Costa Mesa is one of California's most vibrant and eclectic cities. Home to South Coast Plaza, one of the nation's largest shopping centers, and the world-class Segerstrom Center for the Arts and South Coast Repertory theater. Costa Mesa is also the capitol of the action sports industry and the headquarters for companies such as Hurley International, Volcom, RVCA and Paul Frank Industries.
OC Fair & Event Center88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa, CA, 92626 The OC Fair & Event Center (OCFEC) is at the heart of Costa Mesa's vibrant year-round events calendar, hosting over 150 events and attracting over 4 million visitors annually. The campus is home to Centennial Farm, Pacific Amphitheatre, Equestrian Center and Costa Mesa Speedway. It is also the home of one of the largest fairs in California and the United States, the Orange County Fair, each July/August. The Fair receives more than one million visitors each year. OCFEC's 150 acres has been the home of the OC Fair ever since 1949; it has expanded to an annual 23-day summer event.
Segerstrom Center for the Arts600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, CA, 92626 Segerstrom Center for the Arts, formerly the Orange County Performing Arts Center, is Orange County's performing arts and theater complex and home to the world's leading dance companies, Broadway shows, award-winning classical, jazz and cabaret artists, family entertainment, special events and year-round educational programs. It is also the artistic venue for three resident Orange County musical companies: Pacific Symphony, the Philharmonic Society of Orange County and Pacific Chorale.
Disneyland/California Adventure1313 S. Disneyland Drive, Anaheim, CA, 92802 “Welcome to the place where imagination is the destination.” This greeting from Disneyland's website exemplifies the atmosphere of Disneyland Park as it welcomes visitors from all over the world. The world-famous amusement park brings fantasy, fun and delight to adults and children alike year round. Disneyland has a larger attendance than any other theme park in the world, with nearly 600 million guests since its opening day. The park is just a short 13-mile drive from our Costa Mesa hotels. In 1953 Walt Disney purchased a 160-acre parcel of land in Anaheim near the junction of the Santa Ana Freeway (I-5) and Harbor Boulevard in order to construct Disneyland. Beginning with the opening of Main Street U.S.A., Adventureland, Frontierland, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland on July 18, 1955, Disneyland Park now contains a total of 58 different rides and attractions. It is the only theme park to be built under the direct supervision of the visionary Walt Disney himself. Disneyland was renamed Disneyland Park in 1998 to distinguish it from the Disneyland Resort complex. With eight separately themed areas, including New Orleans Square, Mickey's Toontown and the Main Street USA promenade, Disneyland is among the most popular tourist attractions in Southern California because its wide variety of exciting experiences appeals to families with children and people of all ages. As if there wasn't already enough fun to be had in Disneyland and its companion theme park, Disney's California Adventure, The Walt Disney Company also developed Downtown Disney with an entertaining combination of restaurants, unique shopping boutiques and night time entertainment venues. No ticket purchase is necessary to enter the Downtown Disney area. Every night various performers entertain visitors to Downtown Disney with feats of magic, juggling techniques, dancing, singing and playing of various musical instruments. Disneyland Park is open from 9 AM to 8 PM everyday, and California Adventure is open from 10 AM to 8 PM daily. Hours do change seasonally so please check their website. The complete events calendar can be found here and day passes, annual passports and park hopper tickets can be purchased here.
Knott's Berry Farm8039 Beach Boulevard, Buena Park, CA, 90620 Developed by farmer Walter Knott and his family in 1920 to sell their fresh berries, homemade berry preserves and pies, Knott's Berry Farm evolved into a full-fledged amusement park starting in the 1940s, building world-class rides and offering free entertainment. Today, Knott's Berry Farm consists of six themed areas: Ghost Town, Fiesta Village, The Boardwalk, Camp Snoopy, Wild Water Wilderness and Indian Trails. Knott's Berry Farm features outrageously exciting roller coaster rides like Boomerang, a scream machine that inverts people 6 times in less than one minute. Knott's Berry Farm is known for visitor events throughout the year, including the thrillingly scary Knott's Halloween Haunt, where the entire park re-themes itself into a haunted house-style attraction. For those looking for Knott's world-famous jams and jellies, The Berry Market specializes in selling both individual jars and gift packs of the preserves, jellies, jams, and fruit pancake syrups. Knott's Soak City Orange County opened in 1999. Located east across Beach Blvd. from Knott's Berry Farm, it occupies 13 acres of land south of the main parking lot and Independence Hall, which includes a wide variety of water feature attractions. Soak City is open daily from Memorial weekend through Labor Day weekend, and then only weekends in September. Premium passes can be purchased for both the Berry Farm and Soak City parks. When dining or shopping in The California Marketplace area of Knott's Berry Farm, parking is free. Mrs. Knott's famous fried chicken dinners have been served since 1928 at the Marketplace. You can also find other well-known southern California cuisine like Pink's Hot Dogs. Most days, the park is open at 10 AM and closes between 5-10 PM – check the Knott's calendar for more details. Tickets and season passes can be purchased here.
Huntington Beach Pier2000 Main Street, Huntington Beach, CA 92648
(714) 536-5281 The Huntington Beach City Beach is a 3.5-mile stretch of pristine shoreline. Popularly known as ``Surf City,`` Huntington Beach is home to the world famous municipal pier, and is a west coast surf mecca for more than 8-million annual visitors.
Angel Stadium2000 Gene Autry Way, Anaheim, CA, 92806 Angel Stadium is the home of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the major league baseball team formerly known by several different names including the California Angels. The stadium hosts all Anaheim Angels MLB home games and seats 45,050. Angel Stadium is located off the 57 freeway, just 13 miles from Costa Mesa.
Aquarium of the Pacific100 Aquarium Way, Long Beach, CA, 90802 The Aquarium of the Pacific is facility in Long Beach dedicated to showcasing the sea life found in all areas of the Pacific Ocean. The aquarium's striking architecture is meant to convey the power of the sea. It has life-sized blue whales suspended from the ceiling, 30-foot-tall to million-gallon tanks, with various shows and exhibits throughout the year. Home to more than 11,000 ocean animals representing nearly 500 species, and featuring 19 major habitats and 32 exhibits, Aquarium of the Pacific's exhibits include: • Shark Lagoon, featuring more than 150 sharks, rays, shark touch pools, interactive displays, a theater and the Bamboo Bistro outdoor café
• Lorikeet Forest, a 3,200 sq. ft. outdoor aviary with more than 100 enthusiastic lorikeets twittering to each other in the trees
• Arctic and Antarctic: Our Polar Regions in Peril, where people can touch sea jellies, view king crabs and meet a real live Arctic fox
• Ocean Science Center, which uses a Science on a Sphere from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to explore our planet and tell stories about ocean phenomena and their impacts
• BP Otter Habitat, where visitors can walk along a rocky coastline among barnacle encrusted pilings, enjoy ocean and inland vistas, and peer underwater to discover the busy world of sea otters as they swim and interact amongst kelp and fish
• Tropical Pacific Gallery, featuring more than 1,000 colorful fish from the warm ocean waters of Palau, a 125-mile long island in Micronesia Part of the purpose of Aquarium of the Pacific is to educate the public about marine life and marine habitats. The aquarium is open from 9 AM until 6 PM every day of the year. The Aquarium is about 25 miles from Costa Mesa.
Santa Ana Zoo1801 East Chestnut Avenue, Santa Ana, CA, 92701 One of the most popular attractions at the Santa Ana Zoo is the Zoofari Express children's train, which has two 14-guage engines in 4-4-4 configuration locomotives. The train track is approximately 1,850-ft. long. The original gas powered engine in train #1030 was refurbished with an electric-powered engine in 2006. The Santa Ana Zoo also contains exhibits of endangered species, a rain forest and a children's zoo.
Sea World500 SeaWorld Drive, San Diego, CA, 92109 SeaWorld is a world-famous tourist attraction in San Diego that is renowned for its orca whales, sea lion and dolphin shows. SeaWorld San Diego was opened on March 21, 1964, by Milton C. Shedd, Ken Norris, David Demott and George Millay. In 1989 the Anheuser-Busch Company purchased the entire chain of 6 SeaWorld parks and invested many millions of dollars to revive and prolong their longevity. SeaWorld contains zoological displays featuring hundreds of different species of fish as well as many other attractions such as: Shark Encounter, one of the most popular attractions in which guests are carried through one of the world's largest underwater viewing tunnels to experience a rare, fascinating, up-close look at prehistoric predators whose ancestors dominated the sea more than a hundred million years before dinosaurs walked the earth. Blue Horizons, where dolphins fly, birds dive, and spirits leap in a visionary sea and sky spectacular. Soaring birds, playful dolphins, dramatic pilot whales and thrilling aerialists fuse the vibrant energy of two fascinating worlds into a mesmerizing display of dance, flight, color and entertainment. Journey to Atlantis, a water ride that combines soaking flume fun, thrilling roller coaster action and amazing special effects while visitors journey to a lost civilization. The journey begins with a splashy 60-ft. plunge and ends face-to-face with fascinating Commerson's dolphins. Shipwreck Rapids, in which people ride in a tube style raft on a winding river at the heart of a peaceful island. The ride whirls, swirls, splashes and crashes through playful rapids and foaming whitewater, and then it plunges through a waterfall into a secret underground cavern. Sesame Street Bay of Play, where children can explore two acres of childhood magic with their favorite characters from Sesame Street. It's filled with family friendly fun and rides like Elmo's Flying Fish, Oscar's Rocking Eel and Abby's Sea Star Spin. Children can even have their picture taken with their Sesame Street friends. Wild Arctic, a simulated helicopter ride to the Arctic. After the ride, guests arrive at a simulated base station where they can observe polar bears, Pacific walruses and beluga whales. SeaWorld is open 7 days each week all year round, usually from 10 AM until 7:30 PM, although hours of operation may vary on some days each month. It is recommended to arrive 15-20 minutes before show time or even earlier on busy days to find a seat. Guests can feed playful Atlantic bottlenose dolphins and sea lions by hand at designated times throughout the day. SeaWorld is about 80 miles south of Costa Mesa.
Catalina IslandAvalon, CA, 90704 Santa Catalina Island, often called Catalina Island or Catalina, is a rocky island about 20 miles southwest of Los Angeles. The island is 22 miles long and 8 miles wide when measured from Long Point. The highest elevation on the island is 2,097 ft. at the peak of Mt. Orizaba. As one of the Channel Islands in the California archipelago, Catalina Island is situated within Los Angeles County and most of the island is administered by the Catalina Island Conservancy. The total population in the 2000 census was 3,696 people, almost 85% of who live in the island's only incorporated city of Avalon. The second center of population is the unincorporated village of Two Harbors with a population of 298. The remaining population is scattered over the island between the two population centers.
LegolandOne Legoland Drive, Carlsbad, CA, 92008 In 1932 Ole Kirk Christiansen, who lived in Billund, Denmark, made the first Lego toys out of wood. He made wooden piggy banks, pull toys, cars and trucks. Two years later Ole named his toys and his woodworking shop Lego, a contraction of the Danish words “leg godt,” meaning “play well.” In June of 1968 the first Legoland was opened in Billund on a 9-acre site. All buildings, landscapes and vehicles were built using standard Lego bricks and 625,000 people came to see this unique attraction during its first year of operation. Two Guinness world records were set in 1992 using Lego products. A castle made with 400,000 Lego bricks was built on Swedish television and a 1,788-ft. long Lego railway line with three locomotives was constructed. Legoland California in Carlsbad was opened in 1999 and it is a 128-acre park geared specifically toward young children.
San Diego Zoo2920 Zoo Drive, San Diego, CA, 92101 The San Diego Zoo is located in Balboa Park, San Diego, and it is considered to be one of the most progressive zoos in the world. With over 4,000 animals from more than 800 species, it is also one of the few zoos in the world to house the giant panda. The San Diego Zoo is privately operated by the nonprofit Zoological Society of San Diego on 100 acres of parkland leased from the City of San Diego, and ownership of all animals, equipment and other assets belongs to the City of San Diego. The San Diego Zoo has been a pioneer in building exhibits without cages and its first lion area without enclosing wires was opened in 1922. Exhibits are often designed around a particular animal's natural habitat. Some of the largest free flight aviaries in existence are in the San Diego Zoo. Some exhibits have invisible wires, darkened blinds to view birds, and pools or open air moats for large mammals. The zoo offers a guided tour bus ride that traverses 75% of the park. There is also an overhead gondola lift ride named Skyfari that provides visitors with an aerial view of the zoo. The San Diego Zoo contains 9 different zones and each zone contains various exhibits such as: Polar Rim, which includes the Arctic Aviary Exhibit, the Polar Bear Exhibit and the Reindeer Exhibit
Panda Canyon, with a facility that can comfortably house up to 6 pandas
Asian Passage, which includes the Lion-Tailed Macaque Exhibit and the Sun Bear Exhibit
Elephant Odyssey, a 2.4-acre area that features elephants, lions, jaguars, sloths, camels, tapirs and California condors
Lost Forest, which includes the Australasian Aviary, the Birds of Prey Exhibit, the Flamingo Exhibit, the Gorilla Exhibit, various kinds of monkey exhibits, the Taper Exhibit, the Tiger Exhibit, the Owens Aviary, the Parker Aviary and the Scripps Aviary
Urban Jungle, featuring a herd of Masai giraffes, Soemmerring's gazelles and native African antelopes
Africa Rocks, with Big Cat Exhibits, the Kopje Exhibit and the Meerkat Exhibit
Discovery Outpost, an area containing the Chidren's Zoo, the Crocodile and Turtle Exhibit, the Giant Tortoise Exhibit, Hummingbird House, Insect House and Reptile House
Outback, which contains the Camel Exhibit, the Koala Exhibit and the Wallaby Exhibit
The San Diego Zoo is open every day of the year, including all holidays, from 9 AM until 5 PM. During the fall and winter seasons, hours of operation are from 9 AM until 8 PM. During the spring and summer seasons, the zoo is open from 9 AM until 6 or 7 PM, depending upon the day of the month. The San Diego Zoo is about 85 miles south of Costa Mesa.