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Local Things to do Near UC Irvine
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Local Things to do Near UC Irvine

Picking a UC is challenging. But to help you tilt the scales towards becoming an Anteater, check out these cool places near UC Irvine.

Natasha Kouyoumjian

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4 min read

December 05, 2022

Planning for college can be challenging, but deciding on a college in California is perhaps the biggest pickle - especially since all of the UCs have so much to offer. But now we’re helping you tilt the scales if you’re considering UC Irvine and are concerned about the life you’ll lead as an anteater. The town is known for its beach coves, access to some of the craziest roller coasters, beautiful sunsets, and all the goods that nature offers. Get ready to be blown away by the unexpected escapades, joyful festivals, and vibrant UC Irvine student lifestyle. Whether you’re a prospective student or simply visiting this college town, you’ll find an endless list of things to do near UC Irvine.

What Is Irvine Best Known For?

The common question that pops up when visiting a city is — what’s it known for? Aside from being among the best college towns in the Golden State, the city of Irvine is a major destination for fun, entertainment, and culture.

At Balboa Pier’s boardwalk, you’ll find as many admiring the view out to see as ones enjoying the view inland towards the shore.


1. Balboa Pier Beach, Newport Beach

Location: 1 Balboa Pier, Newport Beach, CA 92661

Newport Beach’s Balboa Pier is a popular place to go from campus for some fun in the sun. If you’re a beachgoer and love exploring new piers, Corona Del Mare is a must-see amongst stuff to do in Irvine and the closest to the university. Though you can go fishing at the port, most people love taking a stroll to admire the back view of the peninsula. Enjoy the perks of this California college town, with the town’s magnificent stretch of palm trees and friendly atmosphere. Since it's a popular area and crowds quickly, it's recommended to arrive early if you’re going to need parking.

If you’re mulling over college towns based on which are located in the greenest cities with close proximity to nature, consider UC Irvine. The stunning campus is endowed with gorgeous foliage and is a short trip away from a variety of beach coves starting from Corona Del Mar to Crystal Cove, Laguna Beach, and the famed Santa Monica.

2. Santa Ana Artwalk


Location:  125 N Broadway, Santa Ana, CA 92701

Undoubtedly one of the most fun things to do in Irvine — especially for art fanatics — Santa Ana Artwalk is a provincial Irvine activity that will leave you coming back for more. Held in Downtown Santa Ana on the first Sunday of each month, the Artwalk invites visitors to head to hop between museums and art galleries. Indulge in the creativity filled atmosphere brought to you by the local and visiting artists, the live music, and the merchants.

3. Bowers Museum

Location: 2002 N Main St, Santa Ana, CA 92706

Grant yourself access to a world-class art collection at the Bowers Museum located in Santa Ana. A 15-minute drive up from UC Irvine, this museum is a must-see Irvine landmark. The museum’s permanent collection is home to over 100,000 artifacts, ranging from pre-Columbian Mesoamerica to California Plein-air paintings. 

Indulge in a restorative experience on this amazing canyon hike in Bommer Canyon Open Space Reserve.

4. Bommer Canyon Open Space Preserve Hike

Location: Bommer Canyon, Irvine, CA 92603
Difficulty: Moderate
Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
Length: 4.6 miles
Elevation: 810 feet
Route: Loop
Dogs: Not allowed

If you’re living at UC Irvine and or just visiting for a weekend and are aching to put your hiking boots on, you’re at the right place. A moderately challenging trail awaits you at the Bommer Canyon Open Space Reserve. For a thoroughly enjoyable hike, leave your furry friends at home and head down to the canyon on a five-minute drive from UC Irvine. With a full set of popular outdoor adventures to offer, the trail gives you a real taste for the outdoors; indulge in birding, hiking, mountain biking, and more explorations that will give you the detox you need from your studies.

What is Irvine close to?

Whether you’re an experienced skater or a beginner, the Spectrum Center’s Ice Skating Rink guarantees a good time.

5. Irvine Spectrum Center's Ice Skating Rink


Location: 670 Spectrum Center Dr, Irvine, CA 92618

Winter or summer, Irvine Spectrum Center is transformed into a winter wonderland with an ice rink perfect for friends, family, and dates. If you’re not necessarily in the mood for upright spins or downright falls, the center offers a spectrum of entertainment. The Giant Wheel Ferris wheel and shopping and dining center offer just as special a setting for an evening away from academia.

Put on your rose-colored glasses and enjoy a lovely time at this eccentric Café near UC Irvine.

6. Hello Kitty Café

Location: 860 Spectrum Center Dr. Irvine, CA 92618

Whether you're a fan of the animation, the color pink in general, or anything themed, stopping by the Hello Kitty Café is perhaps one of the most unique things to do near Irvine. Enjoy a very pink and animated experience as you savor what this eccentric café has in store. With glazed doughnuts, sprinkle cookies, icy milkshakes, velvet cakes, and seasonal goodies, the café keeps it fabulous year-round. We recommend reserving a table in advance because this place is always buzzing; did you expect anything else?

7. Buccaneer Cove, Irvine

Location: 3405 Michelson Drive, Irvine, CA 92612

A supersized water park lies waiting at Boomers, Irvine. Located right at your doorstep, this fun entertainment spot near UC Irvine is open 365 days a year and is one of the city's most fun things to do. Throw your swimsuits on, pack your towels, and get ready for bumper boats, water rides, a rock wall, miniature golf, an arcade, and more, only a 5-minute drive from campus. If you’re headed to Buccaneer Cover with family, be sure to check the munchkins’ weight and height guidelines beforehand. 

If the anteater spirit has already begun taking over or you’re planning to visit friends or family at UC Irvine, make sure to get a pencil in some fun in the itinerary too. Irvine sure offers a variety of it.

Disclaimer: California.com is not receiving any type of compensation for reviewing any of the products or services mentioned in this article.

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