Day Trips from Irvine: Exploring Nearby Attractions and Landmarks
Irvine is not only a vibrant city with plenty to offer, but also an excellent base for exploring the surrounding areas. Whether you're a local looking for a quick getaway or a tourist seeking to explore Southern California, Irvine provides easy access to a wealth of nearby attractions and landmarks. From beautiful coastal towns to iconic theme parks and stunning natural landscapes, there's something for everyone within a short drive. Here are some of our favorite excursions.
- Disneyland Resort
Of course, we had to put this first. While Anaheim is in north Orange County, and Irvine in south Orange County, the Disneyland Resort is only about a half an hour away in nearby Anaheim. If you live here and haven’t been to Disneyland yet, what are you waiting for? These theme parks draw tourists from around the world. Experience the magic of Disney at Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park. Enjoy thrilling rides, meet beloved characters, see world-famous shows, and immerse yourself in the enchanting atmosphere of these iconic theme parks.
- Huntington Beach
Known as Surf City USA, Huntington Beach is a short drive from Irvine. Here, you and your family can spend a day at the beach, soaking up the sun, watching surfers ride the waves, and enjoying the lively atmosphere. The iconic Huntington Beach Pier and Main Street are lined with shops, restaurants, and entertainment options.
- Laguna Beach
Just south of Irvine, Laguna Beach offers lovely coastal views, beautiful beaches, and a booming arts scene. Explore the art galleries, enjoy a scenic hike in the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, or relax on the sandy beaches. You won’t want to miss the famous Pageant of the Masters, a unique art exhibition featuring living artworks.
- Crystal Cove State Park
On coast between Newport Beach and Laguna Beach, Crystal Cove State Park is an unspoiled natural area with sandy beaches, tide pools, and hiking trails. Here, you can explore the historic beach cottages, rent a beach cruiser, or take a stroll along the shoreline.
- Mission San Juan Capistrano
Step back in time at Mission San Juan Capistrano, one of the 21 Spanish missions in California, and an important historic site. Here, you’ll learn about the region's history and explore the beautifully maintained mission grounds, including the famous ruins of the Great Stone Church. Don't miss the annual Return of the Swallows celebration in March.
- Balboa Island
Located off the coast in Newport Beach, Balboa Island is a charming coastal community with enchanting streets and quaint shops. Some of the fun things you can do here include taking a ferry ride across the harbor, renting a bicycle or a kayak, and just soaking up the island's charm.
- The Richard Nixon Library and Museum
We hear a lot about presidential libraries, but it’s a treat to get to visit one. In Yorba Linda you can visit the Richard Nixon Library and Museum, dedicated to the life and presidency of the 37th President of the United States. The site features beautifully landscaped grounds, and you can learn a lot here about one of America's most complex and controversial political figures.
- Joshua Tree National Park
At Joshua Tree National Park you can explore the unique desert landscapes, hike through stunning rock formations, and marvel at the park's namesake Joshua trees. Don't forget to stargaze at night for a magical experience.
- The Getty Center
The Getty Center is an architectural masterpiece in Los Angeles housing an art collection spanning from ancient to modern times. Here, you’ll get to explore the galleries, stroll through the stunning gardens, and enjoy picturesque views of the city.
- Santa Catalina Island
Embark on a ferry ride from Newport Beach or Long Beach and escape to Santa Catalina Island. This is simply a gorgeous place to go with a laid-back atmosphere. You can go snorkeling or kayaking in the crystal-clear waters, or take a scenic hike in the island's interior. Don't miss the chance to spot dolphins and sea lions during a boat tour.
These are just a few examples of the many day trips you can take from Irvine. The fact is, Orange County is full of amazing places to visit regardless of your age or interests. As you plan your day trips, be sure to consider the season, weather conditions, and any specific requirements or restrictions at each destination. Some attractions may require reservations or have limited availability, so check on that in advance. Additionally, pack comfortable clothing, sunscreen, water, and any necessary equipment for your chosen activities.