March 28, 2018 | Active Adult Travelogue

Adventure is waiting for you at Esencia and Travata.

Favorably located between Los Angeles and San Diego, Orange County is one of California’s most iconic destinations. With its manicured beaches, celebrated theme parks, and quality venues for cultural exploration and outdoor adventure, it dares all who venture there to leave behind the ordinary and enjoy a life of fun in the sun.

Set amongst the rolling hills of the western coastal Santa Ana Mountains, Esencia of Rancho Mission Viejo is a charming village surrounded by panoramic canyon landscapes that impress as bold natural retreats for residents. Scenic trails offer pleasant outlooks over the grassy knolls – those green bluffs often dappled with the seasonal blooms of native wildflowers, such as orange California poppies, bright violet lupine stems, and chocolate lilies, amongst the copious California coastal sage and chaparral. Amid this motley mix of flora, the occasional deer, lone coyote, or family of rabbits may forage, having ventured over from the Ronald W. Caspers Wilderness Park to the east, and keen ears may hear an avian chorus, with winged crooners like the acorn woodpecker, western bluebird, and rock wren. Best of all, the masterful layout of Esencia treats denizens to exceptional west-facing views to appreciate the beauty of a California sunset. Imagine: As the sun lowers its head behind the hills, clouds ignite with fiery hues, and these slowly darken as the delicate blue sky lapses to a sea of golden splendor with subtle waves of pink and lavender. Away from the intruding lights of the city, the stars shine more brightly here, glittering across the black empyrean, all of them twinkling wishes.

Twenty miles northwest of Esencia, in the city of Irvine, lies Travata. This gated, new home community welcomes residents to live in surroundings of urban hospitality, framed by the distant foothills of Limestone Canyon National Park to the northeast and Crystal Cove State Park to the southwest. Conveniently located within Cypress Village, at the cross section of Interstate 5 and Route 133, Travata is a prime Central Orange County locality that sits across from the Orange County Great Park – an attractive 1,300-acre arts and sports recreational hub – and puts residents only minutes away from choice shopping, dining, and entertainment opportunities. Travata also services residents with affordable living, as this desirable Irvine location has no Mello-Roos or added taxes. Living so closely knit in the cityscape gives one a sense of place, as Travata denizens become a part of the activity and excitement that paints Irvine’s daily progress, as well as the adventures dear neighbors and friends invite them to experience.

Lending inspiration to local song artists like the Beach Boys, California is a state of sunshine and beachy-keen weather. Its coastal and southern regions enjoy a Mediterranean climate, with warm, dry summers and mild winters. Favorable winds from across the Pacific Ocean create desirable temperatures, warming the winters and cooling the summers, and a mere 13 inches of rain fall over the course of a year. Indeed, locals and tourists alike enjoy daily outings with the prospect of a good tan.

Orange County (“The OC”) has a myriad of unparalleled attractions and amusements to satisfy daily adventurers. Experience the magic of the beloved Disneyland Resort and Disney California Adventure Park, where dreams come true for the whole family through merry rides and spectacular shows. Amp up your fun meter with the gravity-defying coasters of Knott’s Berry Farm or witness the revelry of authentic jousting matches at Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament. Sports fans can catch a home run at Angels Stadium and see the puck fly at an Anaheim Ducks’ hockey game. Laugh aloud at the Irvine Improv, the premiere destination for comedy at the Irvine Spectrum Center, with its all-star lineup of comedians, including Rob Schneider, David Spade, and Daniel Tosh. Shop California’s largest luxury shopping complex, the South Coast Plaza, with deluxe brands like Hermes, Chanel, and Prada; the Plaza is also home to the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, which hosts a variety of cultural experiences with music, dance, and Tony award-winning theater. Reserve a table for two at The Hobbit, where guests savor a unique dining experience that comprises a seven-course, prix-fixe menu of “Contemporary Continental” cuisine, complemented with champagne. Celebrate Orange County agriculture and heritage at the OC Fair, a 23-day summer festival and market that has something for everyone, from carnival rides to circus acts, livestock shows to live concerts, technology demos to demolition derbies, and so much more. Prep your taste buds for global street cuisines at the Orange International Street Fair or spoil yourself with the quintessential wine tasting experience of the California Wine Festival, where more than 80 wineries participate, and the vinos are well complemented by gourmet food from the region’s top chefs.

Los Angeles – an hour-drive northwest on Interstate 5 – is the cradle of legendary entertainment. Lay your hands in the prints of cinematic legends like John Wayne, Marilyn Monroe, and Frank Sinatra at the TCL Chinese Theater, or take a stroll along the Hollywood Walk of Fame before hiking up Mount Lee for a picture with the Hollywood Sign. Tour the sets of favorite TV shows and motion pictures at Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. Studios, or relive scenes from industry-changing films like Jurassic Park, JAWS, and Psycho, with exciting special effects and trained actors, during the world-famous Universal Studios Hollywood studio tour. Universal further thrills its guests with exciting rides, stage shows, and the magical Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and just outside the park is the Universal CityWalk, a promenade of 30 unique shops, restaurants, and nightclubs. Beyond its cinematic glamor, Los Angeles has diverse outlets of educational exploration and cultural charm, fashionable trade and famed cuisine. View the cosmos at the Griffith Observatory or be inspired by the vast collection of antiquities and decorative arts at The Getty. Explore oriental Chinatown, with its colorful shops and eateries, or discover a shopper’s paradise at Rodeo Drive, with iconic boutiques and exclusive brands that cater to the rich and famous. Melrose Avenue hosts an open-air market every Sunday called the Melrose Trading Post, where you can purchase lovely vintage clothes and antique goods, as well as eclectic arts and crafts. Treat your palette to a sophistication of flavors at Providence, where the finest sustainable seafood is paired with ingredients that highlight its flavorsome qualities, or indulge in contemporary French cuisine infused with international culinary influences at Patina, located in The Walt Disney Concert Hall, home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

San Diego – nearly an hour and a half drive southeast along Interstate 5 – welcomes visitors to experience the rewards of open-air entertainment and recreation. Discover the wonders of Balboa Park; this 1,200-acre urban cultural park has lovely gardens, dense forests, wide greenbelts, and winding trails for nature lovers, but also boasts beautiful Spanish-Renaissance architecture, dedicated performance spaces, museums, and other cultural institutions, as well as the world-renowned San Diego Zoo. The Zoo is home to more than 3,500 rare and endangered animals, including giant pandas, koala bears, komodo dragons, and polar bears, all housed in unparalleled, master-planned habitats, from rainforests to deserts to icy tundra. Soar over the Zoo’s Safari Park in a hot air balloon, ride the zip line, or connect with the African animals on a closer level when you ride in a truck through the Park. History and military buffs can visit the USS Midway, the United States’ longest active aircraft carrier now turned into a floating museum, housing over 60 exhibits and 29 restored aircraft to educate guests about life on a Navy ship. Walk the historic Gaslamp Quarter – 16½ blocks of sweeping Victorian architecture and modern skyscrapers, holding over 100 of the finest restaurants, retail shops, pubs, and hip nightclubs the city has to offer your nightly cravings for fun and excitement. During your first visit to the Quarter, be sure to grab a table at Searsucker, owned by post-‘Top Chef’, Brian Malarkey, who reinvents new American classics and daily changes his menu to keep dishes fresh and fun.

Happiness comes in waves on the soft, sandy shores of California, and the southern coastline flaunts some of the most popular beaches in the Golden State. Endlessly warm, sun-drenched sands and tranquil blue waters tempt wet n’ wild recreation, while the small, eclectic beach towns put up special attractions of unparalleled amusement. Go snorkeling off Diver’s Cove at Laguna Beach or paddle board to Seal Rock in Crescent Bay to watch the sea mammals play; as the evening sets in, take in Laguna’s diverse art scene at First Thursdays Art Walk, with more than 40 participating galleries. Book a ride with Captain Dave’s Dolphin & Whale Watching Safari, based out of Dana Point Harbor, to thrill over eye-to-eye encounters with magnificent marine mammals from underwater viewing pods. Dana Point is also host to the Tall Ships Festival, a celebration of California’s rich maritime history that entertains crowds with cannon battles, pirate adventures, mermaid encounters, and more. Catch some waves at Huntington Beach, better known as “Surf City USA,” where the largest surf competition, the Vans US Open of Surfing, is held every summer, or hike the trails of Crystal Cove State Park that span its 2,400 acres of mountainous backcountry, with breathtaking coastal views off Moro Ridge. Parasail over Santa Monica Bay and ride the Ferris wheel at Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier. If you want to get away, spend a romantic weekend at the luxury beachside Hotel Del Coronado, where you will enjoy a plethora of charming seaside activities, including ocean-inspired spa treatments, surfing lessons, painting classes, and private beach bonfires with s’mores.

Luxury golf courses in Orange County cater to every player of every skill level. Keep your eye on the ball over 36 holes at the Pelican Hill Golf Club, where the stunning coastal views are par for the course, and the elevated California cuisine of the Pelican Grill is a feast for the eyes as well as the palate. Venture to Tijeras Creek Golf Club, where the Ted Robinson course design is aptly titled “the tale of two nines,” as the first nine holes test your mettle over demanding parkland with shimmering water features, and the back nine open to awe-inspiring elevation changes and stunning scenery. Then, go off the beaten path to play a 9-hole round at the GEO Certified® Ben Brown’s Golf Course; cradled by the naturally dramatic, verdant walls of the Aliso and Wood Canyons, this course gifts you with a quiet playing experience in what is arguably one of the most serene, natural getaways from the city hubbub.

Esencia is Rancho Mission Viejo’s second village – the first being Sendero, and while both master-planned communities include neighborhoods for couples and families, only Esencia has the neighborhoods of Iris and Avocet for Active Adult (55+) residents. That being said, denizens of Esencia and Sendero are welcome to share most amenities, but Active Adults enjoy exclusive access to Gavilán® facilities. Overall, Esencia is designed to appreciate its natural surroundings, offering several outstanding open-air amenities that afford, even encourage residents to get together with friends and neighbors in socially-stimulating environments. Discuss a best-selling novel with your book club while sipping on a warm Canyon Coffee latte at The Canyon House. Enjoy a morning hike through Oak Canyon or The Reserve, a 21,000-acre nature preserve that hosts astronomy nights, animal lectures, and bird-watching tours. The Hilltop Club presents fun and fitness with its swimming pool and spa; bar and arcade; bocce ball courts and activity lawn; BBQ pavilion and fire pits. Grow a green thumb at the garden and culinary workshops of Esencia Farm, where every harvest season brings in a delicious bounty for everyone to relish. Gavilán amenities include the BBQ Barn, the Outlook, and the luxury Hacienda clubhouse, with its swimming pool, bar, massage spa, fitness room, and comfortable indoor-outdoor lounges. In addition to all of its wonderful amenities, Rancho Mission Viejo supports an action-packed community calendar, with annual favorites like the Field Festival, Harvest on the Ranch, El Prado in Lights, and WestFest.

Iris at Esencia showcases Farmhouse-style homes, with single-level and two-story open floorplans that impart a sense of spaciousness ideal for entertaining and fostering times of family togetherness. Indeed, the fluidity between the rooms melds the ins and outs of daily life – cooking, dining, watching TV, and visiting with company – into shared experiences. Honoring the value of one’s personal space is a key design principal of every home, with the inclusion of large walk-in closets, enhanced showers, and commodious kitchen pantries, as well as a private office (in some floorplans) for those who prefer to work from the comfort of home. Gourmet kitchens are equipped with stainless steel appliances, efficient culinary preparation islands, and white Thermofoil cabinets to give you a proficient culinary working space. Covered California Rooms perfect outdoor dining experiences, while optional second-story decks provide breathtaking views of the California sunset over the hills. Second floor designs can include a secondary bedroom, full bath, and large bonus room, preferable if one should want a private study or extra storage space.

Avocet at Esencia features elegant ranch-style residences, with architectural details pulled from Adobe Ranch, Ranch, and California Bungalow design influences. Each home puts great emphasis on single-level living, as first-floor gathering spaces elevate the principles of convenience and connectivity. Generous great rooms effortlessly merge with gourmet kitchens, dedicated dining areas, and covered Ranch Rooms to facilitate the indoor-outdoor entertainment of large parties. Impressive courtyards promote outdoor relaxation and amusement with an optional fireplace and incredible views of the canyon. Kitchens showcase advanced appliances, food preparation islands, and optional wine storage for the ardent chef and dinner host. An optional office space is available (in some floorplans) to the keen home hobbyist or entrepreneur. If extended family visits over the holidays, select plans offer a flexible, second-story bonus room with powder bath or optional full bath.

Travata is Irvine’s only age-exclusive (55+) new home community, designed to give residents ample opportunity to live vibrantly day in and day out, with private amenities that encourage sociability and fun, refreshing pastimes with friends and neighbors. The Travata Club has a 65-foot saltwater pool and luxury spa; fitness center and yoga lawn; bocce ball and pickleball courts; and a comfortable fireplace lounge, with bar and kitchen for conversing with friends and neighbors over food and drinks. The neighboring dog park gives you and your four-legged friend the daily leisure to play catch and walk along green-bordered lanes, while additional parks in Cypress Village feature barbecue and picnic areas; ball courts; lap pools and spas.

Travata has three Active Adult neighborhoods – Aldea, Castillo, and Palencia – in its gated community. All available home designs focus on space and indoor-outdoor mutability in balance with the comforts of convenient, comfortable living. Reminiscent of a Santa Barbara pueblo, Aldea showcases luxury carriage-style one- and two-story attached homes, with centralized first-floor living; the great rooms seamlessly connect to upscale dining and kitchen areas, giving residents leave to host a gathering of friends for a social dinner. All two-story residences feature an elevator for easy accessibility between the first and second floors. Castillo homes are evocative of Rancho Adobe, Spanish Heritage, and Monterey Progressive styles. The generous great room, contemporary kitchen, and private backyard are ideal for summer barbecues and football watch parties. Optional office spaces afford you peace and quiet to conduct business, or you can use the room as an art studio, small library, or man cave. Motivated by the architectural styles of the Rancho Adobe and Santa Barbara Early California, the homes of Palencia boast an effortless luxury in the spacious great room, gourmet kitchen, enthralling dining area, and mutable indoor/outdoor California room. Featuring a 2 bedroom plus bonus room, 2 to 2.5 bath floorplan, as well as an office and optional third bedroom with full bath and loft space, these homes are all about the comforts of spacious living.

The “good life” was invented in Orange County – a popular notion spurred on by locals and visitors alike who cannot overlook the outlasting appeal of the ultimate Southern California lifestyle “The OC” has to offer. Pristine beaches, legendary theme parks, a plethora of fine dining and shopping opportunities, plus rich cultural outlets that inspire creatives – all these, plus an air of casual sophistication you feel throughout the sun-soaked days and star-filled nights; it all comes together in a place that is truly “golden.” Find a new home in Travata or Esencia today so you can immerse yourself in the real California dream.

Additional Sources:

Discover Orange County

The OC Bucket List: 42 Things to Do Before You Die

Discover Los Angeles County

Things to Do in Los Angeles by TimeOut

The Best Shops in Los Angeles by TimeOut

The Best Restaurants in LA Right Now by Jeff Miller

Your Ultimate Guide to Restaurants in Los Angeles by TimeOut

Discover San Diego County

Explore San Diego’s Top Things to Do

Best Beaches in Southern California by Allyson Reedy

20 Best Beaches in California by Lauren Phillips

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