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Arts & Culture in The OC

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Looking for ideas for experiencing The OC's art & culture scene but not sure where to begin? Here's an insider guide to discovering Southern California's rich history and world-famous arts and entertainment offerings.


DAY 1

Start your day inland at the Discovery Science Center in Santa Ana. You can't miss the giant cube hanging off the side of the 5 freeway. Officially opened in 1998, this sprawling museum offers curious young minds plenty of exciting math, science and learning experiences. The DSC offers an exciting and diverse range of interactive exhibits, including the Science of Hockey, Dino Quest, Planetary Research Station and much more!  


General Admission:

  • Children (ages 3-14): $12.95
  • Adults (ages 15+): $15.95
  • Seniors (ages 62+): $12.95
  • Parking: $4.00
  • Family Pass: $99 for two adults and four kids

Click here for tickets.


Next, head south on the freeway for about 15 minutes and arrive at the Irvine Historical Museum for an early-California experience. Located in the San Joaquin Ranch House, the museum was commissioned by James Irvine in 1868 and considered the oldest standing structure within the original boundaries of Irvine Ranch. Built for $1,300, the home was the first wooden house to be erected between Anaheim and San Diego. A research library and extensive photo collection of local historic information are available.

Standard hours of operation are Tuesday and Sunday from 1 to 4; closed holidays. Members are free; a $1.00 donation per non-member is appreciated. One-hour walking tours of Old Town Irvine are available on the first Sunday of each month at 11:30 a.m. Free for members; $5 for non-members.

Insider Tip - call first to check museum hours: (949) 786-4112.

Visit their website here.


For an alternate historic house experience, hop on the 5 Freeway and stop off in Buena Park to walk through the Whitaker-Jaynes House, 1887 Historic House. Located within Buena Park's historic district, this landmark is open to the public and the tours teach valuable history lessons about early OC. Just 20 minutes from Santa Ana.

Call for hours and to take a tour: 714 562-3570 or 714 521-1887.

Visit their website here.


After you've experience some of Orange County's historic culture, plan an enriching evening of arts! Drive over to Costa Mesa - The OC's arts & entertainment mecca. Take in a music or dance show at the world-famous Segerstrom Center for the Arts.

Event Calendar can be viewed here.

Or buy tickets to the world-renowned professional theater company, South Coast Repertory. Check out the current season here.



DAY 2

Today, you'll be exploring the fascinating museum and cultural centers in the beach communities of Newport Beach and San Clemente - with a picturesque cruise along PCH you'll never forget.


ExplorOcean is an ocean literacy center in Newport Beach, perfectly situated on the water near the Balboa Boat Rentals and Newport Landing. There's always a lot going on here - from summer camps and lectures to hands-on exhibits on ships and sealife. At ExplorOcean, you don't just "visit" their "galleries", but rather discover a unique experience dedicated to all things ocean, nautical and maritime. Best part is, it costs less than a movie.

Click here for visiting information.

Hours:

  • Monday-Thursday: 11am-5:30pm
  • Friday and Saturday: 11am-7pm
  • Sunday: 11am-6pm

Ocean Literacy Center Admission:

  • Adult (13+): $4.00
  • Senior (60+): $3.00
  • Youth (4-12): $2.00
  • Children 3 and under: Free

 

Drive south along Pacific Coast Highway for about 45 minutes to beautiful San Clemente, located in South Orange County. Arrive at the Casa Romantica Cultural Center and take in the spectacular bluff-top Spanish Colonial Revival estate, once owned by the founder of San Clemente. Casa Romantica provides a year-round array of exciting and enriching cultural and educational programs for all ages, events for the community and visitors to south Orange County plus tours of the historic estate and award-winning gardens.

Hours: Tuesday - Thursday, 11:00 - 4:00 p.m.

Friday, Saturday, Sunday, 10:00 - 2:00 p.m.

Closed Mondays



Year-Round Art Walks & Open Studios:  These are fun and festive opportunities to browse local galleries, enjoy the food and music, and talk with local artists. Art Walks take place every month throughout the year in Laguna Beach (1st Thursdays), Fullerton (1st Fridays), Santa Ana (1st Saturdays), Huntington Beach (3rd Wednesdays) and the Santiago Art District, Santa Ana (3rd Saturdays).

Laguna's Open Artist Studios event takes place from October through March on the 1st Saturday.