A Day at the Park, a Night on the Town
Planning your visit to The OC is as easy as a walk in the park
The city of Irvine has a lot to offer. Located just 15 minutes southeast of Anaheim, this lovely slice of suburbia boasts everything from pony rides, peacocks and paddle boats to entertainment venues, an amphitheater, great shopping centers and restaurants galore. There's even a giant Ferris wheel, 180 feet high. And if that's not high enough for you, take a free ride on a tethered balloon that reaches 400 feet into the sky!
Irvine Regional Park
Pack up your picnic basket and venture to Irvine Regional Park in the foothills of Irvine (1 Irvine Park Rd.). Shaded by heritage Oak and Sycamore trees, this 477-acre park is a fantastic place to explore and relax. Hop aboard the old-fashioned railroad and ride through the park. There are also equestrian trails and pony rides, playgrounds and a lake where you can rent paddleboats. For bicycling, the fleet of rental bikes includes tandem bikes, surreys and covered deuce coupes. You might even encounter a flock of peacocks along the way.
Stop by The OC Zoo. For $2 admission, you'll see mountain lions, black bears, bald eagles, owls, an ocelot, plus a barnyard petting zoo. There's also a nature center where you can view the historic naturalist exhibits. Take a short hike on the Horseshoe Loop Trail for a panoramic view of the park. When it's time to eat, you'll find plenty of picnic areas with BBQ grills. Or if you'd prefer to get a quick bite at the park, the Train Station Snack Bar serves burgers, burritos and hot dogs seven days a week.
The park is located at the east end of Jamboree beneath the foothills of Orange. Cross streets are Chapman and Jamboree.
Day or Night
The Great Park Balloon
If you're "up" for another park adventure in Irvine, visit Orange County Great Park, the place to go for a free ride on a tethered helium balloon. Rising to an altitude of 400 feet, the big orange balloon holds up to 30 passengers inside its giant gondola. Daytime and nighttime flights are available. Free parking, too.
TIP: The wait times vary, depending on crowds and weather, sometimes up to an hour. Daytime flights offer the best views, while night flights showcase the city lights. The balloon ride is open Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. t0 10 p.m.; and Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Closed Monday thru Wednesday.
Day or Night
Shopping and Entertainment
The "great outdoors of shopping" takes place at Irvine Spectrum, an outdoor shopping metropolis that features 130 retail stores, theaters and more. Eat lunch or dinner at any number of great restaurants, including California Pizza Kitchen, Dave & Buster's, Wahoo's Fish Taco and The Cheesecake Factory. Ride the beautiful carousel with antique-design horses and menagerie animals. Or check out the scenery from the landmark Giant Ferris Wheel, designed and made in Italy. If you're in the mood for some entertainment, catch a movie at the IMAX Theater, or share some laughs at the Irvine Improv.