In 1984, a group of Orange County community members founded Families Forward after realizing they shared the same vision. Their goal: to help support local families in financial crisis with housing, food assistance, and other services that could help them achieve and maintain self-sufficiency. Along with 28 transitional homes to help families dealing with the loss of their homes or eviction from their apartments, Families Forward runs a food pantry that supports more than 7,000 people each year, career workshops, counseling services, and seasonal programs for children. The transitional housing program has helped more than four out of five families served successfully transition from crisis to stability. Once a family's financial status and living situation stabilize, they can return to being independent, productive community residents, which helps kids from such households experience a safe, happy, and secure childhood—accomplishing Families Forward's number-one priority of protecting children.
At Irvine Improv, comics lure laughs from deep within bellies while following in the footsteps of standup legends such as Ellen DeGeneres, Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, and Dave Chappelle, all of whom have graced the Improv club stages. The club's calendar schedules comedians as often as six nights a week, alternating between big-name headliners and up-and-coming performers. Audience members munch on a savory menu of appetizers, entrees, burgers, and deserts while sipping specialty cocktails to avoid eye contact with the giant rubber chicken sitting at the next table.
At each of several one-day festivals held throughout the country, thousands of revelers unite in an epic clash of pulp, beer, and live music. Armed with a cache of 300,000 tomatoes, participants don protective bathing suits and goggles and hurl the fruit at one another during a two-hour battle. Throughout the afternoon, live music and costume contests offer an entertaining respite from the front lines, as bartenders dispense drafts of beer to attendees older than 21, refueling soldiers' morale before they resign to writing goodbye letters to their produce vendors back home. All tomatoes used during the event are past ripe and already fated for disposal, making the battle an efficient means of tossing them before their cursed transformation into singing Muppets.
The experienced instructors at Leslie Thomson Training forge respectful bonds between humans and horses while cultivating basic riding and Western show skills in both parties. Across rollicking fields of grass, teachers demonstrate how to navigate trail patterns and control the steed's stride and speed. Students also learn proper stallion care, as well as how to use tongue clicks to signal sightings of the ice-cream truck.
Gymboree offers a bevy of baby-engaging classes in which parents and wee ones work together to build tots' creativity and encourage development through play. Weekly classes are available for every age from the freshly born sapling to the 5-years-young wise wanderer. This deal includes rhythm-building music classes, imagination-expanding art classes, and Gymboree's most popular class, Play & Learn. The month-long membership allows you to take one class per week, with make-ups available during enrollment if you miss a class. This deal also includes unlimited attendance at Gymboree's open gym sessions (contact location for schedule).
The certified trainers at Pilates Plus offer one-on-one and group training designed around the Pilates system, which builds powerful core muscles while toning and lengthening other muscle groups. Fifty-five-minute sessions use equipment such as reformers, ladder barrels, and Wunda chairs to work different sets of muscles. Besides Pilates, the center also offers Zumba, reiki, and massage therapy.
Aqua Restaurant & Lounge, located within Holiday Inn Irvine Spectrum, serves up classic American cuisine as well as gourmet specialties. In the morning, breakfast platters and cups of RainForest Alliance coffee give diners enough energy to race a taxi on foot on the way to work. Later on, chefs prepare heirloom salads and signature dishes such as the Philly West, a gourmet riff on the philly cheesesteak that pairs shaved filet mignon with housemade Jack Daniels au jus and melted provolone. A full bar, 50-inch plasma TV, and sleek decor round out the hotel-lounge experience.