Top Tourist Attractions
Things to do in Anaheim are covered in Chapter 15, but there's still plenty to see and do in the rest of “O.C.” Here are some of the most interesting attractions.
First and Main Streets, Santa Ana
A revitalizing influence in a once-neglected downtown area, Artists Village is a lively arts center featuring artists' galleries, several theater companies, and the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art.
Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve
3842 Warner Avenue, Huntington Beach (Interpretive Center)
One of the best spots anywhere for birdwatching — half the bird species in the United States have been sighted there — the 300-acre Bolsa Chica Reserve is a great place to get away from the Orange County hubbub. Across the street is Bolsa Chica State Beach.
Bowers Museum of Cultural Art and Kidseum
2002 N. Main St, Santa Ana
With more than 70,000 objects in its collection, the Bowers Museum is one of California's largest cultural institutions. Their holdings include a large collection of California Plein Air (this term refers to the act of painting outside rather than in a studio) paintings, California Native American artifacts, and objects from California history. It's open from 10 A.M. to 4 P.M. Tuesday through Sunday except July 4, Thanksgiving, December 25, and January 1. Weekend admission is $19 for adults, $14 for seniors over age sixty-two and students, and free for kids under age five. Weekdays, it's $2 cheaper.
Located in the same place, Kidseum is an indoor, 11,000-square-foot interactive, hands-on center where kids can learn about other cultures through storytelling, puppet shows, and activities.
Crystal Cove State Park
8471 Pacific Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach
Originally developed as a South Seas movie set, this beautiful stretch of Orange County sand features a restored historic district, a 1,140-acre underwater diving park, and some of the coast's best tide pools. It's also home to a charming bunch of beach cottages (www.crystalcovebeachcottages.org) built from the 1930s to the 1950s.
12141 Lewis St, Garden Grove
Visitors are welcome at Sunday services held in a soaring glass cathedral. Take a guided tour Monday through Friday.
Discovery Science Center
2500 N. Main St., Santa Ana
Its creators call it “an amusement park for the mind,” and this science museum offers more than 100 interactive exhibits covering all aspects of scientific discovery. Kids love to watch an indoor geyser erupt, lie on a bed of 3,500 real nails, or dance on a musical floor. It's easy to find; just look for a ten-story-high cube balanced on one of its points.
RAINY DAY FUN
If it's raining and the kids are so bored that they're figuratively climbing the walls, why not let them climb them literally? Adventure City has a twenty-four-foot indoor rock-climbing tower that's suitable for ages four and up. For even more climbing fun, the Discovery Science Center's Dino Quest includes a climbing wall embedded with fossils, and “The Cube” has plenty of other fun, interactive things for kids to do, too.
The museum is open daily from 10 A.M. to 5 P.M. Admission is $12.95 for adults, $9.95 for seniors over fifty-five years old and kids ages three to seventeen, and free for children age two and under.
Glen Ivy Hot Springs, “Club Mud”
25000 Glen Ivy Road, Corona
Technically just outside of Orange County across the Riverside County line, Glen Ivy Hot Springs is a great place to rest and relax for a day in an eleven-acre oasis that includes natural mineral springs and mud baths. They're open daily except Thanksgiving, December 25, and Easter. Admission is $35 per person on weekdays and $48 per person on weekends and includes parking, use of all pools, sauna, steam rooms, Roman Baths, red clay mud bath, towels, and lockers. Spa treatments are available for an extra charge. Guests must be at least sixteen years old to visit and eighteen years old for the spa treatments.
RAINY DAY FUN
If rainy days make you think of England, which then turns your thoughts to afternoon tea, the Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel ((213) 624-1011) is famous for its afternoon teas, and they offer etiquette lessons for children during the holidays.
Huntington Beach Surfing Walk of Fame
Pacific Coast Highway and Main Street, Huntington Beach
Along this surfer's answer to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, you'll find granite stones honoring surfing pioneers, champions, surf culture icons, local heroes, and others who've made a mark on the surfing scene.
International Surfing Museum
411 Olive Avenue, Huntington Beach
The collections at this museum include surfboards, surfing memorabilia, music, and films. It's open daily from 12 P.M. to 5 P.M. during summer and on Monday through Thursday only in winter. Admission is $2 for adults, $1 for students, and children under six are free.
Mission San Juan Capistrano
26801 Ortega Hwy, San Juan Capistrano
The remains of this romantic Spanish mission founded more than 200 years ago spread over ten acres. The Great Stone Church stands in ruins, but surrounding it are the beautiful Serra Chapel, Padres' quarters, an industrial area, soldiers' barracks, and cemetery. The mission is open daily from 8:30 A.M. to 5 P.M. except Thanksgiving, December 25, and Good Friday afternoon. Admission is $7 for adults, $6 for seniors over sixty years old, $5 for kids aged five to eleven, and children under three years old get in free.
Cliff swallows make their summer home in San Juan Capistrano and spend the winter 6,000 miles south in Argentina. Every year, as if driven by some invisible starter's pistol, the five-inch-long birds leave California around the Day of San Juan (October 23) and return to San Juan Capistrano en masse on March 19, Saint Joseph's Day. They collect mud from the nearby river, building their nests under the eaves of the old mission. The entire city celebrates their return with a parade and festival. In fact, the city song is “When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano” by Leon Rene.
Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace
18001 Yorba Linda Blvd., Yorba Linda
No matter what you think of our controversial thirty-seventh president, you'll know more about him when you leave this place than you did when you went in. Besides a number of exhibits that focus on the presidency in general and Nixon's accomplishments in particular, his birthplace is also on the grounds. The library is open from 10 A.M. to 5 P.M. Monday through Saturday, and from 11 A.M. to 5 P.M. on Sunday. It is closed Thanksgiving and December 25. Admission is $9.95 for adults, $3.75 for children aged seven to eleven, and free for kids under seven. Students and seniors aged sixty-two and over get in for $6.95, and members of the military pay $5.95 with ID.
Santa Ana Zoo
1801 East Chestnut Ave., Santa Ana
Unlike its larger Southern California counterparts, this small zoo is laid-back and easy to visit. Home to at least fifty monkeys (as mandated by its founder) and a bunch of other animals, it's open daily from 10 A.M. to 4 P.M. Admission is $6 for adults, $3 for children and seniors, and free for children under three years old.