Uncovering Santa Ana: Epicenter of Creative Urbanism

Uncovering Santa Ana: Epicenter of Creative Urbanism

Ronnie Greenberg

Photos by: Joe Hilbers

Uncovering Santa Ana: Epicenter of Creative Urbanism

By: Ronnie Greenberg

Photos by: Joe Hilbers

Stretch your sense of discovery straight to the heart of Santa Ana, the government seat and second oldest city in Orange County. It has been reborn as one of the region’s trendiest destinations for short and long term adventurers looking for a creative urban vibe. Like no other city in the Southland, Santa Ana serves as a microcosm of what an urban destination can look like.

Be inspired with the upbeat energy and eclecticism while uncovering the culinary magic in the new  ethnic venues that dot the city, and the culturally diverse roots  in the city’s arts  with two regional destination museums, one performing arts theater, one leading e-sports arena and the region’s most acclaimed performing arts high school.

Santa Ana as Southern California’s Stage is an emerging art scene where you can experience avant-garde exhibits from upcoming artists, world class student performances, ancient artifacts from around the world, and even a performance by Pacific Symphony in an intimate micro-venue.  Ever since the Yost Theater raised its curtain as the region’s first vaudeville theater more than a century ago, Santa Ana has  been home to painters, sculptors, actors, artisans, musicians, chefs, filmmakers and creative based schools and  businesses-much of it centered in and around the Artists Village.

OC School of the Arts  Art (OCSA) Dozens  is a leading high school talent incubator in film, TV, theater, dance, fine art, music, visual studies, the culinary arts and more. Student theater, music, dance and other performances here are open to the public every month. http://boxoffice.ocsarts.net/main/default/aspx

CSUF Grand Central Art Center (a partnership with California State University at Fullerton) has students that offer a tour of the facility which includes many public galleries and live/work apartments for 26 students participating in the artists-in-residence exhibitions and events open to the public.  For the Exhibitions Calendar go to http://grandcentralartcenter.com/exhibitions and for the GCAC events calendar go to  http://grandcentralartcenter.com/events-2.

Bowers Museum  housed in a Mission-Revival style building, a mainstay of the OC cultural scene since 1936,  has permanent collections with over  100,000 objects including  Native American art, art of Asia, Oceanic art, Africa, and California plein air paintings.

Now through June 2 a world class interactive exhibit  “American Visionary: John F. Kennedy’s Life and Time” is on display. Wonderful photos, some memorable and some new, are tastefully displayed.

A JFK-Inspired lunch at the Tangata Restalurant (Patina Catering at Bowers Museum) features a two course lunch featuring the 35th President’s favorite dishes. New England clam chowder, sea salt and fennel pollen puff pastry with Manila clams and crispy rosemary , poulet chasseur; roasted chicken with wild mushrooms, tomato, shallot confit, classic mashed potatoes with fine herbs.

Also fascinating is the Endurance exhibit the story of survival with Sir Earnest Shackleton along with his crew  in an attempt to make the first land crossing of the Antarctic continent. Life size dioramas with vivid and dramatic photography tell the tale.

Docent led tours are available.

Located at 2002 N. Main St, Santa Ana 92706    (714)567-3630 www.bowers.org

Discovery Cube Orange County, is an amazing family attraction with rotating displays and interactive exhibits.  Bubblefest, is one of the Cube’s most-attended annual celebrations . Get to watch the Mega Bubblefest Laser Show as bubble-scientist Deni Yang performs tricks and stunts with smoking bubbles, spinning bubbles, bouncing bubbles and a laser light show. Then learn the science behind the show with hands-on-activities. http://ocs.discoverycube.org/event/bubblefest


Santa Ana is a foodie city. What started with Gypsy Den in 1994 has matured into a City-wide commitment to culinary artistry by some of Southern California’s most innovative restaurants. This led to Original Mike’s and the ground breaking playground, the Modern Local and the 20,000 square foot 4th Street Market

Chapter One-The Modern Local, formerly a bookstore is rustic chic with a full bar and Lounge.  Cameron Cortese and Armando Rios are executive chefs and whip up such mouthwatering specialties as brick chicken, Barbacoa  short ribs; salmon rillattes, citrus & burrata salad; ora king salmon and for the very hungry, the 40 oz. cowboy ribeye (for 2). Wonderful craft cocktails and a varied menu of select beers and wines are also available. Temptingly original and luscious desserts top your dining experience.

Located in Santa Ana Artist Village, 227 N. Broadway (714 )352-2225 or www.chapteronetml.com

Irenia Restaurant with Executive Chef Ryan Garlitos at the helm oversees the seasonally influenced  Filipino inspired cuisine. Menus change daily.

Located in Santa Ana’s East End at 400 N. Broadway, phone 657-245-3466 www.ireniarestaurant.com

Lola Gaspar, Chef in her namesake restaurant, serves Spanish and Latin small plates along with the locales’ favorite creative cocktails.

Located 211 W Second Street, (714) 972-1172 www.lolaogaspar.com


Traditional malls and independent retailers are interspersed among the quintessential Hispanic businesses and exclusive boutiques like Blends and Rif that are adding Santa Ana’s 4th Street to their trend driven addresses in Beverly Hills,  LA’s Larchmont Village and San Francisco.

Three miles up Main Street Jonathan Maher and Chris Yates at the Mainplace Mall are reinventing the role of suburban mall and retail incubator. Luring the local colorful tenants you rarely see in malls such as the authentic Mexican torta and fruit juice Cancun Juice restaurant with the vision of expanding the facility into more of an entertainment and events driven destination.

Newest Urban address with over 3000 affordable and luxury housing units, much of it clustered in creative downtown or adjacent to the Santa Ana Regional Transportation Center and proposed OC Streetcar that will connect the station with Santa Ana’s East End, downtown and Civic Center neighborhoods.

Celebrities that once called Santa Ana home include a long list of athletes such as Eddie Bockman, Isaac Curtis, Lenny Dyksrta, Rosie Jones and Larry Lutz; film, television and theater stars John Raitt; Michelle Pfeiffer, Louis Olivos, Jr; Michael B. Jordan and music greats, Roy Estrada, Bill Medley and Lindsey Stirling.

All you need to know for your visit to Santa Ana: www.UncoverSantaAna.com or on Facebook,Twitter,Instagram,Pinterest and google using the hashtag#UncoverSantaAna.



No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.