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, biking and horseback riding trails, golf, shopping, culture, diverse dining, activities and the city's close proximity to the area's popular beaches and attractions.
New State-of-the-Art Sports Complex and Ice Facility
A new 194-acre Sports Complex, nearly two and a half times the size of Disneyland, is part of the 688 acres being developed at the Orange County Great Park. The Sports Park features a 2,500-seat soccer stadium, tennis courts, separate baseball and softball complexes, sand volleyball courts and flex fields for rugby, lacrosse, and cricket.
The Irvine Sports Park will also feature a 2,500 spectator ice arena. The 28,000-square-foot ice facility will offer a variety of ice sports including youth and adult hockey programs, tournaments, figure skating, curling, broomball, sled hockey and public ice skating; it will also be used as a practice facility for the National Hockey League’s Anaheim Ducks.
The first phase of the sports facility opened in summer 2017 with the completion of the full park in late 2018.
In addition, a 12,000-seat amphitheater (FivePoint Amphitheater) replaces the Irvine Meadows Amphitheater which closed in October 2016, after 35 years of entertaining music fans.
Tech Meets Trek
Known as a leading tech and life science powerhouse, Irvine surprises with the most low tech open space in Orange County! Artfully manicured office parks are surrounded by more than 12,000 acres of preserved natural habitats and wildlands offering 54 miles of off-street bikeways, along with hiking trails.
The Irvine Open Space Preserve comprises a significant portion of the city’s protected natural landscape, which includes parks, greenbelts, trails, and wildlands. Currently more than 5,200 acres, the Preserve is a mosaic of some of the most rare and biologically diverse ecosystems in the world, including wetlands, oak woodlands, grasslands and coastal sage scrub. 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.
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.
The 2.8-acre Quail Hill Trailhead is an easy two-mile natural surface trail and is the only wilderness trail part of the Natural Landmarks that allows dogs.
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.
In addition, visitors can saddle up at Country Trails & Riding School located in Irvine Regional Park and horseback ride along leisurely trails among meadows and lush rolling hillsides teeming with buckwheat and other native plants including lemonade berry, coast live oak and toyon. They can also explore the beautiful landscape on wheels with bike rentals from Wheel of Fun.
With nearly 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.
Several restaurants that originated in Asia’s Pacific Rim can be found at Diamond Jamboree, a unique Southern California retail destination that brings together a variety of cuisines and international flavors. Three such restaurants include; 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.
Specializing in coffee, cakes, and breads, 85°C Bakery, a Taiwanese chain of coffee shops, opened in Irvine 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.
Irvine offers other unique dining experiences –
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.
Eats Kitchen & Bar has taken the hotel restaurant concept to the next level, with vibrant splashy décor that appeals to guests and locals alike. Its circular bar is the perfect spot to try Chef Jeff Moore’s culinary twist on seasonal “modern California” cuisine for breakfast, lunch or dinner – with craft beers, interesting wines, and handcrafted signature cocktails.
One of Orange County’s most celebrated female chefs, Zov Karmardian serves unique cuisine that blends contemporary with Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Armenian influences at Zov’s. Several of her legendary recipes can be found at www.zovs.com and there is also a Zov's Grab & Go at John Wayne Airport.
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 our sommelier’s handpicked wines.
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. Born in Southern California’s melting pot, its menu and traditional bibimbap (”mixed rice”) dishes are complemented by mall plates in a borderless kitchen.
Andrei's Conscious Cuisine & Cocktails, named in honor of Andrei Olenicoff, embodies his best traits - a sense of adventure, a commitment to sustainability and openness to new friends, ideas and experiences. Andrei's features Executive Chef Yves Fournier’s cultural diversity with the freshest ingredients, California cuisine, Mediterranean flavors, and sustainable foods.
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 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 support 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, 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. More information can be found at www.andreifoundation.com
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.
The Irvine Spectrum Center, the hip and trendy dining, shopping and entertainment experience, where one can peruse over 130 nationally-recognized retailers, laugh at the Improv Comedy Club, ride the antique-themed carousel and the iconic 108-foot tall Giant Wheel, a wheel custom-designed and handcrafted in Italy. A trip to the Center wouldn't be complete without a visit to their unique shops including; award-winning Australian retailer Lorna Jane, which offers stylish and innovative activewear designed by women, for women; Brandy Melville featuring affordable, bohemian apparel highlighted by over-sized, beachy and comfortable styles; and Kaitlyn Clothing offering a current collection of trendy designer brands including Fresh Laundry, True Religion, Juicy, Seven and more.
The California lifestyle is on display at Fashion Island, an open-air mall with an ocean view and more than 150 high-end shops, including specialty boutiques and world-class department stores, over 60 of which are found nowhere else in Orange County including Kate Spade, Jonathan Adler, Bloomingdale's Home Store and Michael Stars. High-end designers Halston Heritage, favored by celebrity style icons such as Sarah Jessica Parker and Kendra Scott, the queen of contemporary statement jewelry, both recently opened their first Orange County boutiques at the center.
Recognized internationally for its unparalleled retail collection, customized concierge services, and critically-acclaimed restaurants, South Coast Plaza is Southern California's premier shopping experience. It is the largest mall on the West Coast with 250 retailers - from Balenciaga, Cartier and Hermès to Diane von Furstenberg, Gucci, Roger Vivier, J. Crew, Zara and more.
To round out the eclectic mix you have The Market Place, boasting a wide array of shopping and dining options, and The District at Tustin Legacy, the OC's newest shopping and entertainment destination featuring live music and weekend entertainment and the new Union Market Tustin, an artisanal marketplace of independent gourmet food, fashion, and lifestyle businesses, all under one roof.
The history of Irvine is not a long one -- in fact, today's growing city celebrated its 40th anniversary in December 2011. 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 where101 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."
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. In addition, the OCGP offers Movies on the Lawn and a Pumpkin Harvest.
For outdoor recreation, Irvine Regional Park offers paddle boats, 1/3 scale train, the Orange County Zoo, pony rides, bike rentals, horseback riding and hiking trails.
Irvine has the most open space in all of Orange County with 16,000 acres of parkland where kids can skateboard, play Frisbee, softball, picnic and enjoy Southern California's near-perfect weather.
Irvine, 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.
Irvine - Ideal SoCal Meeting Location
Irvine boasts 21 hotels ranging from AAA three-diamond and all-suites properties to a boutique and economy with more than 4,700 sleeping rooms and thousands of 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, Canada, and Mexico and is served by eight commercial passenger airlines.
If you are holding a meeting in Irvine and staying at one of the nine Irvine hotels conveniently located within minutes 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.
Within the last few years, the airport properties have undergone extensive renovations and offer an environment that not only is equipped with today's latest technology but a modern, updated experience.
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.
In addition, John Wayne Airport is now one of the first U.S. airports to offer travelers a universal system to check in and print a boarding pass for any airline from any self-service kiosk.
The airport serves approximately nine million passengers annually, reaches 25 non-stop destinations in the United States, Canada and Mexico; and is served by seven commercial passenger airlines.
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.