NEARBY: El Cajon Lemon Grove Jamul
Fletcher Hills Mount Helix Alpine MORE

La Mesa - established community with local culture

I asked Heather Newman what she liked best about living in La Mesa, and she didn't hesitate. It's close to everything, she said. "You can go to the beach - it takes about 10 minutes - or to a nice bar." Then Newman, who moved here from Temecula six months ago, said there's also a lot to do in town - especially if you like an older, more established city "with local culture."

"If you're looking for something different, definitely come down here," said Newman, a barista at Starbucks in the Grossmont shopping center.

La Mesa photo
LEFT: "Walkway of the Stars" recognizes volunteers. RIGHT: Sculpture at Grossmont Center in La Mesa.

The young woman could be a spokesman for this suburb of 56,000-plus residents. Its website says La Mesa is "ideally situated." Five minutes from San Diego State University in San Diego and Grossmont Community College in El Cajon. Forty-five minutes from the Laguna Mountains. And La Mesa is only twenty-five miles from Mexico.

Then she points out that, heck, there's a lot to do without even leaving town. This nine-square-mile city, whose official slogan is Jewel of the Hills, has more than a dozen suburban parks, for instance, and the Lake Murray and Mission Trails regional parks are just next door. There's a library, a community center, a recreation center, a municipal pool, and a three-par golf course. La Mesa is also home to a regional outdoor mall (Grossmont Center), a large medical center (Sharp Grossmont Hospital), a historical society and nearly three dozen historic landmarks.

Sun Valley golfers
Sun Valley golf course. Photo by Ron Ham.

The median sales price of single-family homes in La Mesa's 91941 Zip was $460,500 in May, 2015 according to DataQuick. The median price for condos in was $267,000.

La Mesa was founded in 1869 and incorporated nearly a hundred years ago, in 1912. Drive south off the Interstate 8 freeway down Spring Street and you'll see what Newman meant when she said La Mesa was an established city, especially compared to Temecula, where there's been loads of new construction over the past decade few decades.

At the La Mesa Depot Museum, built in 1894, an antique steam locomotive and two railroad cars sit next to twin tracks that the sleek, red, electric San Diego Trolley uses, and a modern trolley stop is a few steps away.

Walk across Spring Street (Historic Route 80) to La Mesa Boulevard, and you're deep into the old downtown business strip that has been spruced up and livened up. Renamed The Village, it's home to antique shops, second-hand clothing stores, neighborhood-style bars, and a used-book store - but also a wine-tasting room, art galleries, a cigar bar, restaurants with sidewalk seating, and a tea room.

La Mesa depot
Antique train at the La Mesa Depot Musuem. Photo by Ron Ham.

A sandwich-board sign boasts to shoppers and diners that every Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m. there's a classic car show with more than 400 vehicles, and it's free.

In the middle of one block is Walkway of the Stars, a broad alley with benches, plants and murals that honors civic-minded citizens with stars in the concrete, something like the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles. The engraving on one star reads: "The City of La Mesa thanks Anthony D. Guggenheimer for over 10,000 hours of community service."

A few blocks west, in the middle of the civic center, builders are making final touches to a big new, $14.7 million La Mesa Police Station. It joins a modern building complex that includes the library, part of the county system, and the J.O. Osborn Memorial Fire Station.

Copyright 2015 TownBlip.



map link La Mesa, CA

More communities



Harry Griffen Regional Park
9550 Milden St.

Highwood Park
4200 Parks Ave.

Collier Park
4401 Palm Ave.

Jr. Seau Sports Complex
8855 Dallas St./Park Plaza Dr.

MacArthur Park
4975 Memorial Dr.




San Diego State University
5500 Campanile Dr.

Grossmont College

8800 Grossment College Dr.

Cuyamaca College
900 Rancho San Diego Pkwy.


Grossmont High School
5520 Wilson St.

Helix Charter High School
7323 University Ave.


La Mesa Middle School
4200 Parks Ave.

Parkway Middle School
9009 Park Plaza Dr.

La Presa Middle School
1001 Leland St.

Spring Valley Middle School
3900 Conrad Dr.


La Mesa Dale
4370 Parks Ave.

Lemon Avenue Elementary
8787 Lemon Ave.

Maryland Avenue Elementary
5400 Maryland Ave.

Glenn Murdock
4354 Conrad Dr.

Murray Manor Elementary
8305 El Paso St.
Northmont Elementary
9405 Gregory St.

Rolando Elementary
6925 Tower St.



La Mesa neighborhood profile blip
ad - Constant Contact