Costa Mesa Model Train
Rides. Time: 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Cost: Free admission.
Location: 2480 Placentia Ave., Costa Mesa, CA. Call: (949)
Good things come in small sizes at the
Goathill Junction.. That's one name the locals don't necessarily like
to recall readily when mentioning Costa Mesa. Do you think it's funny that
the city once was known by that name? You won't laugh or scoff once you
discover that Goathill Junction is where the free train ride starts & stops.
A dedicated group of volunteers lovingly bring their 1/8th scale trains to
the station and operate a free public train ride for kids & adults to enjoy,
paying only in smiles and generous donations.
Orange County Model
Engineers club operates 1/8th scale trains in Fairview Park, and
in this gem of a park that overlooks a golf course and Santa Ana River
channel, you'll discover bliss. Model airplanes fly, BMX bikes challenge the
dirt, and those who love trains get to whet their whistles in an enjoyable 12 minute journey
includes a trip around the park on one of the model trains.
We drove by the park many times,
stopping to walk on the cool, green lawns overlooking the Pacific Ocean and
Huntington Beach below from a plateau in Costa Mesa. One of OC's best kept
"secrets", Fairview Park is a gentle oasis away from the parks that are too
pristine. This park has beautiful grass, picnic tables, bathrooms, and a bit
of untamed beauty in dirt areas that are friendly to bike riders and model
Each time we've stopped, we've driven
a bit further around the bend to explore more of Costa Mesa. That's when a
sign caught our eyes about a Train Ride on the other side of the park. The
gate was always locked, however. Thanks to some investigative work, we
discovered that there's a free train ride every third Saturday, and the
Sunday that follows. It took some effort to clear our slates for this event
but boy, was it worth the trip!
Getting there: Traveling from
San Diego - 405 Freeway, exit Harbor Blvd. and head toward Newport Beach.
After several stoplights, turn right onto Adams Avenue, then left onto
Placentia. Follow the bend in the road, drive under an overpass walkbridge,
and look for the gated entry to the model trains on the left hand side. If
the gate is locked, the trains aren't open.
As adults with no toddlers in tow, we
discovered that kids & parents locally seem to know about this unique
attraction. They plot their birthday parties in the surrounding park areas
(you can actually book and rent the train rides for an afternoon of fun),
and they hop aboard the free 3rd Saturday train more than once during a
A delightful store at Mackerel Flats
(Newport Beach was once known as Mackerel Flats), offers kids toys, souvenir
t-shirts and one find that I took home. A book on the history of Costa Mesa
was under $5! Filled with color photos and historic black & white pictures,
it told the story of Costa Mesa. Once comprised of several cities such as
Fairview, this early tourist destination went through good times and some
hardships. Several cities combined to form Costa Mesa, which is now a
thriving center for the arts & entertainment. Who could imagine that one
little train ride would serve up so much educational value to an adult just
passing through on Saturday?
As I drove away with "my people", we
were hungry and began the search down Costa Mesa's busy Harbor Blvd. STOP!,
someone said as they saw a big sign, "Taco, Jr." Great, affordable eats made
this a new favorite in Mexican food for us gringos who are discovering Costa
Mesa's smaller restaurants and roadside cafes don't get a lot of play in the
city lights, but they are food finds that now have us driving back to Costa
Mesa for simple pleasures.
Where to stay? I'm a brat when
it comes to hotels, and I always pick the
Westin by South Coast
Plaza. But there are some decent and affordable
COSTA MESA HOTELS that include
the likes of a Hilton, Holiday Inn and countless others.
Diego Sepulveda Adobe Estancia
is across Adams Ave. and is open some Saturdays. You can always wander the