Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do with Kids in Santa Ana, CA

  • Published 2022/12/28

Santa Ana in Orange County is a place rich in art and culture.

Its downtown area is filled with exhibits and displays and classic architecture.

Interested to know more about this place?

Here are the best things to do with kids in Santa Ana, California:

Explore The Dr. Willella Howe-Waffle House and Medical Museum

Signage of Dr. Willella Howe-Waffle House and Medical Museum

Steve Cukrov /

The Dr. Wiellella Howe Waffle House and Medical Museum is on the National Register of Historic Places and showcases what Santa Ana was like years ago.

Dr. Alvin Howe and his wife, Dr. Wilfella Howe, built it in 1889, almost entirely of redwood.

In a place filled with fascinating historical artifacts, the medical museum is one of the most interesting sites in the house.

Exterior view of Dr. Willella Howe-Waffle House and Medical Museum

Steve Cukrov /

There, you’ll find an 1890s oak doctor’s examination table and a medical cabinet containing the equipment they used at the time.

The Dr. Willella Howe-Waffle House and Medical Museum is on Civic Center Drive.

Learn More about Science at the Discovery Cube

Entrance to Discovery Cube

Simone Hogan /

The Discovery Cube believes that providing hands-on science education that delights and encourages kids is an essential mission.

The Santa Ana campus has a wide variety of different exhibits that your kids will love.

There’s the bed of nails, where they’ll get the chance to lie down on a literal bed of nails safely and without any injury or go to the display where they can learn to sort, recycle, and divert waste.

Rocket displayed at Discovery Cube

Steve Cukrov /

You can also take them to the Planetary Research Station if they’re interested in astronomy and learning about space and the worlds beyond Earth.

Discovery Cube is on Main Street.

Unique architecture of Discovery Cube

Simone Hogan /

Have a Picnic at Centennial Regional Park

Near the intersection of Edinger Avenue and Fairview Street, you can find the lovely and expansive Centennial Regional Park.

It’s a massive place and the perfect destination for families looking for a simple afternoon destination where they can have fun and spend quality time.

There are several picnic tables where you and your family can settle down and set up a meal.

The kids can also use the playground to burn off some excess energy.

There’s also a hiking trail for families looking to get some outdoor exercise.

If you’re after a lovely view, look no further since at the center of the park lies a crystalline lake encapsulating the beauty of Santa Ana.

The Centennial Regional Park has a lot going for it, and it’s an easy choice if you and your family are looking for a simple and carefree afternoon.

Discover the History of the Old Orange County Courthouse

Exterior view of Old Orange County Courthouse

Jon Bilous /

The Old Orange County Courthouse is one of the oldest court buildings in Southern California, and it has witnessed many historic moments over the years.

It was dedicated right at the turn of the 20th century, in 1901, and has served as the traditional home of the county government ever since.

Interior view of Old Orange County Courthouse

Steve Cukrov /

If you and your family want to learn more about the general history of Orange County, then this is the place to go.

They regularly set up displays and exhibits on local and regional history.

If you want to explore how this community was born and came to be, head to Old Orange County Courthouse on Santa Ana Boulevard.

Cannon at Old Orange County Courthouse

mikeledray /

Go Rock Climbing at Sender One Climbing

Letting your kids go rock climbing at Sender One Climbing on South Village Way is one of those unique experiences that’ll get your blood pumping.

Let your kids climb the various themed walls while under the supervision of experienced professionals.

If they are interested in the activity, sign them up for the Climbing Academy, where they can learn the fundamentals of rock climbing with industry-leading coaches in a four-week course.

The place even hosts various camps where your child can try other activities, such as ziplining, slacklining, and more.

Exercise and sports aren’t easy to come by these days, but Sender One Climbing is a place that provides those in fun and interesting ways your kid won’t find anywhere else, so give them a shot and see how well your child responds.

Watch a Performance at the Plaza Calle Cuatro

View of Plaza Calle Cuatro

Steve Cukrov /

Plaza Calle Cuatro is another park that you and your family won’t regret visiting.

Its iconic red brickwork is impossible to miss and is a sight to behold.

Once you get there, you’ll experience Santa Ana’s vibrant and colorful culture.

It’s a park that lies at the center of the community, and events are often hosted there to showcase the many skills of the residents.

You can expect musical performances, students dancing, fairs, and so much more.

Plaza Calle Cuatro is located near the intersection of 4th and French Streets.

Visit the Heritage Museum of Orange County

Facade of Heritage Museum of Orange County

Steve Cukrov /

The Heritage Museum of Orange County is dedicated to preserving, restoring, and promoting the local stories of the area and sharing them with both locals and visitors.

They do this through hands-on and interactive education that the younger members of your family are sure to take an instant liking to.

Vibrant yellow flowers at Heritage Museum of Orange County

Steve Cukrov /

Various events are hosted throughout the year, including ghost tours, tea fundraisers, and more.

You can also just explore the area for a small fee.

You can find the Heritage Museum of Orange County on Harvard Street.

Fountain and garden at Heritage Museum of Orange County

Steve Cukrov /

Enjoy the Arcade and Bowling Alley of Round1 Bowling & Amusement

There’s no better place to have some fun with your kids than at Round1 Bowling and Amusement.

There are classic arcade games and new machines imported straight from Japan.

Most kids don’t have much experience with these, so it’ll be a fun family activity to introduce them to the magic of arcade gaming.

Aside from that, there’s also a host of other activities you can do with the family, with bowling undoubtedly being the other highlight of the place.

It’s an easy game to learn, perfect for your kids who may just be starting with the game.

Because of its competitive nature, bowling also makes for a great family activity—bond over your skills, or lack thereof, and aim to achieve your best possible scores.

Round1 Bowling & Amusement is in MainPlace Mall on Main Street.

View the Exhibits at the Bowers Museum

Entrance to  Bowers Museum

Sandra Foyt /

The Bowers Museum first opened its doors in 1936, serving Santa Ana in different capacities throughout the years.

Admission is $12 for adults and free for children under 12 as long as they’re accompanied by a paying adult, making it the perfect destination for families.

They also offer public tours, so make sure to join those to get the full museum experience.

Once you’re done, don’t forget to stop by the shop to pick up a souvenir for the entire family.

The Bowers Museum has a wide variety of exhibits that people of all ages will love.

It’s located on North Main Street.

Explore the Art District of Downtown Santa Ana

Street view of Downtown Santa Ana

Matt Gush /

Downtown Santa Ana serves as a retail and business hub and a regional, cultural, and culinary center of Santa Ana.

If you and your family want to be keyed into the city’s art scene, then this is the place to visit.

You’ll find various art galleries and museums alongside small-time vendor setups in the streets.

Bird's eye view of Downtown Santa Ana

Matt Gush /

There’s also a host of restaurants you and your family can visit if you need a quick bite or are looking for a new gourmet experience.

You’re bound to find anything you’re looking for when it comes to the city’s culture and community in Downtown Santa Ana, so visit it if you want to see what’s up in the city.

Fountain at Downtown Santa Ana

Matt Gush /

Explore the Works at the Grand Central Art Center

The Grand Central Art Center is dedicated to the open exploration of contemporary art and visual culture.

It’s open from Tuesdays to Sundays, and admission to all exhibitions is free.

The exhibits rotate every few months, so there’s always something new and interesting to see while you’re there.

It features ceramic displays to abstract multimedia pieces.

The Grand Central Art Center is on North Broadway.

Visit the Animals of Santa Ana Zoo

Entrance to Santa Ana Zoo

The Image Party /

Zoos are places that kids are guaranteed to love, and the Santa Ana Zoo is no different.

The place is filled with unique, fun, and interesting attractions that children will love.

Take them on the Zoofari Express Train Ride to get around the area and see the major attractions through a fun locomotive.

Ferris wheel at Santa Ana Zoo

Steve Cukrov /

Then visit the Crean Family Farm, where they can interact with barn animals like goats and sheep.

Santa Ana Zoo is on Chestnut Avenue.

Anteater at Santa Ana Zoo

Orange Grove /

Spend Time With the Family at Birch Park

Spending time with your family is an easy endeavor in Birch Park.

The gorgeous environment and the relaxing picnic areas make it easy to feel at home there.

Take a step back from your busy lives, slow down, and have fun with the people that matter the most.

Among the facilities you can enjoy at the park are picnic shelters and outdoor exercise equipment.

A Santa Ana Senior Center is available too.

You can find Birch Park near the intersection of 3rd and Ross Streets.

Learn about the Firefighting History at the Santa Ana Fire Museum

The Santa Ana Fire Museum celebrates the long and proud history of the city’s heroic firefighters.

Located near First & Main Street, the place lies at the center of the city and has a lot of stories to tell its visitors.

Join one of the guided tours to get the full experience and understand the context and history of the exhibits displayed all over the area.

There are various exhibits that showcase vintage equipment firefighters from the past used as well as memorabilia dating all the way back to the 1800s.

There’s even a fully restored 1921 Seagrave fire engine there—a valuable piece of history just sitting there for all the world to see and learn from!

You can view these artifacts alongside contemporary equipment used today and see how much fire safety practices have changed over the years.

The Santa Ana Fire Museum is on Walnut Street.

Marvel at Artworks at the Orange County Contemporary Art Center

Exterior view of Orange County Contemporary Art Center

Steve Cukrov /

The Orange County Contemporary Art Center aims to spark artists’ creativity and serves as a space for exhibitions and events.

It hosts various exhibits throughout the year, highlighting different kinds of art and movements, so if you and your family are interested in seeing something specific, make all the appropriate arrangements.

The staff also organizes community outreach programs to foster a love for art within the city.

The best part is that general admission is free.

Once you’re done looking around, don’t forget to stop by the shop to pick up a few trinkets and souvenirs to commemorate your visit.

The Orange County Contemporary Art Center on North Sycamore Street puts a lot of effort into giving artists an inclusive space to display their artworks, making it an incredible site for the family to see unique and varied pieces.

Final Thoughts

The beauty of Santa Ana can’t be understated.

With its numerous family-friendly attractions, you’ll find plenty of fun things to do with the whole family.

Bookmark this list of the best things to do with kids in Santa Ana, California, to make the most of your trip.

© All rights reserved.