All the Best Things to Do in Costa Mesa

March 15, 2019 in California, Travel - 22 Comments
Water Use, Noguchi Garden, best things to do in Costa Mesa

This post may contain affiliate links. Traveling Well For Less has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Traveling Well For Less and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the authorโ€™s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. Please read my Disclosure and Privacy pages for more info.

You’ll find all the best things to do in Costa Mesa, a suburb of Orange County in Southern California.

When you think Orange County, you probably aren’t thinking of Costa Mesa. You picture Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, and Dana Point. All the beach cities. Because after all, that’s the OC.

But you’re missing out.

Costa Mesa is not a drive-by city. A drive-by city is like a fly-over state. All those states in the middle of the US that few people visit. The ones you fly-over in the plane while you’re going somewhere else.

You may have treated Costa Mesa like that. You drove by and didn’t stop. Continuing on your way to bigger and better things. Or so you thought.

But Costa Mesa should be on your radar. Especially if you love the arts, shopping, food, craft beer, and the slightly offbeat.

I spent a weekend discovering all the best things to do in Costa Mesa. Here are my insider tips on experiencing the best of Costa Mesa.

Disclosure: As is common in the travel industry, my trip was provided for review purposes.  All opinions are 100% mine.

All the Best Things to Do in Costa Mesa

Water Use, Noguchi Garden, best things to do in Costa Mesa

 

Like most Southern California cities such as Santa Barbara, Costa Mesa has a Mediterranean climate. Mild winters and year-round make it a perfect vacation destination.

Sandwiched between Newport Beach and Huntington Beach, Costa Mesa is an underappreciated city.

With world-class dining, shopping, and culture, an emerging craft brewery scene and pockets of hipsterism, Costa Mesa is the city you’ve never heard of.

But now you’re in on the secret.

From Costa Mesa you’re minutes from the beach and Disneyland, making it an inexpensive base to explore the best of Southern California.

With Los Angeles, San Diego, and Temecula an hour away, Costa Mesa is a great day trip, weekend getaway, or easier drive to Hollywood and the San Diego Zoo.

Pro-tip: You’ll save money by taking the ART (Anaheim Resort Transportation) to Disneyland.

The #22 Costa Mesa Line offers one daily shuttle service from Costa Mesa hotels to Disneyland. The shuttle departs at 9 am (check with your hotel for exact pickup time) in the morning and leaves Disney at 10 am

Cost for adults (10 years and older) is $5.50 roundtrip and $2 for children (ages 3 to 9).

A family of four can save up to $30 in parking fees!

Food

The secret is out! Costa Mesa is one of Southern California’s hottest culinary scenes.

Costa Mesa is a food mecca with dishes to entice every palate and budget.

From Taco Maria, The Los Angeles Times’ 2018 Restaurant of the Year, to not one but three Top Chef restaurants: Tackle Box, The Crack Shack, and Vaca.

With so many great places to eat, you’ll want to eat all day. After all, isn’t that one of the best things to do in Costa Mesa? ๐Ÿ™‚

During our two day trip, we ate at several restaurants in Costa Mesa including Din Tai Fung and the Silver Trumpet.

Seasons 52

We started our Costa Mesa staycation with Happy Hour at Seasons 52.

Pepperoni flatbread pizza, glass of white wine, meatballs, and IPA beer during Happy Hour at Seasons 52 South Coast Plaza, one of the best things to do in Costa Mesa
Happy Hour at Seasons 52, a tasty start to a fun weekend in Costa Mesa

Din Tai Fung

Then moved on for xiao long bao (XLB) at Din Tai Fung. They don’t take reservations because it’s first come, first serve. Remarkably we only waited 5 minutes!

We got two orders of pork xiao long bao (Uh, yeah, because I can eat an entire tray myself!), chocolate mochi  XLB, red bean xiao long bao, and Shrimp & Kurobuta Pork wontons with spicy sauce.

A traditional xiao long bao order of Kurobuta Pork comes 10 to an order for $11.50.

xiao long bao at Din Tai Fung Costa Mesa
traditional xiao long bao at Din Tai Fung Costa Mesa

I’ve had XLB at the Din Tai Fung location in Shanghai and Singapore. Employees make every bao to the same standard and weight. So there shouldn’t be any difference in taste or texture at any Din Tai Fung location.

While I enjoyed the xiao long bao at the Din Tai Fung Costa Mesa location, these weren’t as hot (temperature wise) as the ones I’ve had at other locations. In Shanghai and Singapore I had to create a hole and wait for the soup dumplings to cool and I could see the steam coming out of the XLB.

But the xiao long bao at Din Tai Fung Costa Mesa were lukewarm. ๐Ÿ™ I didn’t have to make a hole to release the hot liquid and was able to pop them in my mouth without getting burnt. But I’d eat here again. That’s how much I love XLB!

I’ve never ordered the chocolate mochi XLB before so was excited to try them. After all, chocolate, mochi in a xiao long bao, could it get any better?

Chocolate mochi xlb, Din Tai Fung, best things to do in Costa Mesa
chocolate mochi XLB, yes, please!

They come five to a tray and are slightly smaller than the other XLB. Perhaps so the servers can tell the difference?

The chocolate was sweet without being overly sweet. I was so starved I wolfed them down without really savoring them. Guess I’ll have to go back and order another round…

Although I had ordered the red bean xiao long bao, it never arrived. A server brought me another order of pork xiao long bao. I would have gladly eaten but was looking forward to some red bean XLB.

Jeff loved the Shrimp & Kurobuta Pork wontons with spicy sauce. 

Shrimp & Kurobuta Pork wontons with spicy sauce, best things to do in Costa Mesa
Shrimp & Kurobuta Pork wontons with spicy sauc

The Silver Trumpet

The next day we ate breakfast at the Silver Trumpet.

I ordered the Bacon and Cheddar Cheese waffle topped with two fried eggs.

Bacon cheddar cheese waffle two eggs, Silver Trumpet, best things to do in Costa Mesa
Bring on the bacon!

I enjoyed my waffle, it had just enough bacon to give it flavor but the cheese was sprinkled on the top vs cooked in. One thing that surprised me was the syrup wasn’t heated. At most restaurants of the same quality as the Silver Trumpet, they heat the syrup. That and cook the cheese into the batter would be my recommendations.

Jeff choose an omelet filled with cheddar cheese, mushrooms, and onions.

omelet, Silver Trumpet, best things to do in Costa Mesa

He wasn’t that impressed. For $15, the omelet was a little on the small side and they were stingy on the fillings.

Barley Forge Brewing Co

After a day exploring The Camp and the LAB Anti-Mall, it was time to visit the Costa Mesa craft breweries.

We had a late lunch at Barley Forge Brewing Co. I ordered the beer brat and tater tots. You can’t go wrong with a good brat and tots.

Beet brat Barley Forge Brewing Co, best things to do in Costa Mesa
Brat and tots: beer comfort food

Jeff got the Cuban. He said it was pretty decent for bar food.

Cuban, Barley Forge Brewing Co, best things to do in Costa Mesa

The Silver Trumpet

Although we had already eaten at the Silver Trumpet for breakfast, we decided to have dinner at the Silver Trumpet before seeing a show at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts.

The location was so convenient. Being able to walk across the street after our meal and walk into the Segerstrom Hall made it worth dining at twice.

Looking for a good value? Try the prix fixe menu. You get an appetizer, entree, and dessert for $45. 

I chose the Bacon-wrapped Medjool dates stuffed with gorgonzola cheese and wrapped with Applewood smoked bacon. 

Bacon wrapped Medjool Dates from the Silver Trumpet, one of the best things to do in Costa Mesa
Everything is tasty when wrapped in bacon

The dates were soft and the savory sweet combination was a great introduction to the meal to come.

For my entree, I selected the Rack of Lamb with sweet corn puree, roasted Provencal vegetables, mint chimichurri, and a California balsamic glaze.

rack of lamb at Silver Trumpet, one of the best things to do in Costa Mesa
Who doesn’t appreciate a good rack

I’ll always choose a rack of lamb when it’s offered. Because I don’t have the skill nor patience to cook lamb for myself. The lamb was tender, juicy, and flavorful. I don’t usually like pureed vegetables but after one taste, I was sold. I was shoving aside all the vegetables to get to every drop. They need to offer the sweet corn puree as a side

It was hard to decide which dessert to pick. Ultimately, the Key Lime Whoopie Pie won. 

Key Lime Whoopie Pie at Silver Trumpet, one of the best things to do in Costa Mesa

Jeff ordered a Caesar salad and filet.

The Caesar was assembled tableside. I said assembled vs prepared. Assembled means all the ingredients are already mixed and the waiter tosses the salad in front of you. Whereas, tableside preparation means the dressing is mixed and then the salad is tossed.

Caesar salad Silver Trumpet, best things to do in Costa Mesa
Lightly tossed Caesar salad

Jeff was still full from our late lunch and wasn’t able to finish his filet. It was so good he asked for a doggy bag. ๐Ÿ™‚

Filet Silver Trumpet, best things to do in Costa Mesa
USDA Prime Filet

Not only did we have a delicious meal, Chef Hector Zamora stopped by our table to ask how we enjoyed the food.

Pro-tip: If you eat at the Silver Trumpet you get free self-parking or valet parking for $10.

Rooster Cafe

Rooster Cafe, best things to do in Costa Mesa

We heard so many great things about the breakfast at Old Vine Kitchen & Bar but decided to get an earlier start home so we stopped at the Rooster Cafe for breakfast.

One look at the menu and the St. Clair Waffle was my first choice with strawberries and bananas.

St Clair waffle with strawberries and bananas, Rooster Cafe, best things to do in Costa Mesa

Jeff got the breakfast burrito. Stuffed with scrambled eggs, hash browns, shredded Cheddar cheese and choice of bacon or sausage. You get a lot of food for $9.

breakfast burrito, Rooster Cafe, best things to do in Costa Mesa

 

Pro-tip: Be sure to check out the food scene at The LAB, SOCO Collection & the OC Mix, 17th Street, and The Camp.

The Arts

Segerstrom Center for the Arts

Segerstrom Concert Hall, Segerstrom Center for the Arts, best things to do in Costa Mesa
Segerstrom Concert Hall

The Segerstrom Center for the Arts consists of the Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, Samueli Theatre, Segerstrom Hall, and the Judy Morr Theater.

The first of the venues, built in 1986, was the opera styled Segerstrom Hall. Originally used for concerts, it now showcases musicals and can seat almost 3,000 people.

Segerstrom Art Center is one of the best things to do in Costa Mesa. It’s more affordable and easier to see a show here than Los Angeles and New York. 

I love a good show, play, concert, and opera. There’s something about seeing a live performance that’s mesmerizing, almost enchanting.

During our visit to Costa Mesa, we saw Disney’s Aladdin.

Disney Aladdin, best things to do in Costa Mesa
Aladdin

Okay, I know what you’re thinking, “Aladdin? You’ve got to be kidding me.” Because that’s what Jeff said too.

Until he saw the show.

Although based on a Disney cartoon, the theme of Aladdin to be your true self resonates with all ages.

Seeing Aladdin at the Segerstrom Hall was incredible! The acoustics were fantastic. The props were unbelievable. I could not see the wires holding up the magic carpet. Believe me, I looked!

The cast was amazing. Everyone did a remarkable job, there were no missed lines or steps. Major Attaway killed it as Genie! Pierre Marais performance of Aladdin was flawless.

Spoiler alert! The script! OMG! I was not expecting a comedy. But boy, were there some zingers. Genie and Babkak had the best lines.

Pro-tip: Orchestra seats are worth the splurge.

We were in the Orchestra section Row G, seats 23 and 24. The seats were almost midstage. They’re close enough to see the cast and entire stage. Yet far enough back so you don’t get a crick in your neck from looking up.

view of Segerstrom Hall stage from Orchestra seats, best things to do in Costa Mesa

On a budget? You might be eligible for discounted rush tickets.

You can’t take photos during the performance and I didn’t know you could go on a free tour so I apologize for the lack of photos.

Pro-tip: Some performances have talkbacks. Talkbacks are time after the show to chat with the cast.

Noguchi Garden

panoramic view of Noguchi Garden, one of the best things to do in Costa Mesa
Water Use and Desert Land, two of the elements of the Noguchi Garden

Noguchi Garden also known as California Scenario is a 1.6-acre sculpture garden. Hidden between mirrored multi-story office buildings and a parking structure, landscape architect Isamu Noguchi designed this garden for Henry Segerstrom.

Clouds reflected in mirrored building surrounding Noguchi Garden, best things to do in Costa Mesa
Clouds reflected in mirrored building surrounding Noguchi Garden, Water Source and Land Use elements

Segerstrom envisioned a lush green oasis but Noguchi had other ideas. He composed six elements representing parts of California: Water Source, Water Use, Forest Walk, Land Use, Desert Land, and Energy Fountain.

Water Source Noguchi Garden, best things to do in Costa Mesa
Water Source

 

Water Use, Noguchi Garden, best things to do in Costa Mesa
Water Use

 

Forest Walk, Noguchi Garden, best things to do in Costa Mesa
Forest Walk

 

Normally there’s water in the Energy Fountain but the engineers were working on it the afternoon before.

Energy Fountain, Noguchi Garden, best things to do in Costa Mesa
waterless today ๐Ÿ™

 

GoPro image of Noguchi Garden, best things to do in Costa Mesa
another view of the Noguchi Garden

Noguchi added a seventh element, The Source of Life, renamed The Spirit of the Lima Bean, a nod to Segerstrom’s farming roots.

The Spirit of the Lima Bean at Noguchi Garden, one of the best things to do in Costa Mesa
The Spirit of the Lima Bean

The Spirit of the Lima Bean is fifteen interlocking granite boulders cut to fit. If you look in the lower right corner, you’ll see Noguchi’s initials.

The Noguchi Garden is free, open to the public daily, and one of the best things to do in Costa Mesa. It’s a great spot for families because the little ones can run around and a sought after location for photos. 

The granite benches are actually comfortable.

granite benches, Noguchi Garden, best things to do in Costa Mesa

Pro-tip: Early mornings on the weekends are the best time to visit.

You can park for free on weekends in the Specialty’s Cafe & Bakery lot and TGIF lot if you arrive before they open at 11 am.

Costa Mesa Art Walk

Enjoy a leisurely stroll of the Costa Mesa Art Walk, a free public art display. All 20 pieces of art were commissioned by Orange County philanthropist Henry Segerstrom.

Sun Ribbon reflecting on the sidewalk, one of the best things to do in Costa Mesa
Late afternoon is the best time to catch the Sun Ribbon reflecting on the sidewalk

 

stained glass dome above Jewel Court at South Coast Plaza, best things to do in Costa Mesa
stained glass dome above Jewel Court at South Coast Plaza

Shopping

Without a doubt, shopping is one of the best things to do in Costa Mesa. 

South Coast Plaza

At South Coast Plaza you can live out your Pretty Woman shopping fantasy but without the snooty sales clerk attitude.

With 275 stores, South Coast Plaza is the largest shopping mall in California.

Composed of three separate structures, the main building features luxury high end exclusive retail stores like Chloe, Furla, Hermes, and Prada, affordable fashion like the Gap, Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, and department stores like Nordstrom and Macy’s. 

Furla Gioia crossbody bag, Furla Belvedere bi-fold wallet, and Furla dog keyring at South Coast Plaza, one of the best things to do in Costa Mesa
This Furla Gioia crossbody bag, Furla Belvedere bi-fold wallet, and Furla dog keyring makes an adorable gift

 

inside of Prada store at South Coast Plaza, one of the best things to do in Costa Mesa
No waiting at the Prada

 

Giorgio Armani silk cady ruffled sleeves, best things to do in Costa Mesa
This Giorgio Armani silk cady with ruffled sleeves would be perfect for spring

 

view inside Gap Store at South Coast Plaza, one of the best things to do in Costa Mesa
You don’t need a six-figure salary to shop at South Coast Plaza because there are stores like the Gap.

 

Sale at Banana Republic at South Coast Plaza, one of the best things to do in Costa Mesa
Yes, there are sales at South Coast Plaza

Indulge your sweet tooth at tasty treat shops like Sugarfina and Godiva.

view of Sugarfina gourmet adult candy display at the South Coast Plaza, one of the best things to do in Costa Mesa
So many bento boxes, so little time

You can even buy luggage at South Coast Plaza. On the way home from my recent trip to Southeast Asia, the telescoping handle on my carryon wouldn’t go down. So I spent quite a bit of time looking for a new carryon bag at Louis Vuitton, Rimowa, Tumi, and the Samsonite Black Label stores.

Louis Vuitton Keepall Bandouliere at South Coast Plaza, one of the best things to do in Costa Mesa
The Louis Vuitton Keepall Bandouliere is the perfect sized bag for a weekend getaway

Cross the Bridge of Gardens to the West Wing (formerly known as Crystal Court) to shop at the Apple Store, Lululemon, Chico’s, and J. Jill.

Bridge of Gardens, best things to do in Costa Mesa

 

Mini lights spanning Bridge of Gardens Garden Terrace South Coast Plaza, one of the best things to do in Costa Mesa
Bridge of Gardens Garden Terrace

And restaurants like Wahoo’s Fish Tacos, Ruby’s Diner, Hamamori, and Terrace by Mix Mix.

Terrace by mix mix, best things to do in Costa Mesa
Small plates at reasonable prices

Drive across Sunflower Avenue to South Coast Plaza Village to shop for art at Showcase Gallery, have garments tailored at Grace Tailoring.

Even if you don’t buy anything, a trip to South Coast Plaza is one of the best things to do in Costa Mesa purely for window shopping.

10 foot display A.Lange Sohne Datograph Lumen at South Coast Plaza, best things to do in Costa Mesa
A limited edition A.Lange Sohne Datograph Lumen watch starts at $100,500. Imagine what this 10-foot model costs!

 

carousel, South Coast Plaza, best things to do in Costa Mesa
carousel

 

art, South Coast Plaza, best things to do in Costa Mesa
art for a coming soon store at South Coast Plaza

VIP Access Lounge

couches and chairs in the VIP Access Lounge in South Coast Plaza, one of the best things to do in Costa Mesa
Main seating area of the VIP Access Lounge, South Coast Plaza

Take a break from shopping in the VIP Access Lounge.

The VIP Access Lounge at South Coast Plaza is like an airline lounge. You can enjoy free drinks (limit 2 per person) and snacks before, after, or during your shopping.

It’s a cozy place to relax between charging (as in shop till you drop charge). You can charge your phone, recharge yourself, or get charged up watching the game in the sports room.

Admission to the VIP Access Lounge is by invitation from a South Coast Plaza store (based on spending) or any Costa Mesa hotel (stay required).

Pro-tip: You can also get into the VIP Access Lounge if you have an American Express Platinum (learn more), Centurion, Visa Signature, or Visa Infinite card.

Visa Signature cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred offer special gifts if you spend $500 in a single day as do Visa Infinite cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve. To get the gift, the $500 has to be spent at South Coast Plaza.

The Lab Anti-Mall, The Camp, SOCO Collection and OC Mix

The Camp sign, best things to do in Costa Mesa

In addition to South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa offers several unique outdoor shopping experiences. Hipsters will the eclectic mix of shops at The Lab Anti-Mall. The Camp is perfect for eco-friendly and health-conscious shoppers. While SOCO Collection and OC Mix consist of one of a kind boutiques and restaurants.

Craft Beer

pint of beer, Mint Chocolate Porter at Bootleggers Brewery, one of the best things to do in Costa Mesa
Check out Costa Mesa’s emerging craft beer scene

While no So Cal city can rival San Diego, one of the first cities to champion craft beer, Costa Mesa has hopped on the craft beer train.

Currently, there are four breweries in Costa Mesa with two more opening soon:

Barley Forge, Bootleggers, Gunwhale Ales, and the soon to open Salty Bear are all within walking distance. This makes it easy to visit all four breweries on the same day!

Pro-tip: If you aren’t into craft beer, there are several wine tasting rooms in Costa Mesa: Wine Lab, LCA Wine, We Olive & Wine Bar, Anne’s Boutique Wines, and Hi-Time Cellars.

Hi-time Wine Cellars offers special tasting events including a dinner and wine pairing.

OffBeat

Hipsters and yuccies (Young Urban Creatives) thrive in the “capital of cool.” But Costa Mesa isn’t too hip that you’d feel left out.

With pockets of hipsterism like The LAB Anti-Mall and The Camp, you’ll enjoy an offbeat shopping and dining experience. In both The LAB and The Camp airstreams are used as retail shops.

The LAB Anti-Mall

The LAB Anti-Mall, best things to do in Costa Mesa
The LAB Anti-Mall a mall for hipsters and yuccies

On the grounds of a former goggle factory, The LAB Anti-Mall is a boutique-sized indoor-outdoor space of hip restaurants, shops, and a bar.

Most are single locations unique to the LAB which stands for Little American Business. But some like Urban Outfitters, Pop Bar, and Buffalo Exchange have other locations outside of Costa Mesa.

There’s even a giant wirebird cage that people hang wishes and good thoughts like the Yoko Ono tree in Washington DC.

wish birdcage, The LAB, best things to do in Costa Mesa
Hipster wishing well 

It’s one of the most Instagram friendly locations in Costa Mesa.

CD Tunnel, The LAB, best things to do in Costa Mesa
CD tunnel

 

Hopscotch, The LAB, best things to do in Costa Mesa
Number 1

The Camp

vintage GMC truck, The Camp, best things to do in Costa Mesa
vintage GMC truck

Designed by the same developer of The LAB Anti-Mall, The Camp is eco-warrior’s shopping haven.

Where the LAB is hip and cool and geared towards the young urban professional. The Camp is a cool, environmentally friendly shopping mall for rich hippies.

An open-air strip mall of sorts with a heavy focus on food.

Mailboxes of menus for The Camp restaurants, one of the best things to do in Costa Mesa
Unsure where to eat at The Camp? Choose a menu.

There are a few shops, two of which are set up in Airstream trailers.

succulent in ceramic air stream at The Camp, one of the best things to do in Costa Mesa
This adorable plant holder looks like the shop, Organic Design by Aggelige

 

Air stream trailer The Studio at The Camp, one of the best things to do in Costa Mesa
The Studio sells artisan jewelry

But restaurants like Taco Asylum, Mesa, and Old Vine make up most of The Camp.

Old Vine, The Camp, best things to do in Costa Mesa

They even have their own creed.

stairs depicting The Camp creed
Making a better world

Where to Stay

Deluxe king bed, Avenue of the Arts Hotel, best things to do in Costa Mesa

When you’re looking for where to stay in Costa Mesa, you’ll find hotels for every budget. Some offer free airport shuttles.

The Avenue of the Arts, A Tribute Portfolio Hotel is one of the best places to stay in Costa Mesa if you want a relaxing vacation, looking for somewhere to stay during spring break or a long weekend.

It’s across the street from the Segerstrom Center for the Arts and walking distance to the Noguchi Garden, South Coast Plaza, and restaurants.

The bed was so comfortable you’ll want to sleep in!

If you’re in town for the OC Marathon it’s one of the more economical hotels. Plus the dry sauna in the fitness center will help you recover faster.

The Avenue of the Arts is a Category 4 hotel and costs 25,000 points a night.

Pro-tip: You can earn 75,000 points from the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card when you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months.

That’s enough for 3 nights!

Read my review of the Avenue of the Arts Costa Mesa.

Conclusion

Some of the best things to do in Costa Mesa aren’t your typical things found in other cities.

You can enjoy world-class dining from Top Chefs and unparalleled shopping at South Coast Plaza at stores like Armani, Chanel, and Louis Vuitton.

But shopping in Costa Mesa isn’t all high-end luxury stores. You’ll also find traditional department stores like Nordstrom and unique boutique shops like Purre at the LAB Anti-Mall and The Camp.

When you’re done feasting and shopping, experience the “city of the arts” by spending time watching a show at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts and exploring the Costa Mesa Art Walk, and Noguchi Gardens.

Underneath a facade of boring suburbia lies a hidden gem. Costa Mesa dubbed the “capital of cool” offers so much to do for all types of travelers.

If you’ve been to Costa Mesa, what was your favorite thing to do?

Comment, tweet, or share this post.

Get the best credit card signup bonuses.

Follow us on Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Instagram | YouTube

Got a question? Or want help, suggestions, travel tips, learn how to travel for free, find out about travel deals, and maximize your miles and points? Use the subscription box below to sign-up and get post updates by email.

Traveling Well For Less has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Traveling Well For Less and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.


Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferredย is the best card for beginning travel hackers.ย It is the first card you should get to start traveling for free because the welcome offer is 60,000 points (after spending $4,000 in the first three months).
 
My favorite perks about this card are earning 2X points on travel and dining, no foreign transaction fees, and transferring points to 13 airline and hotel partners like Hyatt, United, and Southwest.
 

Debra Schroeder

Debra is a former 12-year travel industry executive and has traveled the world using airline miles and credit card points since 1994. She'll teach you the secrets of traveling well for less.

All posts

22 Comments

  • The below responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.
  • Brianna March 16, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    This post came at a perfect time as Im heading to So Cal in May! I love that Costa Mesa has 3 Top Chef helmed restaurants and the shopping/art at the LAB Anti-Mall are right up my alley.

    • Debra Schroeder March 18, 2019 at 4:50 pm

      Hi Brianna,

      You’re going to have a great time. Great weather in May.

  • Tr March 17, 2019 at 12:38 am

    I’m glad you included a lot of food options!! This is something that shouldn’t be missed when I visit a new place!

    • Debra Schroeder March 18, 2019 at 4:57 pm

      Hi Tr,

      LOL, I love food so it’s a priority for me. Sounds like you do too. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Carol Colborn March 17, 2019 at 6:33 am

    Costa Mesa looks and sounds so cosmopolitan for a great vacation..mfrom the Arts Centre and Art Walk to those special things like the CD tunnel or the Bridges of Garden.

    • Debra Schroeder March 18, 2019 at 4:57 pm

      Hi Carol,

      It truly is, hope you can visit one day.

  • Christopher Rudder March 18, 2019 at 12:40 am

    Disneyland and food in Costa Mesa! I am sold already. I didn’t expect it is only an hour away drive to Hollywood! Already dreaming of a road trip there soon!

    • Debra Schroeder March 18, 2019 at 4:49 pm

      Hi Christopher,

      I know, right?! I hope you get a chance to check out Costa Mesa.

  • Jenn and Ed Coleman March 18, 2019 at 5:53 pm

    When we lived in San Diego and Jenn was a concierge at the Hilton we went up to Costa Mesa all the time for staycations. The bike ride down into Camp Pendleton is epic and so is the surf break at Trestles. We also love the micro wineries startup up along the coast, especially if you include San Juan Capistrano, We would make a point to stop for lunch somewhere between Encinitas and Anaheim if we were ever crossing the LA basin.

    • Debra Schroeder March 20, 2019 at 1:47 pm

      Hi Jenn and Ed,

      That is a LONG bike ride from Costa Mesa. ๐Ÿ™‚ You should check out the foodie scene in Costa Mesa now, really giving LA a run for their money.

  • Rosemary March 19, 2019 at 3:53 am

    Thanks for highlighting Costa Mesa, it is indeed for us a “drive by city” we never gave thought to when we lived in Los Angeles. Had no idea it had quite a foodie scene. The food options you presented are quite surprising. The rack of lamb has my name all over it! Costa Mesa seems like a chilled town. I like the vibe from your photos. Will definitively consider visiting the next time we in Los Angeles.

    • Debra Schroeder March 20, 2019 at 1:48 pm

      Hi Rosemary,

      The lamb, right? You guys really need to stop by, you’ll love the wide variety of food. Let me know next time you’re in town.

  • Sherianne March 19, 2019 at 9:25 am

    I love art walks and the Noguchi Garden looks amazing too. Great tip about the Disney shuttle and Iโ€™m now dying for bacon cheddar cheese waffles!!!

    • Debra Schroeder March 20, 2019 at 1:49 pm

      Hi Sherianne,

      So many great pieces of art. The waffles were yummy. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • MEENAKSHI March 19, 2019 at 10:36 am

    Thanks for introducing this place to us.Have never heard about it. That CD tunnel looks interesting and thanks for including so many pro-tips and food outlets which are sure to be helpful for someone planning a trip.It surely looks like an off-beat place to visit.

    • Debra Schroeder March 20, 2019 at 1:50 pm

      Hi Meenakshi,

      Glad you liked the post. Hope you get a chance to visit.

  • Nicole March 19, 2019 at 2:12 pm

    Youre right I hadn’t heard of Costa Mesa before. Its all Newport beach and such but it looks like a great place to stay and have amazing links to other parts of CA. The transport to Disneyland is perfect for families. Great info.

    • Debra Schroeder March 20, 2019 at 1:51 pm

      Hi Nicole,

      So glad you liked the post. Costa Mesa is a great spot for families especially with the shuttle to Disneyland.

  • Ami March 19, 2019 at 9:23 pm

    On the plus side, I now have a cheaper option to exploring Disney. On the other hand… Not necessarily bad, is that it’s one more amazing destination to see. It just means that I need to add a few more days now ?. Love the variety here… Art street, beaches, food. Thanks for sharing this

    • Debra Schroeder March 20, 2019 at 1:52 pm

      Hi Ami,

      LOL, for sure you’ll want to add 2 more days to your trip so you can visit Costa Mesa. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Lynn @ Oh-So Yummy March 29, 2019 at 4:58 pm

    That Noguchi Garden looks neat, especially the concepts! I’m glad there’s a DFT in San Diego now and one of my favorites is their beef soup. We’ve done the mall before to meet up with some family in OC haha! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Debra Schroeder March 30, 2019 at 3:45 pm

      Hi Lynn,

      Thanks, glad you liked the post. I’ve yet to have the beef soup at DTF, can’t believe I’ve never ordered it there. It and XLB are some of my favorite dishes. Will have to order that next time. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    ×