The Camp in Costa Mesa, CA

I love The Camp. This “retail campus” is located on Bristol Street in Costa Mesa, California. Consider this an outdoor shopping and dining experience that also promotes sustainability. While some people may use terms such as “green”, “granola” or even “hippy”, I like to consider it more as smarter living. If you have visions of someone in dreadlocks hugging a tree, put that aside. The Camp deserves better than those old stereotypes. If anything, it’s at least a cool land use development amidst the hustle of Orange County. Within this development, you will see a variety of ways to live healthier and be healthier within our natural environment. In short, this is a retail experience that shows you smart living in action. One good example is the use of re-purposed goods. I purchased some necklaces from the SEED People’s Market made out of recycled paper (rolled, varnished, painted, and strung) created by the company 31Bits. My purchase was then placed inside a bag that was made out of a folded Indian newspaper. So the products sold here are eco-friendly and the goods that are used in these businesses are likewise environmentally sensitive. Like the necklaces, you will find a variety of products made from re-purposed or recycled goods here at The Camp. There are some fun, unusual gifts you will find such as the Mighty Wallet or a homemade tablet case. You will also find organic body products, pet products, artwork inspired by nature, and vintage house wares. The construction of some of the shops incorporates the same theme with one having a green roof and another built out of an airstream trailer.

Aside from the products, there are also great restaurants to check out. Ecco, Umami Burger, and Taco Asylum are just a few places where you can catch a great bite. Ecco utilizes ingredients from local farms for its delicious Italian menu. This restaurant is buried in the back of the center, giving it a secluded feel from busy city life. You may have heard of Umami Burger with its famed Manly Burger being named best burger of the year by GQ Magazine. If you like burgers, this “5th Taste” is worth the drive. I have heard Taco Asylum has a great menu of gourmet tacos; however, I have not dined there yet.

  If you are not interested in a full meal, check out Milk & Honey or the Wine Lab. Milk & Honey offers organic coffee and teas as well as yogurt. Feel free to enjoy your treats in their lovely outdoor patio. The Wine Lab offers a variety of great wines as well as beers on tap. I recently visited the Wine Lab and had the white wine flight. The three wines chosen were not only tasty, but also very refreshing. Their staff is extremely friendly and knowledgeable regarding their menu, so feel free to describe the flavors you want in your wine. I should also note that they offer small bites. I have heard the cheesecake is very good.

For those that are more activity-driven, you can take a Bikhram Yoga class or get a tattoo using organic ink at Outer Limits. If none of the above entices you, just consider taking a stroll through this unusual retail center. You will find a sense of serenity and quiet filtering through the buildings. Whether you want to live an environmentally sensitive life or you just want to check out a really neat shopping center, head to The Camp. Enjoy, see, feel, and taste the sweet synergy of modern life mixed with nature. No silly dreadlocks required.

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