Map of Santa Ana California Area
Is a trip to southern California on your radar this year? If so, be sure to visit Santa Ana, and plan on having a wonderful time while you’re there. To help you prepare for your Santa Ana adventure, here are some important things to know about the city known as “Downtown Orange County.”
Where is Santa Ana located on the US map?
Santa Ana is one of the westernmost US cities. It lies in the center of coastal Orange County, California, at 33° N, 117° W.
Its southerly location is partly responsible for its semi-arid, hot climate. The average annual high temperature is a pleasant 76° F, and the annual low is 55° F. Santa Ana receives 13 inches of rain a year, on average. (By comparison, the average for the entire United States is 38 inches per year.)
As far as snow goes, Santa Ana doesn’t see much at all. In fact, while the average amount of snowfall for US cities is 28 inches every year, the average for Santa Ana is zero inches!
Santa Ana is ideally situated in many ways. It’s only 33 miles from Los Angeles and is considered part of the larger Los Angeles metropolitan area, but by the same token, it’s only 10 miles from the Pacific Ocean. Its central location provides visitors to Santa Ana the best of both worlds.
Besides the lure of the big city and the ocean, there are plenty of smaller cities in the surrounding area. You’ll never run out of places to go and things to do.
How big is Santa Ana?
Geographically speaking, Santa Ana is a mere 27.27 square miles in size. By comparison, San Francisco is 232 square miles (but 80% of that is water).
As of July 1, 2019, the population of Santa Ana was 332,318. This represents a 2.3% increase since April 1, 2010.
Santa Ana is densely populated. Among US cities with populations larger than 300,000, it comes in fourth, density-wise, after New York, San Francisco, and Boston.
As newcomers have arrived, the ethnic diversity of Santa Ana has increased. Currently, the US Census Bureau lists the following race/ethnic origin percentages for the population of Santa Ana:
- Hispanic or Latino 76.8
- White alone 40.2
- Asian alone 11.8
- White alone, not Hispanic or Latino 9.4
- Two or more races 2.1
- Black or African American alone 1.1
- American Indian and Alaska Native alone 0.5
- Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone 0.3
Is Santa Ana a good place to live?
Considering its central location and wide variety of activities for year-round residents, it’s easy to see why so many people want to live in Santa Ana.
And out of all American cities with over 250,000 residents, Forbes ranks Santa Ana number four in terms of safety, with number one being the safest.
It is also a great place to live for sun worshippers, ocean lovers, outdoor sports enthusiasts, and people whose health conditions require a drier atmosphere.
Day trips from Santa Ana for fun and adventure are easy, and there are several to choose from. Starting in the northeast and moving clockwise, it’s surrounded by the cities of Orange, Irvine, Costa Mesa, Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, and Anaheim.
There are even two huge tourist attractions adjacent to Santa Ana: Disneyland Park (a 6.9-mile drive north), and South Coast Plaza (a 4.7 mile drive south). South Coast Plaza is the largest shopping mall in the west coast area, boasting over 250 shops, including many upscale designer stores.
Smaller attractions in the area include:
- City parks. There are no fewer than 44 of them right in Santa Ana.
- Segerstrom Center for the Arts. Located in nearby Costa Mesa, this venue hosts Broadway plays and other artistic productions.
- Bowers Museum. This museum was voted “Best Museum in Orange County” for the past 26 years by readers of the local newspaper, the Orange County Register.
- Lyon Air Museum. Located right at Santa Ana’s John Wayne Airport, this museum showcases historical WWII planes and other equipment.
- Blinking Owl Distillery. This is the first craft distillery in Orange County. It specializes in vodkas, whiskeys, gins, and Aquavit, and offers tours and tastings.
- Discovery Cube OC. Here is a hands-on, kid-friendly science experience for the whole family.
- Santa Ana Zoo. When Joseph Prentice donated the land for this zoo, the contract stated that there must at all times be at least 50 monkeys in residence! You won’t be disappointed with a visit here, especially if you like monkeys.
Where are the best areas to live in Santa Ana?
Housing is available in most parts of the city, especially to the north and south where it is more residential in flavor.
What is Santa Ana known for?
You may have heard of Santa Ana because of references to either the Santa Ana Winds or the Santa Ana Freeway. Here is some background on both:
Santa Ana Winds
In late summer and early fall, warm air from the northeast is pushed southward and descends upon Santa Ana. According to legend, these winds make people do strange things (going a bit “loco” among them). Of course, this is just an entertaining folk tale.
There are several theories as to how the Santa Ana winds got their name. Some people believe that the name comes from “Santana winds,” a term they think came from the Spanish word sataná (“hot breath of Satan”).
Other locals disagree, arguing that the name comes from the Santa Ana Canyon, a mountain pass that the warm winds move through.
Either way, the name “Santa Ana winds” has stuck, to the chagrin of some residents who don’t want its city to be known for its seasonal winds.
Santa Ana Freeway
Older folks who grew up during construction of Interstate 5 used to refer to it as the “Santa Ana Freeway” because it ran right through Orange County. It’s now referred to by most California’s as simply “the Five.”
The Five is 1,381 miles long, stretching north all the way into Canada and south right into Mexico, changing its name to BC 99 on the Canadian side and to Mexico Federal Highway 1 south of the border.
Hopefully, this guide has given you a closer look at the many things you can look forward to when you visit Santa Ana. As a thriving city with many attractions, situated in the heart of southern California, it surely has earned the nickname, “Downtown Orange County.”