Visiting any new city can be both exciting and daunting at the same time, especially when you have just 24 hours to see it. To help you plan your getaway, we have compiled a list of things to see and do in Santa Ana in a day. This beautiful Hispanic city is surrounded by immense natural beauty and offers several unique attractions for visitors of all ages. Moreover, popular tourist spots like Disneyland and Knotts Berry Farm are located just a few kilometers away from the city.
Image by Buchanan Hermit via Wikimedia Commons
Since you have only 24 hours in the city, it is best arrive early in the morning, so that more can be covered in a short amount of time. Also, wear comfortable shoes and clothes as you might be traveling a bit. The best way to get around is to hire a cab or rent a car, so you can roam at your own leisure.
Breakfast at 9:00 am
Start your day in Santa Ana with a delicious and an energetic breakfast at Euro Caffe (3950 S Bristol St). This small and cozy cafe is known for their amazing grilled Panini, pastries, crepes and espresso drinks. Do not forget to try their delectable Ice Nutella Latte and Chocolate Croissant. Another popular place for breakfast in Santa Ana is Cowgirls Cafe (1720 S Grand Ave) known for their traditional, country-style breakfasts and grand lunches.
Discovery Cube Orange County at 10:00 am
After breakfast, head towards the famous Discovery Science Center, which is known for its several interactive and hands-on exhibits. It is also a great place for families with children as there are many things for them to engage in such as Touch Tornado, Dino Quest, Rock Climbing, Bed of Nails, Eco Challenge and actually experiencing a real earthquake at Shake Shack. There is a lot to do over here, which might take some time discovering all of it.
Address: 2500 N Main St, Santa Ana, CA 92705, United States
Phone: 1 714-542-2823
Distance from Central Santa Ana: 2.3 Miles or 8 minutes drive
Bowers Museum of Cultural Art at 12:00 pm
Built in 1931, Bowers Museum of Cultural Art is one of the most popular museums in Santa Ana. Known for its more than 100,000 pieces of artworks, the museum also hosts a number of exhibitions, lectures, art classes, music education programs and travel programs.
Bowers Museum of Cultural Art also has a children’s museum – Kidseum, which provides multicultural experiences for the children. They can also play tribal instruments, dress up in traditional attire, create ethnic masks and do crafts. However, it is only open for few days a week, so it is better to check in advance before visiting it.
Address: 2002 N Main St, Santa Ana, CA 92706, United States
Phone: 1 714-567-3600
Distance from Discovery Cube Orange County: 0.6 Miles or 3 minutes drive
Lunch at 1:00 pm
Head towards Jerry's Wood-Fired Dogs (2276 E 17th Street), which is a great place to visit for lunch with family and friends. Do try their famous wood-fired burgers, fries, original sausages and specialty hot dogs. For some American comfort food, try Claim Jumper (2250 E 17th Street), known for its western themed environment or Black Angus Steakhouse (1350 N Tustin Avenue) for delicious seafood, beef and surf ‘n’ turf.
Santa Ana Zoo at 2:00 pm
Situated at Prentice Park, Santa Ana Zoo is home to several plants and animals from Central and South America including sloth, camel, anteater and bald eagle. It is also known for its largest collection of primates from all over the world. Apart from animals, the zoo also offers several recreational activities for the children. They can take a stroll through the Brazilian jungles of Amazon or visit the monkey habitat or take a relaxing ride on the Zoofari Express Train and Conservation Carrousel. There is also a small cafe here for snacks and condiments.
Address: 1801 E Chestnut Ave, Santa Ana, CA 92701, United States
Phone: 1 714-836-4000
Distance from Jerry's Wood-Fired Dogs: 1.8 Miles or 5 minutes drive
Old Orange County Courthouse at 3:30 – 4:00 pm
No visit to Santa Ana can be complete without visiting its most iconic landmark - Old Orange County Courthouse. It is one of the oldest courts in Southern California and has witnessed several financial and historical events that have shaped the Orange County. Spread over 30,000 square feet, the courthouse is home to Orange County History Center, which includes Old Courthouse Museum, Pacific Coast Archaeological Society Library and Orange County Archives.
Address: 211 W. Santa Ana Blvd., Santa Ana, California
Phone: (714) 973-6605 or (714) 973-6607
Distance from Santa Ana Zoo: 2.1 Miles or 7 minutes drive
Grand Central Art Center at 5:00 pm
A part of the Downtown National Register District, Fullerton's Grand Central Art Center is a modern art gallery, which is dedicated to the promotion of contemporary art and culture through extensive collaborations between artists, students and the community.
Address: 125 N Broadway, Santa Ana, CA 92701, United States
Phone: 1 714-567-7233
Distance from Old Orange County Courthouse: 0.4 Miles or 7 minutes walk
6:00 pm-Enjoy dining, shopping and art galleries at Downtown Santa Ana
Often compared to cities like Brooklyn, Austin or Portland, the recently renovated Downtown Santa Ana is a popular urban center where travelers and locals can enjoy arts, culture, craft beer, delicious cocktails and farm-to-table restaurants. It has now become a vibrant center for shopping, eating, entertainment and cultural destination in the city.
Visit the Artists Village and enjoy the several art galleries, creative offices, studios and important institutions like Orange County Center for Contemporary Art and Cal State Fullerton Grand Central Art Center. There is also an Artists Village Art Walk every first Saturday of the month. Be sure to catch that if you are around.
After that, visit the Historic 4th Street and East End, which is known for several boutiques, shops and restaurants. The Fiesta Marketplace or the East End, a pedestrian friendly outdoor mall, is the centerpiece of this place. The West End of the Downtown Santa is home to numerous historical and institutional buildings of the city.
Address: Downtown, Inc., 200 North Main Street, Santa Ana, CA 92701
Distance from Old Orange County Courthouse: 0.4 Miles or 7 minutes walk
Dinner at 8:00 pm
Downtown Santa Ana has several restaurants and eateries to dine in. Chapter One: The Modern Local (227 North Broadway) is a popular fine-dining restaurant known for its fresh seasonal menu, a wide collection of beers and a hip crowd. Playground (220 E 4th Street No. 102) is another popular restaurant in Downtown Santa Ana, which is known for its ever-changing seasonal menu and delicious food. For comfort American food and burgers, visit Original Mike’s (100 S Main Street).
Explore Santa Ana’s Nightlife at 10 pm
VLVT: Velvet Lounge (416 W 4th Street) is one of the most popular nightlife spots in Santa Ana. A LGBT friendly pub and bar, Velvet Lounge is known for its amazing music, delicious drinks, fully stocked bar and a comfortable ambience. Another popular place to visit is The Copper Door (225 N Broadway), famous for its friendly staff, large selection of cocktails and a unique atmosphere.
Santa Ana 24 Hours Tour Map Guide