Bowers Museum: An Art & History Museum in Santa Ana

Created in 1932, the Bowers Museum is one of Orange County’s premier museums with over 100,000 pieces in its collection. The museum is only a few miles south of Disneyland, and everything from the building it is housed in, to the exhibits themselves, have been well thought out and displayed engagingly. I am not a huge museum fan, but I found a good amount to enjoy in my hour here, read on for all of the information.


  • Cost: $13 – $15
  • Hours: Tuesday – Sunday: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
  • Location: 2002 N Main St, Santa Ana, CA 92706
  • This information is from my visit in 2017

Getting There

After getting off the 5 Freeway North at Main St, you will proceed left and over the freeway for a few blocks before you see the Bowers Museum on the right. There is a large paid parking lot next to it for $6, but you can find parking for free on the street, depending on the day.

The Exterior

The exterior of the museum is one of my favorite parts. This building has been here since the Bowers donated the land in the 1930s. It has since been added to historical register as it is a beautifully preserved relic of the past. I like taking my time and walking through the small courtyard before heading in. There are a few little exhibits in the courtyard, and it is just a peaceful spot in Orange County.

The Museum

The museum is not that large, but they make the most of their space with the exhibits they have.

The main walkway has big paintings on the wall as it takes you to the back of the museum, where are two of the more extensive exhibits.

The first was dedicated to 5,000 years of Chinese history, and it had a lot of unique things to see.

My favorite was the meticulously crafted chess set in the middle of the exhibit. As a chess fan myself, I can’t imagine how awesome it would be to play on.

There was a lot of information here about the terracotta warriors, which are another favorite of mine. I enjoyed reading about them and seeing the terracotta horses they had. Lastly, there was a historic desk set up, which was cool as well.

The next exhibit was dedicated to spirits and headhunters of the Pacific Islands, and it was the best in the entire museum.

There was so much crazy stuff to see in this exhibit, including old weapons like bone knives and war clubs, as well as lots of unique sculptures and other pieces.

The front of the museum had an additional cost exhibit that I didn’t visit, but I did head into the early California exhibit they had at the front.

This exhibit featured a ton of information on the Native Americans of California and how they lived.

There were lots of artifacts and pieces of information about early California life here as well, and it was pretty fascinating.

The last part of this exhibit was a large room that talked about the California missions and their impact on the people. I was especially interested in this section as I went to all of the California missions last year, and it is a fascinating part of California history to me.

After spending some more time looking around, I made my way out. This museum is an excellent way to spend a little time in Anaheim and Orange County. There is a lot of cool stuff to see here and I recommend you check it out. If you have kids though, head over to the Discovery Museum across the freeway as that is something they will enjoy a lot more.

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