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North America > United States of America > California > Southern California > Orange County (California) > Inland Cities (Orange County) > Costa Mesa

Costa Mesa

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Costa Mesa is a city in Orange County, a region of Southern California.

Understand[edit]

Throughout the 1800s, this area consisted mostly of a few farms and some apple orchards. Costa Mesa was officially incorporated in 1920; its name meaning "coast tableland" in Spanish. During World War II, Costa Mesa was the site of the Santa Ana Army Air Base, a military installation that existed from 1942-1946. Today, Costa Mesa has expanded into a robust community that features a focus on performing arts and entertainment. Costa Mesa provides a city-like feel in a suburban setting with a vast amount of storefront shops and residential areas. The west side of the city features industrial properties that specialize in manufacturing while the northern part of the city features commercial properties that specialize in business.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

John Wayne Airport (SNA IATA) is just on the other side of the Costa Mesa/Santa Ana border. From there you can either rent a vehicle, obtain a taxi, or use the bus system to get around.

By car[edit]

Home to one Interstate 405 and California highways 55 and 73; driving into the city is not hard. Harbor Boulevard, Newport Boulevard, and Bristol Street are important North-South roads in the city while Baker Street, 17th Street, and 19th Street are important east-west roads in the city.

Get around[edit]

OCTA operates a myriad of buses in the city. The most important ones are those that serve South Coast Plaza. Routes 51, 55, 57, 76, 86, 145, 172, 173, 211, 216 and 464 all serve the mall, which basically means that SCP is accessible almost anywhere in the county.

Cab Service, Cab companies are plentiful in O.C.

  • 1-800-4-MY-TAXI A taxi service that explicitly serves Orange County

Don't underestimate the distance between blocks--especially if walking. Costa Mesa has longer address blocks than most other U.S. cities. For example, it's about a third of a mile (over 500m) from 2500 to 2600 Fairview Blvd with three intersections in between.

See[edit]

Diego Sepúlveda Adobe, built in the 1820s

Costa Mesa offers quality variety of shopping, fine dining, and entertainment options. Costa Mesa also features plenty of golf courses and parks in addition to being mere minutes away from the Pacific Ocean for people who want to spend time outdoors.

  • 1 California Scenario (Noguchi Garden), 611 Anton Blvd (If you are driving here, park in the public parking garage around the corner from Anton Blvd on Avenue of the Arts, directly across the street from the exit from 405 North. Walk away from the street until you see yellow sandstone surfaces, fountains, channels and sculptures, which constitute the composition). This is a relaxing and worthwhile attraction to visit, but it is not visible from the street nor is it really on Anton Blvd. It also is not a museum, although if you do a web search on this term, you will be referred to the website of the Noguchi Museum in Queens, New York. Instead, it is a work of public art by Isamu Noguchi that integrates landscaping, sculpture, fountains, surface-level and underground channels of water, and arrangements of rocks and plants. It has a very Zen sensibility that may remind you of traditional Japanese temple rock gardens, but also integrates elements of modernism. Noguchi also was responsible for the construction of some buildings adjoining this courtyard, which are also made from yellow sandstone. Some of the office workers who work in the highrise office towers surrounding this courtyard take their coffee or lunch breaks while sitting here on one of the benches. Free.
  • 2 Diego Sepulveda Adobe, 1900 Adams Ave, +1 949 631-5918.

Do[edit]

Segerstrom Hall, Segerstrom Center for the Arts
  • 1 Orange County Fairgrounds, 88 Fair Dr. The Orange County Fair is in full effect from mid-July to mid-August, featuring a wide variety of rides, food, games, and live events; with most of the latter being held at the 8,500-capacity Pacific Amphitheater and has featured performers such as ZZ Top, B.B. King, Weird Al Yankovic, Leann Rimes, and Fergie (from The Black Eyed Peas). When the fair isn't in effect, the fairgrounds are open year-round for a wide variety of trade shows, expos, and other events.
  • 2 Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Dr. The Segerstrom Center for the Arts (formerly the Orange County Performing Arts Center) features several auditoriums the range in capacity from 250-3,000 people to host a variety of plays, ballets, and symphonic performances. The center comprises the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall and Samueli Theater, plus the Tony-Award-winning South Coast Repertory (SCR), and a visual arts facility to be built at a later date. An expansive 46,000 ft² community plaza, which was created by Peter Walker and Partners, unites the two Centers. There are also many outstanding works of art, including Connector, a towering sculpture designed by Richard Sera that graces the plaza. Visitors are encouraged to take a walking tour of the district to experience the spectacular works of Jean Dubuffet, Henry Moore, Joan Miro, Charles O. Perry, and Isamu Noguchi, among other world-class figures whose artistry is on public display locally. A centerpiece (sited separately: see the "See" section above) is Noguchi’s 1.6-acre collection of sculptures and plantings called California Scenario.

Buy[edit]

Costa Mesa's skyline features many tall modern office buildings; the ones in this picture are part of the South Coast Plaza
  • 1 South Coast Plaza, 3333 Bristol St. An enormous shopping plaza that is so large that it has its has two campuses directly across from each other. Shops include the high-end boutiques that are also found on Beverly Hills' Rodeo Drive as well as chain stores such as Gap and Abercrombie & Fitch. It is accessible from the 405 and 5 freeways. Directly across from the mall is the Metro Pointe at South Coast which is an open-air retail, entertainment, and commercial center.
  • 2 The Lab/The Camp, 2930 Bristol St. On the other side of the 405 is the outdoor "anti-mall" the Lab, featuring hip nationwide chains such as Urban Outfitters and Buffalo Exchange, but has also contains 2 fabulous restaurants, the vegan-friendly Gyspy Cafe, a great hair salon and more than enough independent boutiques (Carve, Blends, Treasury Dept, etc) Across Bristol St. is the also outdoor Camp, which is newer and more gastronomically-centered. Highlights include the Seed People's Market, Active, tattoo parlor Outer Limits and the restaurants Ecco Italian Cuisine, Native Foods and Valhalla Table. Both have incredible architecture and plenty of places to lounge, including a hammock. Though unaffiliated with the mall, an American Apparel store is located a few blocks away.

Eat[edit]

Tea for sale at Mitsuwa
  • 1 Silver Trumpet at the Wyndham Orange County, 3350 Avenue of the Arts, +1 714 442-8593. Casual, dining overlooking a picturesque lake with outdoor clubhouse seating for those who prefer the fresh air. Breakfast available with fresh fruit, muffins and croissants baked daily, cooked to order omelets. Brasserie-style lunch and dinner menu includes char-grilled meats, fresh seafood and seasonal specialties. Wine list with over 20 California and regional selections.
  • 2 Doria's Haus of Pizza, 1500 Adams Ave, +1 714 751-8777. Family-run hole-in-the-wall is a great place for inexpensive Italian food. German name, Italian menu, US style pizza.
  • 3 Taqueria El Granjenal, 899 West 19th St, +1 949 645-4964. Mexican eatery is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Mexican favorites such as mojarra and menudo (weekends only) but also cater to more American tastes with hamburgers, burritos, and tortas. Ffresh juices. Kim's tacos, pork or beef tacos where the meat is spicy and Korean flavored.
  • 4 Taco Mesa, 647 W. 19th St, +1 949 642-0629. Gourmet Mexican place. Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Try to visit between peak hours as this place is very popular.
  • Seasons 52, 3333 Bristol Ave (South Coast Plaza), +1 714 437-5252. 11:30AM - 10PM. Seasonally-inspired dining choices.
  • Nello Cucina (South Coast Plaza). Reasonable Italian fare
  • 5 Hotties Pizza (Previously Hautest pizza in Newport), 440 Fair Dr, +1 949 650-6205. Locally owned and operated.
  • 6 Mastro's Steakhouse, 633 Anton Blvd, +1 714 546-7405. Live entertainment in an elegant yet energetic atmosphere. Hand-cut USDA steaks on 400⁰ steak plates and fresh seafood. The piano lounge runs 7 nights a week and features specialty dry-ice martinis and cocktails. Mastro’s is Zagat Rated and named one of “the top 10 steakhouses in the US (Gayot).
  • 7 Mitsuwa Marketplace, 665 Paularino Ave, +1 714 557-6699. Japanese supermarket with a food court that has a excellent choice of Japanese meals.
  • 8 Rooster Cafe, 750 St Clair St, +1 714 754-1944. Great place for breakfast. Basic decor, seating inside and out. Mix of US and Mexican style meals.

Drink[edit]

  • 1 The Wayfarer, 843 West 19th St, +1 949 642-0600. A 300-capacity music venue has found itself to be home to a wide variety of acts that have come through town (hip-hop artist GZA from the Wu-Tang Clan has performed here, as have grunge metal pioneers The Melvins in addition to local house DJs on Fridays and karaoke singers on Sundays.) Mondays always feature free cover and showcase the local band of the month all month long.
  • 2 Goat Hill Tavern, 1830 Newport Blvd, +1 949 548-8428. Very fun, gritty bar complete with a peanut shell-covered floor. 141 different beers on tap. Varied crowd,
  • 3 Hi-Time Wine Cellar, 250 Ogle St. Though not a bar, Hi-Time has a broad selection of beer, wine, and spirits. Wine bar, a cooled wine cellar and a cooled walk-in beer refrigerator with exotic beverages from around the world. Hi-Time also features cigars and bulk-food items.
  • 4 Tin Lizze Saloon (Between the 405 and 5 freeways), 752 Saint Clair. One of Orange Counties few remaining bars for gays, lesbians, and straights.
  • 5 Shark Club, 841 Baker St. Two dance floors and 2,000 gallon shark tank, they also have an open kitchen. VIP treatment and bottle service available, The Shark Club is expensive and high-energy.
  • 6 Sutra, 1870 Harbor Blvd. L.A.-type of environment with high energy and high fashion. Regularly has house music to dance to but established hip hop and electronic music artists are known to throw parties there.
  • 7 La Cave, 1695 Irvine Ave., +1 949 646-7944. Subterranean steakhouse and lounge. Stiff pours, best entertainment in town. Keep a look out for "Sega Genacide," a 90's cover band. Dimly lit lounge and bar area. Great dance floor, throwback to a bygone era.

Sleep[edit]

Stay safe[edit]

Costa Mesa can be one of the safest cities to visit but it also has its share of crime. Regions near Santa Ana can have criminal incidents spill over into the city as a result of gangs and narcotics. The city's Westside is lower-income and highly industrial, making it a somewhat popular destination for homeless people and panhandlers. The local police department does patrols on a routine basis, however, so criminal incidents are limited at worst.

Go next[edit]

You can leave the city either through the John Wayne Airport or by taking the local freeways out of the city. CA-73 and I-405 will lead to Los Angeles if you head north or to San Diego if you head south.

Considering that the CA-55 South terminates at Costa Mesa's 19th Street, CA-55 North will lead to northern Orange County and will connect to CA-91, which leads to Riverside California.

Routes through Costa Mesa
Long BeachFountain Valley  N I-405.svg S  IrvineEND
AnaheimSanta Ana/Irvine  N California 55.svg S  Newport BeachJct California 1.svg


This city travel guide to Costa Mesa is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.