Located just five minutes from Disneyland, OC's county seat, Santa Ana, offers unique attractions for families of all ages. If you plan on staying in the area for more than one day, Courtyard Marriott Santa Ana offers a convenient location, modern amenities, and a free shuttle to John Wayne Airport.
We've put together a family tour that combines science, art and animals, and hot dogs, too!
Santa Ana One-Day Itinerary
Take the kids to Discovery Science Center (2500 N. Main St.) for interactive science fun. The landmark "giant cube by the freeway" features over 100 hands-on exhibits, plus special events and nationally renowned exhibitions. Children can "touch" a tornado, lay down on a bed of nails, climb a rock wall, create a real cloud, and get "shook up" in the earthquake Shake Shack. There's lots to do here, so plan on spending a couple of hours.
The fun continues down the street at Bowers Kidseum (1802 N. Main St.). An extension of the Bowers Museum, the Kidseum offers multicultural exploration of the arts. Young visitors can dress in traditional attire, play tribal instruments, and create ethnic masks, arts and crafts. (Bowers Kidseum is only open on select days of the week; call in advance to confirm).
Turn south off Main Street on 17th Street and head to Jerry's Wood-Fired Dogs (2276 E. 17th St.). Jerry's is a cool place to take the family for specialty hot dogs, original sausages, burgers and fries. Another option for lunch is Westfield MainPlace Mall (2800 North Main St.), featuring a roster of eateries including Hot Dog on a Stick and California Pizza Kitchen.
Drive down 17th Street, turn west on First Street and you'll find yourself at Santa Ana Zoo at Prentice Park (1801 East Chestnut Ave.). It's the "Home of 50 Monkeys" and a whole lot more!
Zoo residents include an anteater, sloth, bald eagle and camel, to name a few. Wander through the Brazilian jungles of Amazon's Edge, with its waterfall, lake, and howler monkey habitat. The Colors of the Amazon Aviary presents close encounters with exotic birds, while the Crean Family Farm and Children's Zoo showcases barnyard animals and farmyard adventures. Kids will like riding the Zoofari Express Train and Conservation Carrousel. There's even a small café for afternoon snacks.
Family-owned and operated since 1983, Avila's El Ranchito Mexican Restaurant (2201 E. First St.) is located just down the street from the zoo. Enjoy dinner by the fireplace while a mariachi trio serenades you.
If your family falls in love with Santa Ana, you're not alone! Since the early 1900's, Santa Ana's population has grown every year, with one exception in 2010. The economic climate in Santa Ana is very favorable, and the city is home to corporate/regional headquarters of many large companies.