20 Things To Do In Santa Ana

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South of Los Angeles, Santa Ana is a city in the Los Angeles Metropolitan Area, in Orange County. With just under 325,000 people, it ranks as the fourth largest city within the metro. Despite this fact, many people overlook Santa Ana favouring the other, slightly larger, nearby cities of Anaheim, Los Angeles and Long Beach. While they all have more famous attractions to draw you in, Santa Ana has a charm of its own.

Spanish explorer Don Gaspár de Portolá named Santa Ana to honour Saint Anne in 1769. With Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm to its northwest and famous Huntington Beach and Newport Beach to the south, you’ll find plenty of things to do in Santa Ana and nearby to keep you busy.

Huntington Beach
There are several beach resorts near Santa Ana, such as Huntington Beach.

Santa Ana

20 Things To Do In Santa Ana

1- Learn About History At The Heritage Museum Of Orange County

The Heritage Museum Of Orange County features a collection of perfectly restored 1890s buildings, including a picturesque farmhouse surrounded by vibrant floral gardens.

With visitors allowed to explore both inside and out, the museum is a great place to step back in time and enjoy a first-hand experience of how people would have lived and worked in this part of the world more than 100 years ago.

Heritage Museum Of Orange County is at 3101 West Harvard Street, Santa Ana, 92704.

2- Appreciate Local Art At The Grand Central Art Center

The Grand Central Art Center is home to a collection of galleries and a theatre, where you can enjoy artistic disciplines, including dance, drama, music, and various other forms of physical arts.

Run by the California State University Fullerton College Of The Arts, this is where you will find the best young performers in the area honing their craft.

Stop by to catch a show and enjoy some fantastic entertainment while helping to support the local arts community.

Who knows, you may even see the next big thing before they are famous.

Grand Central Art Center is at 125 North Broadway, Santa Ana, 92701.

3- Embrace Nature At The Santa Ana Zoo

santa ana zoo golden headed lion tamarins
One of the things to do in Santa Ana is to see the golden-headed lion tamarins in the zoo.

The Santa Ana Zoo covers 20 acres (8 ha) and is home to more than 350 animals covering 48 species, 18 of which are different types of primates.

With apes, monkeys, birds, reptiles, amphibians, mammals, and even a barnyard section where children can pet slightly less exotic animals, this is a zoo that will brighten the day of any animal lovers visiting the area.

Santa Ana Zoo is at 1801 East Chestnut Avenue, Santa Ana, 92701.

4- Marvel At The Architecture Of The Old Orange County Courthouse

orange county court house
The Orange County courthouse is a beautiful building to admire.

The Old Orange County Courthouse Building is a California Historical Landmark building constructed in the Romanesque Revival style in 1901.

After serving as a courthouse for almost 70 years, the courts moved to larger premises in 1969, leaving this iconic structure to be converted into a museum.

The collection of permanent and temporary exhibits relating to California law and the past cases held in the building will fascinate history buffs, while the beautiful interiors and iconic façade will satisfy those interested in architecture and design.

Old Orange County Courthouse Building is at 211 West Santa Ana Boulevard, Santa Ana, 92701.

5- Be Amazed By The Exhibits At The Orange County Museum Of Art

The Orange County Museum Of Art contains permanent and temporary exhibits covering modern and contemporary art styles.

With pieces on display by prominent artists from across America and guided tours and educational events that are frequently offered, this gallery is unquestionably the best destination in all of Orange County to satisfy art fans during their stay.

Orange County Museum Of Art is at 1661 West Sunflower Avenue, Santa Ana, 92704.

For more California ideas, see:

6- Explore The Downtown Santa Ana Historic District

exploring the historic district is one of the things to do in santa ana california
Admiring the architecture in the historic district is one of the laid back things to do in Santa Ana.

The Downtown Santa Ana Historic District covers 24.5 acres (9.9 ha) in the heart of Santa Ana and is a hub of the oldest, most iconic buildings in the city.

Among the vibrant Art Deco buildings, you have historic movie houses, theatres, museums, historic homes and the courthouse building mentioned above.

With the entire area listed on the National Register Of Historic Places since 1984, anyone interested in either architecture or history has to take a stroll through the site and discover its wonders during their stay.

Downtown Santa Ana Historic District is in Santa Ana, 92701.

7- Explore The Bowers Museum

pre columbian statue
For art lovers, one of the things to do in Santa Ana is to spend time in the Bowers Museum where you will find impressive art from around the world.

The Bowers Museum is a stunning art museum that will please art fans both inside and out.

Its Mission Revival style architecture offers a beautiful ode to some of the earliest buildings in California. Meanwhile, its permanent collection of more than 100,000 pieces from around the world provides the opportunity to see historical artefacts and works of art with your own eyes.

Pieces in African, Asian, Californian, Native American, Oceanian, and pre-Columbian Mesoamerican take particular prominence, while there are also lectures for more dedicated visitors and a children’s museum to keep younger art fans entertained.

Bowers Museum is at 2002 North Main Street, Santa Ana, 92706.

8- Go Climbing At Sender One Climbing & Sender City

The Sender One Climbing & Sender City – Santa Ana centre is an indoor climbing centre in southeast Santa Ana.

It features a collection of different climbing walls, which are around 50 feet (15 m) high, with a range of terrains to practice on.

It is a perfect place to have some fun, test your physical abilities, or prepare yourself for tackling some real-life climbs out in the California wilds.

The children’s play area is excellent, so the younger members of your party can have as much fun as you.

Sender One Climbing & Sender City is at 1441 Village Way, Santa Ana, 92705.

9- Combine Education And Entertainment At The Discovery Cube Orange County

Discovery Cube Orange County is an attraction designed to keep children entertained.

The brightly coloured, uniquely styled building contains more than 100 different exhibits, each of which is designed to offer children a hands-on learning experience.

With regular special programs to excite children, even more, it is fabulous to combine education and entertainment in a single package.

Discovery Cube Orange County is at 2500 North Main Street, Santa Ana, 92705.

10- Enjoy A Performance At The Observatory

things to do in santa ana at night concert crowd
Attending a concert at The Observatory is one of the fun things to do in Santa Ana.

The Observatory is an outdoor music venue that hosts some of the biggest and best music events in Santa Ana.

It is a particularly prominent venue with the alternative, blues, jazz, and rock genres.

With large crowds, food and drink vendors, and a generally warm, inviting atmosphere, music fans would be well advised to see if there is anything on here they are interested in during their stay so that you can treat yourself to an exciting night out.

The Observatory is at 3503 South Harbor Boulevard, Santa Ana, 92704.

11- Spot Wildlife At The Santiago Creek Wildlife & Watershed Center, Santiago Park

The Santiago Creek Wildlife & Watershed Center is a wonderful wildlife reserve and recreation area that allows you to escape into nature while surrounded by the urban confines of the city.

Wildlife fans will enjoy spotting the collection of birds and small animals that inhabit the area, while the river, rocks, trees, and vegetation create an idyllic setting to relax in.

With hiking and trails, an archery range and a baseball field surrounding you, it is the perfect spot for some outdoor recreation, no matter how you prefer to unwind.

Santiago Creek Wildlife & Watershed Center is at Santiago Park, 600 East Memory Lane, Santa Ana, 92705.

12- See California On A Small Scale At The Noguchi Garden

The Noguchi Garden is a small sculpture garden designed as a minimalist interpretation of California.

Sculptures and fountains represent the different terrains across the state, including deserts, rivers, mountains, and redwood forests.

With its tranquil, calming atmosphere, the Noguchi Garden is the perfect place to relax, appreciate some art, and maybe even view California from a different perspective.

Noguchi Garden is at 611 Anton Boulevard, Costa Mesa, 92626.

13- Embrace Aerial History In the Lyon Air Museum

a DC# in the air as an example of the type of aircraft in the Lyon Air Museum
The DC3 is one of the types of aircraft you can expect to see in the Lyon Air Museum. The museum’s collection of historic aircraft makes visiting one of the top things to do in Santa Ana for aviation enthusiasts.

The Lyon Air Museum is an aviation museum primarily dedicated to the vehicles used during World War II.

Its collection of exhibits includes rare and iconic aircraft and a small number of military automobiles and motorcycles used during the conflict.

While the Lyon Air Museum will undoubtedly be of great interest to aviation enthusiasts, there is more than enough for anyone interested in World War II or the United States military in general as well.

Lyon Air Museum is at 19300 Ike Jones Road, Santa Ana, 92707.

14- Test Your Skills At Fire Loop Virtual Reality

fun things to do santa ana kid in yellow sneakers and yellow blazer wearing virtual reality goggles
One of the fun things to do in Santa Ana for kids is to delve right into a virtual world.

Fire Loop Virtual Reality offers visitors the opportunity to experience the next evolution of modern entertainment.

With high-spec virtual reality rigs, you can transport yourself inside a video game and complete intense and exciting missions in a more immersive and exhilarating manner than you ever dreamed possible.

Fire Loop Virtual Reality is at 2710 Alton Parkway #111, Irvine, 92606.

15- Enjoy A Fun Day Out At Boomers Irvine

Boomers Irvine is an exciting outdoor amusement centre designed to provide entertainment and get your blood pumping.

With activities including arcade games, bumper boats, go-karts, and mini-golf, it is an excellent way for the whole family to let loose and have some good, clean fun.

Boomers Irvine is at 3405 Michelson Drive, Irvine, 92612.

16- Embrace The Californian Landscape At The Jack & Shanaz Langson Institute & Museum Of California Art (Langson IMCA)

modern art design, one of the things to do in santa ana's galleries
Admiring contemporary art is one of the things to do in Santa Ana for art fans.

The Jack & Shanaz Langson Institute & Museum Of California Art is an art gallery dedicated to representing the California landscape through the use of impressionist art.

A constantly changing selection of exhibits provides a fresh opportunity to see California through new eyes consistently.

This makes it a fabulous stop for anyone interested in either impressionist art or the state of California as a whole.

Jack & Shanaz Langson Institute & Museum Of California Art is at 18881 Von Karman Avenue Suite 100, Irvine, 92612.

17- Get Your Heart Racing At The Marconi Automotive Museum

Ferari badge
Some of the world’s raciest sportscars are on display at the car museum, making a visit here one of the top things to do in Santa Ana for motor enthusiasts.

The Marconi Automotive Museum is home to a fabulous collection of rare, historical, and luxury vehicles.

Racing fans will love seeing some of the most iconic performance vehicles in history in the flesh and learn a little bit more about them.

Meanwhile, as all proceeds generated are donated to charity, you will be helping those less fortunate than yourself at the same time.


Marconi Automotive Museum is at 1302 Industrial Drive, Tustin, 92780.

18- Pay Your Respects At The Heroes Hall Museum

The Heroes Hall Museum is a small museum and education centre dedicated to honouring the lives of veterans from Orange County.

With free admission, it is the perfect chance for those interested in the United States military to obtain a little more history and information while also getting the opportunity to pay respects to those who gave their lives to defend their country.

Heroes Hall Museum is at 88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa, 92626.

19- Take A Photo With “The Duke” At John Wayne Airport

aerial of John Wayne Airport
Another cool thing to do in Santa Ana is to head to the John Wayne airport (pictured) and look for the John Wayne statue.

In 1979, the Orange County Airport was renamed in memory of legendary actor John Wayne, who had recently passed away and lived in the area.

Three years later, in 1982, a big, beautiful, bronze statue of “The Duke” was unveiled at the airport to signify the change and further honour his legacy.

While there isn’t much else in the way of tourist attractions at the airport, John Wayne fans still won’t want to miss the opportunity to get a photo with one of the best statues of their hero they are ever likely to come across.

John Wayne Airport is at 18601 Airport Way, Santa Ana, 92707.

20- Make The Most Of The Great Outdoors In Mile Square Regional Park

The Mile Square Regional Park is a beautiful location designed for outdoor recreation in the city’s heart.

Throughout its 640 acres (258 ha), you’ll find archery ranges, baseball and softball diamonds, golf courses, soccer fields, basketball, racquetball, tennis courts and a gym.

Meanwhile, lakes, picnic areas and walking trails surrounded by carefully placed Californian plants make it equally ideal for those looking for a slightly more relaxing experience.

There is even a kids club and community centre, to ensure there is always something to occupy younger visitors.

Mile Square Regional Park is at 16801 Euclid Street, Fountain Valley, 92708.

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Steve Burden is an avid traveller and experienced writer. As a former pro wrestler, Steve used to travel frequently for work throughout the USA and Europe. Having spent the last decade travelling all over the world in search of new sights and experiences, he has turned his love for travel into a new career helping others decide on the best places to visit, as well as what to see when they get there.