Are you looking for a beautiful and exciting outdoor escape? Then look no further than Irvine Regional Park!
Located by the rolling foothills in Orange County, California, this 160-acre park is filled with recreational activities to explore. From picnics to horseback riding to disc golfing, there is something for everyone at a place far away from the heavy vehicle traffic every day. And while you are in California, you should also check out some of the most amazing things to do there.
So, without further ado, let’s dive in and know about Irvine Regional Park and also the various things that you can do here:
History of Irvine Regional Park
In 1897, James Irvine donated the land for Irvine regional park, before which, it used to be a popular spot among the locals for a fun vacation. Before it was renamed Irvine Regional Park in 1929, it was called the Picnic Grounds as well as Orange County Park.
The lake was added in the year 1912 and the historic boathouse was added in 1914.
About Irvine Regional Park
Location: You can easily find the entrance of the park off of Jamboree Road, north of Chapman Avenue, near the Santiago Canyon College
Parking Fees: $3 per vehicle entry Monday – Friday; $5 Saturday – Sunday; (Might be higher for some of the holidays and events).
Parking for reserved areas is not a guarantee.
Phone: +1 714-973-6835
Amenities in the Irvine Regional Park
Volleyball Set Rentals, Amphitheater, Horseshoe, Ball Fields, Horse Rentals, Barbeques, Weddings, Special Events, Bike Rentals, Volleyball Courts, shaded turf areas provide prevention from the heat, Bike Trails, Train Rides, Boarding Stables, Pony Rides, Dogs Allowed on leashes, Playgrounds, Equestrian Trails, Picnic shelters for reservation, Fishing, Picnic areas (with tables, restrooms), Food Concessions, Paddle Boat Rentals, Hiking Trails, and Interpretive Programs Center.
Things to do in Irvine Regional Park
The many attractions at Irvine Regional Park also make it a great spot for families to spend some quality time together. Kids will love running around in the play area while parents can relax on the nearby picnic tables or take a stroll through the nearby trails.
You can also feed the ducks in the lake or take a fun, relaxing ride around in one of their paddleboats or rowboats. And if your kids need some entertainment, then be sure to visit Old McDonald’s Farm where they can interact with various animals such as goats, cows, horses, and more!
In 1913, two ponds were created in Irvine regional park and since then, visitors are using these ponds for one leisure activity, fishing, trout, bass, and some seasonally variable fishes are stocked year-round in the pond.
Majestic trees and a serene setting at the backdrop make visiting the century-old boathouse, a really beautiful experience for the visitors. A valid California fishing license is all you need to start throwing your hooks. You must follow the fishing rules issued by CDFL (California Department of Fish and Wild Life).
2. Train Rides
With a $6 per person ride during the non-holiday season, the Irvine Park Railroad, a 1/3-scale train, with its 10-minute ride, is one of the pride and joys of the Irvine Regional Park. Themed on various holidays, the Irvine Park Railroad has been claimed as kids’ favorite.
During spring, Easter Egg Hunt takes place in the park; fall brings out a pumpkin patch, with cookie decorations, bounce houses, and a haunted house for kids; winters are welcomed by transforming the whole of Irvine Regional Park into the North Pole.
The passengers/ visitors aboard the train from the Irvine train station at the park’s entrance and then enjoy their train ride on the Irvine Park Railroad.
3. Visit the Orange County Zoo/ OC Zoo
Located inside Irvine Regional Park is the OC Zoo, home to more than 70 species of animals from around the world! You can learn about and observe animals like black bears, jaguars, mountain lions, giraffes, camels, reptiles, and more as you wander through their enclosures by only paying an entry fee of $2.
There are also special education programs available on certain days throughout the year.
4. Pony Rides and Horse Trails
There is a corral which is located adjacent to the train station at the entrance of the park, it offers pony rides for little children. For adults, horse rentals are available that offer both self-guided and guided tours.
You can also take horseback riding lessons and there is horse-trailer parking available. You can also ride your horse through the three-mile equestrian trail to experience the awesome green trees, and panoramic, serene setting that surrounds the park or to Irvine Park Trail, adjacent to Santiago Creek.
5. Entertainment & Leisure
For fourteen weekends, watch free movies throughout different parks in Orange County during The OC Parks Summer Sunset Cinema Series. Irvine regional park participates in this every year. Irvine park also frequently participates in the ten-week lineup for the OC Parks Summer Concert Series where you can enjoy live local bands, food trucks, free parking, and beer & wine gardens.
There is also a lakeside snack bar at Irvine park that serves both hot and cold food. Your entire family will love the food served. Snack bars aside, there are also party pavilions and special event areas located in the park that celebrate various events throughout the holidays.
Today, it’s home to events like the annual 4th of July celebrations with fireworks displays, a weekly Farmers Market during peak seasons (April through October), plus regular performances at its amphitheater space that often features local school talent or national touring acts.
Over the years, Irvine Regional Park has been used as a filming location for popular films like ‘The Naked Gun’ and ‘Speed’ – which may explain why it, and Orange County, continues to draw thousands of visitors and their entire family each year!
6. Recreational Activities and Sports
The first come, first served basis softball fields as well as horseshoe pits are the greatest attraction for sports enthusiasts in Irvine park or in Orange County. One of the other most seek-out activities is renting paddle boats. You can give all your time on one activity or divide your time doing several activities under operating hours.
One of the best, most exciting, fun, and also most popular things to do in the park is to have Picnicking Parties! You and your entire family gather picnic supplies and have an amazing picnic day on weekends.
Some Tips for a Visit to Irvine Regional Park
The park’s location provides the perfect backdrop for fun outdoor activities. The rolling hills offer breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and nature preserve. The streams that run through the park add a peaceful atmosphere as well as provide an ideal place for bird watching and fishing. Santiago Creek bisects the park and a pond with a waterfall.
Bring Sunscreen and a Hat
While most of the park is shaded by tall trees, it can still get quite hot out on the trails and open areas. Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a hat and applying sunscreen before going out into the sun.
Make sure to bring enough water to stay hydrated while exploring the park! Dehydration is a real risk when spending long days outdoors, so it’s important to take preventative measures and be prepared.
Dress for Comfort
Wear clothing that will keep you comfortable throughout your day. Choose lightweight fabrics such as cotton that breathes well in warmer temperatures and layer with items such as light jackets for cooler temperatures or windy conditions.
Watch for Wildlife
As one of Orange County’s largest parks, Irvine Regional Park has a wide variety of animals including bobcats, rabbits, squirrels, and many species of birds that can be spotted along the trails. Remember to stay back from any wildlife you come across and never feed them as they may become dependent on human food sources and become unhealthy or dangerous.
Know where you are Going
Take some time to study a map before setting off into unknown parts of the park to make sure you know where you are headed so you don’t get lost! Have fun but also be smart and responsible when out exploring new places.
Be Mindful of other Visitors
The park gets very busy on weekends and holidays so remember to be respectful of other visitors around you and give them plenty of space when needed. Also, remember that bikes have right-of-way over pedestrians when out on trails so watch for bikers coming up behind you on your hikes!
Pick up after Yourself
Leave no trace when visiting Irvine Regional Park! Take all trash with you when leaving the area as this helps protect wildlife living in the area as well as keep it enjoyable for future visitors who come after you!
Last but certainly not least – don’t forget to capture some amazing memories from your visit to Irvine Regional Park! With so much beauty around every corner this is a great spot for photos so be sure to bring along your camera or phone for lots of photo opportunities throughout your visit!