Costa Mesa is the place to shop in California. Though called “The City of the Arts,” it was shopping and the Orange County Fair which first brought a tax base to city and made the creation of arts venues an achievable dream. So popular is shopping, in fact, that some tourists book flights into Southern California just to visit the premiere shopping center located there, South Coast Plaza.
Largely responsible for building an empire in Costa Mesa is the Segerstrom family. Their creative vision transformed farm land into a shopping and entertainment Mecca not seen elsewhere on the West Coast. Stretching over four city blocks, a shopping district includes everything from upscale Gucci and Godiva to discount outlets such as Nordstrom Rack and Cost Plus. It is possible to fly into Orange County Airport, just 2.5 miles away and never see anything but stores and a hotel room on a two or three day stay.
Costa Mesa became known first for its annual county fair held in July. Since it began in 1950, the event has grown from one week to 17 days, with name entertainment, contests, exhibits, the latest thrill rides and food booths. The Fairgrounds also contain a popular 3-acre working Centennial Farm, a weekly Farmers Market on hursdays, and Marketplace on Saturdays and Sundays, with booths selling sunglasses, fragrances, clothes and more. The Fairgrounds are available for rent and play host to a variety of events and shows which include the popular Scottish Highland Games. Check the schedule on their web site: www.ocfair.com
Residents and international guests can enjoy the fine arts, for which the City of Costa Mesa, coined itself The City of the Arts. A regional symphony orchestra, the SouthCoast Repertory Theater and the Orange County Performing Arts Center provide a cultural base for a rapidly growing region. Regularly scheduled tours of the Orange County Performing Arts Center and several lunch time concerts are offered free to the public.
Since its opening in 1986, the $73.8 million Orange County Performing Arts Center has hosted in its 3,000 seat Segerstrom Hall names such as Beverly Sills, YoYo Ma and the New York City Opera. Especially popular are sell out shows such as STOMP. The Center provides a mix of entertainment and is updating its marketing to offer an improved online booking system for a demographic of younger, online ticket buyers. Web Site: www.ocpac.org
Though the Segerstroms consider their donation of land and money to The Orange County Performing Arts Center as the greatest legacy in Costa Mesa’s past 100 years, some would argue that point. The Costa Mesa Historical Society acts as guardian to another piece of property given to the City by the family, Diego Sepulveda Adobe Estancia at 1900 Adams. Once a way-station for vaqueros tending herds of Mission San Juan Capistrano, the museum is filled with artifacts from four distinct periods or Costa Mesa’s history.
Not far from the lush, green lawns surrounding the Adobe, there’s a private golf course, Mesa Verde Country Club. It isn’t the only game in town, however. Open to the public are two other William F. Bell course designs, Costa Mesa Golf Course & Country Club Los Lagos and Mesa Linda Courses. TEL: 714-540-7500.
Did we mention the beach? Though Costa Mesa sits on a hill (“costa mesa” is the Spanish word for “coastal table”), with views of the Pacific Ocean visible from some locations, the city doesn’t have a beach front. On busy summer days when parking is at a premium on the Newport Beach peninsula, people in Costa Mesa often walk a few blocks to the beach or take the public bus which costs around $1.50, one way. Busy Newport Boulevard is one of the streets passing through the city and stretching to the beach. If you find yourself driving that way, stop at Nike Town, on the corner of Newport and Harbor Boulevards. It’s a very popular tourist stop and place to shop. That’s what Costa Mesa’s about!
Canyon Park / Fairview Park
Central Mesa Verde
Eastside Costa Mesa
Mesa Del Mar
Mesa Verde North
Sea Bluff Canyon
South Coast Metro
Westside Costa Mesa
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(all data current as of 8/23/2017)
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