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Irvine Blog - Posts from Local Experts

Category - Museums & Activities

The Christmas Guide to Orange County 2016

Posted by: Amanda Nguyen
Posted on: Thursday, Dec 08, 2016

Orange County has a variety of Christmas festivities to enjoy this holiday season. Although we may not experience below freezing temperatures or snowfall, you will be overcome with merry, holiday spirit through these decked out places and cheerful entertainment.

Knott's Merry Farm

Until January 1, 2017, experience Knott's Berry Farm's transformation into a winter wonderland with thousands of twinkling lights and holiday décor. Join in the fun with the ice skating spectacular, Snoopy on Ice, sing-along with the Calico Carolers, meet Santa Claus in his Christmas Village and be dazzled by the all new production, ‘It's The Merriest Christmas Show Ever, Charlie Brown'. At night, Ghost Town comes alive with Snow and Glow, a holiday celebration of music, lights and a blanket of snow that falls from the sky. Click Here for more information. 

OC Chill Ice Rink in Irvine

At the Irvine Spectrum Center, visitors can ice skate until their heart's content at one of Orange County's only outdoor ice rinks. Now through January 16, 2017 the rink will be open daily from 11 a.m. until 9:15 p.m. and guests of all ages can shred the ice for only $20 per person with rentals. On Saturday nights, grab a hot cocoa and enjoy live bands scattered throughout the Center. For this upcoming Saturday, enjoy Snow Day! presented by the Active Ride ShopClick here for more information.  

Christmas Boat Parade

A combination of opulence and beauty, the 108th Annual Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade showcases luxury yachts, personal boats, and kayaks covered in Christmas lights and holiday decorations. Running December 14th through the 18th, 2016 the annual tradition is one of Orange County's most popular attractions and was even named "one of the top ten holiday happenings in the nation" by the New York Times. The Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade is one of the local traditions that I look forward to and if I'm able to make it, enjoy every year! I love getting a toasty cup of hot cocoa or coffee and walking on the boardwalk along the water as the boats sail by. There are many spots along the water in which you can take a seat to watch (bring blankets to get extra snuggly). You'll really have fun seeing the creativity, and ingenuity that is poured into lighting up these small to large boats! Click here for more information and a map of the parade route!

"Pirate's Take Christmas!," at Pirate's Dinner Adventure

Shiver me timbers...scoundrel pirates have captured Santa and Mrs. Claus and are threatening to put an end to the holiday season at Pirate's Dinner Adventure. The two hour, interactive Christmas dinner show runs December 5th through the 25th, 2016 and includes a delicious, four-course holiday feast. View the Pirate's Dinner Adventure's Rise of the Sea Dragon show below to get a taste of what's in store. Get tickets to Pirate's Take Christmas here!

Video and Images via Pirate's Dinner Adventure

Bolsa Chica's Christmas at the Beach

To escape the cold of the North Poll, Santa Claus visits Bolsa Chica ever year on December 11th, 2016. Garnering his favorite Southern California outfit, Santa meets with all the good boys and girls on his Christmas jet ski. After the sun sets, put on your ugly Christmas sweater and cozy up by the fire to roast marshmallows and watch the hit movie, "Despicable Me." Sounds like the perfect evening with a loved one or family!

Holidays at the Disneyland Resort

One of my all time favorite places has been sprinkled with pixie dust for a transformation into a winter wonderland for Holidays at the Disneyland Resort which runs now through January 8th, 2017. The iconic Sleeping Beauty Castle glimmers with Christmas lights, Jack Skellington has taken over the Haunted Mansion and boughs of holly line Main Street. Visitors can also enjoy favorites like It's A Small World Christmas with over 100,000 lights, the beloved Fantasy Parade and the night-time firework spectacular. You can even catch Santa Clause and his merry elves at Redwood Creek Challenge Trail at Disney California Adventure Park. While in the Disney California Adventure Park, experience cultural traditions with the Disney Festival of Holidays, and you'll want to stay for the World of Color - Season of Light, your favorite water and lights spectacular with a holiday twist! Santa will also visit the Disneyland Park and he can be seen at a special location in Critter Country. You'll also want to try the variety of holiday-inspired decorated sweet treats available at the Disney Parks! Click here for ticket info!

The Christmas Carol at the South Coast Repertory

Charles Dicken's classic, A Christmas Carol comes to life at the South Coast Repertory. The whole family will enjoy the live play depicting Scrooge as he transform from a cold, greedy man to a generous, kind-hearted business owner set in nineteenth-century London. The limited time production runs November 25th through the 26th, 2016.  Click here for ticket info!

Images via South Coast Repertory 

Festival Ballet Theatre's The Nutcracker Ballet

Take part in the grandeur and extravagance of the timeless Nutcracker ballet - the holiday season isn't complete with out dancing mice and snowflakes, the sugarplum fairy & nutcracker and more! The Festival Ballet Theatre is back with a performance of over 100 dancers at  Barclay Theatre! Click here for ticket info!

Images and Video via Festival Ballet Theatre
Happy Holidays!
Some event information provided by Visit Buena Park 

Cavalia Returns to Irvine for Holiday 2016

Posted by: Amanda Nguyen
Posted on: Tuesday, Nov 08, 2016

If you didn't get to experience the Odysseo Show by Cavalia the last time they were in Irvine, here is your chance, AND Irvine Company is offering special discount deals for up to $25 off ticket prices for evening shows. 

You may have already seen the large white tent being built within the last couple of months right near the 133 and 405 freeway connectors and thought, is the horse show back already? Due to huge demand, Cavalia returns to Irvine November 16 - January 8! The last time they were in town, the show was extended to accommodate the demand. Now you have no excuse in attending as Irvine Company is providing the below exclusive offers on evening shows in Irvine:

 10$ OFF / GOLD Ticket  Junior/Senior/Children Tickets
 15$ OFF / GOLD Ticket  Adult Tickets
 25$ OFF / ALL RDV VIP Tickets


* This promotion cannot be combined with any other offer and applies only to new purchases on Gold & Rendez-vous VIP sections only. Not valid on matinee shows. Certain conditions apply. Limited quantity.

For more information on the show, performance dates, purchasing tickets and the Irvine Company special promo - CLICK HERE!

Cavalia's new production Odysseo will take you on an immersive journey, experiencing nature's greatest wonders through jaw-dropping acrobatic performers and dancers in harmony with singers and awe striking horses and riders.  

Odysseo - the largest touring production on earth - features 65 magnificent horses and 48 talented riders, acrobats, dancers, and musicians under a White Big Top the size of an NFL football field. 

You definitely will not be disappointed, you will be bewildered and wowed by this entertainment and theatrical feat! Gift this experience to yourself, family or friends this holiday season - It will surely be an unforgettable performance and experience.  

Information, Images and Video Content from Irvine Company or Cavalia.    

Irvine's Bistango Restaurant Unveils its Fall Art Exhibit

Posted by: Sharlene Earnshaw
Posted on: Wednesday, Oct 19, 2016

A fixture in Irvine for nearly thirty years, Bistango has long been known as a destination for power lunches and elegant dinners punctuated with nightly live entertainment, charming gardens perfect for al fresco dining,  and a hopping dance floor.  Located inside the award-winning Atrium Building, the restaurant features new American cuisine and is led by former Wolfgang Puck protégé Executive chef Tim Doolittle. Charred octopus salad, corn ravioli, and pizza di mare are amongst the highlights of the lunch menu while dinner choices include a variety of steak, seafood, and pasta options.  Bistango's 400-bottle wine list has been heralded by Wine Spectator and the drink menu includes 15 craft beers as well as a diverse list of classic and specialty cocktails.


What many might not realize is that Bistango is also one of the best places to buy original art in Orange County. Owner John Ghoukassian works alongside art curator Antoinette Sullivan to bring the artwork of varied artists, both local and international, to the restaurant. In many ways, dining at Bistango is like dining in an art gallery. Installations are generally featured for 3-4 months at a time. This season's artists include painter Hugo Rivera, a fixture of the Laguna Beach art festival scene and gallery owner. Mexican neo-figurative painter and sculptor Vladimir Cora, self-taught expressionist Marcel Schreur who work is reminiscent of Vincent van Gogh, and Orange County artist Becca Fox.


Bistango serves lunch and dinner weekdays and dinner only Saturdays. Bistango is located at The Atrium (19100 Von Karman Avenue, ? Irvine). For more information or call (949) 752-5222.

Last Days to Experience Mummies at Bowers Museum

Posted by: Amanda Nguyen
Posted on: Wednesday, Aug 31, 2016

(ABOVE) This mummy is that of a man named Nes-Hor, which means "the one who belongs to Horus". Horus is the falcon-headed god of hunting and warfare and is a symbol of power. Nes-Hor worked as a priest in the Temple of Min, in the city of Khent-Min (Akhmim). Nes-Hor's sarcophagus was constructed from wood and shows many patches and repairs made during ancient times. A detailed study of the symbols on the sarcophagus identified Nes-Hor's name, parents' names and occupation. On loan fromBuffalo and Erie County Historical Society.


When visiting the Mummies of the World exhibit at the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, I was in absolute awe. Of course, mummies exist worldwide and there are numerous mummification processes, but the only exposure I've had to mummies has been of Egyptian origin. What was so exciting about the Mummies of the World exhibit were the vast artifacts and variety of mummies from so many different places like South America and Europe on display. The exhibit is split into various galleries such as Natural Mummification, Artificial Mummification, Experimental Mummification and Science & Medicine. 

You not only get to physically see mummies but you learn more about where the person or animal came from; the preserved state of the mummies gives you a glimpse into their cultures, way of life and how they became mummies whether through a natural or intentional process.

Over 1.4 million visitors have experienced The Mummies of the World exhibit and this is the first time it has been on display in Orange County. Enjoy and learn about the wonders of Mummies of the World at the Bowers Museum for its last few days - the exhibit closes on September 5, 2016. 





Visiting Hours & Ticket Information 


Three Shrunken Heads
Shrunken heads were prepared and worn by the victor of a battle, believing the victim's power would then be transferred to that victor. Popular in the mid-19th century, shrunken heads were a collectible which became so popular that Europeans created replica shrunken heads from unclaimed bodies. On loan from Buffalo Museum of Science and San Diego Museum of Man. (Photo credit: American Exhibitions, Inc.) 
The Orlovits Family
The Orlovits family is part of a group of 18th-century mummies uncovered in two long-forgotten burial crypts dating back to 1674 just north of Budapest in 1994 during reconstruction on parts of a Dominican church where 265 naturally mummified bodies were uncovered, including religious leaders and important local families who had been interred in the crypts between 1731 and 1838. Michael Orlovits (born 1765), Veronica Orlovits (born 1770) and Johannes Orlovits (born 1800) were among those preserved by the cool, dry air of the crypt and the oil from the pine boards used to build their coffins. 

Egyptian Cat Mummy
Dating back to the early Roman period, the Egyptian cat mummy in Mummies of the World shows how Egyptian cats were ritually embalmed in a lengthy process using salt and various resins. On loan from Buffalo and Erie County Historical

Naturally Mummified Lizard Mummy
Spiny-tailed lizard naturally mummified in the Sahara desert is an example of a modern-day mummy, probably less than 100 years old. Part of the Mummies of the World exhibition at Cincinnati Museum Center, it was mummified by the hot, dry air of the desert. 
Baron von Holz
The Baron von Holz is a 17th-century nobleman who is believed to have died in or near Sommersdorf, Germany during the Thirty Years' War (1618-48). He was discovered in the family crypt underneath the church of the von Crailsheim family's late 14th-century castle, where the bodies of five people had mummified naturally due to the environmental conditions. The Baron was found still wearing his leather boots, as depicted in an 1833 lithograph of the mummies in the crypt.
Ancient Egyptian Sarcophagus
The hieroglyphs of this beautiful sarcophagus tell us that it was made for a woman of wealth, likely more than 2,000 years old. Made by imported Lebanese cedar planks and joined with wooden dowels, decorated with columns of hieroglyphs, which are flanked on both sides with images of the four sons of Horus - from top to bottom: Hapy the baboon, Qebehsenuef the falcon, Duamutef the jackal, and finally Imsety the human-headed god. On loan from: San Diego Museum of Man. 
Information & Images provided by Blaze PR on behalf of Mummies of the World at Bowers Museum.

The Ride 7D at the Irvine Spectrum

Posted by: Sharlene Earnshaw
Posted on: Monday, Nov 16, 2015

The Irvine Spectrum Center has been known as a great shopping, dining, and entertainment destination for years and with the recent opening of The Ride 7D, it has now become a destination for thrills as well. Recently, my family had the chance to experience the "Los Banditos", "Gigamon", and "Zombies!" 7D rides and they had a blast experiencing these immersive and interactive attractions. After a brief tutorial the fun begins, and if you haven't experienced 7D you're in for a treat.  The 3D glasses bring the screen to life, while the motion, wind, interactivity, and scoring allow you to completely immerse yourself in the story.  Since I am weak-stomached individual who gets nauseated on carousels, I had to sit this one out but thankfully my husband, Paul,  provided the inside scoop on each of these attractions.

Los Banditos

Probably the most kid-friendly experience, "Los Banditos" is a story about an evil genius who has created an army of robots to rob a train.  You're in the Old West, and start your experience by hopping on a stagecoach and immediately shooting at the robots.  From there you jump on the train and continue to battle the robots while moving through different carriages and eventually to the top of the train.  During the chaos, the train flies off the rails and off a bridge into a fast moving river, but those robots are everywhere and you continue to fight while flowing down the river and going over waterfalls until you find yourself in an underground lair where you battle the boss.  The drops off the bridge and waterfalls were pretty intense and a lot of fun to experience, and knowing we would be getting the final scores at the end brought out our kid's competitive natures. 



Who doesn't love a good monster battle in a major metropolitan city?  We start out in the subway when suddenly there's a huge crash.  Wanting to be the hero, you run up the stairs to street level where you immediately enter a world of chaos.  The Gigamon is a Godzilla-like creature who wreaks havoc on everything in sight, but he's not alone.  Everywhere you look there are mini-Gigamons both on the ground and flying who you continually battle while trying not to be crushed by crashing buildings, cars, or giants lizards.  Making your way from the back of a truck to a helicopter, you find yourself constantly moving across the city while fighting these seemingly innumerable monsters.  Things are going okay until your helicopter loses control, slides off the top of a building, and crashes to the ground where you're completely surrounded.  Fortunately with the help of your cohorts you eventually kill the Gigamon and all is well.


Let me start out by saying I love zombies, so choosing this ride was a "no brainer".

By far the scariest and most intense of the rides, "Zombies!" does a great job of setting the mood from the start.  It's dark, it's raining, there's creepy music, you're in the woods, and with the darkness in the theater and mist of cold air being blown on you, it feels very real.  From about thirty seconds in until the end of the experience you're surrounded by zombies.  These are not your slow moving, "Walking Dead", zombies, these guys are angry and will stop at nothing to make you their next meal.  You initially try escaping in your car, but after flying down a hill and into a tree you find yourself in a cemetery where you have to fight your way out while trying not to shoot the innocent civilians who are running for their lives.  This ride is a lot of fun and was my favorite of the three, but if you experience motion sickness think twice as I found it to be the most intense.

Tips:  If you plan on riding all three rides, we suggest riding "Los Banditos" first, then "Gigamon", and finally "Zombies!" as they will get progressively more intense.   There is a discount in pricing when three rides are chosen. If you have a young child who is intimidated by "Zombies!", a second ride on "Los Banditos" or "Gigamon" can be substituted. My husband found that being towards the center seat seemed to help with his aim.

Disclosure: My family received a complimentary 7D experience for the purposes of this feature. All opinions are my own.

From Discovery Cube to Trail: Exploring Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks

Posted by: Sharlene Earnshaw
Posted on: Monday, Oct 26, 2015

Did you know that Irvine is wild? It may not be obvious at first glance but in the scenic hills that frame the city and the vibrant waterways that hug its western reaches, wild spaces await. In 2006, more than 37,000 acres of biologically and geologically important land were permanently protected as a National Natural Landmark by the National Park Service. Today, the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks make up 50,000 acres of historic, scenic, and vital open space.


Some of the most significant priorities of this Natural Landmark are to protect endangered ecosystems and serve as a home for wildlife so access to these lands is not limitless. Many of the wilderness parks and preserves that make up the Landmark are only open to the public via guided tour and special access days. Yet, even with these limitations, the possibilities for exploration are vast.


Families will want to begin their exploration of the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks at the Discovery Cube in Santa Ana. This science center is home to more 100 hands-on exhibits, including a virtual helicopter ride above the canyons and coastlines of the Landmark. The immersive film takes "riders" all over this biodiversity hotspot, from the pristine beaches of Crystal Cove to otherworldly, water-and-wind-formed landscape of Limestone Canyons' sinks. The helicopter's flight path allows "riders" to catch a glimpse of landscapes they might not know exists in the land surrounding Irvine and surely sparks a desire to get out and explore the nature that surrounds the region. is your resource for finding guided hikes (which take place daily across the Irvine Ranch system), equestrian rides, and Wilderness Access days. Hikes range from toddler walks and family hikes to trail runs with 1000 foot elevation gains. Visitors can learn about animal tracking, birding, paddle the Upper Newport Bay, practice yoga, mountain bike, and even learn to a map and compass with the experts. There are even evening programs such as monthly full moon hikes and bat programs.

If you would rather just head out on your own and won't be visiting Irvine during one of the Wilderness Access days, Bommer Canyon is a great place for a hike. The canyon, located near Irvine's upscale Shady Canyon village, is open seven days a week (weather permitting) from dawn to dusk. This area, filled with hills, sycamores, oaks, and interesting rock formations, is rich with ranching history. The Bommer Pass Trail has recently undergone a habitat restoration and native plants have been planted along the trail. Nearby Quail Hill is also a nice option, especially during the spring wild flower season when the lupine are in bloom.

Alegria Fresh Farm-Changing the Way We View Farming

Posted by: Sharlene Earnshaw
Posted on: Wednesday, Feb 18, 2015

Have you ever strolled through a forest of collard greens with their leafy canopies resting up above your head? Wandered through rows of kale growing so large that they resemble sago palms far more than they do the average cruciferous vegetable? Have you ever seen plump, red strawberries growing without soil and massive rainbow chard wearing socks? If your answer to these questions is no, you obviously have not yet had the pleasure of visiting Alegria Fresh Farm, a tiny 1 1/4 acre demonstration farm at the Orange County Great Park that is doing some pretty huge things.


If I told you that Irvine's Alegria Fresh Farm vegetables were growing 2  1/2 times faster using 70-90% less water, 50% less fertilizer, and 70% less land, you might think this was some sort of  genetically modified and chemically enhanced super food operation.  In reality, Alegria Fresh does use plenty of science, but this smart science uses purely organic and hydroponic methods to create food that is healthier and more nutrient dense without the need for chemicals or modified genetics.


What makes this farm different from all the rest? Well I would say the fact that none of the plants are growing soil is certainly one of them.  Half of the farm uses a hydroponics system to water the plants on a timed and highly efficient drip system as they grow huge and healthy out of small holes in specialized stacking planters. The other portion of the farm utilizes organic SOXX which are essentially breathable horizontal tubes filled with a growing medium that can be laid down pretty much anywhere. Holes are simply snipped in the socks, seeds or seedling are placed inside, and the plants roots happily feed  on the organic growing medium without the threat of soil born disease. From these two systems grow vegetables like spinach, lettuces, strawberries, tomatoes, kohlrabi, fennel, kale, beets, chard, onion, and cauliflower so handsome and nutrient-dense that you have to fight the overwhelming urge to sit down and have a fresh-picked salad right in the middle of the farm.



Good plants start with good nutrients which is why Alegria Fresh makes all of its own nutrient-dense organic compost on site. Ask them to open up on of their big compost bins and they are happy to show you thousands of red worms working away to create amazingly rich compost out of cuttings and scraps from around the farm, creating a perfect little circle of life. This, combined with ground up coconut hulls serves as the growing medium for the vegetables around the farm. Clearly, the plants are happy. So are restaurant chefs like those at Tender Greens which come to Alegria Fresh daily to select vegetables to serve to their customers. As are locals who are "in the know" and purchasing their own farm fresh CSA boxes every week or buying their own SOXX and hydroponic systems direct from the farm.  The many visitors who take tours of this demonstration garden and become inspired to grow their own food using these  techniques in their own urban and suburban plots are certainly plenty pleased as well.


Who do we have to thank for Alegria Fresh? Well there would be no farm without the forethought and insight of the council  members and planners involved in developing the Orange County Great Park. Their recognition of Irvine's rich agriculture history and the importance of educating visitors about food and farming has resulted in quite a fruitful endeavor. We also owe a tremendous bit of gratitude to Erik Cutter, Managing Director of Alegria Fresh, whose passion for growing healthy food, educating the public, and mentoring the next generation is changing lives. Erik loves giving tours of the farm, sharing his knowledge and expertise in hopes that it will inspire urbanites and suburbanites to see just how easy it is to grow food in their own back yards, no matter how small the space may be. He has also been a major inspiration at a few area high schools which he helped develop their very own high performance urban micro farms on school property. These micro-farms educate inner city kids about science and health while giving them an opportunity to develop skills which could lead them to start their own urban farms and change the way their community eats.

Ready to tour the farm for yourself? Start with a tour of the Alegria Fresh website which has plenty of great information about the farm, the value of eating healthy food, and a few videos which highlight the farm and its mission.

New and Notable in Irvine for 2015

Posted by: Sharlene Earnshaw
Posted on: Friday, Dec 19, 2014

 New Irvine 2015

The new year is just around the corner and with that comes plenty to get excited about around Irvine. New businesses are opening and entertainment options continue to grow, further diversifying the city's already varied offerings. Here are just a few of the things in Irvine to get excited about in 2015.

  • UC Irvine will be celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2015. The school will feature a variety of events throughout the year under the theme "Bright Past, Brilliant Future". UCI has set up a special website highlighting the history of the school and planning of anniversary events, including the jubilee scheduled for Oct 2-4 which will include a Festival of Discovery.
  • The Hilton Garden Inn Irvine/OC Airport (2381 Morse) is scheduled to open March 15, making it Irvine's 16th hotel property and bringing the city's total room count to 3,870. The hotel will cater to both the business and weekend leisure traveler and plans to offer complimentary shuttle and parking. It will feature 170 guest rooms, 6 suites, a restaurant, bar, and 2,000 square feet of meeting space.
  • Located next to the massive Irvine Spectrum Center, Los Olivos Marketplace, a 120,000-square-foot specialty shopping center is scheduled to open in late 2015. The center will feature casual dining, shops, and the first Whole Foods Market in Irvine.

  • The Segerstrom Center for the Arts has a full calendar of entertainment set for 2015. Highlights include Sleeping Beauty put on by the American Ballet Theatre (March 3-8), Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg (June 5-7), Dirty Dancing (Feb 3-15), Annie (May 13-24), The Phantom of the Opera (August 5-16), Motown the Musical (June 16-28) and Guys and Dolls (April 14-19). For a full calendar of offerings visit the Segerstrom website.

  •  The newest grocery store to join Irvine's diverse ethnic markets is Seafood City, an incredibly popular chain of Filipino grocery stores known for its produce, bakery, and yes, its seafood. Inside the store is Jollibee which is a bit like the Filipino version of Mc Donald's, Red Ribbon Bakery which features beautiful light-weight pastries and flaky empanadas, and Valerios Tropical Bakery, known for its pan del sal.
  • Diamond Jamboree  is Orange County's international restaurant destination featuring over a dozen different ethnic dining options. Recently the center released a Diamond Jamboree gift card which allows guests to purchase one gift card to use at several participating restaurants throughout the center, making it a great gift. Best of all, the card gives users 10% off their bill, adding to its value. 

  • Fulfill your inner Willie Wonka by taking a tour at ChocXO , Irvine's bean to bar chocolate factory at the Irvine Spectrum Center. During the one hour tour you will learn how the chocolate bean is fermented and dried, view the factory, and sample raw cacao pulp. cocoa nibs, cocoa liquor, chocolate bar, filled chocolate, and even chocolate bark. Yum!

  • Burntzilla is planning on opening in the Trader Joes plaza at Walnut and Culver, making it the first brick and mortar store for two of Orange County's favorite food trucks.  Dogzilla is known for its menu of wildly tasty gourmet hot dogs while The Burnt Truck's focus is on delectable gourmet sliders. No official opening date has been set but we think the two are sure to be a winning combination!

  • The Jeffrey Open Space Trail will be having its official ribbon cutting on January 10th, officially opening two of the four sections of the trail. The trail is designed to have a woodsy feel and will connect the Woodbury, Stonegate, and Cypress Villages. The 3.5-mile trail will feature plaques and monuments highlighting region's history.

  • Pretend City, Irvine's hand-on childrens museum, has plenty of education fun in the works for kids. The year begins with a brand new dental exhibit and the tranformation of their pretend cafe into the Veg-N-Out Café in January. On Feb 2nd, the museum will be celebrating the opening of their new Imagination Playground. Families also have a Tales of Korea exhibit, set to open May 25th, to look forward to in the new year.

Irvine Museum: Hit the Road!

Posted by: Ellen Bell
Posted on: Wednesday, Nov 19, 2014

The current exhibit at the Irvine Museum takes you on  a road trip to some of the West's most scenic spots, without ever getting in your car. 

Irvine Museum

Scenic View Ahead: The Westways Cover Art Program, 1928- 1981, is one of the largest exhibitions of works from the Westways cover art program ever mounted. Westways is the member magazine of the Automobile Club of Southern California.

The cover art program began in 1928, with the Auto Club commissioning paintings from major artists working in Southern California for the cover of each issue of its member magazine. With 55 artworks on view, The Irvine Museum's exhibition traces prominent styles of art through most of the twentieth century, such as California scene painting, Pop Art, and assemblage art.

Irvine Museum

Started in 1909, Westways was originally called Touring Topics. One of its early editors, Phil Townsend Hanna began the program to commission art in 1928.

His move reflected a shift in the magazine's content from automobile-related topics to a broader interest in cultural and recreational activities.

The magazine's covers were intended to mirror the breadth of interests and backgrounds of its readers, the Auto Club members.  

Hanna wanted to encourage readers to explore the scenic wonders of the West. Some are less known...some are very familiar.. 

Irvine MuseumScenic View Ahead shows an evolution of artistic expression; from plein air to scenic watercolor to graphic design. As a result, visitors to the Irvine Museum are taken on an artistic and cultural journey through the region's history.


18881 Von Karman Avenue, Suite 100 Irvine, CA 92612


Tuesday-Saturday: 11:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
The museum is closed Monday, Sunday, between exhibitions, and for major holidays

Admission to the museum is FREE  

Explore the OC Great Park's Farm+Food Lab

Posted by: Sharlene Earnshaw
Posted on: Friday, Aug 22, 2014

It's no wonder that the Orange County Great Park has a Farm+Food Lab. Orange County has a rich agricultural past and backyard farmers know that it is fairly easy to grow most edibles in our neck of the woods. It wasn't long ago that Irvine was filled with fields of lima beans and orchards of citrus. Though UC Irvine sits in our backyard, this large demonstration garden is actually run through and extension of UC Davis which is one of the nation's leading agricultural institutions. The garden is a great way for visitors to experience Orange County's agricultural past, learn about what food actually looks like as it grows (which can be downright shocking to city kids), and take back newfound knowledge so that their own gardens will flourish.

Farm Food Lab 

My children and I recently took a fieldtrip the Farm+Food Lab. The kids had shown an interest in what vegetarians eat and how plants grow so we headed over to the Great Park for some free education of the subject. The kids and I are quite familiar with the park's Orange Balloon, carousel, and playground but had yet to experience the great park's demonstration garden. We were pleasantly greeted by Hank, one of the cheerful gardeners who keeps this special place running. He explained that the purpose of this garden was to help visitors learn practical knowledge about backyard gardening and take that information home with them to grow their own food. As a novice backyard farmer, I have grown my fair share of crops over the years and consider myself fairly knowledgeable on the subject but I still managed to learn some new things. For instance, did you know okra grows up from its stem, instead of down like a chili pepper? And were you aware that apple trees can be espaliered and trained to grow up along trellises or fences? This certainly opens up the possibilities for those of us bound to the fenced in confines of a small, suburban backyard.   

Farm Food Lab Hopscotch 

The kids were eager to say hi to the chickens, play hopscotch underneath the massive sunflowers, play a rousing game of "Good Bug/Bad Bug", and sniff and touch just about everything in the sensory garden. Hank informed us that a new batch of worms would be arriving soon to replenish the worm bin and koi were going to be residing at the farm sometime in the near future. I enjoyed seeing beautiful examples of produce and herbs that I was familiar with growing alongside some plants that I had never actually attempted to cultivate. But perhaps, most exciting of all was knowing that there were Master Gardeners either on site or reached via email which were available to answer every question a gardener could ask. Whether you snap a picture of bugs on a plant that you want identified, are curious why Pride of Madiera bush isn't blooming (like I am), or want to know which varietal of apple is best for your neck of the woods, the Master Gardeners of the University of California Cooperative Extension have the answers. Have gardening questions? Contact the UCCE Master Gardeners of Orange County via email: or visit

Though the Farm+Food Lab is open daily from 10am to 3pm, the best time to visit is Sunday, after a visit to the Great Park's Farmer's Market. Master Gardeners are available onsite to answer questions and special Children's Workshops are offered every second Sunday from 11am to 1pm. Visit for more information.

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36 Executive Park, Suite 100 · Irvine, CA 92614
Phone: 949-660-9112
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