Discover the Hidden Gems of Costa Mesa With This Guide
It’s leap year 2024, and you’ve just been gifted the ultimate bonus—a whole extra day! Now, what to do with this 24-hour treasure? How about leaping over to the city of Costa Mesa, where the options are as endless as they are exciting. Picture this: waking up in a luxurious hotel, sipping artisan coffee and immersing yourself in a day that combines culture, cuisine and a bit of local charm. Costa Mesa isn’t just the heart of Orange County; it’s the leap into a day you didn’t know you needed. Let’s make this leap year day a mini vacation that’s one for the books—or at least one for some enviable Instagram stories. Here are five unique ways to spend Feb. 29 in Costa Mesa this year.
Take a Luxe Leap
Get your leap year day off to a good start at Lion & Lamb. This local coffee shop’s signature salted toffee latte is not just a drink; it’s a warm embrace to start your day. Plus, a portion of each purchase goes to support local charities. After you’ve had your caffeine fix, immerse yourself in the luxurious world of Graff at South Coast Plaza—a haven of exquisite and visionary jewelry designs that will have you smitten. For lunch, the contemporary flair of Populaire awaits, and their ratatouille dish, a blend of Comte cheese, thinly sliced vegetables and Gochugaru chili, is a masterpiece on a plate. After a refreshing nap at your hotel, indulge in the Spanish culinary indulgence at Vaca. Savor their huevos estrellados—a perfect combination of fried eggs, crispy potato and chipotle aioli. At this point, you earned your rest and can retreat easily to the elegant Avenue of the Arts Costa Mesa, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel, knowing you made the most of your bonus day.
Indulge in a Gourmet Getaway
This one’s for the foodies! Your culinary journey starts at Nudae, a unique cafe where a miso coconut caramel latte offers a fusion of flavors that will awaken your senses. Next, Eller’s just opened on the Westside—their scratch-made croissants and French toast promise a midday delight that is both comforting and exquisite. Sign up for a cooking class at Sur la Table to take a break from people cooking for you. As evening approaches, make a choice between two culinary stars of Costa Mesa. Hana Re, a Michelin-starred Japanese restaurant specializing in omakase, offers an exquisite dining experience where each dish is a work of art. Knife Pleat, also a Michelin-starred restaurant, showcases Chef Tony Esnault’s mastery in French cuisine. Now that your stomach is full, you can rest your head at The Westin South Coast Plaza—the epitome of luxury and comfort.
Depart on an Artistic Adventure
Art enthusiasts can begin their bonus day at the serene Noguchi Garden, where artist Isamu Noguchi’s “art as scenery” installation, California Scenario, offers a tranquil space for reflection and meditation. Continue this artistic journey at Buenas Coffee, where the Taza de Maza oat milk cappuccino with homemade Mazapan syrup awaits your taste buds. For lunch, Verdant cafe inside the Orange County Museum of Art provides an immersive and artful dining experience, and entrance to OCMA is free for those who choose to dine here. Conclude your day at Anjin, an authentic Japanese and Korean BBQ spot, where you’ll watch your meal be prepared tableside. This unique dining experience is complemented by your stay at the Hilton Orange County/Costa Mesa, a hub of comfort and creativity that is only a short drive away from these hotspots.
Find your Niche in Nature
Start your day with a nourishing breakfast inside Plum’s Cafe, a hidden gem of a cafe offering some of the best food in the city. After breakfast, explore Mercado Gonzalez, a vibrant Mexican food hall featuring over 20 unique puestos—or kiosks—with El Moro Churreria as a standout for authentic churros. Experience the organic wonders of the SOCO Farmers Market, then discover handcrafted fermented foods and drinks at Fermentation Farm. For a serene escape, the trails of Canyon Park await, where it’s just you and the wildlife. Join a class at Centennial Farm’s working farm, then dine at The CAMP‘s newly opened plant-based restaurant, The Plot. Conclude your day amidst the tranquility of the Ayres Hotel.
Complete a Quirky Quest
Begin with hearty breakfast tacos or Texas toast at Rooster Cafe. Explore unique apparel at Period Correct (think automotive nostalgia) or find stylish golf gear at Quiet Golf. Spend the afternoon getting your hands dirty at ARTime Barro, a charming pottery studio. For dinner, Trenta Pizza & Cucina offers an Italian escape with their 30-inch, three-topping pizza. After dinner, choose between Cowboys & Poodles (for a kitschy cowboy-themed drink) or NASA-inspired speakeasy P10neer. Your eclectic day ends at the Ramada by Wyndham Costa Mesa, the perfect spot to complete your funky adventure in Costa Mesa.
This article is brought to you by one of the many talented writers associated with Locale Magazine! We are a group of locals (whether born and raised or transplanted) who love this county we now call home!