Blake Walsh

15 Free Things to Do in Westminster, CA

  • Published 2023/01/25

Westminster is largely known for its Vietnamese heritage.

Diverse both culturally and politically, this city is an amalgamation of different histories and ethnicities, with its European-inspired facilities and Asian architecture.

More than that, it is a transportation hub because of its convenient location to major freeways and well-rounded transport system.

But before its cultural and transportation legacy, Westminster was an agricultural village during its founding years in the 1800s.

Incorporated in 1957, it was Orange County‘s second Presbyterian temperance colony and California’s 337th city.

So much has changed since then, but Westminster’s transformation as a recreational and cultural center only helped the city thrive more.

And what’s more, it’s an affordable travel destination within southern California, too!

Get the best out of this city through these 15 free things to do in Westminster, California!

Learn about Vietnamese Culture at Little Saigon

The road of Little Saigon

DD Images /

In the center of Orange County is Westminster’s most-visited attraction, Little Saigon.

This neighborhood is home to many Vietnamese Americans and a gathering spot for Asians to drink, dine, and shop.

But did you know that this site has a painful past?

When the North Vietnam rule started in 1975, many Vietnamese citizens had to fly to America because of political oppression.

The event also went by the name of the Fall of Saigon.

Since then, these immigrants had to forge a new home for themselves while also staying true to their roots.

Lunar festival at Little Saigon

Joseph Sohm /

Little Saigon is a celebration of these people’s love for their culture, and now, you can see how this love flourished.

Go window-shopping at various stores and boutiques lined up in the neighborhood.

Come by during the Flower Festival and watch the streets fill up with fresh flowers and plants.

Though Little Saigon spreads over various cities like Garden Grove and Huntington Beach, its true beginnings lie in Westminster.

Experience a different type of cultural immersion when you stop by this village on Bolsa Avenue.

Asian Garden mall at Little Saigon

The Image Party /

Practice Your Skateboarding Skills at Liberty Park

Along Monroe Street, Liberty Park spans seven acres—an ideal space for a gathering with the whole family.

If you come by during the warmer months, there’s nothing to worry about because the park’s shady spots can provide ample protection from the sun.

For your little ones, there is an open play area where they can release their energy and run around.

But what draws many locals and tourists to this park is its skatepark.

With your skateboard, practice fast stunts along the slopes of the ramp.

The facility’s design mainly caters to intermediate and beginner skaters, but everyone is welcome to try their hand at the extreme sport.

Liberty Park opens its gates to the classic outdoor lovers and daredevils, so make sure it’s in your itinerary!

Pose and Take a Photo in Front of the “Of Two Lineages” Sculpture

Westminster may be notable for its history and culture, but the city’s modern art scene is more than capable of catching the attention of travelers.

One of its eminent public art installations is the “Of Two Lineages” Sculpture.

This sculpture, built by artist James Dinh in 2017, is a creative interpretation of the Vietnamese legend of Lạc Long Quân and Âu Cơ.

The legend tells of a king from a coastline country and a princess born in the mountains.

Their different lineages separated their 100 children in half to follow their respective parents.

Standing at 17 feet, this artwork greatly resembles the trunk of a bamboo tree—flexible and resilient.

There’s also a plaza surrounding the “Of Two Lineages” Sculpture and benches featuring photos of about 100 Vietnamese Americans.

Admire this art within Asian Garden Mall on Bolsa Avenue.

Commemorate the Lives of Fallen Soldiers at the Vietnam War Memorial

Daytime view of the Vietnam War Memorial

Steve Cukrov /

Situated within the property of Sid Goldstein Freedom Park, The Vietnam War Memorial is a physical remembrance of the soldiers who lost their lives in the Vietnam War.

It also aims to memorialize the hope and strength of South Vietnam to hold their forts against the unification of the north and south.

Designed by Tuan Nguyen, the park highlights the life-size sculptures of two soldiers with their weapons.

Aerial view of the Vietnam War Memorial

Steve Cukrov /

There’s also an inscription on the platform where the sculptures stand that says “Duty, Honor, Sacrifice.”

Waving freely on both sides of the sculpture are the respective flags of the United States of America and South Vietnam.

Pay your respects to the fallen heroes by visiting the Vietnam War Memorial at the corner of Monroe and 13th Streets.

Watch a Free Movie or Concert at Civic Center

One of Westminster’s active and community-inclusive events is the Movies & Music public summer series.

These annual events take place every June and August and welcome everyone, whether you’re a local or a resident.

The free movie event comes with pre-movie activities for the whole family.

The summer concerts offer a wide range of genres—from band tributes to heavy dance beats—for everyone to enjoy.

Kick off your summer the right way by preparing your blankets and lounge chairs for a night—or nights—you won’t forget!

For the ultimate budget-friendly quest, bring snacks for the whole family to share.

The Movies & Music event is held every Thursday night at the city’s Civic Center.

Let Your Kids Have Fun at the Splash Pad in Sigler Park

The neighborhood park, Sigler Park, is an outdoor favorite for families and large groups.

Complete with covered picnic areas for your group’s ultimate respite, this park has your recreation preferences covered.

Within the property, you’ll find a basketball court, a baseball diamond, and a soccer field should you wish to play a game or two.

What makes Sigler Park outstanding is its seasonal splash pad.

Get ready for a fun-filled day at this park on Plaza Street.

Expand Your History Knowledge with a Visit to the Museum of the Republic of Vietnam

Exterior of the Museum of the Republic of Vietnam

Steve Cukrov /

Opened in 2016, the Museum of the Republic of Vietnam offers a trip to the past with its exhibits and displays.

This museum is famous for its detailed diasporas and military vehicle scale models.

Interior of the Museum of the Republic of Vietnam

Steve Cukrov /

From time to time, the place also hosts film showings, lectures, and other free-to-the-public events showcasing the Republic of Vietnam’s history.

Original photographs and artworks from that distant past are also up for viewing.

Get your daily dose of historical lessons at the Museum of the Republic of Vietnam on Bolsa Avenue—at the heart of Little Saigon.

Exhibit in the Museum of the Republic of Vietnam

Steve Cukrov /

Enjoy a Picnic at Bolsa Chica Park

Craving for a solemn time alone or with loved ones while surrounded by nature?

Bolsa Chica Park is your best choice for leisure.

This park on University Street is medium-sized but is full of multi-faceted facilities for tourists and locals looking to have a relaxing time out in the sun.

It features a wide expanse of lawns and a sand-covered play area.

If you prefer tennis as a hobby or sport, this park has a court specifically for you.

After running around and going on a city exploration, it’s best to sit down and have a picnic with loved ones.

Bolsa Chica Park is the ideal site for outdoor recreation.

Guide Your Kids as They Play at Buckingham Park

Open to the public, Buckingham Park offers a pleasant surprise for its regular and new visitors.

The park is famous for its fun playground equipment, including swinging rings and sit-on spinners.

Your kid’s curiosity is best satiated at the pretend playhouse.

The rubberized play area also works well for your little ones who love to run around and chase each other.

Drop by Buckingham Park on Homer Street to get your much-needed break.

Go for a Jog at Russell C. Paris Park’s Tracks

Russell C. Paris Park’s charm is its paved walkways along trimmed grass lawns.

This site is ideal for a quick morning jog or a romantic stroll with a loved one.

Alongside this exercise-friendly amenity, there are also play areas equipped with multi-use equipment.

Seek shade from the heat at the pavilion-like picnic sections.

And if the weather’s just right, sit by the benches and watch as kids have fun at the swings and monkey bars.

At Russell C. Paris Park on Palos Verde Avenue, you can escape the hustle of daily life.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Check Out the Exhibits at the Hilbert Museum of California Art

Exterior of Hilbert Museum of California Art

Steve Cukrov /

It’s always a delight to find an art gallery you can get lost in while on your Southern California trip.

At the Hilbert Museum of California Art, this is possible!

Opened in 2016, this museum houses the Hilbert Collection, a remarkable blend of the coastal, farm, and urban landscapes through oil and watercolor on canvas.

This art gallery captures the essence of the California scene through the lens of various local and international artists.

This museum is on East Chapman Avenue in Orange.

It will only take about 14 minutes to reach the Hilbert Museum of California Art by car from Westminster.

Enjoy Birdwatching at Shipley Nature Center

Trail at Shipley Nature Center

Debbie Eckert /

At the city of Huntington Beach, Shipley Nature Center expands your knowledge of nature, its exquisite habitats, and its rare wildlife.

Opened in 1974, this center aims to preserve the natural surroundings of California before urbanization took over.

Currently, it is home to over 4,000 feet of nature trails that cut across oak woodlands, meadows, and freshwater wetlands.

Entrance gate of Shipley Nature Center

KK Stock /

Across these routes, you may find a variety of fowl species, both native and migratory ones.

Some of its regular bird visitors include hummingbirds, wrens, and herons.

Shipley Nature Center is on Goldenwest Street, about 13 minutes from Westminster.

Admire the Minimalist Design of California Scenario

California Scenario, also known by the name Noguchi Garden, is a minimalist garden that features the genius of Isamu Noguchi.

Completed in 1979, this garden spans 1.6 acres.

It’s a great example of a public outdoor sculpture garden that takes visitors to various natural landscapes.

Among its sectioned elements are “Land Use,” “Desert Land,” and “Energy Fountain.”

Its centerpiece, The Spirit of the Lima Bean, is a sure eye-catcher.

This granite rock piece features at least 15 rust-colored rocks melded together to form one large sculpture.

This piece is a tribute to Henry Segerstrom’s agricultural contribution to California’s progress as a city, as well as his friendship with the designer of the gardener himself.

California Scenario is in Costa Mesa on Anton Boulevard, about a 26-minute drive from Westminster.

Go on a Docent-Led Tour at the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve

Flock of birds over Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve waters

Jason Finn /

The Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve is your best bet for deep nature exploration.

With about 1,300 acres, this preserve features mixed land-and-water habitats.

It’s home to marshes, coastal dunes, and nesting islands.

This is why the place is notorious for its avian wildlife, ideal for some animal viewing.

Snowy egret at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve

KK Stock /

Take advantage of the trails to fully experience these natural ecosystems.

If you prefer a more formal survey of the place, sign up for free docent-led tours.

You can find the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve on California Highway 1 in Huntington Beach.

This is approximately 20 minutes away from Westminster.

Wildflowers at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve

Debbie Eckert /

Watch the Sunset at Huntington Beach Pier

Daytime view of Huntington Beach Pier

Ken Wolter /

Looking for a more idle way to experience South California?

Walking down Huntington Beach Pier may be a fun activity for you.

Only a 21-minute drive from Westminster, this pier is open to the public, day and night.

It’s 1,850 feet long, making it the longest pier not only in Huntington Beach but also on the West Coast.

People along Huntington Beach Pier

The Image Party /

Its stunning views of the Pacific Ocean draw fishing enthusiasts to the site.

But if you prefer watching the sunset while walking down the wharf or just enjoying the calm waves of the sea below, you are always free to do so!

You can find Huntington Beach Pier at the intersection of Main Street and Pacific Coast Highway.

Aerial view of Huntington Beach Pier

Unwind /

Final Thoughts

The Vietnamese lifestyle and culture make up a large part of Westminster’s cultural heritage.

Home to Little Saigon and a museum solely dedicated to Vietnamese soldiers, this city offers various fascinating historical attractions.

But don’t forget about the city’s vast public spaces and annual festivals, too!

Include these free things to do in Westminster, California, in your itinerary for a budget-friendly trip!

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