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Introduction

Irvine is a city in Orange County, California. 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.

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Sights and Activities

  • University of California, Irvine (UCI). The largest (1500 acres) and highest ranked university in Orange County.
  • Irvine Museum, 18881 Von Karman Avenue Ste. 100, ☎ +1 949 476-2565. Displays California art of the Impressionist Period (1890-1930). Free.
  • Irvine Historical Museum, 5 San Joaquin, ☎ +1 949 786-4112. Small, house-sized museum that displays ranch artifacts and other items related to the history of Irvine. $1 (suggested donation).
  • William R. Mason Regional Park, 18712 University Dr, ☎ +1 949 923-2220. 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.
  • Woodbridge Community Park, 20 Lake Rd.. A 22 acre community park with basketball courts, volleyball courts, and picnic areas.

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Events and Festivals

Holidays

  • New Year’s Eve - The US celebrates the outgoing of the old year and incoming of the New Year quite dramatically. Every state boasts its own parties to ring in the New Year, but none is more extravagant than New York’s Time Square, which sees people overflowing into the neighboring restaurants, bars, parks, beaches, and neighborhoods.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day (officially Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. and sometimes referred to as MLK Day) is an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around King's birthday, January 15. The holiday is similar to holidays set under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. The earliest Monday for this holiday is January 15 and the latest is January 21. King was the chief spokesperson for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law.
  • St Patrick’s Day - March 17 celebrates the US’s large Irish population. Many cities around the country boast boisterous parades and Irish-themed parties, especially New York and Chicago, where the river is dyed green. Be wary of the drunkenness that dominates as this is definitely a party-day.
  • Memorial Day - Memorial Day is an important holiday throughout the United States, but not for crazy festivities. Parades commemorating wartime heroes are often held and the day is also the ‘unofficial’ start of summer. Most visitors follow the crowds to parks and beaches, which are capped off with informal BBQs.
  • Independence Day - Also known as the Fourth of July, Independence Day celebrates the US’s break from the British during the 18th century. Barbecues, street parties, beach trips, and weekend getaways are commonplace to appreciate freedom.
  • Labor Day is a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws, and well-being of the country. It is the Monday of the long weekend known as Labor Day Weekend. It is recognized as a federal holiday. Beginning in the late 19th century, as the trade union and labor movements grew, trade unionists proposed that a day be set aside to celebrate labor.
  • Halloween - Halloween is a fun holiday on October 31 for all generations to dress up in costumes and relive their youth. Children walk around the neighborhood trick-or-treating for candy, while adults attend parties. Other seasonal events include haunted houses, pumpkin farms and carving, and corn mazes.
  • Thanksgiving - On the fourth Thursday in November, Thanksgiving is held in almost every home in the US. Tourists will have a hard time finding anything to do as the country essentially shuts down in observation. A typical Thanksgiving meal consists of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie commemorating the original Pilgrim’s feast at Plymouth Rock.
  • Christmas - On December 25, Christians celebrate Christmas as the pinnacle of their calendar by attending church and opening gifts from Santa Claus. Almost everything shuts down to promote family togetherness. The northern regions hope to experience a “white Christmas,” with trees and festive lights blanketed by snow.

Sport

  • Super Bowl Sunday - the world’s most watched sporting event and one of the highest grossing TV days of the year, Superbowl Sunday is a spectacular extravaganza. Held the first Sunday in February, the Superbowl is the final playoff game between the NFL’s top two teams. The venue rotates every year around America, yet the local parties seem to remain. Pubs, bars and restaurants are great places to enjoy the Superbowl or locals throw their own parties with different variations of betting.
  • The World Series is the annual championship series of Major League Baseball (MLB) in North America, contested since 1903 between the American League (AL) champion team and the National League (NL) champion team. The winner of the World Series championship is determined through a best-of-seven playoff, and the winning team is awarded the Commissioner's Trophy. As the series is played during the fall season in North America, it is sometimes referred to as the Fall Classic.

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Getting There

By Plane

John Wayne/Orange County Airport (SNA) is practically located between Santa Ana and Irvine, NE of the intersection of Hwy 55 & I-405. Alternatively, Los Angeles International Airport (LAX IATA) is about an hour's drive away without traffic via freeway 405, or Long Beach Airport (LGB IATA) about 30 minutes away, also via 405.

By Train

Amtrak provides rail service via Metrolink and the Pacific Surfliner with a stop right in Irvine. OCTA bus #86 connects to the train station.

By Car

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.

By Bus

Greyhound +1-714-542-2215 has a station in Santa Ana, a neighboring city.

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Getting Around

By Car

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.

By Public Transport

The Orange County Transit Authority (OCTA) provides bus transport.

By Bike

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 opossums and skunks, and coyotes to mountain lions.

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.

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Eat

  • Culver Plaza (Located at the intersection of Culver and Irvine Center drive.). 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.
  • 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), and the 85 °C 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 (Located on the border of Irvine and Tustin, on Jamboree). 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
  • 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.
  • Chakra Creative Indian Cuisine, University Plaza, 4143 Campus Dr, ☎ +1 949 854-0009.
  • Gina's Pizza, 4533 Campus Dr., ☎ +1 949 725-1144. Delicious, handmade pizza, pasta, and salad. Very popular with local UCI and UHS students. price: moderate.
  • Le Diplomat Cafe, 4237 Campus Dr Ste B161, ☎ +1 949 854-5161. Tasty sandwiches. Chicken Broccoli Mushroom is one of their most popular sandwiches.
  • Wholesome Choice, 18040 Culver Dr, ☎ +1 949 551-4111. The food court inside of the grocery store offers a variety of food options: pizza, Chinese, Indian, Thai, Persian, American, Mexican, and Italian.
  • The Korean Restaurant (Dae Myoung Ok), 14250 Culver Dr Ste B, ☎ +1 949 651-1177. Good tofu pot.
  • Shik Do Rak, 14775 Jeffrey Rd Ste H, ☎ +1 949 653-7668. 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.

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Drink

  • Anthill Pub & Grille, 4200 Campus Dr, ☎ +1 949 824-3050. Pub features Monday night comedy and other events. Located on the UC Irvine Campus.
  • Dave & Busters, 71 Fortune Drive Suite 960, ☎ +1 949 727-0555. 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.

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Sleep

  • Candlewood Suites, 16150 Sand Canyon Ave, ☎ +1 949 788-0500.
  • Courtyard Irvine John Wayne Airport/Orange County, 2701 Main St, ☎ +1 949 757-1200, fax: +1 949 757-1596. 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.
  • Wyndham Irvine, 17941 Von Karman Ave, ☎ +1 949 863-1999.
  • Doubletree Hotel, Barranca Rd (at Irvine Spectrum).
  • Embassy Suites Irvine - Orange County Airport, 2120 Main St, ☎ +1 949 553-8332, fax: +1 949 261-5301. $6M Renovation completed April 2008.
  • Irvine Marriott, 18000 Von Karman Ave, ☎ +1 949 553-0100, fax: +1 949 261-7059.
  • Residence Inn Irvine John Wayne Airport/Orange County, 2855 Main St, ☎ +1 949 261-2020, fax: +1 949 261-2011.
  • 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.
  • Residence Inn Irvine Spectrum, 10 Morgan St, ☎ +1 949 380-3000. Check-in: 12PM, check-out: 3PM. Free breakfast buffet, free WiFi. Near Irvine Spectrum. Easy access to Freeways. All suite hotel.

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Keep Connected

Internet

There is a very small internet bar/cafe culture in the USA. Even then most of the internet bars/cafes tend be located in major urban centers. Accessible WiFi networks, however, are common. The most generally useful WiFi spots are in coffee shops, fast-food chains, and bookshops, but also restaurants and hotels more and more have a network to connect on. Some of them might require you to buy something and you might need a password too, especially in hotels.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The general emergency phone number is 911. The USA has a great landline phone system that is easy to use. The country code for the U.S. is +1. The rest of the telephone number consists of 10 digits: a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. Any small grocery store or pharmacy has pre paid domestic or international phone cards. These phone cards are very cheap and offer good rates. The once ubiquitous pay phone is now much harder to find. Likely locations include in or near stores and restaurants, and near bus stops. The cellphone network in the states is slowly getting better but is still not as good when compared to other western countries. Cell phones tend to operate using different frequencies (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) from those used elsewhere in the world (2100 MHz). This used to prevent most foreign phones from working in America. Phones must be tri- or quad-band to work in the U.S. Fortunately, technology has meant that most phones should now be able to pick up one of the U.S. networks. Prepaid phones and top-up cards can be purchased at mobile phone boutiques and at many discount, electronics, office supply and convenience stores. A very basic handset with some credit can be had for under $40.

Post

The US Postal Service is a very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. Although some might keep longer hours, most are open at least between 9:00am and 5:00pm. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. First-class international airmail postcards and letters (up 28.5 grams) cost $1.10. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL, which might be better value sometimes and are generally very quick and reliable too.

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This is version 4. Last edited at 13:07 on Jun 14, 19 by Utrecht. 2 articles link to this page.

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