So close to Newport Beach that they're often lumped together, Costa Mesa at first glance looks like just another landlocked suburb transected by the I-405, but top venues attract some 24 million visitors each year. South Coast Plaza is SoCal's largest mall – properly termed a ‘shopping resort’ – while Orange County’s cultural heart is steps away in the performing-arts venues Segerstrom Center for the Arts and South Coast Repertory, lending the city's slogan, City of the Arts.
If that all sounds rather hoity-toity, a pair of 'anti-malls' called the Lab and the Camp bring hipster cool, while strip malls throughout town reveal cafes serving surprisingly tasty dishes, ethnic-food holes-in-the-wall, bars and clubs. A new food hall, the OC Mix, is shaking it up even more. There's some distance between all of these destinations, but combined they make Costa Mesa one of the OC's most interesting enclaves.