Bowers Museum

Top choice museum in Northern Orange County

From its stately, Spanish Colonial–style shell, the Bowers Museum explodes onto the scene every year or so with remarkable exhibits that remind LA-centric museum-goers that the Bowers, too, is a local and national power player. Permanent exhibits are equally impressive, a rich collection of pre-Columbian, African, Chinese and Native American art, plus California art from the missions to Laguna Beach–style plein air painting. Our favorite: the Spirits and Headhunters gallery, showing jewelry, armaments, masks and religious articles of the Pacific Islands.

Docent-guided gallery tours are given every afternoon, and the airy cafe Tangata serves great lunches and California wines by the glass.

Admission to the Bowers also covers the affiliated Kidseum, a quick walk away; check in advance for its opening hours, which are more limited.

The museum is 6 miles southeast of Disneyland, off I-5 in Santa Ana. Admission is free on the first Sunday of each month. Public parking costs $6.