Orange County is home to some of California’s most charming beach towns. It also happens to have plenty of appealing places to live and visit that are just a few miles from the coast, Costa Mesa being one of them. Located just a few minutes from Newport Beach and Huntington Beach is a suburban city with lots going on.
So how does one spend a perfect day in this picturesque place, where the indie shopping and food scenes have really developed in recent years? That depends on your personal interests. But one thing is for certain, you won’t run out of things to do.
If you’re a coffee fanatic, head straight to the Portola Coffee Lab at 3313 Hyland Avenue. This is a 6-seat walk-up concept bar that allows the baristas creative freedom to develop a totally unique coffee menu. You can always order your classic coffee drink, but if you order from the “trust” menu, you simply describe your ideal drink to the baristas and let them work their magic.
Whether or not you enjoy shopping, you’re sure to love The Lab, Costa Mesa’s “anti-mall.” For over 20 years, this collection of vintage shops and small businesses have been delighting the community. If you time it right, you can browse while a live DJ spins tunes in the courtyard.
For lunch, head right across the street to The Camp, the city’s other main indie shopping center. Here, the focus is on healthy living, with wellness and personal styling services as well as healthy local and international dining spots. Old Vine Cafe is a great spot for a European lunch (complete with cheese and wine), while the vegan chili at Native Foods will keep you comfortably full for hours.
Next, head to Town Center Drive and check out the Segerstrom Center for the Arts. If you’re there on a weekend or the occasional Thursday, you may catch a matinee at this incredible venue. Otherwise, you can take a free guided tour and learn what the arts center is all about.
Not one for the arts? Costa Mesa offers several beautiful parks for taking a stroll, such as Fairview Park and Tewinkle Park. Fairview Park encompasses 208 acres of beautiful space, including scenic bluffs that allow you to see all the way to Long Beach on a clear day. Costa Mesa is also adjacent to Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve where visitors can hike, jog, and bike all while seeing a wide diversity of bird species in their natural habitat.
You’ll find California Scenario, a minimalist sculpture garden, at 611 Anton Boulevard hidden in between two office buildings. Created by artist Isamu Noguchi, it has areas devoted to California’s varying geography, like a mini redwood forest and a tiny desert.
After a successful paddle on Back Bay
Costa Mesa is close to some of the best beaches in Northern Orange County. Head to Huntington State Beach, West Newport Beach, or Corona Del Mar Beach for sunbathing beaches near Costa Mesa. Or get on the water of Back Bay with a kayak or SUP at North Star Beach.
Before you leave, try some tapas at Pueblo on Hyland Avenue for dinner. Everything here, from the menu items to the service and ambiance, is top notch. This neighborhood gem is known for serving fresh, seasonal items that are as local as possible.