That’s my husband, Jerry, and our sons Trevor, 12, and Peyton, 9, at Settlers Park in Orchard Hills.

My perfect family day in Irvine

by Peggy Cheng

On the rare occasion we have a day with no scheduled activities, our family takes turns deciding what to do. When it’s my turn and the sun is out, we head outside. A relaxing trail run for myself in the morning, a bright afternoon at the park for the kids, and an effortless date night for just the two of us at Irvine Spectrum is my version of the perfect easy day in Irvine.


The morning run

“My 6 a.m. runs are like most people’s morning cup of coffee, and nothing wakes me up more than the Jeffrey Open Space Trail.”

My 6 a.m. runs are like most people’s morning cup of coffee, and nothing wakes me up more than the Jeffrey Open Space Trail. Neighbors, trees, and bunnies greet me along the gravel paths and through the well-lit tunnels before I pause to stretch on the bridge overlooking Irvine Boulevard and head back. The boys welcome me home with sweaty hugs and kisses, knowing Mom got her daily dose of endorphins.


Afternoon at the park

My husband and boys shoot hoops as I cheer them on.

After lunch we hang out at Settlers Park. We have so many fond memories there: our boys learning to ride bikes on the walking paths, playdates with moms at the playground, and birthday celebrations at the covered picnic tables. The boys are older now, but we still enjoy the space. Watching them play a little friendly 2-on-1 basketball with Dad especially warms my heart.


Time for a movie…

A trip to the renovated Regal Irvine Spectrum Theater.

In the evening while the boys spend time at a friend’s house, my modest adventure continues – a dinner and a movie date night at the Spectrum. What to watch? There are so many options at the recently renovated Regal Edwards theater that it almost doesn’t matter. With popcorn in hand, I can’t wait to settle into our king-sized loungers. “Would you like an adult beverage?” my husband asks. It arrives in minutes, delivered from the VIP lounge to my fully reclined VIP theater seat. I am giddy with the luxuriousness of it all.


… And Dinner

Jerry and I wrap up the day with date night at Javier’s Cantina and Grill.

When the movie ends, we wander around, people-watching before landing at Javier’s. For me, it’s the ideal combination of updated Mexican dishes in a relaxed, candlelit atmosphere. For him, it’s sweet corn tamale heaven. Our usual spot on the patio, close to the fire pit, reminds me of dining outdoors on vacation, and I feel the envy of passersby as we’re tucked behind the foliage that surrounds the restaurant.


Reflecting on my day

We end the night gleefully exhausted. With a warm, full belly and our spirits recharged, I am ready to face any new parenting and adulting adventures that await. As a parent always on the go, simplicity is the key to my happiness. Irvine so readily allows me to experience that. Being in fresh, open air with loved ones is hands-down what I cherish most. When it’s my boys’ turns to pick our family plans, I know they will choose vastly different experiences than mine in this big little city, but I look forward to it.