Top 12 Free Things to Do in Irvine

Who knew Irvine has so many cool free things to see and do? Behind the fancy houses and shopping centers here, there are lots of special spots just waiting to be explored. And they don’t cost a single penny!

Walk down beautiful nature paths along the San Diego Creek. See plants and animals the Native Americans used long ago. Listen to awesome live music in the park under the summer stars. Check out amazing modern art sculptures sprinkled all around the city.

I’ve lived here a while now, and most visitors have no idea how much culture, nature and fun there is just waiting to be discovered. Beyond the nice beaches and playgrounds, I want to share my favourite local secrets. My list has 12 free spots that are really worth finding and seeing for yourself as an Irvine explorer. They will make your trip extra special, whether that’s outdoor adventure, family time or arts and music.

Explore Bommer CanyonHiking and mountain biking in scenic trails.
Visit Irvine MuseumLearn about Irvine’s history in a ranch house museum.
Sculpture Scavenger HuntFind public sculptures and art installations around the city.
Visit the Farmer’s MarketSample fresh produce and artisanal goods.
Enjoy a Free ConcertAttend music performances at local venues.
Tour Irvine Ranch Historic ParkExplore historic buildings and learn about California’s ranching history.
Walk Along the San Diego Creek TrailHike or bike along a 17-mile multi-use trail.
Check out a Local LibraryAccess books, programs, and learning resources.
Let Kids Play at a ParkVisit parks with playgrounds, splash pads, and family events.
Visit the BeachEnjoy swimming, sunbathing, and beachcombing.
See a Free Movie Under the StarsWatch outdoor movie screenings in parks.
Stroll Across UCI CampusTour the University of California Irvine campus.

From hiking nature preserves to visiting fascinating museums, you can experience the best of Irvine on a budget. Here are 12 of the top free things to do in Irvine, California.

Explore Bommer Canyon

Name and Location: Bommer Canyon is located in Irvine between Jamboree Rd and Irvine Blvd. The Bommer Canyon Cattle Camp is off Shady Canyon Dr.

History and Significance: Part of the Irvine Ranch since the 1860s, Bommer Canyon offers walking trails among scenic natural areas and historic ranch structures.

What to Expect: Visitors can explore historic buildings, hike on trails and dirt roads, mountain bike, view wildlife, and enjoy scenic valley views.

Visitor Information: Open daily sunrise to sunset. No fees or reservations required. Free parking at trailheads and cattle camp.

For gorgeous scenery without an entry fee, head to the Bommer Canyon trails located within the Irvine Ranch Conservancy lands. The hills and canyons surrounding Bommer Canyon contain 8 miles of public hiking and mountain biking trails that are completely free to use.

The terrain varies from gentle slopes to steep climbs onto rocky outcrops overlooking the city. Wildlife like hawks, rabbits, and deer are frequently spotted. With its challenging trails and panoramic views, Bommer Canyon offers outdoor adventure without cost.


For an immersive adventure in Bommer Canyon, don’t forget to bring a pair of sturdy hiking boots and plenty of water. The canyon boasts a network of scenic trails that lead to hidden gems like an old cattle camp, seasonal waterfalls, and breathtaking views. Early morning or late afternoon hikes offer cooler temperatures and a higher chance to spot local wildlife.

Visit Irvine Museum

Name and Location: Irvine Museum is located at 18881 Von Karman Ave, Irvine, CA 92612.

History and Significance: This museum displays and preserves the work of California Impressionist artists showcasing local landscapes.

What to Expect: Guests can admire rotating fine art exhibits of plein air paintings, attend receptions and events, and browse the museum shop.

Visitor Information: Open Thursday-Saturday 11am-4pm, Sunday 12-4pm. Free admission and parking.

Gain insight into Irvine’s agricultural beginnings at the free Irvine Museum. Located within a historic ranch house, the museum’s exhibits chronicle Irvine’s transformation from farmland into the modern master-planned city it is today.

Historic artifacts, photos, farm equipment, and interpretive displays detail what life was like for Irvine’s early residents. The museum also organizes free public programs and events related to local history. Stop by on Sunday afternoons when admission is free.


The Irvine Museum often features rotating exhibitions celebrating California’s art and history. Check their website for current displays and plan your visit accordingly. On certain days, they offer free admission, so be sure to take advantage of this opportunity to explore the rich artistic heritage of the region.

Go on a Sculpture Scavenger Hunt

Name and Location: Over 80 sculptures are spread across Irvine in parks and other public places.

History and Significance: Irvine has acquired these diverse public art sculptures by emerging and established artists since incorporating as a city.

What to Expect: Residents enjoy hunting for these sculptures scattered across the city, viewing works ranging from abstract forms to representational pieces.

Visitor Information: Free to view public artworks. Map available on the City website.

Irvine is home to over 100 public sculptures and art installations spanning different movements and mediums. Pick up a free sculpture map and go on a scavenger hunt to spot these artistic gems around town.

Snap selfies posing with the brightly painted Plastic Fantastic Loungers or beside the massive granite Standing Horse sculpture. Locate artworks hiding within parks, at the city hall, and along trails using your map. It’s an artsy adventure suitable for all ages.


Make your stroll through Irvine even more engaging by embarking on a sculpture scavenger hunt. Create a list of sculptures to find, grab a map from the local visitor center, and enjoy a fun and educational outdoor adventure with friends or family.

Visit the Farmer’s Market

Name and Location: The Irvine Farmer’s Market takes place at the Mariners Branch Library parking lot on Sundays from 9am-2pm.

History and Significance: Open since 2002, this weekly farmer’s market brings locally grown produce straight from California farms to Irvine.

What to Expect: Shoppers will find seasonal fruits, vegetables, breads, flowers, plants and artisan vendor booths. Ideal for stocking up on fresh ingredients.

Visitor Information: Open every Sunday rain or shine. Free admission and parking. Pets welcome.

Every Saturday from 9am to 1pm, the Irvine Farmer’s Market sets up offering free admission and entertainment. Stroll through the lively market sampling fresh produce while people watching and listening to live music.

Visit vendor booths dishing free samples of their artisanal goods like jams, cheeses, and baked goods. Let the kids play in the free crafts area. With its festive atmosphere and quality products, the weekly farmer’s market provides budget-friendly fun.


Arrive at the farmer’s market early to get the best selection of fresh produce, artisanal goods, and delicious treats. Engage with the local vendors to learn about their products and savor the vibrant atmosphere while supporting the community.

Enjoy a Free Concert

Name and Location: Concerts are held at various venues around Irvine like Mike Ward Community Park, Bill Barber Community Park, and Northwood Community Park.

History and Significance: These free summer concert series bring live music outdoors to Irvine neighborhoods and communities.

What to Expect: Residents enjoy laidback evenings listening to bands play genres like classic rock, big band, folk, jazz, reggae, and pop.

Visitor Information: Concerts start around 6:30pm. View schedules on the City of Irvine website. Bring beach chairs or blankets.

Irvine’s concert season brings dozens of quality music performances to town absolutely free of charge. Top artists from genres like reggae, pop, rock, and country perform at venues like the Irvine Spectrum and Bill Barber Community Park.

Many summer outdoor concerts feature multiple big acts for an entire evening of live music. Even large festival concerts like the Irvine Global Village Festival can be enjoyed free of charge just by purchasing park admission.


Keep an eye out for seasonal or special event concerts happening in Irvine’s parks or public spaces. Bring a blanket or some folding chairs, pack a picnic, and unwind with live music under the open sky. It’s a perfect way to spend an evening with loved ones.

Tour Irvine Ranch Historic Park

Name and Location: Irvine Ranch Historic Park is located at 13042 Old Myford Rd, Irvine, CA 92606.

History and Significance: The historic park recreates life on the 19th century Irvine Ranch through preserved buildings like the Kellogg House, barns, and worker cabins.

What to Expect: Guests can take a free self-guided walking tour around the historic buildings and structures along marked trails and restored gardens.

Visitor Information: The park is open Thursday-Sunday 12-4pm. Free admission and parking.

Step back into Irvine’s rural past with a free self-guided tour of Irvine Ranch Historic Park. Twenty-one acres of lovingly preserved ranch buildings offer a glimpse at California’s ranching and agricultural history.

Pick up a free informational brochure then visit structures like an 1897 farmhouse, train station, storehouse barn, and blacksmith shop. Well-marked trails connect the historic buildings. With its rich historical offerings, a visit to Irvine Ranch Historic Park makes for an educational and engaging free activity.


Enhance your visit to the Irvine Ranch Historic Park by downloading a self-guided tour brochure from their website. Learn about the park’s rich history, including its role in Orange County’s development, while exploring the beautiful grounds and historic buildings.

Walk Along the San Diego Creek Trail

Name and Location: The San Diego Creek Trail spans Irvine from Peters Canyon Regional Park to Upper Newport Bay.

History and Significance: As a planned city, Irvine incorporated trails and bike paths connecting communities to open spaces and parks.

What to Expect: Residents enjoy walking, running, or biking along this paved multi-use trail by the lush creek corridor that traverses Irvine and nearby parks.

Visitor Information: Access the trail from parks and trailheads. Open daily 5am-10pm. No fee or permit required.

Stretching over 17 miles across Irvine, the paved San Diego Creek Trail provides hiking and biking opportunities free of charge.

Following the creek, the multi-use trail takes in sights like ponds, orange groves, parks, and nature habitats. Interpretive signs detail the surrounding ecology and wildlife. Walk, run, or cycle along any stretch of the trail to enjoy Irvine’s outdooors at no cost.


Start your walk along the San Diego Creek Trail early in the morning or late in the evening to enjoy cooler temperatures. The trail is perfect for both walking and biking, and it offers serene views of the creek and surrounding nature.

Check out a Local Library

Name and Location: Irvine has public libraries across the city, including Heritage Park Regional Library and Katie Wheeler Library.

History and Significance: Irvine libraries provide resources, technology, diverse programming, and community space for residents and visitors.

What to Expect: Patrons can browse books and media, use free computers and WiFi, attend programs, or study in a peaceful setting.

Visitor Information: Libraries are open daily with varying hours. Check website for locations. Free access and parking.

Irvine is home to top-notch public libraries that offer much more than just book borrowing. The city’s libraries provide an array of free programming like book clubs, guest speakers, children’s story times, crafts workshops, job skills classes, and English lessons.

Explore the libraries’ expansive collections spanning books, movies, music and magazines. Linger in lounge spaces outfitted with cozy chairs. With their wealth of resources, Irvine’s libraries make for cost-free recreation and enrichment.


Irvine’s public libraries offer more than just books. Explore their schedules for free events, workshops, and lectures. Whether you’re a bookworm or a lifelong learner, you’ll find engaging activities to enrich your visit.

Let Kids Play at a Park

Name and Location: Irvine has over 50 public parks throughout the city such as Deerfield Community Park and Harvard Community Park.

History and Significance: As a master-planned city, Irvine incorporated ample green spaces and recreational parks.

What to Expect: Parks offer playgrounds, sports fields, walking paths, and open lawns where kids can play freely and safely outdoors.

Visitor Information: Parks are open daily from 5am-10pm generally. No entrance fees. Free parking lots on-site.

In kid-friendly Irvine, entertaining children comes easy thanks to the city’s numerous free public parks. Adventure through playgrounds like the massive Orange County Great Park which spans over 200 acres.

Many parks also offer splash pads, walking trails, sports fields, and picnic spaces at no cost. Enjoy free family events like outdoor movies and concerts held within certain parks. For hours of quality time with minimal expense, enjoy Irvine’s parks.


Irvine boasts numerous well-maintained parks with playgrounds for children of all ages. Pack a picnic and make a day of it, allowing your little ones to burn off energy while enjoying the beautiful Southern California weather.

Visit the Beach

Name and Location: Irvine is a short drive from beaches like Crystal Cove State Park and Corona Del Mar State Beach.

History and Significance: With miles of pristine shoreline, beaches are a perfect free activity to enjoy Southern California’s beautiful coast.

What to Expect: Families can spend the day swimming, beachcombing, picnicking, or simply relaxing oceanside. Sun protection recommended.

Visitor Information: Open daily sunrise to sunset. State beach parking fees apply. Stop for snacks in nearby towns.

Just a short drive from Irvine, the picturesque beaches along the Pacific Ocean offer endless opportunities for free fun. Take a scenic drive along Highway 1 to access pristine stretches of sand like Crystal Cove State Park and Laguna Beach.

Swim, surf, sunbathe, beachcomb, or just relax oceanside without spending a dime. Many beaches also have free public parking available. Picnic lunches or dinners on the beach also keep costs low.


Irvine is conveniently located near several stunning beaches along the Southern California coastline. Pack sunscreen, towels, and a picnic, then spend a day at the beach, swimming, sunbathing, or simply enjoying the ocean breeze and views.

See a Free Movie Under the Stars

Name and Location: Family-friendly movies are screened outdoors at venues like the Irvine Spectrum and Westpark Community Park.

History and Significance: These free movie nights under the stars have become popular summer traditions that Irvine residents look forward to annually.

What to Expect: Guests bring beach chairs, blankets, and snacks, then relax outside enjoying a movie on an inflatable screen.

Visitor Information: Check Irvine event calendars for movie schedules and locations. Movies start around dusk. Free admission.

Irvine offers free outdoor movie screenings within its parks during summer months. Bring blankets and snacks, then cozy up on the grass while watching Hollywood hits projected larger-than-life on an inflatable screen. Arrive early to get a prime viewing spot.

Free popcorn is often provided while food trucks sell affordable bites onsite. Free pre-movie activities like crafts, contests, and dancing allow for family fun before the show. Outdoor movies provide budget-friendly entertainment under the stars.


Keep an eye out for outdoor movie nights hosted by the city or local organizations during the summer months. Bring blankets or chairs and enjoy a cinematic experience under the stars with family and friends.

Stroll Across UCI Campus

Name and Location: The University of California, Irvine campus is located off Campus Dr in Irvine, CA.

History and Significance: Founded in 1965, the suburban UCI campus features Aldrich Park at its core with surrounding brutalist architecture.

What to Expect: Visitors can take a scenic walk around the expansive central park lined with lush groves of tall eucalyptus trees and public art installations.

Visitor Information: The campus is open daily. Parking available in metered spots or public structures. Walking maps online.

Covering over 1,500 acres, the University of California Irvine campus provides plenty of attractions to enjoy at no cost. Join a free guided walking tour or grab a map and explore the lush grounds independently.

Highlights include Aldrich Park, the Anteater Statue, and the campus arboretum. Watch street performers on the central flagpole plaza. The campus art museum offers free admission as well. Walking UCI’s beautiful campus makes for an uplifting free activity.


The University of California, Irvine (UCI) campus is renowned for its modern architecture and beautiful landscaping. Take a leisurely stroll through the campus, explore the contemporary artwork, and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere. It’s a great way to appreciate the vibrant academic community of Irvine.


Irvine offers wallet-friendly fun through its wealth of public parks, open spaces, beaches, trails, libraries, and outdoor events. Nature lovers can immerse themselves in canyons and wildlife preserves without paying a cent.

Families find boundless activities from farmer’s markets to movie nights that foster quality time. Even taking in scenic ocean views or admiring campus beauty comes free of charge. With this mix of accessible attractions, Irvine delivers on entertainment and adventure no matter your budget.

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