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We don’t know about you, but we’re super excited to enjoy all the warmth and sunshine in California this March (especially on the beach).

WITS will certainly be the main activity that weekend, but we wanted to know — beach bumming aside — what other sorts of shenanigans there are to get up to in Irvine.

So we did some research, thought about our own personal experiences in the area, and chatted with Destination Irvine. The city may be 40 miles south of LA, but it’s got more than enough to offer for a full and busy weekend (and beyond) — and that’s not even including all the activities we’ll have planned before, during, and after WITS! You won’t want to miss checking these out while you’re there.

PLUS: Will you be at WITS and are you already familiar with the area? Want to lead a tour for other attendees? Now you can! Learn more here.


Eat

Hungry? Don’t worry, Irvine’s got you covered. Here are some of our favorite spots around town.

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85º C Bakery — This place is a real gem. Their claim to fame is serving coffee at the ideal temperature — 85 degrees (how’d you guess?)! They’ve also got tasty treats and breads from Taiwan. If you fall in love, you’re in luck, because there are chains all across California (though the Irvine location is the very first US-based one).The first 85°C Bakery Cafe was opened in Taipei, Taiwan in 2004. They currently have over 800 stores in Taiwan, China, Australia, Hong Kong, and California, U.S.A.

Boudin SF — This bad boy is right across the street from the Hotel Irvine, making a perfect stop for a snack during the conference. A cute little sourdough bread shop, Boudin SF totally jives to the West Coast vibe. The Boudin family still use the same sourdough recipe they started their shop with in the ’40s. It’s pretty exciting that we have a taste of history just steps away. Do I detect a few blog posts about sourdough? Yes, I think I do.

Andrei’s Conscious Cuisine and Cocktails — Alright friends. This place looks super cool. The restaurant fashions itself a social enterprise, as 100% of the profits go to the Andrei Foundation in support of eye research and support for visual impairment. In addition to that it uses sustainable foods, is involved in community building and promotes the cultural diversity of Irvine. If that wasn’t enough to set you off sprinting, it’s about a 10 minute walk, so you won’t have to sprint very far!


Get Out(side)

So you’re all fed. Now what?

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Well, there’s always the great outdoors! Being an avid hiker myself, I started salivating when I saw the 22-mile Mountain to Sea Trail. I know, ironic that I salivate over a hiking trail and not a delicious 150-year-old sourdough recipe.

Either way, it might not be realistic to complete a 22 mile hike, so if that doesn’t fit into your travel plans, be sure to check out Quail Hill trails. It’s 2.8 acres, which provides plenty of space to wander!

If hiking isn’t your thing, Pedego Electric Bikes is also right in town, and offers electric bikes for rent! Newport and Laguna Beaches are also right next door (as if we needed reminding), and a quick shuttle ride or drive from the hotel.


Arts, Culture, & Shopping

Courtesy of Ana Dominguez.

Courtesy of Ana Dominguez.

Irvine may be bordered by beaches and nature, but if you thought that’s all there is to the city, think again.

Want to live a fabulous fashionista life? The Irvine Spectrum Center and South Coast Plaza are for you. Seriously, we could get lost for hours shopping (and eating, and doing all sorts of other fun things) there.

Prefer the opportunity to view some breathtaking local art or history? Check out the Irvine Museum or Lyon Air Museum. The Lyon Air Museum, in particular, is right by the airport — so super easy to hit on your way to or from WITS.

Are you looking taste fruits and veggies so fresh it’s like you picked them yourself (because you did!)? Try a Tanaka Farms tour. This is a guided tour around the farm that takes approximately one hour on a wagon pulled by a tractor. Visitors will see how fruits & vegetables grow and sample many of those that are in season. The last stop on this tour is in the strawberry patch where you will be able to pick and eat strawberries. Each person will take home a one pound basket of strawberries! Strawberries are the only thing you can pick. Other tours throughout the year include watermelon and pumpkin. Tours are closed for the season now, but will open back up in March!


Irvine is a fantastic combination of city and preserved open space, part of the Irvine Ranch National Landmarks, that we can’t wait to experience at WITS! Hopefully these ideas have helped you out, and given you some ideas of things to do before, during (if you have time), and after the summit.

For more suggestions, check out this handy blog from our friends at Destination Irvine!

See you in March!


Host a Tour at WITS ’16!

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Last year, WITS was in historic Boston. This year, we’re in sunny Irvine (and we couldn’t be more thrilled). We’re also thrilled to announce an exciting addition to WITS ’16 — attendee led tours of the city!

We’re expecting more than just a few people from out of town, and we want to acquaint everyone with the beautiful city of Irvine. Who better to lead these tours than WITS attendees themselves?

So, we’re calling all Irvine, California (or surrounding area) connoisseurs. If you’ve lived in Irvine, or spent significant time there, and would feel comfortable leading a tour in the area, we want to hear from you! Show the other WITS attendees what this special place has to offer.

Apply here to lead an attendee-led tour by Thursday, January 28th, 2016.

This post was written by WITS ’16 Planning Team Member Alana Simpson. Featured image courtesy of WITS ’16 Global Ambassador Sasha Hoffman.