Irvine is one of California’s most well-rounded destinations, with a prime geographic setting and charming local haunts. While the sunshine, location and safety ratings are obvious draws, we want to share lesser-known activities that make it an awesome place to spend your weekends.
1. The Great Park
Forget the image in your head of a standard grassy lot with trees and park benches–because that does not even begin to compare to the Orange County Great Park. Totaling 688 acres, this incredible public park focuses on bringing the surrounding community together through sports, agriculture, the arts and architecture. The park is full of adventure and fun activities–we have listed some fan favorites to help plan your day at the Great Park.
- Great Park Balloon. The park features a tethered balloon attraction that takes visitors 500 feet above ground for a panoramic view of the park and what lies beyond.
- Farming and Food. Families, friends and singles alike can visit the verified farmers market and participate the Farm+Food Lab. Every Sunday the farmers market is hustling and bustling with fresh vegetables, artist trinkets, music and food trucks. The Farm+Food Lab collaborative gardening experience allows visitors of all ages to learn about horticulture and farming hands-on. There’s no better cure for Sunday scaries than shopping for fresh produce, enjoying live entertainment and getting free health and wellness services to help prepare for the work week ahead.
- Sports Galore. Tire out your kids and get into shape at the Great Park. The first phase of development includes a 194-acre Sports Park that features two sand volleyball courts, six soccer fields, a rock climbing wall, two lawns and a fitness complex. 25 tennis courts and a whimsical playground have also recently opened, leaving parents feeling just as playful as their little ones.
- Get Artsy. The Palm Courts Arts complex also finds its home at the Great Park. This space features the Hangar event center, an outdoor entertainment area, and the Palm Court’s refurbished military World War II-era buildings. The Great Park Gallery is open Thursday through Sunday and has free admission.
2. Get Your Groove On.
Locals have access to Orange County’s most popular dance studio right in their backyard. Many dabble in the world of salsa dance through lessons, group events or even fun date nights. Whether you are a beginner or regularly show off your Dirty Dancing moves, The ATOMIC Ballroom offers salsa, swing, tango and ballroom classes seven days a week. The studio is home to world-renowned instructors and offers classes for couples, singles and even communal social dance gatherings. Classes and events cater to all ages so there is no excuse not to join in on the fun.
3. Vroom Vroom.
If you were an avid Mario Kart player as a kid, we have found your heaven. Irvine is home to K1 Speed Racing, a premier karting facility that will bring your video-game fantasies to life. K1 offers top quality and environmentally friendly karts for racing. Not only do visitors come to unwind and drive, but many people take advantage of the space as a venue for corporate events, birthday parties, or any special occasion. Event spaces feature racing memorabilia, pool tables, and meeting rooms so occupants are bound to have a great time.
4. Nature is Neat.
More and more research suggests that nature offers a therapeutic escape from the busy and stressful day-to-day grind. Irvine is home to a range of scenic retreats that encourage visitors to brush off the day, be in the moment and enjoy the view.
- The San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary. Located in the heart of Orange County, the sanctuary spans 300 acres of coastal water wetlands. Visitors can walk, hike up to 12 miles of trails or observe over 200 different species of birds. Reading and picnicking are welcome, but bikes and animals are not permitted to preserve the grounds. The sanctuary is intended to be an educational library for visitors, so educational tours and programs are available to the public.
- Bommer Canyon Trails. An Irvine Ranch National Landmark, the Bommer Canyon Trails lure hikers, equestrians, and nature-lovers alike. Many trails are open from dawn until dusk, while certain areas can only be accessed by permitted individuals through guided programs. Bikers and hikers are given full access to explore the trails at their leisure several days each month and a full list of upcoming activities can be found here.
- Adventure Playground. Yes, this place is as intriguing as it sounds. Irvine’s Adventure Playgroundwill give parents a much-needed break as its perks entertain kids for hours. The playground features a treehouse, sensory garden, climbing areas, slides, an art zone, kids fort, as well as a meadow and several natural play areas.
We hope some of these activities spark your interest for your next Sunday Funday or plan-free weekend, but we urge you to go check out all of the entertainment, wellness and cultural activities Irvine has to offer. Happy exploring!