One perfect day in Irvine's Great Park

Orange County has its own destination oasis that’s reinventing the grand public park for the 21st century

The best time to come: On Sundays, the Great Park Farmers Market rolls everything you like about your neighborhood markets into one outsize, blooming, buzzing event. Look for plenty of produce, tamales, popcorn, bakery stands, live music, food trucks—and, on the first Sunday of the month, an antiques market. 10–2, rain or shine.

While you're in Irvine: 3 under-the-radar spots worth a stop

Not your average mall: Things you must do at pan-Asian strip mall Diamond Jamboree:

  1. Get a milk pudding, a soft custard-filled pastry, at 85º C, SoCal’s best Taiwanese bakery.
  2. Eat a “shaved snow” dessert at the Balcony Grill & Bar (we like #6, with strawberries and mango).
  3. Stroll the seaweed aisle at supermarket emporium H Mart, then check out the 37 kinds of rice stacked in 20- to 25-pound bags. 2700–2750 Alton Pkwy.; diamond-jamboree.com

Something old, something new: Yes, there’s something old in Irvine: the original Irvine Ranch, dating to the late 1800s. It’s now Irvine Ranch Historic Park, with a public library that’s a gleaming white replica of the main house. The palm allée, orange trees, and wooden buildings all exude a relaxed old-SoCal charm.

13042 Old Myford Rd.; ocparks.com/irvineranch

For the kids but cool for you: Pretend City Children’s Museum touts its mission to educate kids—but educational, schmeducational. Pretending to live in this mock-up town (building houses, playing doctor, singing on the stage, or picking fruit at the farm and selling it to the grocery store) is good old-fashioned fun. $11; pretendcity.org

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