La Mesa Visitors Guide

La Mesa (Spanish for table, or tabletop terrain) is a town that reflects traditional American living and history in many ways. Founded in 1869 it was incorporated as a city in 1912. For over two centuries prior, it was a ranching area originally settled by the Spanish. Today its known for being a solid middle-class town nestled among hills and on a mesa, surrounded by a network of freeways that provide easy access to downtown San Diego, Mission Valley, Mission Bay, the beaches, inland communities and the deserts beyond.

La Mesa has a community golf course where one can play around for the old-fashioned price of $25. It has numerous parks, with recreation programs for the family and seniors including swimming, exercise programs, softball, and other sports. The town boasts two water recreation venues – Lake Murray and El Capitan Reservoir. Spend a day on the lake, picnic, swim, boat, water-ski or try your luck fishing for largemouth bass, crappie, catfish and trout. Landscaped paths surrounding the lakes welcome bikers, joggers, skateboarders, and rollerbladers. Sports are important in La Mesa – ask basketball star Bill Walton – he grew up here.

Spread out over roughly nine square miles – La Mesa is comprised of neighborhoods filled with condos, townhomes, single-family homes, apartments, numerous shopping malls, strip malls, and a traditional city center retail district (La Mesa Village) where many cultural activities take place. Visit the “Village” on a summer Thursday Cruise Night and you will enjoy seeing hundreds of custom, antique cars, and motorcycles parked throughout the business district. Other family fun activities include an Antique Fair, a weekly farmers market, and the Village Christmas Festival where many retailers compete in holiday decoration contests. The 1894 La Mesa (railroad) Depot Museum in downtown La Mesa is reputed to be the oldest California building in its original form. On weekends one can tour the museum, view its memorabilia collection and take rides into the countryside on coaches pulled by antique locomotives.

La Mesa is on the famous San Diego Red Line Trolley network that spreads from the US border with Mexico and runs throughout much of San Diego County. For a little pocket money, one can avoid the freeways and congestion by taking the fast, efficient trolley to regional shopping malls, Qualcomm Stadium, Downtown San Diego, Tijuana, or even connect with Amtrak for a ride on the Coast Starlight Express up to Disneyland, Los Angeles, San Francisco and beyond.

Located on the Eastern Border of the City of San Diego, just 12 miles from downtown and the waterfront, La Mesa is home to nearly 57, 000 residents. La Mesa is a desirable place in which to raise a family and central to San Diego County as a whole for staying in when visiting the area. Close in (but not too close), comfortable, safe and convenient – La Mesa is a good place to be.

One of the city’s premier attractions is Oktoberfest, the “granddaddy of all street fairs” held every year on the first full weekend of October. Started in 1974, 100,000 visitors per year enjoy genuine German food, dance the Polka and taste German beer in an outdoor venue that covers the entire downtown Village area.

Residents and visitors also take advantage of the weekly Farmer’s Market on Allison Avenue. Village merchants featuring special outdoor sales every weekend and summertime’s musical theater productions held in the open amphitheater atop Mt. Helix.