West Side Story II: Inspired in Irvine

After spending shy of two weeks in Los Angeles and Anaheim, I had an invitation to experience the beauty that is Irvine, California. We realized Irvine offers enough variety to inspire interest in “just going for a drive” and having such an experience is a memory you would definitely want in your travel memory book

Hotel Irvine Lobby.
Irvine Hotel Marketplace.

Upon arriving at Hotel Irvine, I knew this would be a trip of much needed workout activity and recovery. Healthy snacks and local treat from the hotel’s Marketplace, which is located in the lobby, were left in the room. Nothing gets me more excited than experience local foods and cuisines, In this instance, Backyard Bees raw honey was the treat of choice.

Hotel Irvine Room.
Hotel Irvine In-Room Fitness.

This place is the perfect mix of practical and pleasure. My partner is an intense three hour workout kind of person while I’m more of a quick workout and pleasure seeker. There was a gym on the 2nd floor that met his needs. There were bands, small hand weights, and other workout equipment delivered to the room upon arrival that met mine. He’s also relatively business casual and conservative and rarely lets loose. We had access to “Club 12”, a business class club room that could rival anything one would find at a first class airport lounge or co-working space. There were multiple balconies to enjoy the weather and view with access to snacks and drinks during the day, and small bites in the evening. On the first floor, there was always a happening event and a nice little buzz that any natural people watcher or socializer would enjoy. The staff at Hotel Irvine was super accommodating and always willing to improve our experience – whether it was working around my food sensitivities, or working to ensure that our minds with stocked with lots of exciting options of things to do and places to go.

Hiking at Bommer Canyon
Hiking in Bommer Canyon.

It was time to get outdoors. Irvine felt like an outdoor spa. The sun was hot- but not too hot. The breeze was like a waiter at a restaurant, timely and just frequent enough to prevent me from feeling like I needed it. Which provided the perfect weather for a hike on one of their many trails. We hiked Bommer Canyon, which serves as preservation area for local plants and wildlife, including several endangered species. Our trail not only provided a postcard worthy scenic view of nature, but showcased houses that were just far enough yet close enough to the trail for me and my companion to wonder “which one of these would we live in?”

Electric bike ride with Pedego Bikes.
Electric bike ride with Pedego Bikes.

Intrigued and feeling adventurous, we decided to take a ride on electric bikes by Pedagogo, a family owned business that has a assortment of bikes for those who are tall, short and in-between.I felt like a little kid as “we rode bikes together” and chased each other around the beautiful lake. Who says we can older as time passes? I feel like a little kid as we “ride bikes together” and chase one another other around the lake. The extra boost from the electric motor in the bike made it so much easier going up hills and provided an opportunity to enjoy the scenery versus catching my breath to do so.

Upon completion of all that physical activity, we took aim at rejuvenation. After enjoying the scenic drives and walks, we were ready to enjoy dinner at the restaurant located in the hotel’s lobby, EATS Kitchen and Bar. The restaurant provides a creative twist on comfort food while you can sip on craft beers, unique wine and signature handcrafted cocktails.

Ahi Poke at EATS Kitchen and Bar.
Grilled artichokes at EATS Kitchen and Bar.
Steelhead Salmon at EATS Kitchen and Bar.

Dinner of my choice that evening was a pescitarian delight: Ahi poke with spicy guacamole, steelhead salmon with beluga lentils and wilted spinach, and grilled artichokes. I cannot stress that I will not eat artichokes any other way after having experienced what Chef Jeff Moore’s presented that evening.

Irvine Hotel Marketplace.

The next day, we had an absolutely amazing time enjoying Irvine Spa – an all day Korean Spa. If you’ve never experienced a korean spa, please add it to your bucket list of must dos. A Korean spa, also known as a jjimjilbang, have it your way and go at your own pace spa where you can enjoy several types of dry and wet saunas, relaxing and cooling pools, Korean food and the typical spa-esqe amenities, like massages, skin treatments, and facials. Get comfortable with nudity as the gender specific wet and pool areas are no clothing allowed and many extend that freedom to the locker room. It was much needed after all that physical activity. I indulged in all the saunas and pool areas making sure to rest and hydrate in-between. We stayed so long we made new friends.

The night followed with dinner at Andrei’s Conscious Cuisine & Cocktails. The food was so epicurean it could almost be called hedonistic. I don’t want to make you too jealous, but, we got Andrei’s chop salad and Calamari and trust me when I say it was superb! This restaurant not only has yummy food, but they also exist for a greater cause. One hundred percent of the restaurant’s profits benefit the Andrei Foundation, a foundation established in honor of the owner’s brother/son who was afflicted with an eye disease called Retinitis Pigmentosa. The non-profit organization also focuses on a number of community and global support causes.

This short trip was proof that Californian easy living, warm days, and relaxing nights isn’t just a notion. As we drove away on the highway, I knew that I will enjoy other trips, but in that moment, my spirit was in Irvine, California.

Special thanks to the Destination Irvine for facilitating this trip.
All opinions are my own. – Yoli Ouiya | Founder of YolisGreenLiving.com

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Yoli Ouiya

Yoli Ouiya is a spokesperson, consultant and speaker on sustainability initiatives. Yoli is an omnipresent part of the Green movement. She has been dubbed the “Queen of Green”, noting her function as the go-to social media presence for everything “green”.