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Top 15 Best Things to Do in Santa Ana, California

Top Tourist Spots in Santa Ana, California

Old Orange County Courthouse Santa Ana CA by Nkpug via Wikimedia cc

Bucket List: 15 Best Places to Visit in Santa Ana, California, USA

Santa Ana is the county seat and base of John Wayne Airport. The city’s main personality is its government center, but any longtime residents would state otherwise. The heart of the city lies in the artistic downtown, energetic districts, and Spanish-style museums. The busy months in Santa Ana start in April and peak in July. This is when mid-year months have warmer temperatures and comfortable weather.

East End Promenade

East End Downtown Santa Ana photo via Fb Page
East End Downtown Santa Ana photo via Fb Page

The East End in Santa Ana is where visitors can see unique shops, creative spaces, and notable cafés and restaurants where the Hispanic and Latino culture thrives. Those looking for a place to eat and shop should check out the East End.

4th Street Market is a well-known hot spot where chefs, food artisans, and food aficionados gather to exchange ideas and dishes and learn from each other. The 30,000-feet space is more than a food hall. Visitors can check out the country hall, visit the galleries and stroll through the market. Other places to eat are Dough Exchange, a sweet and savory bakery featuring house-made croissants, doughnuts, and meat pies, and Kaizen Shabu, a prime destination for shabu shabu.

Location: East 4th and North Spurgeon, Santa Ana, CA 92701

Downtown Santa Ana Historic District

Old Orange County Courthouse Santa Ana CA by Nkpug via Wikimedia cc
Old Orange County Courthouse Santa Ana CA by Nkpug via Wikimedia cc

Downtown Santa Ana has everything visitors can see in a bustling city full of history. The district is a harmony of historic buildings, cozy cafés, retro theatres, and multi-use establishments. The Old Orange County Courthouse is located within the historic district, a popular wedding venue for locals. The Artists Village, another landmark, is filled with galleries, art studios, and boutiques.

Santa Ana Zoo

Guanaco at Santa Ana Zoo by Just chaos via Wikimedia cc
Guanaco at Santa Ana Zoo By Just chaos – Guanaco, CC BY 2.0, cc

Founded in 1952 by Joseph Prentice, Santa Ana Zoo aims to bring the message of conservation to its visitors. Occupying nearly 20 acres of land, the zoo is an educational institution perfect for children.

The zoo has children’s train rides, a carousel, a Ferris wheel, a farm, an aviary, an adventure maze, and a Safari Playground. The premier exhibits of the zoo are the Amazon’s Edge, home to howler monkeys, mallards, black-necked swans, and crested screamers, and the Tierra de las Pampas which exhibits one of the most highly endangered habitats in the world, the Pampas Grasslands of South America. Visitors can either go on guided tours or take a self-guided visit.

Location: 1801 E Chestnut Avenue, Santa Ana, CA 92701

River View Golf Course

Gold and Country Club
Gold and Country Club

The River View Golf Course is an 18-hole golf course featuring 120 degrees of slope 6,190 yards of golf from the longest tees for a par of 70. There is also a state-of-the-art practice facility that guests can use. Local and visiting golfers can feel at ease while they play on the well-kept greens and admire the picturesque course.

Location: 1800 W Santa Clara Ave, Santa Ana, CA 92706

Sender One Climbing and Sender City

Sender One Climbing and Sender City photo via FB Page
Sender One Climbing and Sender City photo via FB Page

Sender One Climbing & Sender City is an indoor rock-climbing gym that caters to rock climbers of all ages and all levels. The gym also has a children’s section, with camps, classes, and themed walls. First-time visitors can try Sender One’s climbing classes and choose between top rope climbing and bouldering.

Location: 1441 Village Way, Santa Ana, CA 92705

Santiago Oaks Regional Park

Santiago Oaks Regional Park photo via FB Page
Santiago Oaks Regional Park photo via FB Page

Santiago Oaks Regional Park is a 1,200-acre park with vast greenery, dense landscape, and a network of trails that runs through scenic summits and serene creeks. Visitors should try hiking or cycling around Santiago Creek or hike to Robbers Peak and marvel at the panoramic views of the summit. Its striking views, gentle atmosphere, and colored wildflowers also make the park a popular wedding venue.

Location: 2145 Windes Dr, Orange, CA 92869

Irvine Regional Park

Irvine Regional Park photo via Orange County Parks FB page
Irvine Regional Park photo via Orange County Parks FB page

Irvine Regional Park is a historic park that covers 490 acres of land. The park has diverse wildlife and densely forested landscapes that visitors can explore through pedestrian and bicycle trails. Picnicking is also popular with the oak and sycamore trees around the park. The serene Irvine Lake is also open for fishing or kayaking.

Irvine Regional Park is one of the oldest parks in the country, and the numerous invigorating and relaxing activities are a great way to explore the park.

Location: 1 Irvine Park Road, Orange, CA 92869

Old Orange County Courthouse

The Old Orange County Courthouse is more known as a popular wedding venue. Future married couples choose the historic building as a backdrop to their photos because of its Romanesque Revival architecture. The historic courthouse also has multiple rooms that can hold special events. It’s also important to highlight the history of the Old Orange County Courthouse.

This historical landmark is Southern California’s oldest court building and has witnessed the history and changes of Orange County. The granite and sandstone building has been renovated to maintain its 1900s look. Inside the building are the government offices and the Orange County History Center. This center includes the library of the Pacific Coast Archaeological Society, the Old Courthouse Museum, and the Orange County Archives.

The Old Orange County Courthouse has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a State of California Historic Landmark.

Location: 211 W Santa Ana Boulevard, Santa Ana, CA 92701

Heritage Museum of Orange County

Heritage Museum of Orange County
Heritage Museum of Orange County photo via FB Page

The Heritage Museum of Orange County uses 12 acres of land, including gardens and orange and citrus groves. The museum features restored houses and structures that date back to as early as the 1800s. One of the museum’s highlights is the Kellogg House by Hiram Clay Kellogg, built-in 1898 using a Queen Anne architectural design. The museum aims to preserve the history of Orange County through exhibits and programs.

The charm of the historic houses and stunning gardens also attracts locals to use the museum as a wedding venue.

Location: 3101 W Harvard Street, Santa Ana, CA 92704

Orange County Museum of Art

Orange County Museum of Art by David Eppstein via Wikimedia cc
Orange County Museum of Art By David Eppstein – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, cc

The Orange County Museum of Art is an internationally-acclaimed contemporary visual arts museum established in the 1960s. The museum focuses on regional and local art. Their permanent collection displays more than 3,000 artworks, including paintings and sculptures. Every year, regional and local artists are given a chance to display their works and be featured in other galleries across the US.

Location: 3333 Avenue of the Arts, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Lyon Air Museum

Lyon Air Museum by Ducatipierre via Wikimedia cc
Lyon Air Museum By Ducatipierre – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, cc

Major General William Lyon, a former Air Force general turned real estate magnate, inaugurated the Lyon Air Museum. The museum has four exhibits: Airplanes, Automobiles, Military Motorcycles, and Military Vehicles. The exhibits give every visitor, especially aviation history buffs, to get a close view of historical artifacts.

Location: 19300 Ike Jones Road, Santa Ana, CA 92707

Discovery Cube Orange County

The Discovery Cube is a children’s science museum with over 100 hands-on exhibits. The museum is a ten-story solar cube named “Discovery Cube.” Inside are various themed sections like Dynamic Earth, Eco-Challenge, and Quake Zone, and interactive activities such as helicopter flight simulator rides and scavenger hunts.

Location: 2500 N Main Street, Santa Ana, CA 92705

Bowers Museum

Historic Belltower Entrance to the Bowers Museum  by Eric Stoner via Wikimedia cc
Historic Belltower Entrance to the Bowers Museum By Eric Stoner – Bowers Museum, CC BY-SA 4.0, cc

Established in the 1930s, the Bowers Museum is an art museum with a permanent collection of artifacts and artistic works on the history of Orange County, Southern California culture, Native American Art, Ancient Chinese Art, and Art of the Indigenous People of Oceania.

The museum is named after Charles Bowers, the man who donated the land on which the museum stands. The museum also has ties to internationally acclaimed museums, such as the Nanjing Museum and the Tokyo National Museum.

Location: 2002 North Main Street, Santa Ana, CA 92706

Montanya Spa

Montanya Spa
Montanya Spa

Montanya Spa is a 2-minute walk from the Bowers Museum. Often recommended by local residents, this day spa offers an array of treatments, such as massages, facials, and body treatments like sanctuary body treatment and sea salt body glow. Licensed estheticians perform a skin analysis for each client before proceeding with the treatment. Visitors can head to the spa after touring the many museums of Santa Ana.

Location: 120 W 20th Street, Santa Ana, CA 92706

Blinking Owl Distillery

Blinking Owl Distillery photo via FB Page
Blinking Owl Distillery photo via FB Page

Orange County’s first craft distillery, Blinking Owl Distillery, produces a variety of liquor every year, including standard and orange vodkas, traditional and barrel-aged Aquavit and gin, and rye and bourbon whiskey varieties. Blinking Owl Distillery is also the first in the state to obtain a Type 74 Craft Distillers license to operate as a tasting room and sell liquor on-premises for takeaway.

Visitors can tour the distillery and participate in a tasting session.

Location: 802 E Washington Avenue, Santa Ana, CA 92701

How to get there

Santa Ana is accessible by land and air. Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner, Metrolink’s Orange County Line, and Inland Empire–Orange County Line use the Santa Ana Regional Transportation Center. Greyhound Lines, International Bus Lines, and Tufesa Bus have terminals in Santa Ana. The nearest airport to Santa ana is the John Wayne Airport.

Our Top Hotel Picks for Santa Ana CA

Santa Ana CA Travel and Tour Packages

Searching for the best hotels, resorts, and affordable flights in the nearby Cities? Check out our list of cheap Santa Ana, CA hotels and resorts via Agoda, Booking, or you may also see available Airbnb properties in the city.

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