Irvine is an extremely well-to-do city in Orange Country. Known for housing some of the country's wealthiest and most elite citizens, Irvine has been recognized in multiple publications as being one of the best places to live in the United States. The city is home to more than 10 institutes of higher learning, a very high number considering the population of approximately 250,000. Many of these are branch campuses affiliated with other universities, such as the California State University Fullerton and Pepperdine University. The largest school in Irvine is the University of California, Irvine, which is host to more than 30,000 students annually.
March and April are about the latest that you'll want to start the apartment hunt in Irvine. High housing prices and low vacancies mean that if you leave it any later you're going to end up with very limited options.
Ask your prospective landlords up front what kind of income requirements they have for their suites. Some landlords will require that you prove you earn double or triple in a month the price of the rent. With the high cost of rentals in Irvine, sometimes the best way to match this is by recruiting roommates, or by having an eligible consignor attach their name to your lease.
Although there are buses and bike paths, Irvine is a typical California suburb in that you almost need a car in order to get around without being constantly frustrated. The distances you need to cover sometimes make cycling impractical, and the bus service is not nearly as comprehensive as what you would find in the heart of a major metropolis.
Irvine might be an expensive city to live in, but you can find cheap entertainment at Woodbridge Movies, a second-run movie house. You can find great dining in Irvine at one of the several plazas that contain a collection of restaurants to meet all tastes. New students in town shouldn't miss taking in a student tradition and ordering up a slice from Gina's Pizza.
One of the best attractions in Irvine is set up for people who have children. The Pretend City Children’s Museum is the perfect sort of fun place for young children to explore and learn in. K1 Speed is an attraction that is fun for children or adults of any age. The massive go-kart track facility also has arcade games, pool tables, and other entertainment options. One of the reasons that people often come to Irvine is to enjoy the quality of the golf courses in the immediate area. Oak Creek Golf Club and the Rancho San Joaquin Golf Club are two of the best in the area, and both are worth a special trip just to get the chance to play them.
Fast food doesn't usually make the list of the “must-visit” restaurants in any city, but that doesn't hold true for the part of the world where In-N-Out burger exists. This local tradition is something that everyone must absolutely try at least once. California is home to loads of excellent Seafood restaurants, and the California Fish Grill in Irvine on the Barranca Parkway is a perfect example. If you've never experienced a true Brazilian steakhouse you've missed out one of the most delicious dining experiences you can have, and Irvine has an excellent example in the Agora Churrascaria. There is also a plethora of excellent Asian food available in Irvine, with the Korean restaurant Kaya being among the best.
The Red Bar & Lounge is known for having excellent food, but is perhaps most famous for having some of the consistently best bartenders in the city. The Pilsner Room is affiliated with the McCormick and Schmick’s Seafood restaurant, but specializes in handcrafted beers with over 30 varieties to sample. However, if you're really looking for the ultimate in beer selection, you need to go to the Yard House. With more than 200 types of beer for you to try, you can spend all year working your way through the impressive list of options. If you enjoy the wine bar atmosphere, Seasons 52 is a great bet.
For the finer arts including theatre, dance, and certain musical performances, the Cerritos Center is often home to some of the largest shows in the greater southern California area. One of the best professional theatre companies in the area is the South Coast Repertory Theatre in Costa Mesa. The Laguna Playhouse also produces highly polished and professional work, while also hosting touring performances. There are also several great museums in town, including the Irvine museum, a facility that focuses on California impressionist painters. The Irvine Historical Society also maintains the Irvine Historical Museum, located in the oldest building still standing from the original Irvine Ranch.
The beautiful weather in California allows Irvine to hold events throughout the year. Restaurant Week in January celebrates food across the city with a series of special prix fixe options for the occasion. Irvine has a significant Korean population, and in May of each year there is a large celebration of their culture, food and music during the Irvine Korean Festival. The Irvine Global Village Festival in September celebrates all cultures as best they can, with more than 50 different cultures represented a the festival. Style Week OC is a massive fashion event that takes over Irvine in October. Fashion lovers and movers and shakers from across the country descend on Irvine this week in October.
The Irvine Spectrum Center is an extremely popular place for the residents of Orange Country to do their shopping. There are entertainment and dining options at the Fortune Drive shopping center as well, making it the perfect choice for an all day outing. If you're the type of cook who likes to work with local ingredients bought right from the people who grew them, then a visit to the Irvine Farmers Market in the Mariner’s Church parking lot should be an enjoyable experience. Another good shopping option is the Park Place shopping center, which has a number of great restaurants amidst the shops.
Irvine is close enough to the Los Angeles area that most residents support the various professional teams based out of the big city. However, the University of California Anteaters team provides the locals with a great deal of entertainment in the form of NCAA sports. The teams are Division I competitors, and members of the Big West Conference. The school has exceptionally strong baseball and basketball teams, and at points the baseball program has even been rated the best in the country. The other sport in which the school is extremely competitive is sailing, and it is sailing more than anything that has established a culture of winning among UC Irvine fans, athletes, and staff.
The weather and landscape around Irvine is perfect for golf, and there are three excellent courses in the several excellent courses are among the favourite forms of outdoor recreation. Not far from the city you can find the Crystal Cove State Beach. Many beach goers rate this among the best in southern California. If you're looking for the beaches that are the closest to Irvine, head to Newport Beach or Balboa. The surfing in all of these areas is some of the best in the country, and to most people in southern California who enjoy outdoor activities, surfing is a way of life.