Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Tustin, CA

  • Published 2023/05/01

Tustin is a city between Irvine and Santa Ana in central Orange County, California.

It boasts a growing population and many historical buildings.

Despite its progress, the city maintains an old-world, small-town feeling and is proud of its rich heritage.

The land is on Santa Ana River’s floodplain and its tributary, Santiago Creek.

Its most prominent landmark, Red Hill, turned into its eponymous color when ancient volcanic activity deposited cinnabarite into it.

In 1868, the Philadelphia farmer and entrepreneur Columbus Tustin founded the city.

Between 1868 and 1872, Columbus Tustin set about establishing the city, laying streets out through the sycamore and wild mustard trees in the area.

The town’s growth was relatively slow compared to its neighbors.

It took almost 60 years before the community grew to 500 residents and became incorporated.

The Tustin residents relished in their citrus and eucalyptus trees, the stunning view, and the cozy atmosphere.

These days, people know Tustin for its pleasant weather and lovely scenery, with stunning views of the coastline and the Saddleback Mountains.

Visitors know it for having services and attractions, including museums, parks, and an eclectic selection of restaurants.

As in its early days, it bears the nickname City of Trees because of its vast and rich assortment of pepper, eucalyptus, pine, palm, and oak trees.

Here are the best things to do in Tustin, CA:

Marvel at Luxury Cars in the Marconi Automotive Museum

Ferrari F50 displayed in Marconi Automotive Museum

ShanHams, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Marconi Automotive Museum is in Tustin, at the heart of Orange County, housing a luxury car collection open to the public.

It holds a 70-plus car collection of top-performance street cars and race cars.

These cars include Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and American muscle cars.

It all started in the late 1950s when Dick Marconi moved from Gary, Indiana, to California.

During his successful stint with a manufacturing company, he started to collect an impressive amount of high-performance race and street cars.

Lamborghini displayed in Marconi Automotive Museum

ShanHams, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In 1994, he donated this multi-million dollar collection to fund the Marconi Automotive Museum and Foundation for Kids.

Today, you can see this open-wheel car collection with cars that Marconi, his wife Bo, and his son John owned.

In this remarkable collection, you can also see renowned drivers’ many famous cars.

The museum still raises money for at-risk children’s charities throughout Orange County.

196 Ferrari FX displayed in Marconi Automotive Museum

Pat Durkin, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Admire Beautiful Art at Chemers Gallery

Since 1978, the Chemers Gallery has become a longtime leader and innovator in the Orange County arts scene.

It focuses on mid-career and emerging artists, offering a vast selection of fine and decorative art, from contemporary to traditional, and so much more.

It displays work in almost every medium, including acrylic, oil, watercolor, pastel, mixed media, monoprint, photography, and limited edition graphics.

It has an unparalleled diversity of custom framing selections.

They specialize in closed corner frames, including gold leafing, welded steel, finger joined hardwoods, and hand carving.

People have recognized the gallery for its original children’s book illustrations.

Find the works of renowned, award-winning illustrators like Mary Grandpre, Brett Helquist, Robin Preiss Glasser, Grennady Spirin, and Lou Fancher at the gallery.

Rounding out their offerings is a contemporary craft selection of ceramics, fiber, artisan jewelry, glass, and wood.

Taste Unique Cuisine at Zov’s Bistro and Bakery

Since 1987, Zov’s Bistro and Bakery has become a Tustin icon.

Chef Zov Karamardian founded the restaurant.

This Mediterranean bistro and bakery quickly became the city’s culinary institution.

Chef Zov serves her extraordinary cuisine, blending contemporary food with Eastern and Mediterranean influences in a swanky environment.

Zov takes inspiration from family support.

Along with her husband Gary and children, Armen and Taleen, she has created a great family business.

She blends comforting recipes from the family kitchen with her culinary artistry.

Over the years, the restaurant has expanded to a 14,000-square-foot space, with a renowned bistro, award-winning bakery, and private dining room.

It also contains an upscale private dining room, cooking classes, and a bustling catering division.

Her catering service brings this culinary style to different homes and events in Southern California.

Try their sautéed calamari with garlic shallots, roasted beets with creamed goat cheese, Moroccan salmon salad, or rosemary lamb chops.

Have Tee Time at Tustin Ranch Golf Club

Daytime view of Tustin Ranch Golf Club

Daniel Carpenter, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Tustin Ranch Golf Club is a first-class upscale facility in the heart of Orange County.

Ted Robinson also designed its signature golf course.

Readers of the Orange County Register have consistently voted the course as the best Orange County Golf Course and Driving Range for many years.

The course has many challenges.

Incredible views also surround the terrain, and its onsite golf school features instruction from PGA professionals.

The instructors at the golf school are some of the best, helping instill integrity, courtesy, and a love of healthy living in youths and adults.

Not only does the ranch take pride in its rich golf history, but it also upholds its superb service, great food, excellent hospitality, and beverage preparations.

Tustin Ranch is a trendy gathering spot for friends and families who want to share top-tier refreshments, entertainment, and outdoor activities.

Bring Your Kids to Citrus Ranch Park

In the past, several citrus groves and orange trees dotted Orange County, inspiring its name.

Today, Citrus Ranch Park in Tustin features one of the last citrus groves in the region, with over a thousand lemon trees growing on its 17 acres.

The city created the park to preserve this vital part of California history.

You can find this grove on a 40-foot-high knoll rising above the encompassing area of the park.

A trail leads to the Vista View Point, offering a jaw-dropping 360-degree view of the San Gabriel Mountains, Orange County, and Catalina Island.

At the park, you will find citrus and agricultural-themed components in its playground and amenities.

Citrus Ranch Park is part of a sustainable design involving particular use of California-native plants, granite trails, and vegetated swales.

The park also includes a playground, a picnic area, a walking trail, an overlook pavilion, and a gazebo with stunning views.

Make Your Special Occasion Pop with Excellence Entertainment DJs

Excellence Entertainment DJs is proud to differ from other DJ companies in the world.

They are wildly creative and passionate and never settle for the simple and ordinary.

Excellence DJs is a full-service DJ and production company specializing in events, from private parties, teen affairs, nightlife, weddings, corporate events, and more.

They know a DJ can make or break an event.

They also believe talent, experience, and customer service make them a fantastic choice.

Founder DJ Braulio Zee has become one of the most sought-after profile event DJs in Southern California.

He has toured the country and provided the soundtrack for celebrities, companies, and well-known organizations.

He has an extraordinary ability to connect the old with the new, melding the boundaries between private entertainment worlds and nightlife.

Let your special event crackle with talent, experience, and passion at Excellence Entertainment DJs.

Discover the Past with the Tustin Area Historical Society

Founded in 1976, the Tustin Area Historical Society preserves and protects the richly colorful history of the region.

The society relies on membership dues and proceeds from their local tour since they don’t charge admission to the Museum.

The funds allow them to enhance and maintain the Museum, offer programs that awaken historical interest, and protect historical photographs and papers for research.

Society members receive their newsletter, Heritage, which announces programs and keeps people up to date on Museum news.

The Museum displays several artifacts, photographs, and documents of great historical significance.

Visitors can see Tustin’s first fire engine, models of an old house and general store, a comptometer, an old business calculator, antique sewing machines, currency, and others.

The museum annually hosts the Old Town Tustin Museum and Garden Tour, where guests can see vintage homes and pretty gardens reminiscent of the past.

Have Plenty of Laughs at ImprovCity

ImprovCity has done comedy shows throughout Southern California for over ten years.

Their shows star professionally trained improv comedians doing improvised scenes, games, and songs in a fast-paced comedic style.

Their shows feature high energy, hilarious, and interactive.

Likewise, they offer family-friendly and uncensored programs.

Since eery show is improvised, no two shows are ever the same.

Their Main Stage cast performs Fridays and Saturdays, featuring improvisational comedians with on-the-spot performances based on audience suggestions.

ImprovCity also offers all sorts of classes throughout the year.

At Improv101, students will learn the concept of “Yes, and…” to create improvised scenes, with an introduction to creating characters.

At Improv201, the class will focus on point-of-view, relationship, emotion, environment, and heightening.

At Improv301, the class will focus on character development and storytelling, learning the concept of transitions, callbacks, and scene edits.

Eat Comfort Food at Rutabegorz Restaurant

Back in 1970, Rutabegorz was once a tiny ‘hippie’ joint that opened its doors to an unassuming city.

Rutabegorz would soon become an icon and a trendsetter in Tustin.

At the start, Rutabegorz served only coffee and dessert.

It has since developed into one of Orange County’s top health food restaurants.

Today, it’s a go-to for fresh, healthy food with a menu half-full of vegetarian options.

Along with vegetarian dishes, Rutabegorz also serves turkey, albacore tuna, white chicken breast, and lean deli meats.

They have freshly house-made salad dressings and condiments that are low in fat.

They use only the freshest vegetables, featuring fresh produce delivered six days a week.

Its mission is to provide communities with a healthy alternative to the usual restaurant fare.

They strive to make every experience positive and hope diners enjoy their fantastic food and relaxed atmosphere.

Find Spiritual Sustenance at Chinmaya Mission

In 1953, the followers of the world-famous Vedanta instructor, Swami Chinmayananda, established the first Chinmaya Mission in India.

Following his vision, his devotees formed the center of a spiritual rising that embraces a wide range of educational, charitable, and spiritual activities.

The current senior monk at Chinmaya Mission Los Angeles in Tustin is Swami Ishwarananda or Swamiji.

Every day, he explains the universal spiritual teachings to audiences and seekers.

People from all religions are welcome at the Hindu Chinmaya Mission.

It offers an array of Vedanta study groups for all ages, running social projects and promoting classic Indian art.

It also offers Balhivar classes for kids, spiritual camps, women’s Devi groups, senior citizens’ clubs, and young adults’ youth forums.

They also celebrate all major Hindu festivals, along with classes on the Shrimad Bhagvat Gita and the epics Mahabharata and Ramayana.

Have a Fun Day Out at Victory Park

Victory Park in Tustin is a vast outdoor playground serving as a stunning outdoor monument to the El Toro Marine Corps Air station.

Each detail of the park is reminiscent of the air station, from the flight control tower replica with pictures of helicopters to the hangar-shaped restroom and picnic area.

The garden area will remind you of a landing strip, with carved benches that look like airplane wings.

You will also find six informational placards that share historical photography and unique details of the old base.

Your kids will have a good time on the climbing apparatus with handholds of varying sizes.

They can explore the grassy hill leading to the playground and climb to the top, where they will find red-filtered binoculars and blue-filtered telescopes.

They will also find spiderweb climbers, futuristic monkey bars, and interactive panels with drums and music.

Go Bowling at Bowlero Orange County

If you’re looking for an exciting outing with your friends, look no further than the retro-inspired Bowlero Orange County.

This bowling alley assures guests of interactive, immersive entertainment, letting them forget the real world for a while.

Bowlero Orange County has 30 bowling lanes, an interactive arcade with modern games, a huge sports bar, a laser tag arena, and ropes courses.

Their bowling lanes are some of the coolest and most entertaining in the area.

Enjoy the soft lounge seats, black lights, and giant HD video walls playing classic films and music videos.

Their deluxe arcade features state-of-the-art games and plenty of old-school mainstays.

You can play your old favorites and make discoveries with impressive titles like Mario Kart, Pac-Man, and Jurassic Park Arcade.

If you don’t want to miss the big game, head to the sports bar and enjoy a beer or a glass of wine while watching the highlights.

Get Creative at Pinot’s Palette

Building sign of Pinot’s Palette

The Image Party /

Pinot’s Palette is a fashionable place where participants can drink, paint, and have lots of fun.

At Pinot’s Palette, everyone can take turns being a Van Gogh or a Picasso!

For a night out with painting and music, you can create a wonderful painting by following instructions.

You can even create your own masterpiece.

If you want a private painting party, your local artists will guide you every step of the way.

Sip on a tasty beverage while socializing and awakening your inner artist.

If you’re holding a corporate team building, they will organize a well-oiled upscale event where you can join team bonding activities and unleash creativity.

If you want your children to have a swell time, Little Brushes will celebrate their creativity, helping them choose colors and patterns to make each painting their own.

See the Breathtaking Tustin Blimp Hangars

Far view of the Tustin Blimp Hangars

Steve Cukrov /

One of the most famous attractions in Tustin is the Tustin Blimp Hangars which is forever marked as one of the greatest wartime engineering accomplishments by the United States.

The hangars are an all-wood structure that served during World War II—it was originally an accelerated project because of the growing military demands during those hard times.

Because of its sheer size (over 1,000 feet long!) Tustin Blimp Hangars was a famous movie site for Hollywood films, most especially those about the events in Pearl Harbor.

Exterior of the Tustin Blimp Hangars

Steve Cukrov /

Today, you can see the grandiose design and feel the historical relevance of Tustin Blimp Hangars by locating hangar number 2 along East Warner Avenue.

Breathtaking and a great photo opportunity, don’t miss out on checking this engineering marvel from the 20th Century.

Interior of the Tustin Blimp Hangars

Steve Cukrov /

Go Shopping at The Market Place

Signage of The Market Place

The Image Party /

Tustin is a bustling city, so it’s no surprise that you can do all sorts of shopping and fun activities in its business districts.

One of the best places to experience the bustling life of Tustin is at The Market Place—Tustin’s biggest shopping district.

Here, you can find so many dining options that’ll surely be enough to cover your itinerary no matter how long you stay.

There are also tons of mainstays that you would expect in a shopping mall, such as Best Buy, Total Wine, and Nordstrom Rack.

Located along El Camino Real Road, don’t miss out on checking the lively atmosphere of The Market Place.

Old Navy at The Market Place

Tada Images /

Take a Breather at Pine Tree Park

Pine Tree Park is a gorgeous green space tucked in the quieter parts of Tustin along Bryan Avenue.

It’s a great spot to relax with friends and family, especially if you’re traveling with the little ones.

There are playgrounds, picnic areas, and even a sand volleyball area which is a great way to wick off some pent up energy.

Pine Tree Park also features a lot of trees, so you’ll get natural shade here even during the early portion of the afternoon.

Tustin can get tiring with all its awesome city attractions, so take a breather at Pine Tree Park if you can.

Do Exercise at Tustin Veterans Sports Park

A memorial at Tustin Veterans Sports Park

Steve Cukrov /

Tustin Veterans Sports Park is one of the more exciting recreational areas in Tustin.

Sprawling with several sports fields and smaller parks, Tustin Veterans Sports Park is a haven for sports and exercise no matter your age.

There are pickleball and tennis courts here along with baseball and soccer fields as well; Tustin Veteran Sports Park also features a splash pad for the little ones.

But perhaps its most exciting amenity is the Tustin Legacy Skatepark, a modern and spacious skate park where you can hone your skateboarding or BMX biking skills.

Tustin Veterans Sports Park is located along Valencia Avenue—it’s a convenient spot when looking to do exercise.

Get a Taste of Japan at Sake2Me Sushi Restaurant

Sake2Me Sushi Restaurant is a versatile dining establishment that can meet your appetite’s varying demands, so as long as you’re game for Japanese cuisine.

Feeling famished? Sake2Me Sushi Restaurant is famous for its all-you-can-eat buffet that features a ton of Japanese classics.

Some of their bestsellers here are their sushi rolls and sashimi, so don’t miss these out when visiting.

If you’re more in the mood for light food, there’s a lot of pescatarian and vegetarian options as well in Sake2Me Sushi Restaurant.

While not local to Tustin, this is a California staple that you’d best try if you’re already in the area—find it along Carroll Way.

Other Things to do Nearby

Take Your Family to Boomers! Irvine

Exterior of Boomers! Irvine

Steve Cukrov /

Boomers! Irvine is in Irvine, California.

Just drive 12 minutes from Tustin to reach the national amusement center, a favorite place for fun.

It has indoor activities such as carousels, restaurants, kiddie swings, and video game arcades.

It also has outdoor activities, like kiddie rides, bumper boats, mini-golf, batting cages, roller coasters, laser tags, and go-karts.

Whether you’re out for a fun event, celebrating a birthday, or simply spending time with family and friends, Boomers! is the perfect place for a spot of excitement.

At the arcade, play basketball, go snowboarding, engage in a space shootout, and bring virtual reality to life.

A waterpark inside Boomers! Irvine

The Image Party /

At the miniature golf course, enjoy thriving greens, crazy water features, and wild windmills as you wield the ball and putter.

Board the bumper boats, go full speed ahead and soak someone you love with the water cannon.

Discover your inner warrior while playing lazer tag as you enter a battleground carrying light phasers.

Chase the thrill on the thunder road go-karts with banked curves, hairpin bends, and heart-pounding straightaways.

Unleash the fun at Boomers! Irvine now.

The grounds of Boomers! Irvine

Steve Cukrov /

Have a Culinary Adventure with Traveling Spoon

Traveling Spoon’s promise is to help its customers ‘travel off the eaten path.’

This San Francisco, California-based company connects travelers with hosts who prepare local, homemade cuisine in their homes.

Today, Traveling Spoon serves homemade meals from 200 local hosts in 18 countries.

The experience is like having a friend’s mother prepare you a home-cooked meal in every country you visit.

Here you can share the joy of a homemade meal and learn about culinary and cultural traditions passed through generations.

You can also take cooking classes and visit marketplaces to browse cooking ingredients with your hosts.

Final Thoughts

Tustin is a city full of great cheer, unique heritage, fine recreations, and exciting history.

You will have a fun time in Tustin, exploring its parks, trying its wide range of fine dining, or soaking up the colorful culture.

Head to the City of Trees today and see what Tustin holds for your curious mind.

Book your trip now!

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