36 Hours in the Theater and Arts District of Costa Mesa

The Theater and Arts District makes Costa Mesa such a cultural hub of Orange County. In a single neighborhood, visitors and locals are treated to exhibitions, cultural events, fine arts, and more, creating memories and experiences that are deeply human. Our itinerary aims to make planning your time in this neighborhood slightly easier so you can get the most out of your trip to Costa Mesa. Though this is only a single block of the city,


Concerts, ballet, musicals, and more are put on year-round at Segerstrom Center for the Arts. It is always worth looking at their event calendar while planning your trip and discover a new experience every time you visit.

For those more inclined toward the theater, the South Coast Repertory boasts performances of new plays and classics alike. With more than 60 seasons of performance under their belt, this locale is a staple part of the community. Fun Fact: Actor Pedro Pasacal got his start at South Coast Repertory as a kid when he moved to Southern California.

But before settling in for an evening performance, we recommend a stroll through the Costa Mesa Art Walk. Discover almost two dozen pieces of art around the city, with works designed by world-renowned artists.

The Orange County Museum of Art, aka OCMA, is entirely free and requires no reservations or advance tickets. Simply show up when you are ready to experience thousands of artworks spanning the 20th and 21st centuries. The focus on artists with ties to California makes for a bridge to much of the cultural history and pulse of the Golden State.




Start your day with Philz Coffeeon the northwestern corner of the district. This coffee shop combines the consistency of a chain cafe with the personal touches of the local community, making it a local favorite for recharging between cultural experiences.

Vaca is situated only steps away from all the cultural hubs in the Theater and Arts District. The establishment combines a menu of authentic Spanish cuisine with a foundation of California-style comfort. Open for lunch and dinner, it's the ideal spot to visit either before or after your other activities in the neighborhood.

Located in the Avenue of the Arts hotel, the Silver Trumpet Restaurant and Bar offers a sophisticated menu and cocktails that make a great accent to a day spent enjoying the arts, and their late-night specials make it worth staying up a few extra hours. Anyone with a taste for seafood might lean more toward dining at Water Grill. Go for seafood classics like lobster tail, or be adventurous and sample their extensive raw-bar options or daily specials.





This neighborhood might focus on the arts, but that doesn't mean you can squeeze in a couple of hours to find something nice for yourself or someone you know. The Theater and Arts District is just east of Coast Plaza, a sprawling retail hub for fashion, home goods, and beyond. Of course, OCMA's gift shop is worth perusing before or after your visit to the museum. Take home something to mark the experience, with goods ranging from jewelry to limited-printing books tied to current exhibitions.



A day of culture and edification might seem like complete leisure, but it can take a lot out of you. Wrapping up your day in the comfort of a local hotel is the best way to recharge and digest your experience, and then you can go back out the following day as a patron of the spots you missed on day one. One of the most popular choices for an overnight stay is the Avenue of the Arts, A Tribute Portfolio Hotel, a AAA-rated Four Diamond property. Two other options renowned for their comfort and amenities are the local Marriott and the Westin South Coast Plaza.

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