20 Things To Do In Irvine (CA)

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Settled between the coast and the Santa Ana Mountains in Orange County, Irvine, California, is a lively city known for its modern developments and plentiful outdoor spaces. Travellers hoping for a relaxed city break will want to consider visiting Irvine. South of Los Angeles and a comfortable drive north of San Diego, you’ll be within easy reach of two major cities and all the sights and attractions while enjoying the benefits of a more laid-back town.

Irvine provides the perfect balance between city thrills and outdoor exploration. Visitors can spend their days wandering around the city’s comfortable green spaces, like the Orange County Great Park or venturing out into the wilds of the Santiago Canyon. Alternatively, indulge in retail therapy at Irvine’s exemplary shopping and entertainment destinations like the Irvine Spectrum Centre. Irvine is also renowned for its diversity, celebrating its multicultural roots through a packed calendar of cultural events and festivals.

However you like to spend your vacation time, Irvine has plenty of options. Today I’ll be taking you through the twenty best things to see and do in and around Irvine, California. So read on to discover what top-notch attractions you’ll want to add to your Irvine itinerary.

Irvine, California

20 Things To Do In Irvine

Irvine skyline at sunset
There are lots of things to do in Irvine CA at night.

1- Hike Around Turtle Rock Nature Centre

Turtle Rock Nature Centre is the place to go to learn more about the native animal and plant species of the region.

Covering five acres, the nature centre contains various habitats acting as a small haven for local wildlife.

Trails leading through the centre provide a convenient location for visitors to view and learn about the local flora, fauna, and ecosystems.

It’s also a popular location with nature photographers.

Go over to 1 Sunnyhill, Irvine, CA 92603, United States.

2- Explore the Irvine Museum 

The Irvine Museum, otherwise known as the Jack and Shanz Langson Institute and Museum of California Art, strives to celebrate the works of local Californian artists.

With a collection of over 4,500 works across various mediums from the 19th century onwards, the museum displays the beauty of the Californian landscape and the mastery of its artisans.

It also hosts a rotating calendar of exhibitions and events, each showcasing a different aspect of Californian culture and splendour.

Find it at 18881 Von Karman Ave #100, Irvine, CA 92612, United States.

3- Visit the Irvine Historical Society Museum

Irvine business district aerial view
Irvine’s business and finance district.

When you want to dive into the history and heritage of Irvine, head over to the Irvine Historical Society Museum.

Displays of artefacts, photographs, and documents from Irvine’s early days provide insights into the city’s founding and development.

Visitors can learn about the early Irvine residents who helped the town grow into the city of today through a range of fascinating exhibits.

One of the museum’s focuses is on the role of agriculture in Irvine’s founding period.

Head to 5 San Joaquin, Irvine, CA 92612, United States.

4- Trek The Bommer Canyon Trail

Stunning landscapes surround Irvine, so you’ll probably want to get out and explore them at some point during your visit.

The Bommer Canyon Trail leads you out of the urban jungle and into the escape of the surrounding mountains of Turtle Ridge.

The trail leads up to Bommer Canyon Community Park, which offers stunning views, rest spots, and various other trails branching out across the ridge.

It also has a parking lot in case you need a lift back down.

Start the trek at 6400 Shady Canyon Trail, Irvine, CA 92603, United States.

5- Cool Off At Wild Rivers

Cool off with a day at Wild Rivers when the California summer gets too hot for comfort.

Wild Rivers can entertain the whole family for a day of fun in the sun with thrilling waterslides and aquatic attractions.

When you want to relax, you can drift along the lazy river or retreat to a private cabana.

There’s also a bar, a grille, and an ice cream shop to fill all your refreshment needs.

Splash out at 10000 Great Park Blvd, Irvine, CA 92618, United States.

6- Visit the Orange County Great Park

Irvine is well known for its lovely public parks and the Orange County Great Park is the crowning jewel of the city’s collection.

With a reflecting pond, art installations, and miles of walking trails, it’s the perfect scenic escape right at the city’s heart.

There’s even a 2,604-foot-long Walkable Historical Timeline leading you through global and local events from prehistory to modern times.

The park is also packed with sports fields.

From baseball, basketball, and soccer to tennis and softball, anyone who loves participating in group sports can get involved here.

The Great Park also hosts various concerts, festivals, and cultural events throughout the year, so it’s always lively.

Go to 8000 Great Park Blvd, Irvine, CA 92618, United States.

7- Go Shopping At The Irvine Spectrum Centre

Irvine bridge over the river
Walking around on foot is one of the best things to do in Irvine to get your bearings.

Is any city break complete without a little retail therapy?

When you fancy yourself a shopping spree, head along to the Irvine Spectrum Centre.

With a diverse array of stores, from high-end boutiques to popular fashion and lifestyle brands, the Irvine Spectrum Centre caters to a broad range of tastes.

It’s also packed with other entertainment and hospitality options.

The centre boasts casual eateries for a pit stop between browsing the rails alongside high-end restaurants perfect for date night.

It’s also home to a state-of-the-art cinema as well as live music venues, so it really is the whole package.

Stroll by 670 Spectrum Centre Dr, Irvine, CA 92618, United States.

8- Visit the Tanaka Farms

Tanaka Farms offers a fun family day out, getting to grips with California’s agricultural heritage.

Visitors can enjoy guided farm tours, animal meet and greets, and tractor rides, all while learning about the farm’s sustainable farming practices.

If you want a more hands-on experience, head out into the pick-your-own area and harvest some of your own fruits and vegetables to take home.

Tanaka Farms also hosts seasonal events, including pumpkin patches, corn mazes and strawberry festivals throughout the year, providing rural fun at the heart of the city.

Head to 5380 3/4 University Dr, Irvine, CA 92612, United States.

9- Take The Kids To The Pretend City Children’s Museum

It can be tricky to keep kids entertained on a city break, so head over to the Pretend City Children’s Museum when you need something to keep them busy for an afternoon.

This interactive museum is set up like a miniature city to let kids role-play at various occupations, from doctors and firefighters to grocery store clerks and more.

Head over to 29 Hubble, Irvine, CA 92618, United States.

10- Enjoy A Show at the Irvine Barclay Theatre

Sampling its performing arts culture is a key part of getting a proper feel for a city.

From concerts, dance shows, and theatre productions to cultural performances and festival events, the Irvine Barclay Theatre showcases the whole spectrum of performance mediums.

Hosting both celebrated national and international artists alongside local, and upcoming talent, classical recitals and contemporary arrangements, Barclay Irvine Theatre is a cultural hub that celebrates the city’s diverse arts scene and puts on captivating events with something to appeal to any taste.

Swing by 4242 Campus Dr, Irvine, CA 92612, United States.

11- Stroll Through The IRWD San Joaquin Marsh & Wildlife Sanctuary

Irvine great blue heron
Birdwatching is one of the things to do in Irvine.

Covering over 300 acres of wetlands in the centre of Irvine, the IRWD San Joaquin Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary offers a haven for wildlife and a peaceful retreat for visitors at the heart of the city.

Miles of walking routes and boardwalks wind through freshwater marshes, ponds, and various habitats.

Diverse wildlife and stunning scenery make it a hotspot for birdwatchers and nature photographers.

It is perfect for slipping into a slice of serenity without venturing into the wilderness.

Head to the parking lot, 5 Riparian View, Irvine, CA 92612, United States.

12- Enjoy A Night Out At Irvine Improv

In the Spectrum Centre, Irvine Improv is a top comedy club hosting well-known comedians and up-and-coming stand-up talent.

In the cosy and intimate venue, attendees can enjoy a fun evening sampling a broad array of comedy acts.

With a choice of food and drink, Irvine Improv offers a great night out, whether you’re a seasoned stand-up enthusiast or a first-time spectator.

Head to 527 Spectrum Centre Dr, Irvine, CA 92618, United States.

13- Go To A Concert At FivePoint Amphitheatre

If live music is your jam, you’ll want to check out events at the FivePoint Amphitheatre.

The open-air venue hosts renowned artists across a range of genres.

With state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems, and a capacity for more than 12,000 spectators, the audio-visual quality and atmosphere of the shows put on here are phenomenal.

The refreshments on offer are also a cut above the standard. Guests can enjoy tacos and Korean barbeque alongside the usual hamburgers and hotdogs.

The venue also offers convenient amenities, such as food and beverage options, to enhance the overall concert experience.

Whether you’re a devoted fan or simply looking to enjoy a memorable night of music, FivePoint Amphitheatre is the perfect destination for live entertainment in Irvine.

Go along to 14800 Chinon, Irvine, CA 92618, United States.

14- Take in The View From Loma Ridge

Set in the hills north of Irvine, Loma Ridge provides stunning views across the city and surrounding landscape.

Roads lead straight from the city centre up over the ridge, so it’s super accessible.

For a challenge, follow one of the various hiking trails that wind up into the mountains, discovering diverse ecosystems and thriving wildlife as you go.

Trek up to 148 Sabbia, Irvine, CA 92602, United States.

15- Follow Along The Pacific Ridge Trailhead

The Pacific Ridge Trailhead branches off the Bommer Canyon Trail and continues south towards the coast.

If you want to visit the seaside and are looking for a lengthy but comfortable hike, then the Pacific Ridge Trail is ideal.

Starting atop Turtle Ridge, the trail leads through Crystal Cove State Park, taking you through stunning scenery and offering panoramic views across the city, natural landscapes, and the ocean.

There’s also a diverse community of wildlife to keep your eyes peeled for.

Join the trail at Ridge Park Rd, Newport Beach, CA 92657, United States.

16- Tour Around Lake Forest Heritage Hill Historic Park

This compact open-air museum comprises four buildings from the latter half of the 19th century, restored and preserved in the condition they would have been during the Victorian period.

Including a schoolhouse and a church, the museum offers an immersive glimpse of Irvine’s past.

Guided tours provide further insights into the city’s founding and heritage. F

orest Heritage Hill Historic Park is a must-visit for anyone interested in local history or period architecture.

Go to 25151 Serrano Rd, Lake Forest, CA 92630, United States.

17- Bounce Around At Big Air Trampoline Park

Big Air Trampoline Park is the perfect destination for some high-flying fun.

Along with the eponymous trampolines, the park offers various other thrilling facilities, from foam pits and dodgeball courts to slam dunk zones and obstacle courses.

Whatever your age, Big Air Trampoline Park provides a safe environment to unleash your inner acrobat.

Go to 23251 Avenida De La Carlota, Laguna Hills, CA 92653, United States.

18- Head Up To Irvine Lake

Of the many natural splendours surrounding Irvine, Irvine Lake is particularly lovely.

Hidden in the mountains to the north of the city, Irvine Lake is a picturesque reservoir providing a serene escape and a playground for aquatic adventurers.

The lake is surrounded by scenic trails and picnic areas where visitors can relax in the fresh air or set up on the shores for a day of fishing. Meanwhile, boaters, kayakers, and paddleboarders take advantage of the lake’s placid waters.

Trek up to 4621 Santiago Cyn Rd, Silverado, CA 92676, United States.

19- Visit the Irvine Regional Park

Irvine Regional Park is full of family-friendly attractions that make it well worth the short journey north of the main city.

Visitors can ride around the park on ponies or the miniature railroad, meet some furry friends at the Orange County Zoo, or rent a paddleboard and head out onto the lake.

Younger visitors can burn off energy in the playgrounds and open lawns.

The park’s winding trails offer serene walking routes, and the lovely picnic areas are perfect for a relaxing family day out.

Find it at 1 Irvine Park Rd, Orange, CA 92869, United States.

20- Relax On Crystal Cove State Beach

aerial view of Crystal Cove Beach
If you’re looking for things to do in Irvine California, a day at Crystal Cove Beach is a winner.

Irvine is just a stone’s throw from the coast, so you’re just a short trip over Turtle Ridge from some stunning beaches.

Crystal Cove State Beach is an especially lovely spot for a day on the beach.

With miles of pristine shoreline, tide pools teeming with marine life, and rugged cliffs offering breathtaking views across the ocean, Crystal Cove can provide any visitor with their perfect beach day.

There are even camping sites for when you want your beach day to extend through the night.

Wander down to Crystal Cove Trail, Newport Beach, CA 92657, United States.

For more California ideas, see:

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Steve Burden is an avid traveller and experienced writer. As a former pro wrestler, Steve used to travel frequently for work throughout the USA and Europe. Having spent the last decade travelling all over the world in search of new sights and experiences, he has turned his love for travel into a new career helping others decide on the best places to visit, as well as what to see when they get there.