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Please note, these story ideas are pre-COVID-19, if you wish to inquiry about COVID-19-related ideas, please contact Wendy Haase, Vice President at wendy@destinationirvine.com
 

Irvine Story Ideas

Located in the center of Orange County, California, Irvine is a convenient gateway to a true Southern California vacation. Visitors can enjoy miles of hiking and  bikinggolf, shopping, culturally diverse dining, activities and the city's close proximity to the area's popular beaches and attractions.
 

A Master-Planned Community

Master-planned communities have a unique and ongoing history in the U.S. The origins of the master-planned community can be traced to a Californian named Simon Eisner, who in the mid-1960s developed a "General Master Plan" for Scottsdale, Ariz.

Master-planned communities are communities built entirely from scratch in underdeveloped areas. They are carefully mapped out to ensure they are sensibly developed in order to include green areas of open space, sufficient public facilities, and well-designed public buildings. In that way, they often serve an ecological scope for the community.

When Southern California's population exploded after World War II and development began to spill over the San Gabriel River from Los Angeles, the Irvine Company hired William Pereira, a profound and prolific design genius, to create the city's master plan.

Pereira's projects include the Transamerica pyramid in San Francisco, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the LAX master plan, Marineland, the Disneyland Hotel, the University of California, Irvine campus and Irvine's master plan.

As a master-planned community, Irvine requires five acres of parkland for every 1,000 residents. Residents and visitors are provided a tremendous number of amenities and conveniences including extensive recreational options like golf courses, and expansive parks with bike paths and jogging trails.

Master-planned communities eliminate high-risk factors and contribute to Irvine being recognized as "America's Safest Big City" by the FBI every year since 2005.

Ask architect and historian Alan Hess to name the best-known master-planned communities in America and he’ll describe Reston, Virginia; Columbia, Maryland; and Irvine, California.

Pressed to name the best, he says: “Irvine is the best of them all. It is the largest, most successful application of important progressive planning ideas since 1900.”

Hess describes the personal benefits of the Master Plan. “Everything is close,” he says, pointing down the greenbelt.

“There’s the library, the school, the parks, the pools and shops. It creates a sense of community.”

The Master Plan was designed to counter Los Angeles’ unbridled growth in the 1950s.

Famed architect William Pereira designed a brand new city — one planned with a major university at its core.

A city that balanced population with employment and open space; that maintained the highest standards of architecture and design; and that focused on Education.

Instead of being absorbed by Los Angeles, Irvine became a model city nationally renowned for its schools, safety, parks, open space, employment and design.


Discover the Outdoors 

Known as a leading tech and life science powerhouse, Irvine surprises with the most low-tech open space in Orange County! More than 16,500 acres of preserved natural habitats and wildlands, offering 60+ miles of trails for hiking and biking.

The Trust of Public Land recently ranked the city’s open space and parks as the best in Southern California, and the 10th best in the U.S., for the third straight year. Because of Irvine’s Master Plan, one-third of the city is preserved for outdoor recreation, that is five acres of parkland per 1,000 residents, making it one of the greenest cities in America.

The historic Irvine Ranch has preserved large swaths of open space and nearly 40,000 acres designated as the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks. Protected from development, the “hotspot” of biodiversity is accessible for guided hikes, yoga, mountains biking, and more. The scenic landscape has been designated a Natural Landmark by both the State of California and the U.S. Department of the Interior for its preservation of critically important flora and fauna.

Bommer and Shady Canyons beckon walkers and hikers to stroll past ancient oak, sycamore groves, and rough rock outcrops.

The 2.8-acre Quail Hill Trail is an easy two-mile natural surface trail and is the only wilderness trail part of the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks that allows dogs.

The Mountains to Sea Trail takes you on 22-mile journey starting in rugged, oak-filled Weir Canyon. The trail then takes you south toward the coast through five different cities and a portion of unincorporated Orange County – virtually guaranteeing that the only constant on this trek is an exhilarating change of scenery and topography. Walk, hike or bike from the Cleveland National Forest to the Pacific Ocean.

In addition, San Joaquin Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary are comprised of more than 300 acres of restored coastal freshwater wetlands. Twelve miles of trails serve as an oasis for walkers, joggers, and birdwatchers as well as a living laboratory for students, teachers, and the public. The sanctuary is home to 100 different species of birds.
 

Global Flavor

With more than 40% of its population being Asian, Irvine offers foodies true global cuisine, with a wide selection of delicacies from China, Taiwan, Japan, Vietnam and other distant shores.

Start your world cuisine tour at Diamond Jamboree, home to several restaurants that originated in Asia’s Pacific Rim. A unique Southern California destination that brings together a variety of cuisines and international flavor, including Chef Hung Taiwanese Beef Noodle, Jinmen, Taiwan and 85°C Bakery, Bao-Ping, Taipei, and Curry House CoCo Ichibanya, Nagoya, Japan. Add to the mix Tokyo Table, a chic Japanese fusion eatery that draws a bustling crowd with classic plates and unusual specialties in an innovative setting.

Hong Kong’s Tim Ho Wan, the self-described “cheapest Michelin-starred meal” where nothing on the paper mat menu priced over $6. The restaurant eschews the traditional dim sum cart for made-to-order dumplings to ensure their freshness. Irvine location is just one of four in the U.S. including New York, Las Vegas and Hawaii.

Specializing in coffee, cakes, and breads, 85°C Bakery, a Taiwanese chain of coffee shops, opened at Diamond Jamboree in 2009 as the first U.S. store.  Why 85°C? It is the ideal temperature to drink coffee. Their most popular beverage is the Sea Salt Coffee - slightly sweetened iced coffee topped with creamy foam whipped with sea salt, with semi-sweet chocolate powder sprinkled over the top of foam.
 

One of a Kind Dining

Bistango offers artful New American cuisine and a Wine Spectator award-winning wine list with over 400 varieties of wine. The ambiance is further enriched each season by revolving modern art exhibits.

At Twenty Eight, Executive Chef Jay Lacuesta's seasonal menu consists of sustainable seafood, local farm vegetables, and a wide selection of meats. Accompanying the foods are thoughtful signature crafted cocktails, whiskey, cognac, and handpicked wines by the sommelier.

Chef Kacy Jun and owner Bronnie Lee present creations inspired by Korean cuisine and street fare, the food truck movement, and fresh Southern California ingredients at Urban Seoul and Urban Seoul 2.0. Born in Southern California’s melting pot, its menu and traditional bibim bap (”mixed rice”) dishes are complemented by mall plates in a borderless kitchen.

For Andrei's Conscious Cuisine & Cocktails, “Conscious Cuisine” means the freshest local and organically grown produce, as well as naturally raised meats and sustainable seafood. The culinary style incorporates the cultural diversity of California cuisine, focusing on the flavors and freshness of the Mediterranean.

Eating for a Cause 
Visitors can give back by dining at Andrei's Conscious Cuisine & Cocktails where 100% of the restaurant's profits benefit the Andrei Foundation, a foundation established in honor of the owner's brother/son, Andrei Olenicoff, who was afflicted with an eye disease called Retinitis Pigmentosa. The primary focus of the foundation is to support eye research and provide support to those with visual impairment. The non-profit organization also focuses on a number of community and global causes including; a local guide dog team, Makapo Aquatics, a blind paddling team, surf lessons, and an Ocean Institute "ocean adventure" for visually impaired children.  Globally, efforts include building a school library in rural Sri Lanka, funding and building a rain-collection clean water system in Nicaragua and providing life-changing surgeries for over 20 Russian orphans. For more information visit www.andreifoundation.com 
 

Orange County Great Park Sports Complex & Great Park Ice

The centerpiece of the 194-acre Orange County Great Park Sports Complex is a state-of-the-art championship soccer stadium featuring seating for 2,500 spectators. The complex features 24 soccer fields, including eight lighted artificial turf “flex fields which can also be used for soccer, lacrosse, rugby, cricket, and football.  In addition, the complex features a championship tennis court with seating for 132 spectators with 24 additional lighted courts and a championship volleyball court with seating for 178 spectators and four additional lighted courts. There is also a one-acre children's play area that is perfect for smaller, less competitive players.

The 270,000-square-foot ice facility features three National Hockey League standard ice rinks and one Olympic size, and includes a 2,500-seat arena.

At the end of 2021, construction will begin on the $250 million USA Water Polo and aquatics facility, which will include a field house for basketball and volleyball. The facility will serve as a training venue for 2024 U.S. Olympic water polo team.

The Sports Park is on track to become one of the largest public multi-sport facilities in California and one of the largest in the United States. 
 

Orange County’s Only Professional Soccer Team Calls Irvine Home

Orange County Soccer Club is Orange County’s only professional soccer team and official affiliate partner of the Los Angeles Football Club of Major League Soccer.  Orange County SC is a part of the United Soccer League, the fastest growing Division II professional soccer league in the world comprised of 34+ teams across the United States.

The team plays their home games at the Orange County Great Park’s Championship Soccer Stadium. Nestled right in the heart of the Great Park, the Championship Soccer Stadium has a capacity of over 5,000 for Orange County SC matches.
 

Live Music Back in Irvine 

The 12,000-seat FivePoint Amphitheatre replaced the Irvine Meadows Amphitheater, which closed in October 2016, after 36 years of entertaining music fans. The spirit, the vibe of the former amphitheater is present at FivePoint, as music fans walk in they pass under a familiar archway, that was salvaged from Irvine Meadows and serves as the connection from the past to the future.

Immediately upon entry to the venue, guests are ushered into a wide, grassy concessions area featuring an array of craft beer, cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks, as well as food from local eateries. The amphitheater has three sets of bleachers with 6,500 individual fold-down seats, including the 280 seats located within the VIP box area.

It is the first brand new amphitheater built in Orange County since the Pacific Amphitheatre in Costa Mesa opened in 1983 and the first constructed in Southern California since Mattress Firm Amphitheatre in Chula Vista, which opened in 1998.
 

A Fashionista's Haven 

Irvine and the surrounding area offer fashionistas, casual shoppers and people-watchers five retail and lifestyle centers, including three major centers each with their own personality.

Irvine Spectrum Center is one of Southern California’s most popular shopping, dining and entertainment lifestyle destinations, visited by more than 18 million people annually. The center features Nordstrom and Target, along with more than 175 stores, restaurants and entertainment venues, including the country’s most successful Improv Comedy Club. Visitors can ride the antique-themed carousel and get a bird’s-eye view of Orange County on the iconic 108-foot tall Giant Wheel, hand crafted in Italy, featuring over 52,000 LED lights projecting a dazzling 16 million color schemes.

As Orange County’s premier coastal shopping experience, Fashion Island features exclusive specialty boutiques, world-class department stores and a diverse assortment of restaurants and cafes. With nearly 15 million visitors a year, Fashion Island offers a sophisticated yet relaxed, resort-like atmosphere that is distinctively Southern California, with pristine views of the Pacific Ocean.

The largest mall on the West Coast, South Coast Plaza is internationally recognized for its unparalleled luxury retail collection, customized concierge services, and critically acclaimed restaurants.

The District at Tustin Legacy has popped up as a vibrant shopping and entertainment center. Take a walk through Union Market to try unique dishes at this modern-styled food hall with venues for boutiques, bars, and roasted coffees. 

To round out the eclectic mix you have The Market Place, one of Southern California’s most popular shopping centers. A 165-acre outdoor lifestyle shopping center offering the best in class in a variety of retail categories, including apparel and accessories, electronics, home furnishings and décor, sporting goods and more.
 

History Lesson 

The history of Irvine is not a long one -- in fact, today's growing city will celebrate its 50th anniversary in December 2021. But the Irvine region has a long and rich history, dating back to 1878 when James Irvine acquired his business partners’ interests in 168 square miles of future Orange County land for $150,000; today, that amount would equate to $3.56 million. The acquisition created the great Irvine Ranch consisting of 110,000 acres stretching 23 miles from the Santa Ana River to the Pacific Ocean.

Visitors can explore the oldest standing structure within the original boundaries of Irvine Ranch, and the first wooden house erected between Anaheim and San Diego at the Irvine Historical Museum. In addition, the Irvine Ranch Historic Park, site of the original Irvine Ranch headquarters, features several of the original structures, including the home of James Irvine II, numerous barns and residential buildings.

Step back in time at the La Quinta Inn in Old Town Irvine where 101 rooms of the hotel once served as the silos of a former lima bean and grain warehouse. In 1986, the silos were converted to the hotel. The center hexagonal concrete silos are now the interior corridors serving the rooms located in the exterior facing silos and the tin shed, kept mostly intact including the original main lift, is utilized as the area where the hotel serves breakfast. The hotel has a picture display including a brief history and description of "Historic Old Town Irvine.


Kid Friendly

Wherever you are in Irvine, there's a park or playground literally minutes away. The shopping malls sport bowling alleys and seasonal open-air ice-skating, there are carousels around every corner.

There are plenty of fun-focused venues for kids, from Pretend City Children's Museum, where little ones put on their professional hats for an imaginary excursion into the working world, to bowling alleys and K1 Speed Go Kart Racing.

The Orange County Great Park (OCGP) is a popular year-round destination for enjoying family entertainment. Visitors can get a birds' eye view of Orange County aboard the iconic Great Park Balloon as it rises 400 feet above ground; take a ride on the hand-painted Carousel and play on Kids Rock. 

Adventure Playground features a tree house, sensory garden, climbing poles and stumps, slides, an art wall, kids’ fort zones, meadows and natural play areas.

Tour the family-owned 30-acre Tanaka Farms. Featuring wagon tours where kids can learn through hands-on experiences where food grows, along with tasting fresh season strawberries and melons.

With Irvine having the most open space in all of Orange County, kids can take advantage of 16,500 acres of parkland where they can skateboard, play Frisbee, softball, picnic and enjoy Southern California's near-perfect weather.

Nearby Irvine Regional Park offers paddle boats, 1/3 scale train, the Orange County Zoo, pony rides, bike rentals, horseback riding and hiking trails.


Irvine - Ideal SoCal Meeting Location

Irvine boasts 22 hotels ranging from AAA three-diamond and all-suites properties, to a boutique and economy with nearly 4,900 sleeping rooms and more than 191,000 square feet of flexible meeting space to accommodate 10 to 1,200 people. 

Conveniently located in the center of Orange County, Irvine is located just 45 miles south of Los Angeles and 90 miles north of San Diego and minutes from John Wayne Airport.  

Irvine offers numerous distinctive meeting and off-site venues including the Orange County Great Park, the Marconi Automotive Museum, the Bren Events Center, and Pretend City Children’s Museum, University of California, Irvine along with many group-friendly restaurants and entertainment venues

Irvine’s industry clusters; software/digital media, professional services, life sciences, call centers, clean technology, chain and franchise, action sports – apparel and advanced manufacturing/technology, provide meeting planners with resources for keynote speakers, panelists and possible on-site tours and potential sponsorship opportunities

Near perfect weather provides the ideal meeting backdrop year-round. Get attendees outside of the meeting with unique team building opportunities including; scavenger hunts, ropes courses, hands-on cooking classes, cupcake decorating contests, blind tasting wine activities, zip lining, go-kart racing, and more.

Irvine is a premiere Southern California meeting and event destination that is not only affordable and easily accessible, but has been named “America’s Safest Big City” since 2005 by the FBI. 
 

Not the Typical Airport Destination

When looking for the ideal meeting location, planners aren't typically looking for airport properties as a first choice. The stereotype of an airport hotel being just a convenient place to stay with little to offer is far from the experience you will have in Irvine. Instead of location, location, location, think convenience, amenities, and entertainment.

Air travel to Orange County has a reputation for being hassle-free thanks to passenger-friendly John Wayne Airport (SNA). An asset to Irvine's business community, SNA offers 20 non-stop flights to and from the United States, and Canada, and is served by seven commercial passenger airlines.

If you are holding a meeting in Irvine and staying at one of the 14 Irvine hotels conveniently located within two miles of the airport, there is no need to worry about being disturbed at any time during the day or night. There are no direct flight paths over the hotel properties. Courteous of its neighbors, SNA has some of the most stringent noise restrictions in the United States. No commercial flight is able to take off or land before 7 a.m. (8 a.m. on Sunday); no departures after 10 p.m. or arrivals after 11 p.m.

Irvine's airport-convenient hotels offer complimentary shuttle service to and from SNA. In addition, if visitors or business clients are planning on renting a car, there are seven onsite rental car companies at SNA. There is a vast selection of dining within the airport hotels, as well as a number of restaurants within walking distance around the Irvine corporate parks.

The airport properties offer nearly 163,000 square feet of indoor meeting and event space. Choose from a selection of major brand hotels, including the Hilton, Marriott, and Sonesta.

John Wayne Airport has been ranked by J.D. Power as the highest rated airport for customer satisfaction among large airports in North America.


Passenger-Friendly John Wayne Airport

Air travel to Orange County has a reputation for being hassle-free due to passenger-friendly John Wayne Airport. Located within minutes of Irvine's hotels, the airport features enhanced customer service and amenities including dining and shopping options that are Orange County-based or -themed, artwork from local artists and galleries, free Wi-Fi and valet parking.

Upon their arrival and departure, visitors are given a visual experience with art displays throughout terminals, walkways and baggage carousels. The Airport Arts Program presents a series of museum quality exhibitions in the Vi Smith Concourse Gallery and features numerous Orange County artists through the Community Focus Space program along with an annual student art exhibition.

The airport serves approximately nine million passengers annually, reaches 20 non-stop destinations in the United States and Canada; and is served by seven commercial passenger airlines.
 

Go Anteaters!

Founded in 1965, the University of California, Irvine is a significant part of the local community and a major research powerhouse.

Visitors can cheer on the Anteaters in 18 Division I intercollegiate sports including; baseball, basketball, cross-country, volleyball, and soccer. UCI athletics teams have earned 28 national titles in nine sports, and 63 individual Anteaters have won national titles; 50 have competed in the Olympics.

Visitors will also enjoy dance, drama chamber jazz and symphony performances at the Claire Trevor School of the Arts.; explore the Arboretum, a 12.5-acre botanic garden showcasing diverse plants of California as well as exotic African bulb flowers; view art exhibits at the Student Center and star gaze during one of the Visitor Nights at the UCI Observatory.

The UCI Campus Recreation offers outdoor activities such as rock wall, stand up paddle and kayaking and recreational classes including cooking lessons. Team building opportunities are also available including the Odyssey Ropes Course, standing 50 feet high and 360 feet long, the course is designed to inspire teams to support one another, communicate effectively, problem-solve efficiently, build cohesive relationships, and take calculated risks.
 

A Collaborative Research Environment

Recognizing the University of California, Irvine's (UCI) deep academic expertise in research and development, the University of California created Calit2, a partnership between the University of San Diego and UCI. Calit2 focuses its research and development agenda on five areas critically important to California: environment and civil infrastructure, intelligent transportation, digitally enabled genomic medicine, new media arts, and disaster response.

It is an experiment in inventing the collaborative research environment for the digital future. The institute creates research teams consisting of members from multiple academic departments, students, industry, government, and community partners and enables prototyping in Calit2 "living laboratories of the future."

These labs make it possible to push projects one step beyond academic theory and peer-reviewed publishing to building and testing integrated systems under real-world conditions and provide technical professionals a bridge between academia and industry to support activity in the living labs Calit2 works with industry partners from start-up to large companies in a variety of industry niches. Partners pose long-term research problems that they don't have the resources to address in-house. Calit2 identifies the necessary expertise across the range of disciplines then forms a team of industrial representatives and applies that team to the problem.

Partnerships with Calit2 enable industry partners to learn how students are using and developing technologies to identify emerging markets; prototype and test pre-commercial products and systems in the real-world settings; evaluate the possibility of teaming with other Calit2 partners on joint product lines, and evaluate students for summer internships and career employment.

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