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.