Exploring the Best of Orange County Museums – *New Updates

Orange County boasts a dynamic and eclectic museum landscape, offering an impressive array of art, culture and historical exhibits. Committed to educational enrichment and celebrating diversity, these museums stand as pivotal cultural institutions that enhance and illuminate the region’s artistic community and cultural heritage. Through their extensive collections and innovative programs, they provide invaluable opportunities for learning, inspiration and community engagement, enriching the vibrant tapestry of O.C.’s social and cultural life.

Balboa Island Museum

Through its engaging exhibits, archival collections, and community programs, the museum showcases the island’s fascinating past, including its maritime heritage, iconic landmarks, and vibrant community spirit. With its commitment to preserving and celebrating Balboa Island’s history and culture, the museum offers visitors a glimpse into the island’s storied past.
Hours: Times vary, check website for more details
Address: 210 B Marine Ave., Balboa Island
Website: balboaislandmuseum.org

Bolsa Chica Conservancy’s Interpretive Center 

A visitor center located in Huntington Beach, dedicated to the preservation and education of the Bolsa Chica Wetlands. It offers a wealth of information and exhibits about the unique ecosystem of the wetlands, including the flora and fauna that call it home, the history and cultural significance of the area, and ongoing conservation efforts.
Hours: Open Daily, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Address: 3842 Warner Ave., Huntington Beach
Website: bolsachica.org

Bowers Museum

Located in Santa Ana, the Bowers Museum is one of Orange County’s premier cultural institutions, featuring a diverse collection of art and artifacts from around the world. Visitors can explore exhibits on ancient civilizations, Native American culture, and contemporary art, among other topics.
*They will be hosting new events this summer, including Comic Art Expo and Family Festival
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Address: 2002 North Main Street, Santa Ana
Website: bowers.org

Casa Romantica: Cultural Center and Gardens

Casa romantica

From its engaging exhibits that highlight the legacy of its former resident, Ole Hanson, to its commitment to promoting arts and culture, Casa Romantica serves as a cultural hub that enriches the community and fosters appreciation for the beauty and heritage of San Clemente. The Spanish-style estate showcases the rich history, art, and cultural heritage of the region through its exhibitions, performances, educational programs, and events.
Hours: Times vary, check website for more details
Address: 415 Avenida Granada, San Clemente
Website: casaromantica.org

Dana Point Nature Interpretive Center

With its interactive exhibits, educational programs, and stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, the Interpretive Center serves as a hub for environmental education and conservation. From learning about the diverse marine life that inhabits the surrounding waters to understanding the local ecosystems and conservation efforts, the center offers a unique and immersive experience that fosters appreciation for the beauty and fragility of the natural world.
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Address: 34558 Scenic Drive, Dana Point
Website: danapoint.org

Dr. Howe-Waffle House & Medical Museum 

A historic site that provides a fascinating glimpse into the world of 19th-century medicine and Victorian-era living. This unique museum offers visitors a rare opportunity to explore the beautifully preserved home of Dr. Willella Howe-Waffle, one of the first female physicians in Orange County. Through its exhibits, artifacts, and archival collections, the museum offers a captivating look into the medical practices, tools, and innovations of the past, as well as the cultural and social history of the era.
Hours: Tour times vary, check website for more details
Address: 20 Civic Center Drive, Santa Ana
Website: santaanahistory.com/drhowewafflemuseum

Fullerton Arboretum 

The arboretum features a wide variety of lush gardens, trails, and exhibits that showcase unique plant specimens, including rare and endangered species. Visitors can explore the arboretum’s serene landscapes, learn about different plant families and ecosystems, and participate in educational programs, workshops, and special events.
Hours: Monday-Sunday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. 
Address: 1900 Associated Rd., Fullerton
Website: fullertonarboretum.org

Heroes Hall – Veterans Museum & Exhibitions

This esteemed museum honors the legacy of military veterans through its compelling exhibits, educational programs, and community initiatives. From its thought-provoking displays of wartime artifacts and personal stories to its engaging programs that promote understanding and appreciation for veterans.
Hours: Wednesdays-Sundays, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Address: 88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa
Website: ocfair.com/heroes-hall

Heritage Museum of Orange County

The museum features historic buildings, gardens, and exhibits that provide a glimpse into the region’s past, including its early settlers, agriculture, and cultural heritage. Visitors can explore the museum’s grounds, which include restored historic structures, gardens, and a working blacksmith shop, as well as participate in educational programs, tours, and special events.
Hours: Times vary per schedule
Address: 3101 W Harvard St., Santa Ana
Website: heritagemuseumoc.org

OCMA (Orange County Museum of Arts)

A new cultural landmark for modern and contemporary art, the Orange County Museum of Art recently opened its doors last year at Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa. They offer increased exhibition galleries, dedicated education space, and open public areas with which to enrich the lives of a diverse and changing community through modern and contemporary art.
Hours: Wednesday-Monday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Address: 3333 Avenue of the Arts, Costa Mesa
Website: ocma.art

Laguna Art Museum

Situated in the picturesque seaside town of Laguna Beach, the Laguna Art Museum is dedicated to the preservation and promotion of California art. The museum’s collection includes works by both historic and contemporary California artists, as well as rotating exhibitions and public programs.
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Address: 307 Cliff Drive, Laguna Beach
Website: lagunaartmuseum.org

MUZEO Museum and Cultural Center

Located in Anaheim, the MUZEO Museum and Cultural Center showcases a range of exhibitions and events that celebrate Orange County’s diverse communities and cultural traditions. The museum also offers educational programs and workshops for visitors of all ages.
Hours:  Wednesday-Sunday, 11a.m.-5p.m.
Address: 241 S. Anaheim Blvd., Anaheim
Website: muzeo.org

Discovery Cube Orange County

A favorite among families, the Discovery Cube Orange County is an interactive science museum located in Santa Ana. Visitors can explore exhibits on topics ranging from physics and chemistry to ecology and health, and participate in hands-on activities and experiments.
*NEWLY REIMAGINED Dino Quest on Saturday, May 25 showcasing the ancient mysteries of Dinosaurs. Visitors can embark on an epic prehistoric adventure and come face-to-face with life-sized dinosaurs in the newly remodeled exhibit space.
Hours: Open Daily, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Address: 2500 North Main Street, Santa Ana
Website: discoverycube.org

The Richard Nixon Library and Museum

Stuated in Yorba Linda, The Richard Nixon Library and Museum presents a distinctive outlook to individuals on the existence and heritage of the 37th President of the United States. Its exhibits encompass interactive showcases, artifacts, and records portraying Nixon’s political journey and personal experiences.
Hours: Monday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Address: 18001 Yorba Linda Blvd, Yorba Linda
Website: nixonlibrary.gov

Marconi Automotive Museum Orange Count

The Marconi Automotive Museum, with its $30-million collection of vehicles, serves as a key supporter of the Marconi Foundation for Kids, a charity that aids at-risk youth through various programs and financial assistance. Visitors to the museum can marvel at an impressive array of vehicles, including motorcycles, race cars, classic muscle cars, and even a vintage 1937 fire engine.
Hours: Tuesday- Saturday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Address: 1302 Industrial Dr, Tustin
Website: marconimuseum.org

Surfing Heritage and Culture Center

SHACC is a mecca for surf enthusiasts, historians, and lovers of the ocean. With its impressive collection of surfboards, memorabilia, and archives, as well as its engaging exhibits, educational programs, and community initiatives, SHACC showcases the evolution of surfing as a global phenomenon.
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Address: 110 Calle Iglesia, San Clemente
Website: shacc.org

The Huntington Beach International Surfing Museum

Through its engaging exhibits, educational programs, and community initiatives, this museum honors the heritage of surfing. It showcases iconic surfboards and memorabilia, and promotes the sport’s cultural significance
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Address: 411 Olive Ave., Huntington Beach
Website: huntingtonbeachsurfingmuseum.org

UCI Langson IMCA

Located on the campus of UC Irvine, the IMCA houses a renowned collection of California Impressionist art. It features an impressive array of paintings, sculptures, and other artworks that highlight the unique beauty and cultural heritage of California.
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
Address: 18881 Von Karman Avenue #100, Irvine
Website: imca.uci.edu

Photo credits: Bower’s Museum. Steve Cukrov – stock.adobe.com. OCMA, FP NetSuite. Bowers Museum, Orange County Register. Laguna Art Museum, The ACE Agency. Cube Campus, Discovery Cube Orange County. Nixon Library Courtyard, Courtesy of the Nixon Foundation. UCI Jack and Shanaz Langson Institute and Museum of California Art, photo by Jeff McLane. Dr Howe-Waffle House & Medical Museum ,Wikipedia Cbl62 – Own work.


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