Whether you’re visiting Orange County, California for the beaches or the celebrated theme parks, Costa Mesa stands out as the ideal OC travel destination. It’s only a short drive from Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, Discovery Cube, and some of the best beaches in California. It’s known as The City of the Arts and it’s home to South Coast Plaza, the largest mall on the West Coast of the United States. Whatever you’re looking for during your visit to southern California, you can find it in or near Costa Mesa.
Why Costa Mesa is the Best OC Travel Destination
Driving Distance from Costa Mesa
You can be at Disneyland within a 20 minute drive from Costa Mesa. Just take CA-55 N to I-5 and exit at 110 from I-5 N. Disneyland needs no introduction, but if it’s your first time and you don’t want to deal with the hassle of driving, many Costa Mesa hotels offer complimentary shuttle service to and from Disneyland. I think it’s safe to say that most families that visit southern California have Disneyland on their bucket list. Staying in Costa Mesa puts you there with ease.
We stayed at Residence Inn Costa Mesa Newport Beach and utilized the free shuttle to Disneyland. Parking at Disney costs $20 for the day and you have to brave the freeway traffic to get there. The shuttle made it stress-free, and Residence Inn Costa Mesa has the friendliest staff and the ideal location.
Knott’s Berry FarmKnott’s Berry Farm may not be as well-known as Disneyland, but it’s certainly a family-friendly, fun place to discover. There are more than 30 rides and attractions for children and adults. Our favorite thrill rides at Knott’s Berry Farm include Xcelerator The Ride and Silver Bullet. For more child-friendly rides, we love Linus Launcher and Timber Mountain Log Ride. You can be at the gates to Knott’s Berry Farm and Knott’s Soak City within 30 minutes from Costa Mesa. Just head north on CA-55 to I-5 N. Take exit 113C to merge onto CA-91 W and take exit 23B for Beach Blvd/CA-39 toward Buena Park.
The Discovery Cube is a hands-on science education center. Their mission to inspire, educate, and impact is brought to life through an interactive environment where children and adults can discover new things for themselves through activities and experiences. The Discovery Cube has over 100 hands-on, interactive exhibits that encourage children to think in different ways and analyse things. They also have temporary exhibits that keep things fresh. The Discovery Cube is less than 15 minutes from Costa Mesa. Head north on the 55 until you reach I-5 N. Take I-5 N to N Broadway in Santa Ana. Take exit 105B from I-5 N
Beaches The beaches are what drew me to California in the first place. From Costa Mesa, you can be dancing on the sand at Newport Beach in only 15 minutes. Take CA-55 south this time and you can’t miss it. In Newport, you can enjoy surf lessons, sunset cruises, cycling and skating along the boardwalk, and soft sand. Just a little bit further, at 22 minutes, you can be at Surf City USA – Huntington Beach. You’re only minutes away from extraordinary fishing, swimming, surfing, and water sports when you stay in Costa Mesa.
The City of the Arts
Costa Mesa offers an internationally acclaimed arts and theater district.
Segerstrom Center for the Arts
With four performance halls and an outdoor arts plaza spread out over 14 acres, this outstanding complex is a one-stop shop for everything musical and artistic. Throughout the year, there are free concerts, movies, and dance performances in the outdoor plaza. Just yesterday, there was a free karaoke event at Segerstrom Center.
Enjoy a stroll through Costa Mesa’s rich art scene to see the many displays of stunning public artwork with the Costa Mesa Art Walk Map as your guide.
South Coast Plaza is one of the most prestigious shopping destinations in the world. It makes children feel special with a playful Carousel Court and a Disney Store with magical openings. It makes everyone feel extra special with the welcoming amenities and personalized services at South Coast Plaza’s Concierge.
And for your taste buds, don’t miss Maggiano’s Italian Restaurant in the same parking lot as South Coast Plaza. They have some of my favorite Italian dishes and it’s walking distance to the mall and Segerstrom Center for the Arts.
At the heart of Orange County, nothing is out of reach when you make Costa Mesa your OC travel destination. We lived in southern California for over half a decade and we still choose Costa Mesa as our home base every time we return for a visit.