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Off the Beaten Track Vacation in Irvine, California
By Linda Kissam 'Food, Wine & Shopping Diva'
The really smart traveler heads off the beaten track and away from the tourist traps of the world’s big cities to uncover some amazing attractions. From little-
Southern California’s San Diego and Los Angeles are one of the world's most touristy cities and for good reason. Visitors are enthralled with their symbolic sights. After all, isn’t that what a holiday is all about? Not so much, I think. Sure it’s fun to see Disneyland, Legoland, Hollywood and Sea World, but there's a whole lot more to an area than mouse ears, tacos and fancy malls.
Just a few miles down the road from either San Diego, Los Angeles or the John Wayne
Airport is one of coolest hidden gems in the area, Irvine.
Long known for its business acumen, Irvine is reinventing itself into a vacation haven of trendy restaurants, upscale hotels and specialty activities that are likely to engage even the most “been there, done that” sophisticated traveler. From cosmopolitan shopping, to hiking, to bird-
Base yourself at Irvine’s only AAA four diamond property, the Hyatt Regency Irvine. Centrally
located just a few minutes (and a free shuttle ride) from John Wayne Airport, stylish
Sometimes it’s when you go from the legendary to the lesser known that the experience
really stirs to life. The arts scene, the culinary options, mild year-
Head off the beaten track in Irvine and try...
A cooking class and wine bottling at The Wine Artist: The Wine Artist is a boutique winery specializing in corporate events, private parties & custom labeled wine. With over 2,500 square feet, this elegantly decorated Tuscan winery holds themed based cooking classes. Small groups find themselves immersed in perfectly orchestrated Italian, Spanish, French, Indian and Thai themed (to name just a few) classes. Bring your appetite. Come to class in comfortable clothing and closed toe shoes and be ready for a hands on experience under the gentle and encouraging tutelage of chef owner MJ Hong. Perfect for the least skilled to the true foodie, this is a one-
Lunch or dinner at Pizzeria Ortica: Self-
A Bean to Bar experience at Qzina Institute of Chocolate & Pastry: The Qzina Institute
is a new world-
The Diamond Jamboree experience: For those of us who love to lunch and shop, this is the place. It’s a distinctive Southern California destination that brings together a variety of cuisines and international flavor from around the world. Diamond Jamboree is a vibrant, bustling retail center conveniently located at Alton Parkway and Jamboree Road, where Irvine’s business and residences meet. Featuring a range of services and dining destinations to please every palate, the center is representative of its Asian community. This is the kind of place you could spend a good 4 hours discovering. Come hungry, dress casually, wear comfortable shoes. While every shop has merit, I highly recommend you dine at SWSH Shabu Shabu and have dessert or coffee at 85°C Bakery Café.
85°C Bakery Café is Taiwan’s famous bakery and coffee house sensation. As I understand it, it is wildly popular, just like our American Starbucks. Expect to wait in line as this place is really busy with locals. Grab a pair of tongs and a tray, pick out your favorite bakery treat and head off to the counter to order a coffee or fruit drink. The salted coffee drink was amazingly addictive. Consider taking a gorgeous cake back to your room or to share with friends. This place is unique, don’t miss it.