La Mesa, which also goes by the nickname ‘The Jewel of the Hills’, is a city with a population of approximately 60,000 situated in San Diego County. It’s only ten miles away from downtown San Diego so is considered a suburb of that larger city.
La Mesa is known for its nice weather all year round and its charming downtown area. In La Mesa, there are many restaurants, cafes, parks and shopping areas, such as Mesa Plaza and Grossmont Center.
A number of festivals and events take place in La Mesa throughout the year including: the Flag Day Parade, Oktoberfest, the Back to the 50s Car Show, the Antique Street Fair and the Sundays at Six concert series.
Below are 15 of the best things to do in and around La Mesa, California.
1. Spend Some Time Outdoors in Mount Helix Park
Mount Helix Park is a beautiful natural escape from the nearby urban sprawl. Its high-elevation location offers visitors stunning views of the area, including the city of San Diego.
On-site, there are picnic areas, benches and an amphitheatre that hosts a variety of events throughout the year.
The Yawkey Trail is about 0.25 miles long and as you hike along this trail, you’ll have the opportunity to check out some of the natural features, and flora and fauna of the park..
2. Tee Off at Carlton Oaks Country Club
Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner, the golf course at the Carlton Oaks Country Club is suitable for all levels, with sufficient challenges to keep your game fun and interesting.
This 18-hole championship course has six sets of tees that vary in length, a creek, lakes and trees that provide stunning scenery to your game and test your abilities.
The practice area features a chipping green, a putting green and a driving range. Lessons are available and there’s a pro golf shop on-site.
The Oaks Bar & Grill overlooks the golf course and serves a variety of traditional American dishes and you can dine indoors or outdoors on the patio.
3. Have Breakfast or Lunch at Swami’s Cafe La Mesa
Whether you’re seeking a healthy start to your day or you’re seeking a relaxing place to enjoy a mid-day break, Swami’s Cafe La Mesa is the perfect spot to enjoy a delicious breakfast or lunch.
At Swami’s Cafe, the atmosphere is light and comfortable, the staff is friendly and the food is fresh and delicious.
The menu at this family-run eatery features a wide variety of items with something for every taste. Omelettes, burritos, pancakes, waffles, soups, salads, sandwiches, burgers and wraps are some of the items on the menu. You’ll also find a selection of vegetarian items and smoothies.
4. Enjoy Live Entertainment at the Lamplighters Community Theatre
Since the late 30s, Lamplighters Community Theatre has been hosting live theatre shows for audiences from all over.
Comedies, dramas, thrillers and musicals are some of the productions that are showcased throughout the year.
5. Get Some Fresh Air and Exercise at Lake Murray
Lake Murray is a popular outdoor recreational area in La Mesa. This large reservoir is one of the only places in the region where anglers can fish for trout and largemouth bass. Kayaking is popular on the lake too and there are kayaks available for rent on-site.
There’s also a paved trail that circles the lake and this 3.2-mile trail is suitable for hikers and bikers.
6. Sample Local Craft Beer at Helix Brewing Co.
Since 2015, Helix Brewing Co. has been brewing quality craft beer and serving it to visitors in their taproom.
At any given time, there are eight brews available on tap to sample and you can enjoy your tasting in the cozy taproom or outside in the festive atmosphere of the on-site beer garden.
On weekends, the brewery features live music and there are food trucks parked outside serving a wide range of food items.
7. Relax and Rejuvenate at Avia Salon and Day Spa
Travel can be exhausting so if you find yourself needing some relaxation and rejuvenation, look no further than Avia Salon and Day Spa.
As one of the biggest day spas in the greater San Diego area, this luxurious facility has everything you need to reset and get back on track.
On-site, there are 10 treatment rooms, a sauna, a steam shower and a relaxation area.
Choose from a wide range of beauty treatments, including: manicures, pedicures, facials and body treatments, and there is a hair salon on-site. A variety of massages, including: Swedish, deep tissue, aromatherapy and hot stone massages, are also offered.
8. Find Unique Treasures at Bargain Prices at the La Mesa Antique Mall
Situated in the downtown district, the La Mesa Antique Mall features a wide range of antique items, particularly ones from the 1950s.
As you browse the vintage offerings, you’ll find many items including: comic books, glassworks, furnishings, art, household decor and much more. The prices are quite low which means you can find some interesting and unique items at bargain prices.
9. Visit the San Pasqual Winery Tasting Room and Gallery
California is known for its world-renowned wines and the area around La Mesa is no exception. At San Pasqual Winery Tasting Room and Gallery, you can get a superior wine-tasting experience.
During a tasting, you’ll be able to sample a variety of red, white, rose, dessert and flavoured wines.
All of these handcrafted wines are made locally using grapes from local vineyards. You’ll also be able to pair your wine with various food items, such as brie and cured meats.
10. Take a Stroll down the La Mesa Walkway of the Stars
Over the years, many volunteers have come together to make downtown La Mesa what it is today and the La Mesa Walkway of Stars is the city’s way of thanking those who offered their service.
This urban park features a pedestrian walkway with ornamental stone stars honouring many of the volunteers. On-site, there’s also a series of beautiful murals dedicated to the volunteers.
11. Spend an afternoon in Harry Griffen Regional Park
Harry Griffen Regional Park is the perfect place to get some fresh air, exercise or relaxation. There are facilities available for all ages including a children’s play area, a jogging park, picnic areas and a horseshoe pit.
During the summer months, free concerts are showcased at the on-site amphitheatre.
12. Browse the La Mesa Certified Farmers’ Market
Once a week, the La Mesa Certified Farmers’ Market attracts vendors from all over the region selling a wide variety of items.
As you make your way through the market, you’ll find fresh, local fruits and vegetables, gourmet pasta, homemade sauces and a variety of snacks and hot food offerings.
You’ll also find an assortment of non-food items including: handcrafted jewellery, artworks, crafts, clothing and household ornaments.
13. Pay a Visit to Bolt Brewery
While the main focus at Bolt Brewery is the delicious craft beers that are made on-site, this exciting brewery in La Mesa has so much more to offer.
Inside the taproom, you can sample 20 different craft beers including: ales, lagers, stouts and pilsners. A dog-friendly patio is also on-site.
Throughout the week, a variety of events, including live music and trivia nights, takes place at the brewery and food trucks are often on-site serving a wide variety of hot meals and snacks to go along with your beverages.
14. Take a Hike at Mission Trails Regional Park
Situated on the outskirts of La Mesa, Mission Trails Park is a beautiful wildness area featuring a series of hiking trails.
These trails pass through scenic areas including mountains and valleys and as you explore the area, you’ll see stunning views, cliffs, streams and lush vegetation.
15. Dine on Quality Food at Farmer’s Table La Mesa
Farmer’s Table La Mesa is a popular eatery in the city featuring an attractive and inviting atmosphere. Quality, locally-sourced cuisine is served featuring a mix of American and Italian flavours.
This eatery is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and features a wide variety of options including: appetizers, soups, salads, wood-fired pizzas and meat and seafood dishes such as, organic pork chops, braised lamb shank and crab risotto.
An extensive wine list is also available and happy hour happens every weekday afternoon. A patio is on-site for outdoor dining.