10 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions In Santa Ana (2023)
Santa Ana, a jewel of Orange County, is one beautiful city in SoCal, known for its sprawling tourism, proximity to Pacific Coastline, and authentic town-like culture. Being in Vicinity to Los Angeles and Anaheim, travelers often choose Santa Ana for a quick check and then end up exploring multiple wonders that this city offers. Unlike other SoCal cities, Santa Ana surely does not boost tourism attractions, but there is definitely one wealthy list of options that travel enthusiasts can’t ignore or avoids.
The city of Santa Ana is best known for its renowned Zoo, long river, and the prestigious Santa Ana Mountains range. Despite the city and the Mountains lying in far proximity, it is one memorable experience to be here and experience the blessing of nature in one best possible way. Further, the downtown of the city can take one near the first Courthouse of Orange County or the famous Bowers Museum for a quick day tour. To ensure which place should include in your itinerary, have a quick look at our list of 10 Top-rated tourist attractions in Santa Ana.
10 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions In Santa Ana
1. Santa Ana Zoo
The Santa Ana Zoo is a small 20 acres zoo located in the Prentice Park of the city. The Zoo houses a few hundreds of animals, mainly the variety of monkeys migrated from various parts of the world. Wildlife here is kept in multiple exhibits, including Tierra De Las Pampas, Amazon’s Edge, Crean Family Farm (for rare and depressed breeds), Rainforest Exhibit, Colors of the Amazon Aviary, and a breeding & education center. Santa Ana Zoo has mostly small animals along with a few camels walking around. However, the best part is that most of the habitats here are interactive as the Zoo focuses primarily on recreation, education, and conservation. It is a great place to spend some time with your family and kids. One can also get along the Zoofari Express (for kids only) and the Conservation Carousel for some added fun.
2. Santa Ana River
The largest South Californian river, the Santa Ana River, flows 96 miles long with 2,650 square miles of the drainage basin. The river dates 1000 years back in the Past and is one crucial constitution in forming orange County. It courses 70 significant bridges, dams, and crossings, providing multiple spots for recreational and watching purposes. Alongside the Santa Ana River, there are several spots that offer recreational opportunities in Santa Ana like hiking trails, cycling trails, lake viewing, fishing, boating, bird watching, rafting, and several more. Lake Elsinore, and Lake Irvine, and Big Bear Lake are some famous sites in the watershed. Multiple trails are running all way from Huntington Beach (Santa Ana river’s mouth), going through the San Bernardino Mountains, and then to the Prado Dam covering 70 miles of beauty and tranquillity. Exploring the Santa Ana River is another travel world in itself.
3. Huntington Beach
Huntington Beach is one of the closest beaches from Santa Ana is lies in close proximity of 15.5 miles which is nearly a 22 minutes’ drive away. It is one of the most popular beaches near Santa Ana and is known for its 9.5 miles long coastline covering clean sandy beach spread, authentic beach culture, great surfing opportunities, along mild climate. Huntington Beach is also the home beach for an annual world surfing championship, and thus various people from around the world often refer to it as the Surfing capital of the world. Apart from surfing, Huntington Harbour is also known for Kayaking and paddle boarding. There are 3 age-old golf courses at the beach and 10 miles of bicycle path and bicycle rentals offering a variety of bicycles alongside.
4. Santa Ana Mountains
The Santa Ana Mountains feature an extension of more than 61 miles between the borders of Orange County and Riverside County. It has multiple peaks, namely Santiago Peak, highest with the summit of 5689 feet to the Redonda Mesa, one of the smallest among all with nearly 860 m. Along with the high rising peaks, the mountain range is also home to a few divine canyons with an abundance of raw and fresh nature around, well flourishing Flora and Fauna, and some beneficial minerals as well. One can also explore several waterfalls, hiking trails of all levels, campgrounds, small water reservoirs, and everything they expect from nature. A considerable range of Santa Ana Mountains also covers the Cleveland National Forest, a vast National Forest in California. The Santa Ana Mountains are highly famous amongst hiking enthusiasts and wonderers, and thus most of the approachable places here are often moderately crowded.
5. Bowers Museum
One of the most-visited popular places in Santa Ana, the Bowers Museum is undoubtedly not a site to be missed. It is basically an art museum with a permanent exhibition of more than 10,000 objects from Asia, Africa, Native America, pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, Oceania, and local California. Exhibits here are mainly in the form of pictures, art pieces, photographs, sculptures, artifacts, and an abundance of additions speaking about the history of California and the US in general. Noted as the best museum in orange County, Bowers organizes travel exhibitions both Nationally and internationally and special exhibitions from institutions throughout the world. Its partnership with several excellent museums (world-renowned) has successfully organized hundreds of successful events for education and information boost. Two blocks next to Bowers Museum are the Kidseum, a great site to take your small kids and teenagers along.
6. Orange County Zoo
On the Outskirts of Santa Ana lies the Orange County Zoo, which can be reached in a quick 20 minutes’ drive. The Zoo is located within the vast Irvine Regional Park though it covers only a spread of 8 acres. The habitat of this Zoo is mainly focused upon Southwestern United States wildlife with all regular species and some exceptional. The authorities here primarily focus on providing care and home to injured, abandoned, and orphaned animals who cannot survive in the wild environment with ease. Of all the animal you can view here includes cougars, black bears, mule, deer, eagles, bobcats and more. The Zoo authorities also provide interactive opportunities to the visitors where they can touch and hold some safe reptiles, snakes, turtles, and birds. The Orange County Zoo is one great place to teach your kids about the other side of life (animals) on earth.
7. Newport Beach
Newport Beach is one ultimate holiday destination near Santa Ana within proximity of no more than 13 miles. It is known for its extensive sandy stretch and recreational activities, explicitly surfing. The beach site provides an authentic SoCal vibe with luxury shopping, fine dining, and celebrative ocean culture that draws lakhs of beach lovers every year with a considerable crowd throughout the time. Recreational activities you can here be a part of include sailing, fishing, surfing, rowing, Kayaking, paddle boarding, bicycling, beach sports, golf, and nightlife. There are also several Yacht clubs around as Newport beach is home to the largest sailboat race in the world, and experiencing the same here is counted divine.
8. Heritage Museum
Counted as the best museum and historical landmark in Santa Ana, the Heritage Museum holds values, stories, and sentiments from the Past. Originally it was home to H. Clay Kellogg House and John Maag but was later restored into a rich cultural heritage and museum of Orange County. The museum building is filled with artifacts, pictures, art copies, and other belongings of the 1800s era, some in their original condition and mainly the restored versions. The staff and guides here at the heritage museum are pretty friendly and knowledgeable, which makes for a beautiful experience while you are here. Once done with the indoors of the museum building, you can further explore the extensive outdoors constituting flowering gardens and orange groves.
9. Old Orange County Courthouse
Old Orange County Courthouse was the first Courthouse in Southern California and held high values in the formation of Orange County and several local regions nearby. It is no more a functional Courthouse but now a restored museum complex from where you can learn about the culture, history, art, and architecture of the County. It is also recognized as a historical landmark in California and thus holds both tourism and cultural values. It is a Romanesque Revival building standing in the heart of the Santa Ana downtown for more than a century now (from 1901). One can get inside and explore several pictures and documentations that speak about the regional history or can simply have a glimpse of the place that plays a significant role in shaping the present day, Santa Ana. Admissions here are free, and the Courthouse is operational Monday to Friday.
10. Laguna Beach
Laguna Beach is one of the most spectacular beaches at the Pacific share of SoCal and is within a quick 25 minutes’ drive from the city of Santa Ana. It is noted as one of the finest Californian beaches known for its surfing culture, and the wilderness park beside that provides the beach with a green and beautiful sight which is else way a little off to find near coastlines. It is also home to several art events that go throughout the year, including Festival of Arts/Pageant of the Masters, Plein Air Painting Invitational, Art-A-Fair, and the Sawdust Art Festival. Laguna Beach also offers authentic beachside recreational opportunities like snorkelling, scuba diving, body-surfing, and swimming at various spots. Evenings here are always celebrative with great vibes and friendly people around.