in upcoming weeks for some insider tips.

2016 TOR Theme Poster

The 127th Tournament of Roses will be held on Jan. 1, 2016 in Pasadena.  The theme is "Find Your Adventure," a collaboration between the Tournament of Roses and the US National Park Service.  In Irvine, adventure is easy to find.  There are plenty of outdoor recreational spaces for hiking, picnicking and observing wildlife at Irvine Regional Park, San Joaquin Sanctuary, or a host of other parks in the area. 

More than 44 miles of off-road bike trails and 280 miles of on-road cycling lanes as well as many hiking trails throughout Irvine offer plenty of opportunities to get some exercise and see the sights.  A visit to nearby beaches and harbors in Orange County can be both fun and educational.  And of course, one of the favorite activities in July and August is the Orange County Fair, running through Aug. 16.  No need to wait until January to "Find Your Adventure!"

Filed In: Family Friendly

Summer Movie Nights at Hotel Irvine

Posted by: Ellen Bell
Posted on: Friday, Jul 24, 2015

Friday Nights Just Got a Whole Lot Cooler 

This summer, grab your blanket and beach chair and spend a night under the stars with live music and blockbuster favorites in The Backyard at Hotel Irvine. Gather your friends, family and neighbors and enjoy an evening of live music and blockbuster favorites on the outdoor big screen.


  • Friday, July 24  |  Top Gun
  • Friday, July 31  |  Back to the Future
  • Friday, August 14  |  The Goonies
  • Friday, August 21  |  Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Pre-order your picnic from Marketplace HERE, or bring your appetite and enjoy chef's outdoor BBQ with tri-tip sandwiches, bratwurst, hot dogs and hamburgers, and staple movie snacks like popcorn and candies.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. with movies starting at dusk. Open seating. Bring blankets, low chairs, pillows or cushions. Order your tickets HERE. Advance online ticket purchases are non-refundable, and will be available online until 5 p.m. the night of the event. Tickets will also be available for purchase at the door. 

A Love Affair with the OC Fair

Posted by: Sharlene Earnshaw
Posted on: Wednesday, Jul 22, 2015


Have you heard? Orange County is having One Big Party. There will be plenty of star-studded performances, rides, games, and food. Oh yes, there will most definitely be food. The reason for our celebration is quite grand. The OC Fair is celebrating its 125th birthday and has invited over 1 million of its closest friends to join in and celebrate.  The party will be raging now through August 16th, and we encourage you to join in on the fun.


Orange County has a long running love affair with our fair. This long-loved annual tradition goes back well over a century, beginning with small livestock exhibitions and horse races. Orange County's population has grown significantly over the past century and while most of our agricultural fields have been replaced with business and homes, our connection with our egocentric past still runs deep. Many locals come to the fair's Centennial Farm- which is celebrating its 25th year- to absorb a bit of life on the farm. Children squeal with excitement at seeing newly born piglets and relish the opportunity see just how big  the dairy cow that provides milk for their cereal actually is. The farm's demonstration garden is a wonderful place to dozens of varieties of fruits and vegetables growing in the warm California sunshine.


Whether you are craving freshly grilled corn on the cob or a Fireball-whiskey-infused-banana-and-ice-cream-topped-donut, the fair has got you covered. This is the place to find chicken sandwiches with Krispy Kreme donut buns, deep fried Snickers bars, and wasabi bacon bombs.


I love the fair for all of its quirky greatness. Little discoveries like birthday cakes disguised as succulent flower arrangements, crocheted nativity scenes, hand-carved wooden kayaks, and Yoda's face carved into a watermelon are the unexpected treasures waiting to be discovered in the exhibition hall. And of course, I always seem to find a product that I never knew I needed yet suddenly can't live another minute without. 

One of the OC Fair's biggest draws is the diverse range of entertainment that is offered throughout the celebration. Popular artists such as Fifth Harmony and The Band Perry will be performing as well as  perennial favorites such as Willie Nelson, Steve Miller Band, and Huey Lewis. Comedian Gabriel Iglesias (aka: Fluffy) will surely be keeping everyone in the fair's Pacific Amphitheater laughing. Meanwhile, in the Action Sports Arena motocross, monster trucks, extreme rodeo, and demolition derbies keep the action and entertainment at adrenaline pumping levels. 

If you ask my kids, no trip to the fair is complete without some time on the Midway. The OC Fair has no shortage of rides that will spin you, flip you, and send you speeding through the sky. My suggestion: save that fireball donut for after the tilt-a-whirl.  The greatest souvenir any kid can take home from the fair is one earned testing both skill in luck in a carnival game. Whether you opt to toss rings, knock over milk bottles, or shoot hoops, you never know what you mind end up taking home (besides an empty wallet). At the very least, a day at the fair is sure to guarantee everyone in your group will be taking home a smile. 


For more information about the Orange County Fair, including special discounts, visit the OC Fair website. 

  All photos courtesy of the Orange County Fair except for the collage. 

Filed In: Events

OC Weekly: Decadence 2015

Posted by: Ellen Bell
Posted on: Tuesday, Jul 21, 2015



Unrestrained, excessive self-indulgence in luxury and pleasure.

Sounds like a party to me... 

Orange County's favorite foodie fest returns with a vengeance from 7 - 10pm on Saturday, August 15th.

More than 50 local restaurants and liquor brands will be on hand in Irvine, making OC Weekly's Decadence 2015 the food and beverage trendsetting event of the year.


This year OC Weekly will be taking it outside. 

Hotel Irvine's beautiful lawn event space, The Backyard, will be transformed into an adult playground for the evening. What better way to spend a warm, SoCal summer night than to relax under the stars and taste the best of what OC has to offer? 


That cool new restaurant you've been meaning to try....    

A craft beer from a brewery around the corner that you haven't tasted yet...

That band you've heard about but haven't had the chance to check out... 

At Decadence 2015, a collection of the latest and greatest will be waiting, ready to become your new local favorite. 


Check out the long list of BITES and SIPS to try, as well as the lineup of MUSIC

A great event like this sells out don't wait to buy your ticket at the door.

Buy Online at the link HERE.

Use the Promo Code OCDAYTRIPPER and get $5 off!


 General Admission:

  • Unlimited food samplings
  • Over 10 cocktail, beer and wine samples
Advance Pricing: $35 (July 16th @ 12:00am – August 15th @12:00pm)
Day Of Pricing: $45*

VIP Admission:

  • VIP tasting hour from 6pm-7pm to navigate the many sampling booths without lines or a crowd!
  • Access to the VIP Lounge presented by SOCIAL Costa Mesa with exclusive amenities
  • Swag bag
  • Unlimited food samplings
  • Over 10 cocktail, beer and wine samples

Advance Pricing: $55 (July 16th @ 12:00am – August 15th @12:00pm)
Day Of Pricing: $65*


 You MUST be 21 to attend the event. ID's will be checked at the door.

*Tickets will be sold at the door IF tickets are still available. Tickets are NOT guaranteed to be sold at the door. IF tickets are available at the door, sales will begin at 12pm at the entrance. 

125 Years of the OC Fair on Display at John Wayne Airport

Posted by: Amanda Nguyen
Posted on: Thursday, Jul 16, 2015

The OC Fair & Event Center debuted it's new art exhibit Fair Play at John Wayne Airport on Wednesday July 15, 2015, celebrating 125 years of its history. Members of the OC Fair, John Wayne Airport and the community along with cheerful clowns, petting animals from the Fair's Centennial Farm, Polynesian dancers and Olivia the Orange helped ring in this milestone and festive occasion.

Traveling Clowns Katie & Tadpole

The fair is only one-year younger than Orange County itself and airport guests waiting to catch a flight or returning from a trip will be able to experience the OC Fair's rich and cultural history which in many ways parallels the history and growth of the County.

Curated and designed by Stephen Anderson and Bolton Colburn, the exhibit is split into numerous display cases within the airport's Vi Smith Concourse Gallery which stretches from Gates 2 through 5 in Terminal A, Gates 18 through 21 in Terminal C and in the free standing cases near Gate 14.

OC Fair members, exhibit curators and traveling clowns pose for a picture; Polynesian dancers from Tupua Productions performing for guests; the John Wayne statue surrounded by balloons.

Aside from the art exhibit, the OC Fair kicks off tomorrow Friday July 17th and runs until August 16th. Don't miss out on the OC Fair's One Big Party- 125th Celebration. The fair promises to bring back our favorite rides, treats, and programming, as well as a few new and exciting attractions such as Fairenheit 32°, an ice skating rink and live ice carving area and the Cattle Drive which will feature more than a hundred cattle being escorted by cowboys and cowgirls on horseback through the streets of Costa Mesa and back to the fairgrounds. 

Visit the OC Fair website for more info!

Filed In: Events

“Innovation Rocks!” Destination Irvine joins the 2016 Rose Parade

Posted by: Laura Berthold Monteros
Posted on: Wednesday, Jul 15, 2015

With the announcement that Destination Irvine is sponsoring a float in 127th Tournament of Roses Parade, the city has entered an exciting whirl of activity that makes a float in the Rose Parade more than just a bouquet on wheels.  Metal artists, mechanics, sculptors, and floral designers will spend the next months putting together a spectacular floral creation that will glide along Colorado Blvd. on Jan. 1, 2016 to the oohs and aahs of spectators.  This blog will follow the process, from initial design to the final flowers and the trip along the parade route.

"Innovation Rocks!" is the theme of the debut float, reflecting the life-changing innovations in technology and life sciences for which Irvine is known because of its university, colleges and global companies.  It fits the theme of the 2016 Rose Parade, "Find Your Adventure," which grew out of a collaboration between the Tournament of Roses and the US National Park Service. 

Destination Irvine has chosen Phoenix Decorating Company in Pasadena to design and build "Innovation Rocks!"  The family-owned company has produced 752 Rose Parade floats in its 33-yeear history and has won 244 trophies.  CEO Chris Lofthouse stated, "We are excited and honored that Irvine Chamber of Commerce and Destination Irvine are participating in the 2016 Rose Parade. To be able to highlight one of Orange County's vibrant cities that features one of the most dynamic business environments will be a great addition to America's New Year's Celebration."

The Tournament of Roses began as an exercise in civic pride with a mind to selling real estate to folks back east, shivering in a Midwestern winter.  The Valley Hunt Club staged the first parade on Jan. 1, 1890, featuring horses and buggies decorated with roses followed by community games.  Photos of midwinter fun in the sun were sent to relatives and friends back home.  The event soon grew too big for the Valley Hunt Club to handle, so the Tournament of Roses Association was formed in 1895 to take over the celebration, and it has been doing so ever since. 

East Coast newspapers sent reporters out in 1898, and by 1900 movies of the parade were being shown in theaters throughout the country.  The parade quickly added new things as the years glided by.  Floats became larger and more extravagant and buggies eventually gave way to motorized vehicles.  Groundbreaking float builder Isabella Coleman decorated her first float in 1909, and the techniques she developed in structure, floral design, and animation still influence builders today. 

For all the millions of people watching on New Year's Day, the advances in float technology and floral design, and the Tournament of Roses Association growing to 935 volunteers and a paid staff, the Rose Parade still remains a small-town parade in many ways.  Folks are gracious, crowds are friendly, locals flock to decorate floats or camp out along the route, and residents gladly put up with the hubbub and closed streets. 

Irvine: Meets Well with Others

Posted by: Wendy Haase
Posted on: Friday, Jul 10, 2015

Strong industry clusters like life sciences, technology, advanced manufacturing, energy, digital arts and media, along with 15 colleges and universities have earned Irvine a world-renowned reputation as a business and academia mecca those same qualities, make it a preferred destination for meetings.

One of the many reasons Irvine is such a great place to hold a meeting is its accessibility. Whether traveling by air, train, bus or car, your attendees can easily reach the city without the congestion one might experience in other major metropolitan centers.
We are fortunate to have the passenger-friendly, John Wayne Airport (JWA) within minutes of the majority of Irvine's hotels. Offering 20 non-stop flights to and from the United States, Canada and Mexico and served by eight commercial passenger airlines, JWA is the gateway to our city.

In addition, there's the Irvine Station with Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner offering great service, style and amenities as it travels the Southern California coast between San Luis Obispo and San Diego. And the regional commuter train system, Metrolink trains run from the Inland Empire, North San Diego and Los Angeles.

Once here, your clients will get around with ease because of the city's master-planned transportation street system.


Irvine offers a choice of 16 major hotels with nearly 3,800 rooms and 130,500 square feet of premium meeting space for groups of 10 to 1,200 people.

From AAA three-diamond to economy properties, Irvine's hotels provide guests with quality customer service and amenities, such as, the latest technology, renovated rooms and meeting spaces, restaurants, business centers and complimentary airport shuttle service.

"We have had clients contract with several hotels in Irvine and the one amenity that surprises them the most is the complimentary airport transportation! The central location with ease to/from John Wayne Airport is perfect for business meetings!" ~ Michelle Murphy Turgeon, Avery Murphy LLC  


With more than one million square feet of indoor and outdoor event space, Irvine's restaurants, retail centers, recreational offerings and event venues make ideal locations for off-site receptions, dinners and activities.

From the Bren Events Center, the elegantly-designed, modern arena on the University of California, Irvine's campus to Pretend City Children's Museum, where attendees can channel their inner child, attendees will have a unique and memorable experience.

Take your attendees outdoors, as there are a number of recreational options including hiking and biking, exploring the UCI Arboretum, team-building activities like UCI's Team Up ropes course, touring Tanaka Farms and ChocXo Bean to Bar Chocolatier, and golfing at one of Irvine's picturesque courses.

With nearly 40% of our population being Asian, Irvine offers foodies true global cuisine, with a wide selection of delicacies from China, Taiwan, Japan, Vietnam and other distant shores. Along with Irvine exclusive restaurants like Prego, Eats Kitchen & Bar, Bistango, Twenty Eight Restaurant & Lounge, and Andrei's Conscious Cuisine & Cocktails, Irvine can please any palate.

"Irvine is centrally located to so many other destinations - both tourist and corporate, so while travelers could attend their meetings, it was also easy to get away while they were here and see some local culture and flair. So many restaurants have popped up within the immediate area, so you have your choice of any type of cuisine, from elegant to casual, all within minutes away." ~ Sonja Fee, TravelStore  


Planning a successful meeting or conference takes a coordinated effort. Let Destination Irvine be your planner's planner - providing these valuable complimentary services that will be sure to make your next event a success!
Destination Irvine is a one-stop shop resource offering complimentary services for planning and service support to all groups holding conventions, trade shows, meetings and public events in Irvine.

RFP distribution
• Event planning assistance
• Site negotiations
• Site visits
• Contract negotiations
• Familiarization tours
• Off-site venue recommendations and more
• Referrals to area restaurants, shopping and attractions

For more information contact: Demea Metcalf, Director of Sales, Destination Irvine, 949.502.4127 or


Destination Irvine offers meeting planners incentives to bring or keep their meetings in Irvine. Qualified meetings will receive five percent back of total sales to the hotel's master folio up to $2,500 per meeting!

The top three Irvine companies with the most meetings booked and the top 3 companies with the most room nights booked will be eligible for incentives valued at $5,000, $2,500 and $1,000. See page X for more details or visit

Meetings in Irvine Generate Economic Impact for the Local Economy

When conferences and meetings are held in Irvine, the eight percent transient occupancy tax (paid by hotel guests) generates revenue that contributes to maintaining a balanced city budget and Irvine's high community standards, like being recognized as "America's Safest Big City," by the FBI since 2005. In 2014, more than one million visitors generated $522 million in economic impact for the local economy.

Bring your meeting to Irvine and you could receive a $2,500 incentive!
Irvine-based companies can take part in the loyalty program.
Call 949.502.4127 or visit &

Celebrate the Irvine Spectrum Center's 20th Anniversary this Saturday!

Posted by: Amanda Nguyen
Posted on: Tuesday, Jul 07, 2015

Can you believe it has already been 20 years since Orange County's premier entertainment, shopping, and dining destination, The Irvine Spectrum Center officially opened?

In 1995, the center only consisted of a food court and movie theater; three years later, the center expanded to include 250,000 square feet of space with shops and restaurants, as well as Spanish-inspired artchitecture and new entertainment options such as Dave & Busters and The Improv Comedy Club.

Between 2001-2003, guest favorites such as the Carousel, Giant Wheel, and Ice Rink, as well as another 332,000 square foot expansion to include more family-focused shops opened.

Following the expansion, the center opened many more shops including Nordstrom, Target, and H&M; making the center the first to have a Nordstrom and Target paired together at a shopping center, as well as Orange County's first H&M location. 

Office buildings and apartment communities including The Village, The Park, and Los Olivos sprouted around the shopping center.

Fast forward to 2015 and the Irvine Spectrum Center has revamped many of the courtyard areas adding more seating and innovative and family friendly/children-oriented features, and a diverse roster of eateries including Unami Burger, CUCINA enoteca, Kabuki, Pho Saigon Pearl, and LYFE Kitchen to name a few.

The most exciting update was the unveiling of the Giant Wheel's major facelift of dazzling, and innovative LED lighting features using more than 52,000 energy-efficient LED lights capable of producing 16 million different color schemes.

See the complete Irvine Spectrum Center history from 1971-present on the center's 20th Anniversary page! And join the center in celebrating their 20th anniversary with SUMMER FUN GAMES this Saturday July 11, 2015 from 2pm-10pm. Also be apart of the celebration by sharing your #SpectrumStory, see how here!

Construction of the Irvine Spectrum Center between 1993-1994:

Grand Opening evening in 1995:

The new Giant Wheel with LED lights:

Images provided by Cornerstone Communications, and the Irvine Spectrum Center 20th Anniversary page

Filed In: Dining

10 Questions with… George Miliotes

Posted by: Ellen Bell
Posted on: Monday, Jul 06, 2015

Master Sommelier at The Capital Grille- South Coast Plaza 

George Miliotes Capital Grille

On July 6th, The Capital Grille kicks off its annual event, The Generous Pour, which features eight of some of the best wines California has to offer.

This year, the selections all have something in common; they each reflect the creativity and talents of women in the winemaking industry. 

To celebrate this summer-long celebration, I recently asked The Capital Grille's Master Sommelier, George Miliotes to answer a few questions about his life-long love affair with wine. 



1. When did you know you wanted to learn all about wine?

Well, at 12 years old, my father had me cleaning anf facing the wine shelves in our family's restaurant. I was particularly entranced by the German wine labels. They had these long names on them and sometimes very ornate labels. I was kind of seduced by this. By the time I was 13, I was teaching our guests/customers about German wines. Since then, it has been a great learning experience. 

2. How do you like your steak?

Medium rare....and with a nice glass of red wine.

3. Other than wine, what's your favorite drink?

I am an equally opportunity drinker.  I think Newcastle Brown Ale is about as delicious as one can get for beer.  My wife loves lemon/lime martinis that I make.  It is so simple.  Equal parts fresh (as in I hand squeeze) lemon and lime juice mixed equally with cut agave nectar (2/3 agave nectar 1/3 water).  Half lemon/lime agave mixture and half vodka (Van Gogh Blue is a fave) is iced, shaken and strained.  Served up.  Fresh simple and delicious.

4. This year’s Generous Pour features California Winemakers who are women. What do women bring to the art of winemaking that is uniquely feminine?

I think that woman bring a different sensibility to wine making.  The wines are not necessarily softer or more complex but I think their wines are often more of reflection of their personalities.

5. What's the biggest myth about being a Master Sommelier? 

For me it is about the lifestyle.  Many think we simply drink for a living.  To me it is less about the lifestyle and more about being able to teach our teams and enrich the lives of our guests.

6. What's your favorite way to celebrate?

Family, friends, great wine and food.  I really do not need much more than that.   And every day can be a celebration if one chooses

7.  If you could share your favorite wine with a famous person, living or dead, what would be the to celebrity....and why?

Thomas Jefferson….Brilliant man….wine lover…party animal….patriot…..
We could drink great Bordeaux and compare it to Bordeaux from the 1700’s and Cabernet from Napa.  Let alone what he would have to say about our situation in the USA today.  It would be a great time.

8. What's your favorite go-to guilty pleasure snack?

Soooooo many

But Chocolate (good and dark) would have top the list-chocolate chip cookies are hard to resist.

9. What would be your fantasy wine tasting experience?

I have had the pleasure of blending and tasting wines with some very special people in my life.  So, I am not sure if I have a fantasy tasting experience that jumps to mind.  I do want to continue to learn from the best in the business from servers to managers to wine sales people to winemakers.

10. What's your best advice for novice wine drinkers?

Try as many wines as often as possible and drink what you like (not what anyone tells you that you should like.) 



The Generous Pour

at The Capital Grille -South Coast Plaza

July 6th - August 30th

Enjoy Samplings of 8 selected wines with your meal for $28.

The Capital Grille 3333 Bristol St. 
Suite 3802  Costa Mesa , CA   92626
T: 714.432.1140 

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