The Full Spectrum

From shopping to dining and entertainment, Irvine Spectrum Center is the people-pleaser of outdoor shopping complexes

Orange County and the sun pair like wine and cheese. With so many outdoor shopping complexes nearby, you can shop without sacrificing your enjoyment of the brag-worthy weather. One complex that caters to all: Irvine Spectrum Center.

Where else can you buy the latest Mac product, purchase workout clothes and fashion accessories, get essentials at Target, eat a meal, and catch a movie—all without sticking your key into the ignition?

My family and I venture out to the Spectrum at the 5-405 split one late afternoon with dinner reservations at Cucina Enoteca (home of the best mini-Mason jar appetizers in our July issue). Before dinner, we explore the 1.1 million-square-foot complex, window shopping and popping into some of its 130-plus shops, entertainment spots, and restaurants. We weave through families, teenagers, and couples who all seem to multiply as afternoon fades into early evening. After a sample from See’s Candies (a pre-appetizer, if you will), we eat dinner outside—providing us optimal people-watching opportunities.

The Spectrum’s diversity attracts a varied crowd. Restaurants range from fast-food favorites such as Ruby’s Diner for an easy-and-affordable meal, to upscale sit-down options such as Javier’s Cantina & Grill and Paul Martin’s American Grill, complete with a line of luxurious cars out front. The center’s entertainment venues also cater to different tastes. You could watch the latest chick-flick or action movie at the Edward Cinemas and IMAX, or embrace adulthood and enjoy a few drinks and laughs with your friends at the Improv Comedy Club.

After savoring the last bite of a thick-crust pizza and washing it down with a Moretti beer at Enoteca, we stroll back through the complex in an attempt to walk off dinner, resisting the temptations of Casey’s Cupcakes and Coldstone Creamery. We pass the illuminated carousel and the 108-foot Ferris wheel, both packed with children and families, to mark the end of our Spectrum outing.

Depending on your mood and your company, you can create a different Spectrum experience with every visit. Just brace your credit card for an endless supply of sunny days filled with tons of entertainment and shopping.

71 Fortune Drive, Irvine
Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily

Men’s and Women’s Fashion: Yes
Dining: Yes
Kid-friendly: Yes
Entertainment: Yes
Atmosphere: Lively

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