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Fun and Free Things to Do in Costa Mesa During the Holidays

Posted on November 23, 2021 | 7:00pm

Holiday events are happening in Costa Mesa. It’s the perfect time for a quick getaway, with hotel deals as low as $99! From the return of A Christmas Carol at South Coast Repertory to Night of Lights OC at OC Fair & Event Center, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. And of course, don’t miss holiday shopping at the West Coast’s largest shopping destination, South Coast Plaza. Looking for some fun and free things to do during the holidays too? Check out these great free holiday events!

Snoopy House at Costa Mesa City Hall

A Costa Mesa tradition for 50 years, the elaborate Snoopy House holiday display has been a Costa Mesa and Orange County holiday staple for more than 50 years, attracting an estimated 80,000 visitors annually. Snoopy House, which features holiday scenes populated by “Peanuts” characters, is available for viewing from 5:30 to 9 p.m. nightly from December 17 through December 22 in front of Costa Mesa City Hall. Santa will make special visits nightly beginning at 6. Children and their families will have opportunities to receive free photos with Santa.

Costa Mesa Art Walk Audio Tour

The Costa Mesa Art Walk Audio Tour showcases the sculptures around South Coast Plaza, Segerstrom Center for the Arts and South Coast Repertory. You can listen to the audio tour directly on your phone. During the holidays, you can also see the 90-foot South Coast Plaza holiday tree that has over 94,000 lights! The tree is located in Town Center Park.

Centennial Farm in Orange County Fairgrounds and Event Center on December 1, 2017. (Photo by Michael Goulding)

Discovery Day at Centennial Farm

Take the kids to a real working farm at OC Fair & Event Center for Discovery Day at Centennial Farm. Discovery Day has group activities such as radish seed planting for children to plant seeds to take to school, chick education to learn about the chick development process, oxen demonstration, cow milking demonstration and seasonal crops. Livestock includes pigs, goats, cows, poultry, sheep and rabbits. Visit Discovery Day December 1, 9 or 17. Both Discovery Day and parking are free!

The Original OC Swap Meet

Everyone’s favorite swap meet returns to the OC Fair & Event Center! The Original OC Swap Meet has over 150 local small businesses. Find out why this is one of Travel Costa Mesa’s most asked-about events November 27, December 11 and December 18. The event is free, but parking is $10.

STRUT Winter Palace Ball

Ring in the new year at one of Costa Mesa’s hottest new clubs, STRUT. With DJ Josh Peace and hosts like Luke Nero and Wilhelmina Caviar, you’re guaranteed a great time. Dress to impress in Ice King & Queen Looks for a contest that evening. There’s no cover entrance fee for this event on December 31, which is rare for a NYE party, and when you RSVP you will receive guaranteed admission to the Winter Palace Ball before 8 p.m. 

Photo courtesy of SOCO & The OC Mix

Makeshift Muse Holiday Market 

Makeshift Muse Holiday Market at SOCO & The OC Mix is a curated pop-up market with 80 local makers. The event features live, local music and a food court. This event is $10, but the cost will be waived for anyone that brings a toy or non-perishable food donation for the food and toy drive. The event is also benefiting Project Hope Alliance.

Holiday Story Time with Mrs. Claus

Small children will love Holiday Story Time with Mrs. Claus at SOCO & The OC Mix. Mrs. Claus will read stories and lead a holiday sing-a-long every Saturday from November 27 to December 18. Kids get to make and take home their own musical instrument, plus enjoy complimentary hot chocolate, seasonal treats and take photos with Mrs. Claus.  The event is free, but tickets are required. 

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Posted in Events, Misc, Play, Shopping

5 ways to spend Thanksgiving in Costa Mesa

Posted on November 9, 2021 | 5:00pm

What if you could skip the cooking and enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner at one of our celebrated restaurants, take the family to a holiday event AND get your shopping done Black Friday or Small Business Saturday? Enjoy your break with these 5 ways to spend Thanksgiving in Costa Mesa. Visit during the holidays and get one of our holiday hotel deals starting as low as $99.

Thanksgiving Dinner

Several Costa Mesa restaurants are serving up some delicious Thanksgiving dinners. Silver Trumpet Restaurant & Bar, in Avenue of the Arts, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel, is serving a family-style, prix fixe menu. Choose between butternut squash fritters or corn chowder for a starter, market greens or baby arugula salad, turkey and ham or prime rib for the entree and, for dessert, pumpkin creme brulee or carrot cake. All meals come with stuffing, mashed potatoes and green beans.

Le Chateau Garden Bistro, at Ayres Hotel Costa Mesa / Newport Beach, has a 3-course Thanksgiving menu, plus complimentary glass of house wine with fresh baked sourdough bread and olive tapenade. Choose between butternut squash soup or winter green salad to start. The entree is an oven roasted sliced turkey breast with port gravy, creamy mashed potatoes, fresh roasted winter vegetables and homemade stuffing with Italian sausage and herbs. For dessert, choose pumpkin pie with whipped cream and caramel sauce or apple crisp with vanilla bean ice cream.

Cafe Sevilla, in Triangle Square, has a three-course menu (two-course for kids) that includes choices of starter, entree and dessert. The full dinner menu is also available. 

The Capital Grille dine-in option comes with slow-roasted turkey with brioche stuffing, French green beans, cranberry-pear chutney, Sam’s mashed potatoes and pumpkin cheesecake. There’s also a take home option with all of the sides that serves 4. 

If you’re eating Thanksgiving Dinner at home, Mastro’s, named best steakhouse byThe Orange County Register, has you covered with their family dinner kits for 4. The cook-at-home kits come with Caesar salad, three-bone prime rib with au jus and creamy horseradish, garlic mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, creamed corn, creamed spinach and cinnamon pecan butter cake.

Vaca is also offering a Thanksgiving to-go package that serves 4 to 6. The dinner includes a whole roasted Mary’s Farm all-natural turkey with gravy, roasted squash and banana soup, buttermilk chives mashed potatoes, orange scented cranberry sauce, Santana famous Italian sausage corn bread stuffing, bourbon and maple glazed yams with candied pistachios, charred broccolini with toasted garlic and preserved lemons. Plus, four desserts to choose from: pecan pie, pumpkin pie, apple pie or cheesecake.

For South Coast Plaza restaurants offering Thanksgiving dinner options, click here.

Photo courtesy of Night of Lights OC

Night of Lights OC

Get in the holiday spirit with Night of Lights OC at OC Fair & Event Center! Opening the day after Thanksgiving, the drive-thru experience is a perfect family-friendly event. Enjoy the mile-long winter wonderland filled with characters, snow and over a million lights. You might just spot Santa too! Pre-order holiday treats to eat during the drive. If you go opening weekend, you can receive 40% off with the code BLACKFRIDAY. 

Photo courtesy of South Coast Repertory

A Christmas Carol at South Coast Repertory

A Christmas Carol returns live to the stage at South Coast Repertory! The Orange County family tradition will feature SCR founding member Richard Doyle taking on the role of Ebenezer Scrooge. Bring the whole family to see the classic story from Charles Dickens. A Christmas Carol opens November 27.

Black Friday

Where else should you spend Black Friday except the largest shopping destination on the West Coast? Shop what they call “Fabulous Friday” at South Coast Plaza, which has 250 boutiques and 30 restaurants to choose from. Check the South Coast Plaza calendar for the Black Friday specials you just can’t miss.

Small Business Saturday

Support Small Business Saturday in Costa Mesa at The LAB Anti-Mall, The CAMP, SOCO and The OC Mix and more. The LAB has celebrated the “Little American Business” for over 25 years. The indoor/outdoor space hosts an eclectic array of small businesses including a zero waste refill shop, record store, boutiques in Airstream trailers and more. Across the street at The CAMP, you’ll find another collection of unique shops such as SEED Peoples Market which carries ethical and eco-friendly clothes, accessories and home goods. There’s even a shop within Blackmarket Bakery with fun gift ideas. 

The variety of boutiques at SOCO and The OC Mix continues to grow. Within The OC Mix, you can find Savory Spice Shop with great gift collections for home cooks, The Mixing Glass for the mixologist of the family, clothing boutiques and a recently opened luxury pet store. SOCO and The OC Mix hosts an annual Small Business Saturday event with tenants offering special discounts at shops and restaurants. There’s even a special event for kids from 11:00am to 12:00pm with hot cocoa, treats and a sing-a-long with Mrs. Claus!

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Posted in Events, Food, Hotels

Holiday Events This November and December in Orange County

Posted on October 29, 2021 | 4:00pm

What if the holidays were exciting again? With theme parks, live theatre and more, the holidays are back in Orange County! Want to stay in the center of it all? Costa Mesa’s location makes an ideal home base for all the exciting holiday events happening in Orange County this year. Check out our holiday hotel deals for great packages and prices!

South Coast Plaza Tree Lighting

November 18

The annual South Coast Plaza Tree Lighting begins with a performance by the Orange County School for the Performing Arts with special guest Matthew Morrison. The celebration includes snow and an appearance by Santa! Then, watch as the 90-foot tree sparkles with nearly 100,000 lights. The event is free.

Winter Fest Presents Night of Lights OC at OC Fair & Event Center

November 26 – January 2

Winter Fest returns as Night of Lights OC, a drive-thru winter wonderland experience. The interactive drive-thru features over one million lights, tree lighting, holiday characters and an appearance by Santa. It’s a fun event for the whole family (pets are not permitted). You can even pre-order holiday treats to enjoy in your car through the drive. Night of Lights OC does include fog, haze and strobe light effects.

Photo by Doug Gifford

The Nutcracker at Segerstrom Center for the Arts

December 10 – 19

American Ballet Theatre’s exciting production of The Nutcracker returns to Orange County! Follow Clara and the Nutcracker Prince along a journey with toy soldiers, mischievous mice, snowflakes and a dazzling Christmas tree. Pacific Symphony performs Tchaikovsky’s enchanting score. A holiday treat for the whole family!

Photo courtesy of Disneyland Resort

Holidays at the Disneyland Resort

November 12 – January 9

Holidays at the Disneyland Resort return this year! See both Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure decorated for the holiday season. Both parks have a variety of holiday events and decorations. Enjoy the Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure Park, a celebration of multicultural music, food and traditions. Try tasty bites and spirits from diverse cultures and celebrations too. Rides getting a holiday makeover such as Mater’s Jingle Jamboree and Luigi’s Joy to the Whirl. Watch the tree lighting on Buena Vista Street and visit Santa at Redwood Creek Challenge Trail. At Disneyland Park, see the Wintertime Enchantment of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, the “it’s a small world” Holiday Lighting and the Haunted Mansion Holiday. “Believe…In Holiday Magic” fireworks display lights up the sky on select nights!

Photo courtesy of Sawdust Art Festival

Winter Fantasy at Sawdust Art Festival

November 20 – December 19

Visit the famous Sawdust Art Festival in Laguna Beach for Winter Fantasy. The holiday art festival features a wonderland of lights, decorations and falling snow! Shop handcrafted items from 150 makers and artists, take festival holiday classes with hands-on demonstrations and visit with Santa. There are also three stages of live entertainment from carolers, puppeteers, community performances and music. Winter Fantasy is open on Saturdays and Sundays, plus Black Friday, from 10 am to 7pm. 

Photo courtesy of Mission San Juan Capistrano

Capistrano Lights at Mission San Juan Capistrano

December 4 – December 30

Visit Mission San Juan Capistrano on select days in December for Capistrano Lights, an evening of holiday festivities. The evening includes a tree lighting of the Mission’s 30-foot tree, Dickensian carolers, surprise performers and photo opportunities under the 10-foot wreath and with Santa. The Serra Chapel will also be open after hours, along with the Mission Store and vendors with sweet treats and kids crafts. Tickets include daytime admission to Mission San Juan Capistrano, with multi-language audio tour, and holiday programming from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm.

Please visit individual venue websites for COVID-19 safety requirements.

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Posted in Events, Play

Broadway Shows and Concerts Coming to Costa Mesa

Posted on August 19, 2021 | 7:00am

Indoor performances return to Orange County this fall with the Segerstrom Center for the Arts 2021-2022 season! Broadway shows and popular series – Cabaret, Jazz, and Chamber Music – are back with headliners and exciting productions. Whether you’re visiting Costa Mesa for a quick getaway or an extended stay, you’ll find a performance in the City of the Arts®. While you’re planning your visit, check out our hotel deals page.

All major Orange County arts organizations, including Segerstrom Center for the Arts, require ticket holders to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and wear a mask while inside the venues.

Arts Orange County

Fall Concerts

Laura Benanti

Laura Benanti – September 23

Broadway fans will be excited that Laura Benanti, Tony Award® winner for her role in Gypsy, makes her Cabaret series debut. Her other Broadway credits include My Fair Lady and Into the Woods. Benanti has also been featured in television shows such as Younger and the reboot of Gossip Girl

Cecile McLorin Salvant

Cecile McLorin Salvant & Sullivan Fortner – September 26

Dazzling jazz vocalist Cecile McLorin Salvant returns to Segerstrom Center of the Arts with celebrated jazz pianist Sullivan Fortner in Jazz series delight. The duo won a Grammy award for their collaboration, The Window, in 2020.

Kristin Chenoweth

Kristin Chenoweth – October 2

The one-and-only Kirstin Chenoweth returns to the Center to showcase her new album, For the Girls, a tribute to some of her favorite female singers. Songs include hits from Dolly Parton, Dinah Washington, Barbra Streisand, Leslie Gore, Linda Ronstadt and more. 

BalletX dancer

BalletX – October 16

Renowned company BalletX makes their Segerstrom Center for the Arts debut this fall. The innovative and diverse company celebrates their 15th anniversary this year. They’ve been named “among America’s best” by The New York Times.

Megan Hilty

Megan Hilty – October 21

Actress and singer Megan Hilty returns to the Cabaret series this October. Hilty starred as Ivy Lynn on NBC’s Smash, as well as in Wicked, 9 to 5 and Noises Off on Broadway. Her powerhouse vocals are sure to make for an entertaining evening.

Dianne Reeves, Chucho Valdés and  Joe Lovano.

Duets – October 22

Jazz lovers won’t want to miss a memorable evening of piano duets with three Grammy award-winning jazz greats. Dianne Reeves brings her immense repertoire and vocals, joining influential Afro-Cuban jazz pianist-composer-arranger Chucho Valdés and legendary saxophonist Joe Lovano.

Jesus Christ Superstar Broadway show singing

Jesus Christ Superstar – November 9

Jesus Christ Superstar marks the return of Broadway to Orange County. Called an “an adrenaline-pumping production” by The New York Times, this production reinvents the iconic  Billboard award-winning score. Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice.

Postmodern Jukebox ensemble in period costumes with musical instruments

Postmodern Jukebox – November 18

Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox puts a classical twist on modern hits. The ensemble of singers and musicians brings their thrilling live show to Costa Mesa as part of The Grand Reopening Tour. (Fans of the Bridgerton score will definitely want to check this concert out!)

Parsons Dance Company dancers

Parsons Dance Company – November 20

Internationally acclaimed Parsons Dance Company makes their Segerstrom Center for the Arts debut this November. Their athletic style, exuberant performances and innovative choreography make Parsons Dance one of the leading modern/contemporary dance companies.

Upcoming Broadway Shows

My Fair Lady Broadway show cast

My Fair Lady

The Broadway series kicks off in January with My Fair Lady January 11-23. The new production from director Bartlett Sher features classic songs such as “I Could Have Danced All Night,” “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly” and “The Rain in Spain” from Lerner and Loewe. Join Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins in this retelling of Pygmalion.

Wicked Broadway show cast

Wicked

Broadway blockbuster Wicked returns to February 9 – March 6. Travel to the land of Oz for the story of what happens before Dorothy drops in. Wicked has won more than 100 international awards. Music by Stephen Schwartz includes “Popular,” “For Good” and “Defying Gravity.”

Segerstrom Center for the Arts series tickets, including Broadway shows, Cabaret, Jazz and more, can be found here. For a full listing of events in Costa Mesa, visit our calendar.

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Posted in Events, Music & Art, Play

Fun and Free Things to Do at (and around) the OC Fair

Posted on July 30, 2021 | 11:00am

Planning to go to the OC Fair this year? It may be a bit different with limited capacity and advance tickets required, but your favorite rides, games, food and entertainment are there to enjoy. You will also find a number of fun and free things to do at the fair and nearby! With so much to do, why not make it a weekend getaway with one of our “SoCal So Cool” summer hotel deals?

Centennial Farm

Stop by Centennial Farm, a three-acre working farm with livestock, as well as fruit and vegetable gardens. During the fair, there are a number of free things to check out including dairy goats, milking demonstration, OC beekeepers and, of course, the new piglets. (Take a peek at the piglets on the pig cam.) 

California Fresh Exhibit 

The California Fresh Exhibit, located in the OC Promenade, celebrates the diversity of California’s agriculture. You can learn about different crops, grab some recipe cards, play the AR game County Bounty Treasure Hunt or watch a cooking demonstration. Visiting with kids? The exhibit has coloring sheets to dress the California bear for a trip to the OC Fair! 

heroes hall costa mesa

Heroes Hall

Heroes Hall is a museum and education center that honors the legacy of Orange County veterans and others who have served the country. The current exhibit is Private Charles J. Miller WWII Paintings from the South Pacific. You can decorate postcards to veterans and active duty troops which will be distributed by Operation Community Cares.

Entertainment

The OC Fair has a number of free events each day. Live entertainment varies, so be sure to check out the calender of events and OC Fair map. Whether you like magic shows, want to see the pig races or music (even dueling pianos), you’ll find something fun to see. Visual arts displays include everything from dragons to woodworking. 

woman meditating in TeWinkle Park

Costa Mesa Parks

Spending a couple of days in Costa Mesa? Make a trip to one of Costa Mesa’s parks. Popular parks include Fairview Park and TeWinkle Park. Sports enthusiasts will enjoy Costa Mesa Skate Park or Talbert Regional Park, which has a BMX area. If you’re traveling with small children, we also recommend Lions Park, with a newly renovated playground.

Orange County Beaches

Costa Mesa is only a few minutes from popular Orange County beaches, Newport Beach and Huntington Beach. Enjoy beautiful Southern California weather while you surf, swim or relax on the beach.

Find more to do with our itineraries for solo, couple, family and pet-friendly travel. 

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Posted in Events, Hotels, Play