Costa Mesa is in Orange County in Southern California. The best thing to do in Costa Mesa is enjoy of its vibrant food and art scenes. Costa Mesa also has incredible malls and unique local shops.
It is the perfect hub to visit Disneyland in Anaheim, Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park or the beaches and it is only a 10 minute drive from John Wayne Airport, which is so much better to fly into than LAX. Costa Mesa is located about an hour south from Los Angeles, making it the perfect getaway destination.
Costa Mesa offers locals and visitors a variety of cultural events year round thanks to the consistent beautiful weather that southern California is known for.
When is the best time to visit Costa Mesa?
The best time to visit Costa Mesa is from March to early November. I will avoid visiting through the Summer (June-August) as it can get very hot and crowded. The good thing about Southern California is that the weather is comfortable throughout the year. Check out why it is best to visit Southern California in November.
The best things to do in Costa Mesa in two days:
1. Enjoy Costa Mesa’s delicious food scene
One of the best ways to spend your time in Costa Mesa is to eat. Costa Mesa is hub of some of California’s greatest restaurants with a big culinary scene and wide range of food offerings. The majority of restaurants in Costa Mesa are independent high quality restaurants rather than of big chain restaurants.
The best places to eat in Costa Mesa are the food hall at SOCO & The OC Mix, the restaurants on 17th Street and the restaurants at the LAB and The CAMP.
Some of the best places to eat in Costa Mesa are:
- Old Vine Kitchen & Bar
- 17th Street
- SOCO & The OC Mix
- Taco María
- Black Market Bakery
- Silver Trumpet Restaurant
- Sidecar Donuts
- Nothing Bundt Cakes
- Terrace by Mix Mix
- Tackle Box
- Birdie Bowl
- George’s Cafe
- Playa Mesa
- The Den
2. Go shopping in Costa Mesa
The best place to go shopping in Costa Mesa for high end and luxury brands is South Coast Plaza, the largest mall in the West Coast. If you are more into urban style we recommend visiting the LAB Anti Mall and the CAMP. Beyond the malls, Costa Mesa is full of unique shops, pop up stores and outdoor retail properties. Costa Mesa literarily offers a shopping experience for every personality!
- The LAB Anti Mall: It is a unique street mall with a bohemian vibe, several art installations and locally owned stores. It has several delicious food stores including The Den. There are also many boutiques stores set up inside and surrounding Airstream campers. The LAB boasts some of the most instagram-worthy locations in Costa Mesa.
- The CAMP: It is an eco-friendly street mall with a focus on nature based retail shops and restaurants. The main goal for stores at The CAMP is to promote a healthy, environmentally friendly, and outdoor lifestyle. Without a doubt visiting The Camp is one of the best things to do in Costa Mesa.
- South Costa Plaza: It is the largest shopping mall in the west coast with over 250 stores. Most of the stores at the South Costa Plaza are luxury and designer brands. There is even a VIP lounge for Platinum AMEX card members and other guests of Costa Mesa area hotels.
- SOCO & The OC Mix: The OC Mix is mostly a food hall venue with several boutique stores inside. Local favorites at SOCO & The OC Mix are Portola Coffee Lab, Midori Matcha & Cafe, and Tackle Box. The most notable spot is Taco Maria, one of the only two Michelin-starred restaurants in Orange County. At SOCO you will find many independently owned shops, home design showrooms and diverse dining options.
3. Discover Costa Mesa’s art scene
One of the best things to do in Costa Mesa is enjoying the local art and cultural scene. Do not miss out on chasing art along the Costa Mesa Art Walk, which has more than two dozen outdoor and indoor art installations. You can download the Costa Mesa Art Walk map for more information.
Our favorite installation is the Noguchi Garden, which represents the California Scenario, with the use of geographic features and symbolic landscapes found in the state of California. This hidden gem is perfect for instagram lovers as you can get epic photos everywhere!
Other ways you can enjoy Costa Mesa’s artist scene is with a Broadway performance at Segerstrom Center for the Arts or visiting local artists at work at Location 1980.
4. Chasing Murals
The best thing to do in Costa Mesa is enjoy art and one of the main art forms in the city is murals. Below you will find the address for our eight favorite Instagram worthy murals in Costa Mesa.
- The Chicken Beatles: Mural on side of The Crack Shack (196 E. 17th Street)
- Taco Mesa’s skulls: 647 W. 19th Street
- Costa Mesa Bloom: This is by the most beautiful mural in Costa Mesa because it is unique. It has a seat for people to just relax. The mural was commissioned by Travel Costa Mesa and dedicated to the community (1870 Harbor Blvd, outside in a corner of Triangle Square).
- Welcome Home: The Welcome Home mural is unfortunately only possible to see by driving along the 55 Freeway North and taking the Baker Exit (125 Baker Street East)
- Costa Mesa Skate Park: The utility building is painted with a cool mural. It is colorful and nice for Instagram photos (900 Arlington Ave).
- Rock Climbing: If you are a rock climbing enthusiast then head over to Rockreation’s rear parking lot for a cool rock climbing mural (1300 Logan Street).
- Out in the space: 3000 Bristol Street, behind Wahoo’s Fish Taco.
5. Take a day trip to the beaches, Disneyland, San Diego or Los Angeles
California is known for its beaches, so even though Costa Mesa does not have a beach it is conveniently located near several beaches including Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, and Laguna Beach. Each of the beach towns has its own vibe, so regardless of which beach you choose it is just a few miles away from Costa Mesa.
Disneyland is only 30 minutes away from Costa Mesa, so it is the perfect place to stay to visit the park. There are hotels for every budget and a variety of things to do around the city instead of just being surrounded by the amusement park.
Los Angeles and San Diego are about an hour or an hour and a half away from Costa Mesa. Los Angeles has many attractions worth the trip as well as San Diego who has one of the most world-renowned zoos in the West Coast.
The best hotels in Costa Mesa: Where to stay in Costa Mesa?
The Costa Mesa Marriott is situated across the street from the Segerstrom Center for the Arts and is only a 10-minute walk to the South Coast Plaza. With its central location and stylish rooms the best hotel in Costa Mesa is the Costa Mesa Marriott. The hotel offers a beautiful pool and overlooks a small lake with lush Southern California landscape