Located within a stone’s throw of Anaheim to the north and Newport Beach to the west, the city of Costa Mesa is in the heart of Orange County, California. In a special visit recently, our family was able to take in many sights and experiences that make Costa Mesa an ideal family vacation spot.
Costa Mesa is an upscale destination within a few minutes drive of the beach, Disneyland and home to amazing restaurants and Orange County’s only working farm, among many other fun attractions.
Easy access to Disneyland
If you’ve ever been to Anaheim and Disneyland Resort, you’ve likely ridden Anaheim Resort Transit (ART), which provides easy and fast bus service to Disneyland. Well, you may not know, but Costa Mesa is in ART’s circle of service – meaning you can stay in Costa Mesa and enjoy Disneyland with one easy ride on ART’s shuttles.
On our visit to Costa Mesa, we took a fast, convenient ride from our hotel – the Residence Inn Marriott. The bus service runs on a regular schedule and was a perfect, hassle-free way to visit the Disney parks. When you use ART, you can skip parking at Disneyland (which has a daily fee associated with it) and get bused right to the front of the entrances to the park. It’s very convenient.
Residence Inn Marriott – an ideal family holiday hotel
For our time in Costa Mesa we stayed at the Residence Inn Marriott, which is right off the freeway and easily accessible for all your Costa Mesa adventures. We stayed in a two-floor suite that was perfect for our family of five.
The suite has a full master suite with bathroom, a sofa sleeper in the living room and a queen bed of at the top of a loft-type area. The suite allowed our 3 children to have their own sleeping quarters, which meant we all woke up refreshed and grump-free. 😃
The Residence Inn Marriott has a beautiful pool with spa and outside dining area. The dining area was advantageous for breakfasts al fresco – and the gas fireplace meant we were toasty even if the evening was a bit chilly. Our children enjoyed the heated pool and full sport court featuring basketball, tennis and other sports.
Each morning at the Residence Inn, we took advantage of the included buffet breakfast – and we’d highly 👍 eating outside on the sunny patio if you’re so inclined.
South Coast Plaza Mall and Art Walk
Costa Mesa is known as Orange County’s City of Arts – and it’s easy to see why. Just outside the South Coast Plaza, one of southern California’s top shopping destinations, is the Costa Mesa Art Walk. Between the performing arts centers and exterior buildings are outstanding pieces of public art for you to take in and experience. Our kids loved walking from piece to piece – a gift to the city of Costa Mesa by the Segerstrom Family.
Our family also had a great time exploring South Coast Plaza. We did some window shopping and had coffee inside the sprawling high end shopping center. Also, we were able to have a fun burger and chocolate shake lunch at the original Ruby’s Cafe, which was founded in Orange County years ago.
Learning about California Agriculture at the Centennial Farms at OC Fair
Costa Mesa is the home to the Orange County Fairgrounds and in the sprawling fairgrounds is Centennial Farm, Orange County’s funnest 3-acre farm. On any particular day, the public can view California native plants and pet farm animals at Centennial Farm.
On a regular basis, school tours from neighboring schools pet baby chicks and learn about life on the farm in this large urban center. Our kids enjoyed seeing the countless California crops such as avocados, lemons, limes and more. We were also able to pet goats, pigs and many other farm animals.
To enjoy Centennial Farms, be sure to check their schedule so you can ensure they’re open at your preferred times.
Night time fun in Costa Mesa and Huntington Beach
On a perfect evening in Costa Mesa, we visited Ecco Pizza at The CAMP, a fun, contemporary restaurant in Costa Mesa. My wife and I enjoyed a glass of wine while our family feasted on wood fired pizza and an amazing salad that had our whole family raving. The atmosphere and service were outstanding and Ecco is a great dining experience for couples and families alike.
To end our perfect evening out, we journeyed a short distance to neighboring Huntington Beach to Waterfront Adventures, across from the The Waterfront Beach Resort, a Hilton Hotel for a beachside bonfire. At Waterfront adventures, there’s an attendant who manages your fire and brings out s’mores supplies and beverages for the whole family (waters and sodas).
A beachside bonfire is the perfect Huntington Beach experience and with the attended fire, your family can enjoy nothing other than enjoying the stars, hearing the waves and enjoying the perfect night.
Disclosure: Travel Costa Mesa hosted our family’s time in the wonderful city. Thanks to Travel Costa Mesa and their hotel partners for our experiences, meals and overnight stay. While they hosted our time, our opinions can never be bought and are honest accounts of our fun experience in Costa Mesa. Enjoy!