Costa Mesa prevails as the center of diversity in Orange County. As a city that many young professionals and artists inhabit due to a relatively cheap cost of living and moderate weather, families of all backgrounds also enjoy the safety and quality schools.
Nestled between Huntington Beach and Newport Beach visitors and locals relish a laid-back vibe in Costa Mesa. Walkers wearing flip flops along 17th Street are just as at home as a group of college students riding on cruisers or a business person heading to a meeting in a suit.
Limited rain fall and a constant ocean breeze provides a moderate climate year round. The pleasant weather makes Costa Mesa the perfect place for annual fairs and events. An amphitheater and a community college are just a few of the attractions that contribute to the Costa Mesa lifestyle.
Restaurants & Nightlife
With no shortage of restaurants dotting the entire city of Costa Mesa, Brew Hawg BBQ & Brewing Co. stands above the rest. The red and white checker table cloths draping over the square wooden tables provide an experience similar to a local barbecue joint in Texas. Juicy brisket and peanut coleslaw are two of the favorite items on the menu.
California is known for its Mexican food, and Costa Mesa is no different. With so many options to choose from it often seems overwhelming, but one spot that never misses is Wahoo's Fish Tacos. Wahoo's fish tacos are a staple of Southern California, with more than 25 years experience serving surfers and families alike. Although the company now has locations in five states, the Costa Mesa location is where it all began. Brothers Ed, Mingo and Wing missed the fish tacos they ate during their surf trips to Mexico so much that they opened up Wahoo's to share the good food with the community. One step in the restaurant is like a trip to the beach.
Costa Mesa doesn't lack in the nightlife department. People come from all around to party at Sutra. The dance floor moves on weekends with DJs who know how to get the party going. Partygoers dress to impress as celebrities, locals and visitors all frequent this popular dance spot.
History & Culture
Founded by a community of native Americans who settled near the Santa Ana River, Costa Mesa has a long history. Once part of Mexico, Costa Mesa has been an agricultural hub and the site of many producing oil wells in the early 1900s. The city survived a devasting earthquake in 1933 that destroyed the entire downtown.
The city rose and fell with the growth of California over the next couple of hundred years to where it is today. The name Costa Mesa was the result of a contest in 1920 when it was still an agriculture community. The winner earned $25 for coming up with the name.
Costa Mesa hosts the Orange County Fair each year drawing thousands of visitors from all over Southern California. Rides, games, concerts and farm exhibitions are all part of the fun that caters to both adults and children. A big part of the fair is the food, that includes such once-in-a-year treats as deep-fried butter, deep-fried Twinkies, and giant corn dogs.
Costa Mesa is known as the City of Arts with a number of art galleries, statues, museums, and performing art venues. The Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall is an example of stunning architecture that offers many performances throughout the year from the Pacific Symphony, Pacific Chorale and the Philharmonic Society of Orange County. The Orange County Museum of Art, Bowers Museum and Discovery Science Center all offer unique experiences for locals and visitors.
Like most cities in Southern California the most convenient transportation method in Costa Mesa is driving. With the 405 freeway running through the city, its never hard to find an on ramp with access to the 73 or the 55. Like most of Southern California, the freeways are usually busy most times of the day. Locals study traffic routes to find alternative ways around town. Visitors need to allot extra time to reach a destination. Although downtown Los Angeles is only 40 miles away, commutes during rush hour often run 2 hours or more.
The Orange County Transit Authority has hundreds of bus routes that take riders all over Southern California. With a ticket costing a little less than $2.00 the bus is a cheap way to get to work or a tourist destination. OCTA offers passes by the day, week or month.
The bicycle is a popular option in Costa Mesa. There are more than 531 miles of bike trails within the city and the surrounding area.
Renters expect to pay around $1,550.00 to rent a one-bedroom apartment in Costa Mesa which is one of the lowest prices in Southern California for a city close to the beach.
Gas prices are high throughout the region and run about 10 percent higher than the nation's average.
A beer at a bar will cost anywhere from $5 to $8, depending on the time of day and type of beer. A mixed drink runs around $10.
South Coast Plaza is an elegant mall that has everything from Armani suits to Hello Kitty socks at Sanrio. As the largest shopping mall in California, this destination has everything from upscale shopping for parents to a merry-go-round in the center of the mall that puts a smile on kids' faces every day of the year. Shoppers have the choice of more than 250 boutiques as well as 30 restaurants to provide a break from walking through the stores.
No shopping adventure in Costa Mesa is complete without a trip to The LAB Antimall or The CAMP. Each of these shopping centers provides a unique experience. Known as an anti-mall, The LAB is a repurposed night-vision goggle factory that caters to the quirky and young-at-heart. The CAMP feels like an urban forest and offers a wide array of dining and shopping options, including Outer Limits Tattoo and Seed People's Market, which sells environmentally friendly items.
Grocery chains like Vons, Sprouts Farmers Market, Trader Joe's and Ralphs provide grocery options, but there are smaller independent stores as well. The Orange County Farmers Market provides fresh produce in Costa Mesa on Thursday mornings at the Orange County Fairgrounds.
Costa Mesa has 29 parks that offer a place to play, relax or host an event. Residents can reserve a park shelter up to three days in advance for a birthday party or gathering. No afternoon is complete in Costa Mesa without a trip to Tewinkle Park. Visitors hang out next to the pond and watch ducks swim around the blue water. A rock next to the mini waterfall that flows into the duck pond is a great place to soak up the sun and relax.
A large playground provides a worry-free environment where parents watch their children run and have a good time. Animals are also welcome in the park.
Talbert Regional Park lies near the Santa Ana River and provides a place to observe vegetation native to the area. A popular place to picnic, this park has six different zones featuring different types of plants.