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I recently had the pleasure of visiting Costa Mesa, California and at first I was having heart palpitations thinking I’d have to fly into LAX. The worst part of traveling is dealing with airports – they’re so big and so full of people and I never know where I need to be. Aside from the beaches and all that stuff, the best part of visiting Costa Mesa is that you get to fly into John Wayne Airport. It was an AWESOME little airport – quick in and out, no crazy lines in security and WestJet services it regularly. I’m telling you – if you’re flying to SoCal for a Disney vacation, or any reason really, consider landing at John Wayne and save yourself some serious airport anxiety. The Duke will watch over you.
You can rent pretty much any sort of car from John Wayne Airport which I’d recommend, because you’re so close to everything. Just 20 min to Huntington Beach, 5 min to South Coast Plaza which I’ll talk about more later on this week, 25 min to Disneyland and 15 min to The OCMIX which was a really fun boutique shopping area.
I stayed at Avenue of the Arts Wyndham which was maybe a 5 min drive from John Wayne – so convenient – and it was a pretty lovely place to stay. I had a palm tree and lake view from my own private balcony. Waking up and seeing palm trees out the window instantly jazzed me to get up and out there for some exploring. The hotel also had some really lovely public spaces including a garden retreat so you can soak up some fresh night air before you turn in.
Food is a pretty important part of a vacation. I can’t marathon shop or walk miles up a sandy beach on an empty stomach and I also can’t handle too much junky fast food. I was so happy with the places we ate and my only regret was not having enough time to try more! Right inside the Avenue of the Arts hotel was the Silver Trumpet. The chef, Eddie Garcia, has a pretty unique background. He started with Wolfgang Puck and did some commercial work as well. Now, he has the run of the show in the Silver Trumpet and everything I tried was stellar. Being that we were in California, I didn’t shy away from the seafood. Tuna, scallops, and more was all super fresh and well prepared. If you’re not interested in seafood (OMG WHY?) then there were other options too. I had an incredible piece of chicken with crispy skin and the silkiest mashed potatoes I’ve ever eaten, it was served with lemony kale. The scallop was perfectly seared with a delish mayo sort of sauce and a seaweed salad and the Ahi was beautiful over an Asian slaw.
For brunch you must try Plums Cafe. It’s tucked into a strip mall and you might not know it was there if you were just driving by, but it’s a community favorite and was fairly busy so I’d recommend a reservation if you’re going on a Sunday. The food was everything you’d want in breakfast. I had a poached egg over smoked salmon hash, slathered in dill hollandaise with bacon and avocado on the side. My friend had a chocolate waffle with salted caramel and whipped cream. It was all fresh and flavourful with non stop coffee. Honestly, restaurants in Calgary leave me wanting on the service side and you’re lucky to get a refill without asking, but here – there were three times as many people on hand, all with coffee pots at the ready. It was lovely, stop in if you can.
You’ll also want to hunt down a Bruxie location. I found one at Huntington beach and it was so much fun. They take super light, crispy waffles and put all kinds of stuff inside em. Mine had banana, cream and Nutella inside but you could go savory with roasted mushrooms and goat cheese or even a burger. The pour over coffee was amazing too and I wanted to go back to try more varieties but I was running short on time.
In my next post I’ll share news of the beach and some super fun local shopping. Check it out!