Throughout the 1800s, this area consisted mostly of a few farms and some apple orchards. Costa Mesa was officially incorporated in 1920; its name meaning "coast tableland" in Spanish. During World War II, Costa Mesa was the site of the Santa Ana Army Air Base, a military installation that existed from 1942 to 1946. Today, Costa Mesa is home to the annual Orange County Fair .
Traveling to Costa Mesa is not difficult but usually requires a personal (or rented) vehicle.
Driving: Home to one Interstate freeway: the 405; as well as two California highways: the 55 and 73; driving into the city is not hard. Harbor Boulevard is an important North-South road in the city while 17th Street and 19th Street are important East-West roads in the city.
Flying: One can also fly in as John Wayne Airport (SNA) is just on the other side of the Costa Mesa/Santa Ana border.
OCTA operates a myriad of buses in the city. The most important ones are those that serve South Coast Plaza. Routes 51, 55, 57, 76, 86, 145, 172, 173, 211, 216 and 464 all serve the mall, which basically means that SCP is accessible almost anywhere in the county.
Cab Service: Cab companies are plentiful in O.C.
Costa Mesa, Orange County, offers quality shopping (notably South Coast Plaza), nine luxurious hotels, and fine dining.
Orange County Fairgrounds, 88 Fair Drive Costa Mesa, CA 92626, . The Orange County Fair is in full effect from mid-July to mid-August, featuring a wide variety of rides, food, games, and live events; with most of the latter being held at the 8,500-capacity Pacific Amphitheater and has featured performers such as ZZ Top, B.B. King, Weird Al Yankovic, Leann Rimes, and Fergie (from The Black Eyed Peas). When the fair isn't in effect, the fairgrounds are open year-round for a wide variety of trade shows, expos, and other events.
Orange County Performing Arts Center, 600 Town Center Drive Costa Mesa, CA 92626, . The Orange County Performing Arts Center features several auditoriums the range in capacity from 250 to 3,000 people to host a variety of plays, ballets, and symphonic performances.
The Detroit Bar, 843 West 19th Street, ☎ 949-642-0600, . A 300-capacity music venue has found itself to be home to a wide variety of acts that have come through town (hip-hop artist GZA from the Wu-Tang Clan has performed here, as have grunge metal pioneers The Melvins in addition to local house DJs on Fridays and karaoke singers on Sundays.) Mondays always feature free cover and showcase the local band of the month all month long.
South Coast Plaza. An enormous shopping mall that is so large that it has its own zip code. Shops include the high-end boutiques that are also found on Beverly Hills' Rodeo Drive as well as chain stores such as Gap and Abercrombie & Fitch. It is accessible from the 405 and 5 freeways.
The Lab/The Camp. On the other side of the 405 is the outdoor "anti-mall" the Lab, featuring hip nationwide chains such as Urban Outfitters and Buffalo Exchange, but has also contains 2 fabulous restaurants, the vegan-friendly Gyspy Cafe, a great hair salon and more than enough independent boutiques (Carve, Blends, Treasury Dept, etc) Across Bristol St. is the also outdoor Camp, which is newer and more gastronomically-centered. Highlights include the Seed People's Market, Active, tattoo parlor Outer Limits and the restaurants Ecco Italian Cuisine, Native Foods and Valhalla Table. Both have incredible architecture and plenty of places to lounge, including a hammock!! Though unaffiliated with the mall, an American Apparel store is located a few blocks away.
TerraNova Dining Room at the Wyndham Orange County. provides casual, upscale dining while overlooking a picturesque lake and outdoor clubhouse seating for those who prefer the fresh air. Breakfast lovers can begin their day with the new "Fields and Sun Breakfast" buffet offering the freshest fruits and produce, muffins and croissants baked daily, cooked to order omelets and much more. The lunchtime all-you-can-eat "Pasta Bar" at our Costa Mesa California hotel offers five different types of pasta accompanied by over 25 fresh ingredients and sauces. With all cuisines represented, the brasserie-style lunch and dinner menu consists of old and new favorites including signature char-grilled meats, fresh seafood and seasonal specialties. The menu is complemented by a superb wine list with over 20 California and regional selections -making them a leader in hotel dining in Costa Mesa.
Doria's Haus of Pizza, 1500 Adams Ave, ☎ 714-751-8777. This family-run hole-in-the-wall is a great place for inexpensive Italian food. Their pizza's are huge and cheesy, a knife-and-fork kinda pie. Their antipasto salad is very tasty, and the house dressing is full of fresh garlic for some great sopping! Hands-down best pizza in Costa Mesa (some claim best in Orange County..others claim best in Southern California). The manicotti is 'old school'--very cheesy. As a bonus, people-watch the obligatorily black-clad Paul Mitchell School students going to-and-from class, and pop into the retro second-hand clothing joint nextdoor.
Taqueria El Granjenal, 899 West 19th Street, ☎ 949-645-4964. Located on the city's west side, this Mexican eatery is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They feature some authentic Mexican favorites such as mojarra and menudo (weekends only) but also cater to more American tastes with some of the best hamburgers, burritos, and tortas around. Try their fresh juices or their Kim's Tacos: Pork or beef tacos where the meat is spicy and Korean flavored.
Taco Mesa, 647 W. 19th St, ☎ 949-642-0629. A wonderfully inexpensive gourmet Mexican place. Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, their food is made fresh on the premises. Try to hit between peak hours as this place is very popular.
Hotties Pizza, 440 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa, CA 92627, ☎ 949.650.6205. Hottie's Pizza is locally owned and operated. Originally located on Old Newport Road, in Newport Beach, we were know as the “hautest pizza in Newport” and have now opened in Costa Mesa to serve Newport and East and Westside Costa Mesa.
Goat Hill Tavern, 1830 Newport Blvd, ☎ +1-949-548-8428. Very fun, gritty bar complete with a peanut shell-covered floor. They have well over 100 different beers on tap with the advertised number being 141. The crowd is varied in age and social status and is generally one of the better places to hang out in Central Orange County.
Tin Lizze Saloon, 752 Saint Clair Costa Mesa, CA 92626, . One of Orange Counties few remaining bars for gays, lesbians, and straights alike. Located between the 405 and 5 freeways it is easily accessible and is the perfect drink stop after a day of shopping or working at South Coast Plaza.
Avalon Bar, 820 W 19th St Costa Mesa, CA 92627. A small dive bar located on the city's west-side directly across the way from The Detroit Bar, Avalon offers a dive bar type of environment with a noir-art decor. There are always drink specials and the weekends usually feature live dance music. The crowds are usually modest; which makes it an ideal spot to grab a drink and socialize.
Hi-Time Wine Cellar, 250 Ogle Street Costa Mesa, CA 92627, . Though not a bar, Hi-Time has the broadest selection of beer, wine, and spirits available. The store features a wine bar, a cooled wine cellar and a cooled walk-in beer refrigerator with exotic beverages from around the world. Hi-Time also features cigars and bulk-food items.
Best Western Newport Mesa Inn, 2642 Newport Boulevard, +1 949 650-3020, Toll-free: +1 800 554-2378, Fax: +1 949 642-1220, .
Costa Mesa Marriott, 500 Anton Boulevard, +1 714 957-1100, Fax: +1 714 966-8495, .
Days Inn Newport Beach/Costa Mesa, 2100 Newport Blvd., ☎ 949-642-2670, .
Holiday Inn, 3131 South Bristol Street, +1 714 557-3000, .
Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites, 2070 Newport Blvd, +1 949 631-6000. Near the airport. .
Residence Inn Costa Mesa Newport Beach, 881 West Baker Street, +1 714 241-8800, Fax: +1 714 546-4308, .
Wyndham Orange County, 3350 Avenue of the Arts, ☎ 714-751-5100, . checkin: 3:00PM; checkout: 12:00PM. This Costa Mesa pet friendly hotel offers amenities including an outdoor swimming pool, whirlpool, business center, hotel airport shuttle, and high speed Internet.
Costa Mesa can be one of the safest cities to visit but it also has it's share of crime. Regions near Santa Ana can have criminal incidents spill over into the city as a result of gangs and narcotics. The city's Westside is lower-income and highly-industrial; making it a somewhat popular destination for homeless people.