Anaheim Adjacent: Irvine
Author: ALLISON HATA
Widely known as one of America’s safest cities, Irvine is a destination that celebrates diversity, culture and fun for all ages. The master-planned Orange County community is home to an emerging global dining scene and innovative entertainment options for parents and children alike. Explore family-friendly eats and activities from Irvine’s carefully curated collection of business that have helped shaped the city’s identity over the last four decades.
Photo Courtesy of TankaFarms
Strawberry season at Tanaka Farms draws crowds from March through June, with weekend tours that allow visitors to pick berries straight from the vine. Little ones will love the year-round U-Pick guided tours aboard an open-air wagon. The tour and wagon ride is free; just pay for the produce you pick. tanakafarms.com
Save the tried and true movies or Dave and Busters for another trip—instead, explore activities at the entertainment and shopping mecca that you’ll find only in Irvine. Hop aboard the Giant Wheel for views of the city from 108 feet above ground, immerse yourself in a series of interactive laser-blasting games at The Ride 7D, then grab tea and pastries from the pop-up Hello Kitty Cafe that wraps up its year-long residency in Irvine this summer. shopirvinespectrumcenter.com
This children’s museum is a city within a city, presenting kids with real-world experiences steeped in educational value. Imaginations run wild throughout the 17 exhibits and activities, which allow kids to play in a mini metropolis—delivering mail, cleaning up beaches and fighting fires has never been this fun. pretendcity.org
Photo Coutesy of DiamondJamboree
Take your family’s tastebuds on a tour of Asia: Chinese dim sum at Capital Seafood is as at home here as fried chicken with pickled daikon at the Korean-Mexican fusion joint Urban Seoul. More than 20 eateries offer a diverse sampling of Asian cuisine, including sushi at Tokyo Table, soon tofu at the 24-hour Korean restaurant BCD Tofu, and Taiwanese taro ball desserts at the popular Meet Fresh. diamond-jamboree.com
In the heart of the business district, five escape rooms in Irvine’s Sky Park Circle offer interactive and experiential games that run the gamut from eerie to whimsical. Become an FBI secret agent at EscapeX Rooms to reclaim stolen items from the Diamond Casino or rescue the kidnapped Hollywood starlet Ruby Valentine at Puzzle Workshop. The abundance of options means you can choose your own adventure—just bring your wits and a sense of humor. Other rooms in Sky Park Circle include Unlocked OC, BrainyActz and Puzzle Brothers.
Photo Courtesy of CityofIrvine
With the announcement of an impending ice skating facility and temporary concert venue, the 1,300-acre site is more than living up to its hype. Don’t wait for your next SoCal trip to visit the former Marine Corps Air Station, however—kids and the young at heart can enjoy carousel rides, public art at the Palm Court cultural complex and gardening workshops at the Farm + Food Lab. End your visit with the Great Park Balloon’s 360-degree views from 400 feet in the air. cityofirvine.org/orange-county-great-park