If you are descending on Irvine, California this week for Pans you are likely hyper-focused on competing and not even thinking about what else sunny and beautiful Southern California has to offer. One of the great benefits of holding Pans and Worlds in Southern California is the great weather, attractions, and things to do after you are finished competing. Here are a few list of things to do in the Orange County area to help celebrate the completion of a brutal training camp and the experience of competing in one of the biggest and most prestigious martial arts tournaments in the world.
First off, if you haven’t booked a place to stay in the Irvine area, I highly recommend AirBnB. Our BJJ team went to Las Vegas for the Last Vegas Open during Cinco De Mayo weekend and a Floyd Mayweather fight. Our usual hotel, The Luxor, bumped their rates from $120 a night to $250 a night, which made it very pricey for us, especially since we were on a budget. Instead of booking a room at a hotel, we rented a 4-bedroom house with pool and hot tub 7-miles from the tournament venue for a cost of $275 a night. In the end, instead of paying $120 per person for the weekend, each of us only paid $78 per person. Not a bad deal.
So here are 10 places to eat and celebrate after your done at Pans
In-N-Out Burger: There is a an In-N-Out Burger within walking distance from the UC-Irvine campus. I went there after Pans a few years ago and went crazy with a 4×4, animal style fries, and chocolate milkshake. BJJ Black Belt and MMA fighter Robert Drysdale was in the booth next to me.
Sam Woo BBQ: My family is in Orange County and Sam Woo BBQ is of our favorite Chinese spots. The restaurant is known for their dim sum on the weekend mornings, family style dishes, BBQ pork, and Ducks. Last time I went there with 10 family members, and the bill before tip only came out to $130 for a ton of food. It is great spot for authentic Chinese food.
Huntington Beach: Huntington Beach is known for their great surfing and beaches. There are are several spots right by the Huntington Beach pier where you can rent surf boards and bikes. The beach stretches over several miles so there is plenty of room for everybody. My favorite part of the beach is the dog beach where your dog can enjoy the sand while off the leash. Also, there is great shopping and restaurants right off the beach. One of my favorite breakfast and brunch spots in So Cal, The Sugar Shack, is located right off the beach and always has a long line.
Crystal Cove State Park: Crystal Cove State Park in Laguna Beach is beautiful state park with hiking trails along the beach and nearby hills that are great for running and hiking in the sun. The park is located right off the Pacific Coast Highway and there is plenty of parking.
South Coast Plaza: Located in Costa Mesa, South Coast Plaza is the largest shopping mall on the west coast. It is really upscale, but it features stores for the regular joe and also has a great movie theatre and many restaurants to explore. If you are in need of a swim suit or an extra pair of underwear, South Coast Plaza is a great spot to check out.
Disneyland: If you win first place, then you have to go to Disneyland. The Magic Kingdom is a fun spot for adults and children of all ages. Tickets are usually pretty pricey, but there are discounts out there. There are deals for military veterans and So Cal residents. There is also a blog on how to get great Disneyland deals.
Knotts Berry Farm: Right down the road from Disneyland is Knotts Berry Farm which features some of the best roller coasters and rides on the west coast. While Disneyland is a great overall experience and fun time for the kids, Knotts is known for their roller coasters and rides. Like Disneyland, Knotts has discounts available for Military and AAA members.
Temecula Wine Tours: Temecula, CA is 65 miles east of Irvine and is home to MMA legend Dan Henderson, beautiful landscapes and great vineyards. If you are into wine or just want to kick back and relax after Pans, I highly recommend making the drive out to tour vineyards and sample wines while enjoying the scenery. Click here for a directory of all the Vineyards in Temecula.
Watch Comedy at the Irvine Improv: The Irvine Improv is the top comedy club in Orange County and has a great lineup of acts the week of Pans including a live Fighter and the Kid podcast show and Chris D’Elia who happens to be a blue belt under Jean Jacques Machado.
You could just do more BJJ: Drop by Art of Jiu Jitsu, King’s MMA, Gracie Barra HQ, Electric BJJ, or countless of BJJ or MMA schools for a workout. The gyms will be packed with both regular students and visitors in town for Pans. Be sure to call ahead to find out the drop-in fees, gi policies, and schedule.