Irvine, California is not usually a city that comes to mind when people think of Southern California. Centrally located in the affluent Orange County, this city actually has plenty to offer.
Orange county is typically known for its new age housing developments and high quality shopping, which does not disappoint. The Spectrum is an outdoor mall with a multitude of things to do. It features a wide variety of modern chain stores and restaurants such as H&M, Barnes and Noble, and the Cheesecake Factory, to touch on the surface. Various events occur year round at the mall and shoppers can take a break to check out the Spectrum's giant illuminated wheel or try their hand at some ice skating.
One of the best parts of Southern California is the year-round 70-degree weather. This climate affords people the opportunity to experience a variety of attractions at any time of the year. Heritage Park provides people with a great pool to cool down in as well a community center. The park also features open sports fields for anyone looking to toss a ball around or get a game going. In the summer, be sure to check out the city's aptly named meadows amphitheater. Famous for its popular music festivals, the venue has hosted multiple big name artists such as Michael Jackson and Fall Out Boy. Recently, the old El Toro Marine Base was shut down and has now been transformed into a new community park, providing locals and visitors a new spot to check out. The park headlines a helium balloon ride that goes up to 400 feet, giving you a pleasant view of the city and Orange County. If you're looking for something to do in the evenings, check the park's calendar for their movie nights, which feature a film projected on a giant inflatable screen plus an array of Orange County's best food trucks.
The best way to take advantage of Orange County's temperate climate is check out some of their lesser known outdoor activities. Irvine Park not only provides a place for soccer games and picnics, but is also home to the feral population of Red-crowned Amazons. While these parrots are not considered a native species, they are well established making this is one of the few places in the United States where you can see wild amazons chattering overhead. The Orange County Zoo is located within the confines of the park and while small, still has plenty of neat exhibits to offer. Hiking around the park will take you out of the recreation area and onto some trails that highlight the typical Southern California habitat of desert scrub and rocky hills. If you're lucky you may even spot a cougar or a coyote. Rancho Las Lomas, further down the road from the park, is a bit of fancier zoo, featuring rehabilitated circus animals from tigers to zebras and a premier wine tasting.
Continuing down the road from the private zoo and into Silverado Canyon, you can reach Irvine Lake. Here, visitors have an enjoyable place to hike canyon trails, go fishing, camping and even take a boat out onto the calm waters. Often majestic Bald Eagles are spotted in the vicinity. However, San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary is a must see for anyone that enjoys a nature walk or bird watching. The refuge is a birding hot spot featuring a variety of Southern California species. For a change of scene, Bommer Canyon gives both cyclists and hikers a wider array of trails to choose from with paths leading through an old cattle ranch. Keep your eyes peeled for some of the original farm structures which add to the rustic feel of the land.
Worried about the terrible Southern California traffic? Where I-5 and I-405 come together is one of the world's largest freeways with 26 lanes! A bus rental can help you get to the Orange county city in comfort without the hassle of driving. The city's central location allows you to visit a plethora of other Southern California attractions such as Los Angeles, San Diego, Disneyland, Laguna Beach and Seaworld, to name a few. With its reputation as one of America's safest cities, its central location and myriad of activities, Irvine is the ideal location for your Southern California get away.
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