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Metro Cities: Irvine

Metro Cities: Irvine

Irvine is a place where the past and the present mesh together to form a unique community. Founded in the 1960s, Irvine was designed to be a planned city, with neighborhoods, parks, and businesses all laid out with care. But its history goes back even further, to when it was the land of the Gabrielino/Tongva Indians and later became a vast ranch owned by James Irvine in the 1800s. Today, Irvine is known for its excellent schools, world-class universities, and bustling business environment, making it a thriving place to live, work, and play.

The Best of Irvine

Irvine’s stylistic homogeneity is a boon for some, a trade-off to others who nevertheless value the city as a safe haven—a relatively problem-free world carved out of the Irvine Co.’s huge land holdings. Nearby John Wayne Airport is vastly superior to LAX in terms of pleasant surroundings and ease of departure and arrival.

Irvine Spectrum Center, at the confluence of the 5, 405 and 133 freeways, is home to the nation’s most visited movie theater complex and numerous fine restaurants and entertainment-related retailers. You can see the Giant Wheel from the freeways. Nordstrom anchors a newer wing of shopping and dining.

Irvine Spectrum Center (©Jessica Lewis The Painted Square)
Irvine Spectrum Center (©Jessica Lewis The Painted Square)

The Irvine Barclay Theatre, at UC Irvine, presents an impressive roster of music, dance and dramatic events. There’s not a bad seat in the house.

The Irvine Museum, on the 17th floor of an office building, houses the California Impressionism collection of Joan Irvine Smith, from whose family the city takes its name.

The restored blacksmith shop and general store of Old Town Irvine (Sand Canyon Avenue and Burt Road, 949.660.9112), near Interstate 5, house a hotel and restaurants including Tia Juana’s.

Last but not least is Great Park. The city transformed the old El Toro Marine Corps Air Station into a 1,347-acre recreation destination including picnic areas, a wildlife corridor, museums and gardens. A free tethered-balloon ride already operates.

Great Park (©Daniel Sinoca)
Great Park (©Daniel Sinoca)
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