A Day at Irvine Spectrum Center for Under $10

Creating family days on a budget are enjoyable for me. I enjoy the planning that is involved, and the challenge to figure out what we can do. Perhaps surprisingly, I planned a day out at the Irvine Spectrum Center – a shopping megaplex for a fun family day.


Yes, a HUGE shopping plaza. You may ask: How? Why? Read on.

Dining, Shopping and Beyond

Irvine Spectrum Center is a huge shopping plaza offering casual or fine dining restaurants and boutique and big name shopping. You can hit up Target, watch a movie and sip a cup of coffee all in one location. But did you know there is more?

We left early and hit up 85 C Bakery for breakfast. This Taiwanese restaurant offes baked goods that remind us of our time living in Asia, and most items are around $1 a piece. So we could enjoy a relaxing, affordable and delicious breakfast. I highly recommend the Matcha bun. Download the 85 C Bakery App and get rewards – one of our buns was free with my points! There are restaraunts up and down the Southern California coast.

Right outside the bakery is an amazing playground area like no other. The leaf structure is covered in net, and the only worry is convincing your kiddos to leave when you ask.

There are lawn games nearby the play structure that are free for anyone to play, but we opted for the carousel. The sounds of “Under the Sea” were waving over us at breakfast, so it had to happen. A single ride is $3, or $2 for military with discount. There are height restrictions in regards to who can ride solo, and if you do have to accompany your child your do not have to pay extra. It is a fun, enjoyable ride! Your child can ride a unicorn or a reindeer – all while enjoying music that your child may recognize and enjoy.

You can sign up your child for the birthday club and they get free rides on their birthday at the carousel and the Giant Wheel. Get a reloadable card to add rides for whenever you want. We are considering loading a few rides for the holiday season.

We opted not to ride the Giant Wheel this time, just because we were running low on time. Rides are $5 per individual or $4 with military discount. This is for sure on our list for another visit. (Also – the three year old is an amazing photographer – the picture below is hers!)


With the winter season approaching, an Ice Skating Rink has been put in next to the Giant Wheel and will be open until January 5, 2020! Ice Skating in SoCal is something that we didn’t know we could do, or wanted to do – but now we do! The rink is open 3pm-11pm so we were not able to do it this time, but will return and share it on our Instagram and Facebook pages. Plus, it would have busted our budget day!

Prices for ice skating: $22 for adults and children including skate rental, $20 without skate rental. Toddlers are $18 with ice skate rental. Military discount with ID up to 4 people is $18 with ice skate rental (confirmed with staff on site as it is not printed on their schedule and pricing list). Seniors are $18 per person. Socks are available for purchase at $4 as well as helmets for $5. If you plan to go more often, a season pass without blackout dates including skate rental is available for purchase at $199.

Save money on skating on Thursday by dressing up with the Thursday theme for $5 off admission. Tonight, 11/21, is Turkey skate! Thursday 12/5 is Reindeers and Red Noses. 12/12 is Christmas Crazy Hats. 12/19 is Star Wars Night. 12/26 is Ugly Holiday Sweater and 1/2 is New Years Sparkle. Can you guess which one we plan to go to? Check out the Irvine Spectrum Instagram for updates!

Running total: $9. $4 for carousel and $5 for breakfast!

We walked around and enjoyed the decorations and music which definitely put us in the holiday mood!

Bonus for families: Check out the family lounge restrooms. If you have young children, especially potty training ones – use these lounges! There are potties for their size which bolsters their confidence and allows for easier potty breaks. Bonus that there is a quiet place away from the noise if you need just a moment.

Don’t discount the fun that can be had at Irvine Spectrum. Maybe combine a little family relaxation with holiday shopping and fun! Do you plan to go?

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