7 Days & 7 Day Trips: Week In Irvine

Voted the “Best City to Live in” by readers of the Best of Orange County publication, Irvine has no shortage of thrilling sights to see and explore. There is so much to do in Irvine, in fact, that a single-day day trip just won’t be enough. To help solve this problem, our team at Limon has cultivated a detailed seven-day itinerary for you and your loved ones on your next vacation in Orange County. So sit back, relax, and read all about our delicately pre-planned, week-long getaway in the iconic city of Irvine! 

  1. Irvine Spectrum

The first stop on our seven-day adventure is a staple to the local community and one of the most popular destinations for visitors in the area: the Irvine Spectrum. One of Orange County’s most prominent entertainment and shopping centers, the Irvine Spectrum also features lively promotional events and various dining experiences. 

Kick off your day with some retail therapy at one of your favorite stores. The Spectrum offers a wide selection of boutiques to choose from ranging from apparel to footwear to cosmetics. Not only is this destination home to beloved clothing chains such as Adidas, Nordstrom, and Urban Outfitters, but it also hosts Facialworks, Drybar, and Lip Lab by Bite for any of your beauty needs. If you’re not looking to shop at conventional retail stores, this shopping district houses a Barnes & Nobles Bookstore for a quaint read amidst the madness. 

Once you’ve done some damage to your wallet, unwind by checking out one of the many entertainment options the Irvine Spectrum has to offer. Grab a bucket of popcorn and catch a movie at Regal Theaters! Regal offers a wonderful cinematic experience with movie showings in 4DX, IMAX, and VIP, just to name a few. If you’re looking for entertainment that’s more hands-on, don’t fret! The Spectrum features a Dave & Buster’s, an indoor arcade that also functions as a full-service restaurant. Head over to Dave’s to eat, drink, play video games, and watch sports with your friends. In addition to the movies and an arcade, The Escape Game, a 60-minute escape room with a selection of themes, also sits at the center of the outdoor mall. For some new-age entertainment, stop by Odyssey VR, a space to experience virtual and augmented reality games, music, and parties. And last but certainly not least, visit Duff’s Cakemix for some artistic fun on cake canvases! Here, you’ll be able to decorate pre-baked cakes and cupcakes with colorful buttercream, fondant, and delicious toppings. Whichever daytime activity you choose, be sure to plan ahead as some of these locations require reservations. 

After a full day of moving, explore the assortment of dining options the Spectrum has to offer. From contemporary to casual, the culinary selections here are sure to satisfy any craving you may have. If you’re hankering for something more classic, head over to California Pizza Kitchen or The Cheesecake Factory for a delicious safe-bet. For the more adventurous, the Irvine Spectrum presents a wide variety of flavors from Japanese at Silverlake Ramen, to Brazilian at Fogo de Chão, to Indian at Curry Up Now. With so many restaurants to choose from, the Spectrum has something for everyone. 

Finally, complete your fun-filled day at the famous Giant Wheel. An LED ferris wheel capable of projecting 16 million color schemes, a ride on this attraction is a must to end your night with a bang. For just $5, you’ll be able to enjoy a breathtaking view of Orange County surrounded by lights from the Spectrum.

  1. Orange County Great Park

Next up on our Irvine tour is the Orange County Great Park! A large public park with a focus on sports, agriculture, and the arts, the Great Park was once the Marine Corps Air Station El Toro. Now reincarnated, it is now one of the most modern and metropolitan parks in the area. This carefully designed destination is beyond an average park; with so much to see, you and your loved ones could spend an entire day here!

Open from 10 AM to 2 PM every Sunday, the Great Park Farmers Market is a charming experience where visitors can purchase fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as hand-crafted artisan goods. Enjoy a nice picnic at the park, as the Farmers Market additionally hosts gourmet food trucks and live music and entertainment.

Following a serene lunch, it’s time for our next daytime activity: the Great Park Balloon. Revel in a view 400 feet above the ground in one of the largest tethered helium balloons in the United States. On a clear day, the impressive 360° view from this celebrated attraction spans 40 miles long. Free flights are available on a first-come first-serve basis from Thursday through Sunday during select hours. If you’re not afraid of heights and looking for a beautiful aerial view of the park scenery, take a magical ride on the Great Park Balloon!

Complete your park excursion by visiting the Farm + Food Lab, an interactive outdoor classroom perfect for park-goers of all ages. Starring raised themed raised-bed gardens, fruit trees, vertical gardening, a worm compost bin, and solar and wind-powered lights, the Farm + Food Lab works to educate visitors about gardening and inspire innovation. Other amenities at the Lab include the Pizza and Spaghetti Garden, the Butterfly Garden and chicken coop, and classes on pickling and canning produce. Open from Tuesday through Sunday from 10 AM to 3 PM, the Farm + Food Lab is a unique educational experience that fosters partnership amongst the community.

  1. K1 Speed Irvine

Get your adrenaline pumping on day three of our Orange County expedition by indoor go-karting at K1 Speed Irvine. Boasting two professionally designed race tracks, K1 Speed Irvine is one of the largest locations of the chain. Including plasma screen televisions, museum-quality collections of racing memorabilia and art, and a restaurant-style lounge serving food and beverages for all ages, this destination is a fantastic place to hang out with your friends or family. 

Begin your visit by going head-to-head with your friends on electric go-karts. Fitting for drivers of all ages (as long as you meet the height requirements of 48”), the karts are capable of reaching speeds up to 45 miles per hour. K1’s Arrive & Drive racing allows visitors to compete against 11 other drivers in a timed event. Including accurate on-board data analyzers, you’ll be able to track in real time where you stand amongst your competition. 

Take a break from racing and head over to the arcade for some good old-fashioned fun. With a variety of racing, shooting, and pinball games, the arcade is a great place to challenge your peers off the race track. The arcade also supplies pool and foosball tables, air-hockey, and arcade basketball to test your hand-eye coordination and quick reflexes.

Fuel your competitive spirit by dropping by the Paddock Lounge or Pit Café after a long day of competing. Enjoy an ice-cold beer or a relaxing glass of wine, or replenish your appetite with a cheesy pizza, hot wings, or layered nachos. With so many options for the entire family, the Paddock Lounge is sure to satisfy your hunger as you recharge. 

  1. University Town Center

A University of California, Irvine (UCI) adjacent outdoor shopping plaza, the University Center is the perfect hang-out spot for students in the area. 

The University Center highlights a wide range of shops and eateries to delve into. Appreciate a delicious meal first by checking out one of the many eateries available at this shopping district. From restaurant and cafe options such as Blue Bowl Superfoods, CHA for Tea, and Peet’s Coffee, you’ll be sure to find your next go-to lunch spot in Irvine. 

As another iteration of one of Irvine’s many unique open-air retail districts, a mix of shopping, dining, and entertainment options are available at this destination. Take advantage of the diverse recreational activities here and sign up for a kickboxing themed fitness program at 9Round Fitness or indoor cycling at Cyclebar. If group workout classes aren’t your idea of fun, the University Center also features a PC gaming lounge, ECyberDeck, for prices starting at $5 an hour, or for something even more laid-back, watch a film at Regal Edwards University Center.

For dinner, choose from a selection of eateries that you missed out on during lunch. Hawaiian style poke can be found at Poke Kai, or check out Mendocino Farms for reconstructed “fine dining” sandwiches. There are so many culinary flavors to pick from at the University Center, you’ll need to revisit multiple times to be able to try them all!

  1. Fashion Island

The social epicenter of Newport Beach, Fashion Island is a vibrant day-to-night destination filled with a wide selection of shopping, dining, and entertainment choices.

You know the drill; we’re starting the day by shopping, because nothing says Orange County like buying an entire new wardrobe on vacation. From high-end like Balenciaga and Chanel to casual like Alo and Victoria’s Secret, this shopping center will make it difficult for you not to spend your savings all in one place.

On Saturdays and Sundays, Fashion Island offers live entertainment from 12 to 3 PM for your shopping pleasure. Additionally, this retail district boasts The Lot, a social hub for elevated cuisine, craft coffee, artisan pastries, wines, and even movie showings! Grab coffee or a drink and enjoy a flick at the cinema with an in-theater dining menu including fresh salads, baked flatbreads, and sandwiches.

Conclude your extravagant day at Fashion Island by dining at one of the esteemed restaurants this location has to offer. Ranging from full-service dining to youthful dessert spots, there are over 30 restaurants to choose from. Check out eateries like Fig & Olive, CUCINA enoteca, and Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, just to name a few. At Fashion Island, you’ll be able to enjoy your meal with a coastal view under the towering palm trees.

  1. UCI Arboretum and San Joaquin Marsh & Wildlife Sanctuary 

Step away from the hustle and bustle of the city and relish in the beautiful nature of the UCI Arboretum! A 12.5 acre botanical garden, this living classroom is located north of the main UCI campus. 

The UCI Arboretum is an intriguing introduction to the extraordinary flora from California to Mexico, as well as habitats from the California Floristic Province. Additionally, this captivating location strongly emphasizes plant communities within the Irvine area, along with an extensive collection of South African plants. Begin your journey by delving into one of the many special collections the arboretum has to offer. Discover magnificent gardens in the California Native Grasslands and Wildflowers exhibit, or head over to the Aloe gardens for a calming experience. Picture-perfect for the Gram, you can even capture some amazing flicks in these stunning landscapes. To top it all off, entry to the arboretum is free! Designed for research and educational purposes, there is so much to discover at the UCI Arboretum. 

To keep up with the theme of unconventional destinations for day six, tour the wilderness of the San Joaquin Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary. Perfect for bird-watchers and nature-lovers alike, the San Joaquin Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary encompasses more than 300 acres of freshwater wetlands, along with 12 miles of walking trails. For free entry, visitors will be able to learn about the Marsh, water conservation, environmental protection, and gaze at the 200+ species of birds that call the Marsh home. Other features of this location include the Duck Club, Audubon House, IRWD Visitors’ Center, and IRWD Learning Center, all of which are there for your learning pleasure. 

Wrap up your day at a healthy, vegetarian and vegan friendly restaurant. Swing by Urban Plates, an American cuisine chain with a fine selection of hand tossed salads, sandwiches, and plates and slides. Incorporating cage-free chicken, grass-fed steak, and meatless loaf, Urban Plates makes it simple for diners to enjoy a delectable meal of their preference.

  1. The Source OC

Finally, end your week-long getaway in Orange County by stopping by another extremely popular destination within Irvine: The Source OC.

A modern entertainment destination presenting a mixture of shopping and dining options, The Source has a wide selection of eclectic daytime activities to choose from. At OG Zone, you and your friends will have the opportunity to try your luck at an indoor virtual reality golf range and batting cage. The number one rated golf simulator voted by Golf Digest, this VR golf range incorporates a high definition sound system, an accurate 3D simulator, and a natural, on-screen landscape to curate a seamless outdoor golf game. Afterwards, step up to the plate by playing baseball at the OG Zone’s batting cages. Complete with vision sensors, full HD graphics, and adjustable pitching machines, this virtual batting experience is a must-try for all sports-savvy daytrippers. 

Next, take a break from all the sports action and release your inner performer at EKO Karaoke Lounge. Book a room at EKO (pronounced “echo”) including amenities such as a carefully crafted dining and drink menu and state-of-the-art Karaoke sound and audio equipment. Sing along to your favorite songs tanging from Chart-Topping Hits to Classics, and even Korean, Chinese, and Spanish music. EKO aims to accommodate parties of all sizes, with rooms covering small to extra large groups. 

The large assortment of Asian flavors at The Source makes dining an essential for your visit. Savor a delicious brunch and a cup of tea at Basilur Tea, or appreciate some delectable Korean cuisine at Han Sang, Gangnam House, or any of the dozens of restaurants The Source has to offer. Then, wrap up your dining experience by visiting one of the several dessert eateries located in this complex. Enjoy cheesecake from Cheesetella, or mochi donuts from Mochinut. Whatever you choose, you’ll be sure to find a heavenly treat to satisfy your sweet tooth. 

We hope you enjoyed our seven-day guide to the most coveted day trip destinations in Orange County, and we can’t wait for you to experience all the fun for yourselves. Visit the Limon website to see more curated travel guides made just for you. Follow our InstagramLinkedInFacebook and TikTok to stay up-to-date on all things Limon! 

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