Formally incorporated on December 28, 1971, Irvine is one of the newest and largest cities in Orange County, and it is still growing. Irvine is spearheading the growth in Orange County where almost everything is either new or refurbished. Most of the growth in Irvine was sparked by the donation of a large parcel of land to the University of California system in order to establish the 4th largest UC Campus (in terms of attendance) - UC Irvine.
The city is becoming the de facto business center of Orange County with many national and international companies having a presence in Irvine. Most of Irvine bordering Newport Beach (and the airport) and the areas surrounding any freeways are commercial areas where most of the larger companies have their offices.
The city is best characterized as a perfectly planned suburbia, which it is. The arterial streets are very wide and have very generous speed limits. Most residential areas are off the arterial streets on smaller two lane residential streets that lead to housing communities.
Fly via John Wayne/Orange County Airport (SNA) and Irvine is across the street. Alternatively, Los Angeles International (LAX) is about an hour's drive away without traffic via freeway 405, or Long Beach Airport about 30 minutes away, also via 405.
Irvine is at the intersection of the 5 and 405 freeways. One does have to consider, though, that these freeways have a significant amount of traffic and may be slow during rush hour. If traveling from San Diego and you wish to avoid some traffic, you may consider using the 73, which splits off from the 5 in Laguna Nigel. Be aware that this is a toll road, however.
The 55 state freeway may be used to get to destinations in the northwest of Irvine; north of the 55 is Santa Ana.
As in all suburbs, it is extremely difficult to get around without a car. Rental cars are available near John Wayne Airport.
Irvine is known for its winding streets that do not follow the traditional grid pattern most urban drivers are used to. It is extremely easy to become disoriented and lost if you are unfamiliar with the area. Bring a GPS or a map if you are new to the area. In the various housing tracts, if you follow the double yellow lines it will always lead you to an exit or through fare to a major street.
Since Irvine is bounded on all sides by freeways, most of the arterial streets (which tend to be 4+ lanes in either direction) will eventually lead to a freeway, but it may be many miles before this happens.
Gas stations are unusually rare for a city this large and are not usually visible from the street. If you are in need of gas in Irvine, your best chances are to look in large shopping plazas where a gas station is usually hidden. Hiding the gas stations are a 'sign of upscale gentrification' in this city where household incomes rank as one of the highest in the nation.
Most of the major roads in Irvine have a bike path near the shoulder. Watch out for cyclists using the bike paths.
Irvine is a large city, covering 74 square miles, but is very friendly to bicyclists. There are over 45 miles of off-road bicycle trails and 282 miles of on-road bicycle lanes provided in Irvine. It is possible to transit from north to south in Irvine via tree shaded greenbelt bike trails with only two grade level crossings of highways. Other trails lead into the nearby hills for road touring or mountain biking experiences. Some paths parallel wildlife corridors and riders can often get glimpses of some of the wildlife native to the area - ranging from birds (sparrows to hawks), to oppossums and skunks, and coyotes to mountain lions. City of Irvine Bikeways
There are numerous bicyclist clubs in Irvine and weekend mornings are a favorite time for street touring by groups sometimes numbering in the dozens. Buses and trains carry bicycles when riders are traveling longer distances.
University of California, Irvine (UCI) The largest (1500 acres) and highest ranked university in Orange County.
Irvine Museum, 18881 Von Karman Avenue Ste. 100, Irvine, California 92612, ☎ (949) 476-2565, . Displays California art of the Impressionist Period (1890-1930).Free. edit
Irvine Historical Museum, 5 San Joaquin, Irvine, CA 92612, ☎ (949) 786-4112, . Small, house-sized museum that displays ranch artifacts and other items related to the history of Irvine.$1 (suggested donation). edit
William R. Mason Regional Park, 18712 University Drive, Irvine, CA 92612-2601, ☎ (949) 923-2220, . Expansive 345 acre park with open grassy areas, trees, and lakes. Also features playgrounds. Great place to have a picnic or go for a stroll.edit
Woodbridge Community Park, 20 Lake Rd., Irvine, CA 92604, . A 22 acre community park with basketball courts, volleyball courts, and picnic areas.edit
Irvine Chamber Visitors Bureau, 2485 McCabe Way Suite 150 Irvine, CA 92614, ☎ 949-660-9112, . The Irvine Chamber Visitors Bureau, also known as the Irvine CVB, exists to direct individuals traveling to Irvine in Orange County, California for business and for leisure. The city of Irvine offers hundreds of options for lodging and accommodations, dining, and entertainment.edit
Bren Events Center offers concerts for many independent and lesser known groups. Along with various dance groups and shows, they feature UC Irvine's Anteater Athletics events, most notably their well regarded basketball games, in which the men's team has had two NCAA Division II tournament bids, four NIT bids, and has been the champions of the Big West two times.
Irvine Barclay Theatre features concerts, plays, and performances that range from student groups to world-renowned international artists.
Musical Theatre Village, 36-C Mauchly, Irvine, CA 92618, ☎ 1-949-753-1996, . A non-profit, community-based theatre.edit
Verizon Wireless Irvine Amphitheater hosts various concerts ranging from rock to classical. Concerts generally held from May through December.
Woodbridge Movies 5, 4626 Barranca Parkway, Irvine, CA 92604, ☎ 949-733-3795, . An inexpensive cinema, known informally as "The Dollar Theater," that screens movies a couple months after they have left other theaters. Highest movie ticket price is $2.edit
Film and Video Center, Humanities Instructional Building, Irvine, CA 92697-3535, ☎ (949) 824-7418, . FVC screens classic movies, international films, art house cinema and more. Located on the UC Irvine Campus. Screenings typically occur at least once a week during the academic quarter.$5. edit
Edwards University Town Center 6, 4245 Campus Drive, Irvine, CA 92612, ☎ (949) 854-8818, . Shows independent, art house, and foreign films.edit
Boomers!, . A family amusement park near the intersection of Michelson and Harvard which features indoor/outdoor activities such as miniature-golf, batting cage, laser-tag, Go Karts, and arcade gamesedit
Wild Rivers Waterpark, . Located next to the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater. Open from mid-May until the end of September. There are lots of awesome rides including a wave pool and a lazy river.edit
The Great Park, ☎ 1-949-724-6247. Much of the park is still under development, but the Great Park Balloon ride is open to the public.edit
K1 Speed, 17221 Von Karman Ave, Irvine, CA 92614, ☎ 1-949-250-0242, . K1 Speed is an indoor go-carting venue.edit
Acrobatics Everyday, . Brings bands and artists to Orange County.edit
Atomic Ballroom, ☎ (949) 250-3332, . Hosts evening dances (Mon-Sat). Styles include: ballroom, swing, and salsa. Charming venue that attracts people of all ages.edit
Gourmet Detective, 105 Main St., Newport Beach, CA 92661, . Murder mystery dinner show. Shows every Friday and Saturday night.edit
Irvine Improv Comedy Club, 71 Fortune Drive # 841, Irvine, CA 92618, ☎ (949) 854-5455, . Comedy club and dinner theatre, featuring local and nationally recognized comedians. Located at Irvine Spectrum.edit
Irvine Lanes, 3415 Michelson Dr., Irvine, CA 92612, ☎ (949) 786-9625, . A 40 lane bowling alley.edit
Zot Zone Games Room, ☎ (949) 824-4636. Offer pool games and video games. Located on the UC Irvine campus.edit
Marketplace, Irvine, CA. Corner of Bryan/Jamboree. Hosts Lowes, Ross, Barnes & Noble, Babies R Us, Toys R Us, Home Depot, Bed Bath and Beyond to name a few. Several popular restaurants include California Pizza Kitchen, BJ's Restaurant and Brewery, Bucca di Beppo, Cafe Chin Chin, Corner Bakery, French 75 Brasserie, Macaroni Grill, On the Border, edit
The Irvine Spectrum has shops, boutiques, department stores, and plenty of merchant carts. http://www.shopirvinespectrum.com/ . The Spectrum is also considered by natives in Irvine as one of the better places to spend time. The spectrum is a common place of diversion by most people living in southcentral and southern Orange county.
Culver Plaza. One of the two shopping plaza featuring a multitude of Asian stores and restaurants, including 99 Ranch Market, Sam Woo's, JJ Bakery, Morning Glory, etc. Located at the intersection of Culver and Irvine Center drive.
Walnut Plaza. The other Asian shopping plaza located at the intersection of Walnut and Jeffrey, also built around a 99 Ranch Market, along with Pho 99, House of Shabu Shabu, Taiko Restaurant, Lollicup, A&J's Restaurant, Shik Do Rak Korean BBQ, etc. Is actually two plazas on either side of Walnut.
Diamond Jamboree. A newer Asian shopping plaza located at Jamboree and Alton with several shops and restaurants. Includes Ajisen Ramen, Kula Revolving Sushi Bar, Capital Seafood (serves dim-sum in the morning and all day in the to-go side), BCD Tofu House, Lollicup (boba/bubble tea), Yogurtland (self-serve frozen yogurt), Guppy Tea House (tea, Asian dishes, and the popular shaved ice), and the 85ºC Bakery Café (with a wide selection of Asian breads). Also has H-Mart, a Korean supermarket, which has a very small food court inside. Diamond Jamboree is very popular and often gets crowded in the evenings, especially on the weekend.
The Market Place. A two sided large shopping center divided by Jamboree the side opposing the Irvine side is theTustin Market Place. It features a lot of restaurants. Located on the border of Irvine and Tustin, on Jamboree. 
Irvine Spectrum. The Irvine Spectrum has several restaurants in additon to its food court which includes: The Cheesecake Factory, Johnny Rocket's, PF Chang and Wolfgang Puck.
Heritage Square. Shopping plaza located at the intersection of Culver and Walnut. Features several Asian and Middle Eastern restaurants, including, Caspian Restaurant, Denny's, Elephant Bar Restaurant, India Cook House, Kaya Restaurant, Korean Dae Myoung OK Restaurant, Sumo Sushi & Seafood Restaurant, Super Mex, Wheel of Life. Bakeries include Diho Bakery and Assal Pastry.
Gina's Pizza, 4533 Campus Dr., ☎ (949) 725-1144, . Delicious, handmade pizza, pasta, and salad. Very popular with local UCI and UHS students.price: moderate. edit
Le Diplomat Cafe, 4237 Campus Dr Ste B161, ☎ (949) 854-5161. Tasty sandwiches. Chicken Broccoli Mushroom is one of their most popular sandwiches.edit
Wholesome Choice, 18040 Culver Drive, ☎ (949) 551-4111, . The food court inside of the grocery store offers a variety of food options: pizza, Chinese, Indian, Thai, Persian, American, Mexican, and Italian. edit
The Korean Restaurant (Dae Myoung Ok), 14250 Culver Dr Ste B, ☎ (949) 651-1177. Good tofu pot.edit
Shik Do Rak, 14775 Jeffrey Rd Ste H, ☎ (949) 653-7668. Korean BBQ with relatively cheap all-you-can-eat. May not have AYCE on weekends, so check before going. Garden Grove tends to have better Korean food, but Shik Do Rak is great if you're not willing to drive to Garden Grove.edit
Harry's Deli (http://harrys-deli.com/), 17881 Sky Park Cir Ste A, Irvine, CA 92614, ☎ (949) 261-2116, . 7:30 AM - 4:00 PM. Affordable, no nonsense sandwiches made by a team of fellow food enthusiasts. Offers include pulled pork, ribeye, pastrami and chicken digiorgio.edit
Anthill Pub & Grille, 4200 Campus Dr, Irvine, CA 92614, ☎ (949) 824-3050, . Pub features Monday night comedy and other events. Located on the UC Irvine Campus.edit
Dave & Busters, 71 Fortune Drive Suite 960 Irvine , CA 92618, ☎ (949) 727-0555, . Known for its food, bar, and arcade. During the school year, D&B is popular among UC Irvine students, especially on Thursdays. Located at Irvine Spectrum.edit
There are several areas of the city where bars are clustered. Please be aware that the Irvine Police Department knows where they are, too. The IPD is very concerned about keeping drunk drivers off the city's streets, so if you have been drinking to the point of intoxication don't be surprised to see flashing lights in your rear view mirror. The IPD stakes out these areas at closing time and actively pulls over anyone showing signs of DUI.
Courtyard Irvine John Wayne Airport/Orange County, 2701 Main Street, (949) 757-1200, Fax: (949) 757-1596, . State-of-the-art lobby, free Wi-Fi. The new Bistro provides guests with healthy food and beverage choices in the morning, and evening dinner service with cocktails.
Crowne Plaza Irvine Hotel, 17941 Von Karman Ave., (949) 863-1999, . Close to Orange County Airport (SNA).
Doubletree Hotel at Irvine Spectrum. Barranca Road.
Embassy Suites Irvine - Orange County Airport, 2120 Main Street, (949) 553-8332, Fax (949) 261-5301. $6M Renovation completed April 2008. .
Residence Inn Irvine John Wayne Airport/Orange County, 2855 Main Street, (949) 261-2020, Fax: (949) 261-2011, .
SpringHill Suites, 17601 Fitch, ☎ +1 949 757-0500, . Suites with microwave, mini-fridge, large work desk, free internet, flat screen TV. Guests have access to free parking, free airport shuttle, free hot breakfast, pool and fitness center.$150. edit
Residence Inn Irvine Spectrum, 10 Morgan Street · Irvine, California 92618, ☎ 1-949-380-3000, . checkin: 12pm; checkout: 3pm. Free breakfast buffet, free WiFi. Near Irvine Spectrum. Easy access to Freeways. All suite hotel.edit
Irvine is considered America's safest city by FBI studies. Feel free to walk around alone at 3:00 AM if you are over 18. The Irvine curfew is 11:00 PM for minors unless accompanied by guardian; just don't jaywalk or you may find yourself run over on Irvine's fast moving streets.
KUCI 88.9 FM Irvine, . Located on the UC Irvine campus, KUCI is run by both UC Irvine students and community members. It is a free form radio station--DJs have complete control over their shows. Features a variety of music and talk show programming.edit
Crystal Cove State Beach. Generally considered the nicest beach in Orange County. Follow the Pacific Coast Highway south from Newport Beach.
Corona del Mar. Nice small beach with tidepools and natural reserve on one side, and firepits on the other. Free parking on the side of the road, or $6 parking at lot on the beach. Southern end of Irvine. Keep going south on Jamboree until you hit the Pacific Coast highway.
Fashion Island. Another shopping mall similar to South Coast Plaza. Based in Newport Beach. Take Jamboree south.
Laguna Beach. One of the nicer beaches around here with plenty of restaurants and shops. Take the 405 or 5 south until they merge, then take the 133 south all the way until you hit the Pacific Coast Highway.
South Coast Plaza. The largest shopping mall around here in Costa Mesa. Just as luxurious as Fashion Island, but much larger.
Newport Beach and Balboa. these two semi-connected beaches are closest to irvine. Take the 5 North to the 55 South which ends in the center of Newports shopping district.
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