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Top 10 Things to Experience in Orange County

Posted on January 30, 2017 | 3:18pm

At the heart of Southern California is Orange County, the destination of choice for more than 46 million visitors each year. And nestled within Orange County is the internationally acclaimed arts and theater district – Costa Mesa.

Costa Mesa Art of Dining

 

1. Top Designer Shopping, World-Class Restaurants at South Coast Plaza

Rivaling the trend-setting shopping meccas of Fifth Avenue in New York and Bond Street in London, as well as Avenue Montaigne in Paris and Ginza in Tokyo, South Coast Plaza is the largest shopping center in California. With over 250 retailers representing the highest concentration of design fashion retail in the United States, its stellar cast of shops by Fendi, Harry Winston, Gucci and Chanel has visitors from all over the world flocking to this luxury-shopping destination.

 

South Coast Plaza Unity Bridge

 

2. Hit the Beach 

Costa Mesa is a great home base when visiting Southern California. Located in the heart of Orange County, Costa Mesa is just about a 10-minute drive to the sparkling Pacific Ocean where you can stroll the boardwalk along Balboa Island, have lunch on the pier in Surf City USA, watch the professional surfers catch some of the best waves and enjoy the year-round mild weather, cool ocean breezes and endless sunshine that Southern California is known for.

 

Beach

 

3. Award-Winning Broadway Theater at Segerstrom Center for the Arts

Segerstrom Center for the Arts is the largest nonprofit arts organization in Orange County. The Center offers the world’s leading dance companies, Broadway shows and is the home of 3 resident Orange County companies: Pacific Symphony, the Philharmonic Society and Pacific Chorale. The arts complex also includes Costa Mesa’s Tony® Award-winning resident theater, South Coast Repertory.

If an evening of dinner and the theater is an activity you enjoy, there’s no need to head to Los Angeles, or even New York City when Costa Mesa hosts the latest Broadway shows throughout the year. Segerstrom Center for the Arts is the crown jewel and arts complex in Orange County’s theater district. Visitors can check the Costa Mesa calendar to find shows featuring music legends like Tony Bennett, talented actress and producer Rita Rudner, or catch popular Broadway shows like Lion King, Wicked and Hamilton – coming to the stage in 2018..

 

Segerstrom Center for the Arts - Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall from Box Circle - Credit Cris Costea (JPG)

 

 

4. Free Airport Shuttle and Hotel Shuttle to Disneyland® Resort 

Whether you’re searching for a luxury weekend with room service in a suite, or a casual stay with accommodations for the whole family, there are a variety of hotels for every traveler’s needs, many of which offer regular deals or shopping packages. From rooftop swimming pools to highly rated restaurants, staying in Costa Mesa offers easy access to all the top attractions in Orange County.

 

Be sure to check deals and flight schedules into Orange County’s only commercial airport – John Wayne Airport (SNA). It is the closest airport to Costa Mesa, located just 4 miles away, with FREE shuttle service offered by most Costa Mesa hotels.

 

If you’re planning a day at Disneyland® Resort, it’s made easy by taking advantage of the convenient Anaheim Resort Transportation shuttle service to and from the resort area, about 20 minutes from Costa Mesa.

ART-Disneyland Resort

 

5. Fine Cuisine from “Top Chef” Star Amar Santana at Vaca

Voted one of America’s Best Restaurants by gayot.com, Vaca is the dining concept of Chef Amar Santana, finalist on “Top Chef” Season 13, Bravo TV’s hit chef competition. Vaca is authentically Spanish, serving everything from mouthwatering tapas and savory paellas to freshly cut steaks and ocean-caught seafood. Ninety percent of the food is jet-flown from Spain. Chef Amar prides himself in offering the finest cuts of meats and cheeses.

 

 

 

6. Health & Fitness Retailers at The CAMP 

Located in Costa Mesa’s SoBeCa District, The CAMP offers customers a nontraditional retail community in a casual and lively atmosphere. All of the stores are health conscious or fitness related, with a strong emphasis on an active lifestyle. “Green” is everywhere, from the native vegetation to the progressive and select retailers offering their organic wares in the first-known environmentally sensitive retail campus in the United States. Be sure to visit SEED People’s Market – a collection of handmade and recycled items. Serving as a “green” department store, SEED carries a variety of products from the most practical outerwear and shoes for any outdoor atmosphere, to unique hand-crafted alternatives created with the environment in mind.

 

The CAMP overview

 

7. Stroll Charming Balboa Island

Immerse yourself in the hidden and quaint community of Balboa Island, located in Newport Beach. Despite its remote location, it has attracted a rich array of famous people and fascinating characters for more than 100 years. Marine Avenue is the main street of activity where you can sit on the patio of a cozy restaurant for breakfast or lunch, followed by a treat from the famous frozen banana stand, as featured in the TV show “Arrested Development.” Enjoy a stroll along the boardwalk lined with homes of some of the rich and famous, with views of one of the larges yacht harbors in California. At the end of the boardwalk, board the Balboa Island Ferry (on foot, bike or by car) and take it to the other side to experience the thrill of The Fun Zone, a throwback to the boardwalks of the past. This is a great place, for families, couples and friends alike.

 

The scenic Entrance Channel offers boats of all types easy access to Newport Harbor and Newport Bay.

 

8. Thrill Seekers and Foodies Will Enjoy The OC Fair

The Orange County Fair has had its home in Costa Mesa has since 1953, and it is one of the top 10 largest fairs in the United States running for three weeks from July to August.

The fair’s biggest ride, La Grande Wheel, is the largest traveling Ferris wheel in the Western hemisphere and is 15 stories high. The ride is so large, it takes three weeks to assemble. At 200 metric tons, it requires a steel-reinforced pad beneath it to keep it from sinking.

 

OC Fair & Event Center

 

9. OC is Home to Amazing Restaurants like Taco María 

Creating homestyle Mexican cuisine with a contemporary flair, Taco María offers California-Mexican fusion dishes by Michelin-starred chef Carlos Salgado, where he uses recipes straight from his mom, the restaurant’s namesake. Taco María has been rated by the Los Angeles Times as one of the best restaurants in Southern California and one of America’s Best Restaurants by Gayot.com. Seating is at a premium, but worth the wait.

 

Taco Maria-Guacamole

 

10. Cruise Legendary Huntington Beach

The city that put California on the map for surf culture is lined with 10 miles of uninterrupted coastline. One of the most well-known and iconic locations is the Huntington Beach Pier, playing backdrop to many professional surfers including legendary Duke Kahanamoku. The pier is the perfect vantage point to watch professionals and amateurs take on some of the best waves in Southern California. Take a stroll to the very end of the pier and grab a bite at Ruby’s Surf City Diner. Most importantly, don’t miss the opportunity to snap a photo of the spectacular sunsets. Huntington Beach is also known to be one of the most pet-friendly cities in Orange County, the neighboring city to Costa Mesa.

Huntington Beach Pier blog

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Posted in Food, Hotels, Misc, Music & Art, Play, Shopping

Project: Time Off – Get to Work Planning Your Vacation!

Posted on January 3, 2017 | 4:10pm

It’s a new year, and while you may be returning to work from a holiday break, do you still feel like you need a vacation? Did you actually use all of your vacation time last year? If you’re thinking about some changes you hope to make in the new year, along with traditional goals of eating better and exercising, you might want to consider using some of those vacation hours – time off is proven to help you feel better in many ways, including improved health and well being. Why not resolve to work less, play more? That’s right, you and 49% of Americans leave hundreds of vacation hours on the table each year by not planning for vacation time off. Make it a 2017 resolution!

vacation-planning

 

Here in Costa Mesa, one of Southern California’s top cities for shopping, dining and the arts, we host millions of travelers each year as they vacation with their friends and families. We want to help you accomplish whatever you’re set out to achieve in 2017, but that starts with taking time off. Give yourself a break!

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Costa Mesa can take you to the next level of relaxation or whatever level of vacation experience you’re looking to accomplish, because you know you’re going to need one at some point. Start your day enjoying breakfast at a local outdoor café or on the patio of one of our hotel’s full-service restaurants; enjoy a serene walk around Segerstrom Center for the Arts and the 33,000-square-foot arts plaza; or make your way to world-renowned South Coast Plaza, with hundreds of boutique shops and 30 restaurants, all within walking distance.

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If you’d prefer something off the beaten path, where the locals hang out, visit one of our outdoor malls with a host of locally-owned businesses and quaint dining experiences at The LAB or The CAMP. Grab a cup of coffee or fresh-squeezed juice and enjoy the outdoor seating and soak up some sun at SOCO and The OC Mix.

the-camp-benches

 

If you’re looking to be entertained, take in the latest Broadway production, enjoy the mild weather and year-round sunshine by the pool, or take a trip just a few minutes down the road to our miles of coastline and Orange County beaches. We want to help you live out your New Year’s resolutions, and if that means sticking to your exercise routine, most of our hotels have complimentary gyms open 24 hours a day to help keep you on track.

 

westin_fitness_studio

 

We say it’s time to take back your calendar, and before filling the days and weeks ahead with meetings, select some time for yourself to use those vacation days owed to you. You work hard for them, after all! You know how much better you feel when you leave the office, set down and turn off electronic devices for a while, so we suggest you prioritize “time off” in your schedule for the entire year. Vacation time is valuable for relationships, and our personal and professional success. One very important step that could help you get vacation on the books sooner than later is planning.

 

Here are 5 ways to start planning your vacation time for the year.

 

Don’t wait, January 31 is the U. S. Travel Association’s National “Plan for Vacation Day” – part of Project: Time Off. Together, we want to see more Americans get their vacation plans on the books this month. Won’t that give you so much to look forward for the rest of the year?   Take control of your schedule and improve your productivity and success in 2017.

Learn more about Project: Time Off and National Plan For Vacation Day.

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Posted in Hotels, Misc, Music & Art, Play, Shopping

6 Places to Dance the Night Away on New Year’s Eve in Costa Mesa

Posted on December 27, 2016 | 2:46pm

Costa Mesa is one of Orange County’s hottest cities for nightlife, with swanky cocktail lounges, laid-back bars featuring craft cocktails and nightclubs where you can dance the night away – and New Year’s Eve is no exception when it comes to finding a unforgettable place to celebrate.

If you’re celebrating with friends, or just looking for a festive atmosphere, join us in Costa Mesa.

 

AnQi by House of An
From 5:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.
Back by popular demand is AnQi’s extraordinary New Year’s Eve celebration! From 7-9 p.m., enjoy a five-course prix fixe dinner featuring courses from caviar to foie gras and prime beef with a Perrier Jouet champagne toast. At 10 p.m., the restaurant will transform into a swanky party with DJ, aerialists, dancers and figure skaters. Drinks will be flowing with an open premium bar and hosted Perrier Jouet champagne bar, as well as passed appetizers and caviar station. Bottle service available after 10 p.m. Reservations required. Dinner is $153; late night cocktail reception, $100; dinner & cocktail reception $200; pricing is per person plus tax and gratuity.
For reservations please call 714.557.5679 or email lindsayc@houseofan.com.

 

trp_2898-copy

 

Habana
Spend NYE at Habana with a special dinner menu and live music by the Lilly Hernandez band and Madcat, as well as rum tasting and a balloon drop to ring in the New Year. Visit Habana Costa Mesa at The LAB.

 

Mesa
From 9:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.
Plan to spend your evening at Mesa for their 2017 Gala for $75 per person. Enjoy the sounds of WeareTreo, hosted cocktails from 9-10:30 p.m. and a champagne toast at midnight. Get tickets at Ticketfly or contact Jenn@mesacostamesa.com for a table.

mesa-bar

 

While you’re planning your night out, check out the final days of the Stay and Shop package at one of 10 hotels in Costa Mesa, some of which are offering New Year’s Eve specials and a midnight toast.

 

TIME Nightclub 

Time Nightclub at The Triangle has been hailed as one of Orange County’s hippest places to be seen. Immerse yourself in the 7,000 square-foot dance party with heart-pumping tunes by DJ Steven Wright and spectacular light shows to celebrate the New Year in true OC Style. Get your tickets to TIMENYE or call 714.548.5062 for more information.

TIME NIGHTCLUB

Quattro Caffé
From 9:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.
Bring in the New Year with a masquerade party that includes a four-course Italian menu, live entertainment by Ivan Marcelo and Domenico Grillo, party favors, prizes, midnight champagne toast and more.
3-course pre-fixe $69 per person (exclusive of tax and gratuity).
For reservations please call 714.754.7933

 

Water Grill
9:00 p.m. to close
New Year’s Eve celebration begins in the private dining room starting at 9 p.m. with a la carte menu, DJ and midnight champagne toast.
Reservations essential: 949.208.7060.

 

water grill

Come for the evening or stay the night. Costa Mesa has everything you need to make lasting memories this holiday season, including luxurious overnight accommodations and delicious culinary experiences to ring in the New Year. See you in Costa Mesa!

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Posted in Events, Food, Misc, Music & Art

Get Away for the Holidays in Costa Mesa

Posted on December 5, 2016 | 5:24pm

The holidays are upon us and while we begin to prepare for festive gatherings, office parties and catching up with family and friends, a little R&R is always welcome this time of year. If you’re intrigued by the idea of getting away before or after the winter holidays, we have another reason that should help entice you – a gift certificate for $100 to use for dining, theater tickets, or to finish up your shopping at Costa Mesa’s world-renowned shopping destination – South Coast Plaza.

 

How do you get in on this great deal? It’s easy:

 

First, select one of 10 hotel properties to settle in for a few days – whether you’re looking for 4-diamond luxury or something more economical, we have venues for all budgets.

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Second, book your trip to stay two days through January 7, 2017.

 

Third, decide how to spend your $100 gift certificate while in the City of the Arts™.

 

Costa Mesa offers experiences for couples, friends as well as the whole family so you can take a break and enjoy the winter season in the year-round sunshine with mild temperatures averaging mid-60s in the winter.

 

We invite you to spend your holidays in Costa Mesa. Getting here is easy, with just over an hour drive from Los Angeles, Inland Empire and San Diego. Or, fly into John Wayne Airport, just minutes from Costa Mesa where most hotels offer complimentary shuttle service to and from the airport.

 

Here are some of our ideas on how you can enjoy your stay with a little extra cash in your pocket:

 

 

THE ART OF FASHION

There is always something new in Costa Mesa, especially when it comes to setting the trend for the season. Whether looking for a gift, or shopping for yourself, you’ll find the latest styles at newly opened stores like Max Mara Weekend with their ready-to-wear accessories and lifestyle collection. Stop by White Lilac, a boutique offering a unique, whimsical collection of gifts, housewares, accessories, furniture and décor. These and many other luxury brands, like Harry Winston, Hermes and Prada are exclusive to South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa.

To make your visit extra special, South Coast Plaza offers concierge service in four locations to provide you assistance with all of your shopping and dining needs. Complimentary gift wrapping is also available.

max-mara-weekend

 

THE ART OF THE STAGE

If you’re a theatergoer, Costa Mesa has it all. From world-renowned symphonies and chamber music to Broadway musicals, and some of the best ballets in the country, the stage is always set at Segerstrom Center for the Arts. Purchase tickets at the box office centrally located to hotels in the heart of Costa Mesa. December brings the sites and sounds of performances including American Ballet Theater featuring The Nutcracker; Elf the Musical; The Klezmatics Eastern European Jewish Music; Fiesta Navidad featuring Grammy Award-winning Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano in this festive performance.

 

Misty Copeland as Clara, the Princess and Herman Cornejo as the Nucracker Prince in Alexei Ratmansky's The Nutcracker. Photo: Doug Gifford/Segerstrom Center for the Arts.

 

 

THE ART OF DINING

If you have sophisticated dining experience, Costa Mesa has you covered. Try Din Tai Fung with their gourmet dumplings, or Mastro’s Steakhouse for your prime favorites. AnQi by Crustacean prepares California-Asian tapas for a dining experience for your whole group.


 

Traveling with family or friends, look no further than Wolfgang Puck Bistro, Quattro Café for traditional Italian cuisine or Water Grill with the freshest seafood and menu updated with daily specials.

water-grill-oysters

 

PLAY IN COSTA MESA

Around town you’ll find Costa Mesa buzzing with holiday activities. Visit Santa at South Coast Plaza and enjoy the holiday décor and festive retailers featuring all the latest trends.

 

Visit The OC Mix at South Coast Collection Sunday, December 4, 11, and 18 from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Enjoy free, family-friendly days filled with photos with Santa, Party Karacters, a festive photo booth, live music, and holiday activities like complimentary gift wrapping and arts and crafts.

soco-couple-shopping-2015

 

The Triangle has the whole family engaged in its entertainment and retail center. Catch the latest movie on the big screen, stake out a lane at Tavern + Bowl then grab dinner at La Vida Cantina or quick treat at Creamistry – made-to-order ice cream using liquid nitrogen. On December 10 from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., Triangle invites families to enjoy the holidays. Activities include visits with Santa, face painting and holiday-themed music performed by MONTAGE – a musical group from Orange County School of the Arts.

 

If you’re seeking more adventure, Anaheim is only a 20-minute shuttle ride where you can spend a day at Disneyland. Or, head to the Pacific Ocean, just about 10 minutes to Southern California’s coast. Between December 14 and18, you can view the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade featuring nearly 100 decorated boats as they cruise the Newport Harbor.

 

We look forward to seeing you and hope you enjoy the experience Costa Mesa offers. Check with the participating hotels as well as our website for dining specials through Christmas and New Year’s Day.

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Posted in Events, Food, Hotels, Locals, Misc, Music & Art, News, Play, Shopping

Martin Lawrence Galleries Brings International Art to Costa Mesa

Posted on November 17, 2016 | 11:43am

Martin Lawrence Galleries has 10 locations around the United States, specializing in original paintings, sculpture and limited edition graphics. With three locations in California, the gallery in Orange County is located inside South Coast Plaza. Not only providing artwork for sale and display, Martin Lawrence Galleries has also lent nearly 250 different artworks by 16 different artists to 32 different museums around the world.

martin-lawrence-costa-mesa

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Posted in Events, Music & Art