California Cities


La Mesa, Jewel of the Hills

La Mesa, Calif. in San Diego County calls itself the Jewel of the Hills, referring to Mt. Helix, home to Mt. Helix Park featuring famed views and vistas of San Diego County. Mt. Helix is one of California's spectacular sunrise Easter services takes place annually.

With a population of less that 75,000 and years in the making, La Mesa's history can be witnessed in historic homes and buildings, reminding current generations that we are newcomers to a place that has been around for over 100 years (founded in 1912.) In La Mesa you gain a sense of belonging.

The fantastic La Mesa Historical Society and its volunteers provide a living history through programs such as the McKinney House Museum, 8369 University Avenue ( You can also take one of their recommended walking tours to see historic buildings and learn each structure's story.

While retaining its small town charm, contemporary La Mesa offers many urban conveniences. When the bright red MTS (Metropolitan Transit System) Trolley service opened through La Mesa in 1989, it was the first rail passenger service since 1928. The Trolley connects San Diego's east and south county communities with San Diego's Downtown region. For a couple bucks you can hop on the Orange Line in La Mesa and head straight Courthouse Station within walking distance to most attractions downtown. See

In 2008 La Mesa greeted the new County Library and Post Office in La Mesa Civic Center and a new Police Station in 2010. Famous La Mesans to see and be part of the change have included three astronauts, sports athletes and the co-founder & CEO of Costco, James D. Sinegal.

Astronauts include Bill Anders, backup pilot for the Gemini XI and Apollo 11 space flights and lunar module pilot for Apollo 8, the first lunar orbit mission; Astronaut Ellen Ochoa, who flew four space missions including the Discovery Shuttle; and Astronaut Rick Sturkow, who flew on four missions to the International Space station including STS-88 Endeavour, the first space station assembly mission and STS-128 Discovery. 

Sports figures who have enjoyed the fine weather and lifestyle of La Mesa: 

  • Major League Baseball player Mark Grace, who played firstbase for 13 seasons with the Chicago Cubs. With the Arizona Diamondbacks, Grace won the MLB World Series in 2001. 
  • NFL Quarterback Alex Smith who was first overall draft pick and a Heisman Trophy finalist. He started as quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers and most recently has been quarterback for Kansas City Chiefs.
  • NBA Champion Player Bill Walton who led UCLA to two NCAA championships, and was NBA Most Valuable Player.
  • NFL Offensive Lineman for Dallas Cowboys, Bruce Walton, played three seasons.
  • MLB Pitcher Barry Zito won the American League Cy Young award while playing for the Oakland Athletics and  pitches for the San Francisco Giants. 

Other famous La Mesans include Actor Dennis Hopper, a graduate of Helix High. Most of us remember him from the movie, "Easy Rider," but he has over 200 film and acting credits with starring roles in Blue Velvet, Speed and Waterworld.

So, where do you fit into La Mesa? The nine-square mile city features beautiful people, parks, climate, history and amenities a mere 10 to 11 miles east of the City of San Diego. What's not to love about La Mesa? It IS the Jewel of the Hills.

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