SANTA ANA is a mosiac of art and cultural experiences that includes the Bowers Museum of Cultural Art on North Main Street - the largest museum in Orange County and one that presents important exhibitions of international cultural art to all of Southern California. Often, important Chinese, Egyptian, and Tibetan exhibitions get their start here, as it reportedly houses the first satelite gallery in the world for the British Museum, and reflects a special relationship with China and Asia. The Bowers Museum also houses a first-rate Patina-group restaurant, Tangata, and operates  Bowers Kidseum two blocks south, offering hands-on cultural experiences for children.  Nearby on Main Street is the Discovery Science Center with its ten-story cube freeway landmark. "Discovery" is an educational, interactive, science center that makes learning fun. It features large-scale dinosaurs, space vehicles, and an earthquake room.

Downtown at 2nd Street and Main, is the "Artists Village" - where more than one-hundred artists make themselves at home amidst galleries and working artist studios. The Artists Village is a multi-block area that includes California State University Fullerton's Grand Central Art Center - open daily with two galleries and a gift shop with art, objects, jewelry, and books for sale. The interior of the historic building was designed by Steven Ehrlich - an internationally-celebrated contemporary architect. Also nearby are two restaurants; The Gypsy Den - a bohemian favorite, and Memphis - a stylish bistro where members from several local advertising agencies and sound labs blend in with local artists and politico's from the Orange County Civic Center. For a real taste of the local political scene, try Bistro 400 on Fourth Street directly across from the Ronald Reagan Federal Buildings and Courthouse. Also open daily in the Artists Village is the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art, an artists cooperative at Sycamore on the 2nd Street Promenad near the Chiarini Fountain, and the Santora Building of the Arts, on Broadway, a collection of art galleries, such as that for Santa Ana College, and studios. 

At Main and tenth Streets is one of America's best "Fame" high schools, The Orange County High School of the Arts, and across from that,  OC Pavillion, a 500-seat theatre managed by Bill Medley of  Righteous Brothers fame.  A local favorite and landmark , Pop's Cafe, is next door on 9th Street.

Cultural offerings can make visits turn into tours, as one stop leads to another.The historic architecture of Downtown Santa Ana is an architecural reminder of turn-of-the-century urban life in Orange County. It enjoys one of the highest concentrations of early 20th-century Victorian , Italianate, Craftsman, and Spanish Colonial examples to be found in Orange County. If you like historic architecture, one should  not miss the Queen Anne-style Victorian Howe-Waffle House, residence of the first female doctor in Orange County and the home of the Santa Ana Historical Preservation Society, or the Richardsonian Old County Courthouse and Museum, an Orange County historic landmark with courtrooms often used in films, or the Richard Neutra - designed Orange County Courthouse at Civic Center Drive and North Flower. A drive through the French Park Historic District, centering on French Street east of Main Street between Civic Center and Washington, will add more local architectural history to your day! And if you really enjoy beautiful housing, one should not miss the area that includes  Floral Park north of Seventeenth Street between Broadway and Bristol, 17th St. and Memory Lane. There, some of the best  houses in Orange County call this real estate "home!" Stately large houses from the 1920's and '30's and charming vintage cottages collect under leafy, tree-lined streets near Santiago Creek. The "Maharajah's House," at Heliotrope and Santa Clara was built in the 1930's by the "richest man in the world," an Indian Maharajah from Indore that reportedly made $75million a year!

The Santa Ana Zoo at Prentis Park (1st and the Santa Ana Freeway) - is also a surprising find! Its South American emphasis includes a wide variety of monkeys, birds in interactive spaces, a big waterfall, a children's petting zoo, and many unexpected educational experiences. Don't miss a ride on the train from Santa's Village or the Crean Family Farm! When all is said and done, it isn't any wonder why they call Santa Ana  "Downtown Orange County."