48 Hours in Costa Mesa, CA
November 20, 2019
Nestled along the Pacific Coast between Los Angeles and San Diego sits Costa Mesa, a cultural hub for shopping, entertainment and culinary discoveries. This SoCal getaway boasts plenty of opportunities for any kind of traveler, with world-renowned stores, art, and restaurants just ready to be explored!
When we booked our girl’s trip to Orange County, we decided to make Costa Mesa our hub. It is the PERFECT central location to get to all of the amazing cities in the area. It is very close to the airport. Plus, it is a hop and skip to Disneyland, Irvine, Huntington Beach, and Newport Beach.
Where to Stay
The Westin South Coast Plaza:
The Westin South Coast Plaza is perfectly located in Costa Mesa, offering easy access to delicious restaurants across the street and a walking bridge to all the stores in South Coast Plaza. In addition to the spacious rooms and comfortable beds, this hotel’s outdoor spaces are gorgeous, with a heated pool and terraced water feature and incredible views of the mountains. The Westin South Coast Plaza was a great base for all of our Costa Mesa adventures!
What to Do
South Coast Plaza:
Shop! South Coast Plaza is the largest mall in Southern California – aptly named a “shopping resort.” Hosting 250 storefronts from Prada and Gucci to Zara and UNIQLO, the mall’s wide variety of boutiques rivals that of other shopping meccas around the world.
The LAB Anti-Mall and The OC Mix
If you’re looking to go a little more off the beaten path, give Costa Mesa’s “anti-mall” a try. The LAB, which stands for Little American Business, brings together local business and food in an Instagram-worthy open-air setting. Between the storefronts (housed in what was originally a night goggle factory) and the Airstream trailers, the anti-mall offers retail stores, cafes, and restaurants that each have their own unique flair. A few miles away is another unique food hall featuring clothing, jewelry and children’s boutiques. The OC Mix is also known for being home to Portola Coffee Roasters (flagship store), several restaurants with outdoor patios and Michelin-starred Taco Maria. We found We Olive at The OC Mix and loved it!!
Segerstrom Center for the Arts:
In addition to its numerous shopping opportunities, Costa Mesa is also home to a thriving arts culture, earning it the name of “City of the Arts,” at the center of which is the Segerstrom Center for the Arts. The center is one of the nation’s most respected multi-disciplinary cultural institutions, presenting performances from dance companies and orchestras as well as Broadway shows. The building itself is architecturally stunning, so you should take advantage of the free, behind-the-scenes tour even if you don’t have time to fit in a show.
Where to Eat
The growing demand for locally sourced, artisanal olive oil inspired the We Olive founders to open their stores, but they back up their expertise with an olive oil and wine tasting bar in the Costa Mesa store, where you can taste different varieties of oils and wines for a truly educational and gourmet experience. We Olive has special events on different days of the week, but you can pop in any time to enjoy some local olive oil and wine as well as a selection of craft beers and tapas plates.
Located in The LAB, Habana was one of the first tenants in the anti-mall and has now opened a second location in Irvine. Their menu of Cuban-inspired dishes and craft cocktails has something for everyone, and the candle-lit patio dining makes the restaurant a great choice for lunch or dinner.
More a lounge than a restaurant, Mesa’s dishes and signature cocktails are creative in both taste and style. With its deep wood and leather accents, Mesa is perfect for happy hours or sharing some late-night small plates.
The Country Club:
This 21-and-over location definitely gives off the “exclusive” vibe its name suggests, with gorgeous chandeliers and trophies on the wall, but it’s not at all stuffy! The Country Club is well known for its weekend brunch, which is accompanied by bottomless mimosas and live entertainment. Their extensive menu includes everything from homemade donuts to Spanish octopus and is absolutely delicious!
Kitakata Ramen Ban Nai:
Hand-crafted, freshly-prepared ramen is at the heart of Kitakata’s philosophy, and it pays off, as they’re ranked among the top 10 of ramen spots in Orange County. This location is one of the American branches of the Japanese chain and is a must-visit for incredible ramen while you’re in town.
This bright and modern cafe specializes in one-of-a-kind lattes and other drink concoctions, branded as “Anti-Bitch Serums.” With add-ons including turmeric, charcoal, and CBD, they might be on to something! Coffee Dose is coffee done a new way and super fun for an inspiring pick me up anytime during your day.