VOLANTE Jody Miller heads to Orange County and the city of Costa Mesa, now a true food and shopping escape for Californians
Photographed by Elyse Glickman
Jody Miller is a correspondent for Lucire.
Orange County, California. The Beach Boys sang about its miles of beaches and fabled surfer girls. The infinite strawberry fields and orange groves were vital to southern California’s agricultural economy and Mediterranean-esque landscape. Walt Disney and his Magical Kingdom of Disneyland has made it one of the most visited places on earth, and arguably the happiest. And while sunshine and surfing are still viable reasons to visit the south of Los Angeles paradise, the suburban city of Costa Mesa, or ‘City of the Arts’ as it likes to be termed, has cemented the OC as a bona fide foodie and shopping mecca. With destination shopping plazas and restaurants led by award-winning chefs, Costa Mesa is California’s new adult playground.
South Coast Plaza
Celebrating its 50th anniversary, South Coast Plaza first opened amidst the OC building boom of the late ’60s. Toda,y it has one of the largest concentration of high-fashion stores and boutiques in the world, rivalling New York’s Fifth Avenue and London’s Bond Street. With stand-alone boutiques like Dior, Harry Winston, Chanel, Tiffany and Stella McCartney, it proudly wears its designer label on its sleeve. Roger Vivier, Diptyque, and Berluti opened their first west coast storefronts here, while SCP is the exclusive US location of Les Parfums Louis Vuitton. Travellers are especially fond of the VIP services which include a private lounge with refreshments, concierge, personal shoppers and stylists, taxi and shuttle service as well as currency exchange and foreign bank outlets.
Dining is no less exceptional, including VACA, where top chef Amar Santana transports the rustic flavours of Spain into a modern urban setting that features an inspired mixology programme. There is also the Capital Grille, Ani Q by House of An, the Patina Group’s Leatherby’s Café Rouge, and a whole lot more to temp the discerning palate.
The adjacent Segerstrom Center for the Arts is a world-class performing arts complex which now includes the newly opened Julianne and George Argyros Plaza and Center for Dance and Innovation.
Soco & OC Mix
This is where things get interesting. Dial back the SCP glitz for modern urbanism and boutique charm. With over 70 vendors representing the worlds of interior design, fashion and culinary experiences, this carefully curated two-plazas-in-one is Orange County’s most revolutionary and diverse dining and shopping terminus that will appeal to the decorator, trend-setter and ultimate foodie.
The Camp could only exist in California and it showcases Costa Mesa’s unconventional undercurrent. A bucolic urban hideaway of repurposed campers, trains, vintage mailboxes and lanterns, it almost passes for a movie set sans the cameras and crew. So what is the the Camp? It’s a holistic gathering spot where you will discover environmentally conscious wellness and personal services, green and sustainable shopping as well as healthy dining on locally sourced ingredients. It may sound California-kooky but the food is amazing and the shopping is top-notch. Locals come for the monthly art walks, film screenings and special events.
And there is even more shopping and dining excitement to be had at the Lab (the anti-mall), Metro Pointe, 7th Street Shops, and the Triangle. To experience it all you may need to stay awhile. In the hub of the arts district, the Tribute Portofino Avenue of the Arts Hotel is a AAA Four Diamond boutique property. It features artistic décor, a vibe of relaxed luxury, and a popular restaurant and night-spot for locals. Now if you don’t mind driving a few miles south to Dana Point and staying at a luxury resort on a bluff overlooking the Pacific, then the Monarch Beach Resort & Spa is a top choice. •
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