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  • Writer's pictureREDFIN | By Marissa Crum

Top 19 Things To Do in Irvine, CA: Nature Trails, Cultural Attractions, Dining, and More

Published on June 4, 2024 | REDFIN By Marissa Crum


Nestled in the heart of Orange County, Irvine is a city that offers a perfect blend of urban sophistication and natural beauty. With its meticulously planned neighborhoods, abundance of parks and open spaces, and a thriving culinary and arts scene, Irvine is a haven for those seeking a balanced and fulfilling lifestyle.


So whether you're searching for apartments in Irvine, homes for sale, houses for rent, or are already a local, this Redfin article will be your guide. Here is Redfin's list of the top 19 things to do in Irvine, for both newcomers and long-time locals alike.


Irvine Spectrum Sunset photo in the parking lot

Photo courtesy of Terialina Photography

 

1. Visit the Irvine Spectrum

The Irvine Spectrum is a large outdoor shopping and entertainment complex in Irvine. It features a variety of shops, restaurants, and entertainment options, including a Ferris wheel, a carousel, and a giant wheel. “You can enjoy a shopper's paradise at the Irvine Spectrum and top it off with playful fun at Dave & Buster's,” shares Terial Quirarte of Terial Photography. Visitors can also enjoy live music and events at the center's outdoor stage.



2. Explore the Orange County Great Park

The Orange County Great Park is a large public park offering a variety of recreational activities and attractions. Visitors can enjoy a ride on the Great Park Balloon, which provides panoramic views of the surrounding area. The park also features a carousel, sports fields, and a farmers market.



3. Enjoy Irvine's cuisine

For foodies, Irvine has a delicious array of restaurants to choose from. Murat Zhandaurov of 24/25 Cleaners recommends Bistango and HiroNori Craft Ramen. "Bistango is a chic restaurant known for its contemporary American cuisine, extensive wine list, and live jazz performances," says Murat. "HiroNori Craft Ramen is a favorite among locals and is known for its delicious ramen and authentic Japanese flavors."



North Lake in Irvine, California

4. Take a walk by North Lake

Located in the neighborhood of Woodbridge, a stroll by North Lake is a great way to experience the natural beauty of Irvine. “It's a must-visit for anyone seeking a peaceful stroll in the beautiful Woodbridge community,” shares Art’s Cleaning Services, a local home cleaning service. "Enjoy the water, lush green grass, and charming houses nearby. You'll see ducks, turtles, and other wildlife, and you can even go fishing!"



5. Explore the beauty of Woodbridge

Woodbridge is a great not-so-hidden gem in Irvine that provides plenty of outdoor options for both residents and visitors. “The two artificial lakes are at the center of the experience – both figuratively and literally – providing scenic views for visitors, joggers, dog walkers, or even newlyweds,” says Kalin Tabov of Kalin Tabov Photography, a local photographer who specializes in professional headshots and portraits. “The shorefront houses provide this cozy feel that combines nature and urban in one, while the mountains in the distance give a sense of depth, dimension, and expansion. The 1-mile trail around the lake has the most views but without lots of shade. However, many neighborhood streets and the signature loop street have plenty of shade from tall pine trees to create this mountain feel with a pine tree smell. We cannot forget to mention the bridges that add to the atmosphere and spectacular views. A visit could easily start and end at the Village Center between the two lakes, where there's plenty of dining and shopping options around a nice outdoor area for adults and children."


Mario Hamwi of Florist Marketplace in Irvine seconds the recommendation of Woodbridge. "If you're visiting Irvine, I recommend spending some time at Woodbridge Lake. It's a beautiful place to unwind, enjoy nature, and enjoy the local atmosphere," say Mario. "Woodbridge Lake is great for various recreational activities. You can enjoy paddle boating, fishing, and picnicking in the designated areas. The nearby parks and playgrounds make it family-friendly as well.  The lake area often hosts community events and festivals, which provide a great way to experience the local culture and meet residents. These events can range from concerts and food festivals to outdoor movie nights."



6. Take an art class with The Artist Lab

The Artist Lab is an art enrichment studio for artists of all ages to explore, whether you are a beginner or have experience. "At The Artist Lab, Artists can further their art fundamentals or expand their creative thinking through group classes or private classes," shares The Artist Lab in Irvine. Set aside some time to embrace your inner artist and create a masterpiece at The Artist Lab.



7. Visit the Irvine Museum Collection at the University of California, Irvine

The Irvine Museum Collection at the UCI is dedicated to the preservation and display of California art from the Impressionist period through the present. Visitors can explore a wide range of paintings and sculptures that showcase the beauty of California's landscapes and culture. "The Irvine Museum is a must-visit for art enthusiasts," shares Murat Zhandaurov of 24/25 Cleaners, a home cleaning company with locations in Irvine and along the West Coast.



Irvine bike and hike trail at sunset

Photo courtesy of Terialina Photography


8. Explore Irvine by biking the San Diego Creek Trail and the Back Bay Loop Trail

Discover the ultimate adventure on Irvine's iconic biking infrastructure, featuring the wonderful San Diego Creek Trail, where nature's beauty meets endless exploration. "As you pedal through lush greenery and alongside serene waters, immerse yourself in the tranquility of Southern California's stunning landscapes. Perfect for cyclists of all skill levels, this picturesque trail offers a rejuvenating escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. Whether you're seeking a leisurely ride with family or a challenging workout solo, San Diego Creek Trail caters to every outdoor enthusiast's desires," recommends Norbert Tsi of Paper Birch Collective, a wedding photography and videography team based in Orange County. "You can also embark on a breathtaking biking adventure along Irvine's enchanting Back Bay Loop Trail, where every pedal stroke leads to a world of coastal wonders," continues Norbert Tsi. "Meandering through pristine marshlands and offering panoramic views of the shimmering waters, this trail beckons both seasoned cyclists and casual riders alike. Immerse yourself in the tranquil ambiance as you glide along the picturesque path, soaking in the sights and sounds of nature's masterpiece. Whether you're in pursuit of a leisurely outing or a heart-pumping workout, the Back Bay Loop Trail delivers an unforgettable journey for all. Drop by the world famous Seaside Donuts for a sweet treat afterwards!"



9. Rent a Kayak through the Back Bay at North Star Beach

Truly a hidden gem, Newport Beach's picturesque North Star Beach offers everyone the chance to explore the beauty of Southern California's coastline in a rentable kayak. "Glide along the serene waves, framed by majestic cliffs and golden sands, as you immerse yourself in the natural splendor of this coastal gem," shares Norbert Tsi of Paper Birch Collective. "Whether you're a seasoned paddler or a novice adventurer, North Star Beach offers the perfect setting for a day of exploration and relaxation. Discover hidden coves, observe coastal wildlife, and bask in the warm sun as you navigate through the pristine waters of Newport Beach's beloved kayaking destination. With its breathtaking scenery and endless opportunities for discovery, North Star Beach invites you to embark on a journey of serenity and wonderment."




10. Enjoy outdoor activities at the Quail Hill Loop Trail

The Quail Hill Loop Trail is a popular hiking and biking trail in Irvine, offering scenic views of the surrounding hills and canyons. Visitors can enjoy a peaceful and serene outdoor experience while exploring the natural beauty of the area.



11. Visit the Irvine Historical Museum

The Irvine Historical Museum is located in a historic building that was once the town's original general store. Visitors can explore exhibits and artifacts that showcase the history and development of Irvine, providing a glimpse into the city's past.



12. Experience the Irvine Barclay Theatre

The Irvine Barclay Theatre is a performing arts venue that hosts a variety of live performances, including music, dance, and theater. Visitors can enjoy world-class entertainment and cultural experiences in a state-of-the-art facility. "As a creative business owner, resident, and parent, what we enjoy the most are the unique art, dance, and music events at the Barclay Theatre in addition the exhibitions at the Irvine Museum and the interactive experiences at Pretend City Children's Museum," shares 7 Hills Productions, a full-service video production agency in Irvine. 



13. Play a round of golf at the Strawberry Farms Golf Club

The Strawberry Farms Golf Club is a premier golf destination in Irvine, offering a challenging and scenic course surrounded by rolling hills and picturesque landscapes. Golf enthusiasts can enjoy a memorable round of golf in a beautiful and tranquil setting.



14. Pageant of the Masters

The Pageant of the Masters Festival, held annually in Laguna Beach, California, is a unique event where famous works of art are reimagined through meticulously staged tableaux vivants. “You’ll be captivated by the enchanting Pageant of the Masters,” shares Terial Quirarte of Terial Photography. “It’s a unique show that brings art to life in a truly magical experience. A must see!” This 90-minute theatrical performance combines live models, intricate sets, and expert lighting to create stunning, life-size recreations of classic and contemporary art pieces.



15. Visit the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary

The San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary is a peaceful nature reserve providing a habitat for a variety of bird species and wildlife. Visitors can explore the sanctuary's trails and wetlands, offering opportunities for birdwatching and nature photography.



16. Stroll Peppertree Lane while enjoying Gelato Paradiso

Peppertree Lane is a landmark of Laguna Beach, featuring charming shops, restaurants, and architecture. “I recommend savoring the delicious flavors of Gelato Paradiso, all while enjoying a walk through the charming and beautiful Peppertree Lane,” shares Terial Quirarte of Terial Photography.



17. Explore the Irvine Ranch Open Space

The Irvine Ranch Open Space is a vast network of preserved natural lands and trails, offering opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. Visitors can enjoy the beauty of the outdoors and experience the diverse ecosystems of the region. Murat Zhandaurov of 24/25 Cleaners says, "Comprising several interconnected trails, this preserve offers a chance to explore the natural beauty of Irvine, including coastal sage scrub and oak woodlands."



18. Enjoy a day at the Irvine Regional Park

The Irvine Regional Park is a scenic park offering a variety of recreational activities, including picnicking, hiking, and wildlife viewing. Visitors can also enjoy attractions such as the Irvine Park Railroad and the Orange County Zoo.



19. Get a Photoshoot

For a truly memorable experience, consider getting a photoshoot from one of Orange County's many talented photographers. Take advantage of the beautiful weather and capture stunning new photos with a family and lifestyle photographer like Terial with Terialina Photography or Norbert Tsi of Paper Birch Collective ensuring you have lasting memories of Orange County's charm.




 

If you are represented by an agent, this is not a solicitation of your business. This article is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for professional advice from a medical provider, licensed attorney, financial advisor, or tax professional. Consumers should independently verify any agency or service mentioned will meet their needs. Learn more about our Editorial Guidelines here.




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