If you are going to visit Irvine Nature Center, make sure you have your hiking shoes. I thought it was just a FREE nature park but I found out it is so much more. I arrive at 11am sharp, nicely dressed with my capris and flip flops on, which I later regret wearing. I was greeted at the nature center’s main building by a friendly gentleman who told me about the facility. Irvine has been around for 35 years but only 3 years at this location. He directed me over to a large map of the area pointing out some highlights of the park like the Raptor Aviary & the Wildlife Blind.  To our right was the gift shop and to my left was a small educational animal center. I was also informed that there are activities throughout the year and today was my lucky day. There was a nature walk at 12pm that I could participate in. It’s FREE to members and a whooping $2.00 to non-members. I walked around the facility and I was becoming impressed. They have various small animals on display like snakes, turtles & birds along with a few interactive displays that the kids would like.

By the time I completed my walk around the Nature Center main building I was ready for my walk around the nature center trails so I declined the nature walk and the nice gentleman handed me a map (which he asked that I return at the end of my walk to conserve paper) and pointed me to the start of the trail. Every step I took I became more and more excited to walk further. I came upon the Raptor Aviary where I saw an owl, a wildlife blind where I saw the first of many chipmunks and the gazebo where there is a spectacular view.

I walked up one trail and down another, taking numerous pictures in between. And an hour and a half later I still wasn’t able to finish the entire park.  I walked back into the nature center building with a sense of defeat. I was tired. I returned my map and headed home. I will definitely return to the Irvine Nature Center. And next time, I will be prepared!