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Santa Ana is the second-largest city in Orange County, in the Los Angeles metropolitan area.
The city is the county seat and is known as a cultural and arts center for the area.
It has a large zoo, many art museums, and is dotted with mission revival-style buildings.
It is bounded on the northeast by Interstate 5, and on the southwest by Interstate 405.
Santa Ana is less than 10 miles from the Pacific Ocean and about 20 miles south of Los Angeles.
Though it is urban, it has parks with bike paths and hiking areas.
Art is often sold on the streets and food in open-air markets.
The Santa Ana Artist Village Art Walk is several blocks of art galleries, restaurants, and shops.
The airport is the closest airport to Disney World, which is a short distance from the city.
Warnings & Dangers in Santa Ana
OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM
One crime stat website rated the city in the 88th percentile, meaning 88 percent of the cities in California are safer than Santa Ana. It has a crime rate of 57 per 1,000 residents, which is well above the national average of 21. Residents say the west side is the safest. Tourist areas are safe in the daytime, but there are bad areas.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
Santa Ana is the hub of public transport in Orange County, so there is a lot available, from trains, buses, streetcars, and taxis. They can get crowded, but they are reliable and generally safe. Incidents are rare. Taxis from the airport are licensed and safe.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : HIGH
Public transportation is used a lot and is crowded. This is a great area for pickpockets. Do not keep your wallet in your back pocket. It is a good idea to use a money belt. There are fairly common reports of people being victims of pickpockets in waiting areas for public transportation.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
California is known for fires and earthquakes. There have not been many in this area in recent years, but conditions exist for them to happen here. The crowded population could make such an event even worse if it were to happen.
MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM
There are areas where the risk is high even during the day, but tourist areas are pretty safe. A mugging during the day would be very rare. Criminals are out more at night, so it is not a good idea to be out alone at night, even in tourist areas. There is some risk, but common sense precautions will keep you safe.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
A crowded area where there are a lot of tourists would be an area that terrorists might strike, but so far they have not. We rate it low because it has not happened, but it is an area that would be inviting to a terrorist. Conditions are right, so that means there is a little risk.
SCAMS RISK : MEDIUM
There have been reports of foreigners being drugged by spiked drinks and then being robbed. Do not accept an unsealed drink from anyone. There may be fake taxis, so make sure the one you use is licensed. Avoid people who offer you tours. The risk is typical for any tourist-heavy city.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
The crime rate is high in Santa Ana, but women do not seem to be singled out as targets. There are a lot of tourists in this city, and women traveling alone is common. It is very safe in the tourist areas during the day.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
Santa Ana water meets all federal and state requirements for safety. The water comes from a huge underground basin that provides most of the water for all of Orange County's 2.5 million people. Tap water anywhere in the Los Angeles area may have come from Santa Ana.
Safest Places to Visit in Santa Ana
The tourist areas are safe and fascinating.
The Santa Ana Artists Village Art Walk is several blocks of art galleries, restaurants, and shops.
Art is also sold on the street.
The MainPlace Mall downtown is a collection of art, jewelry, and Mexican art of all kinds.
Floral Park is a neighborhood of expensive homes that is fun to tour.
The Santa Ana Zoo is 20 acres of the urban jungle that you can explore by tram or walking.
It always has at least 50 monkeys.
Fourth Street is popular with locals with all its shops and restaurants.
There are several museums worth a stop, like the Old Town Hall, which is now a city museum, the Heritage Museum of local history, the Bowers Museum of Art, and the Discovery Science Center.
The tourist area streets are filled with people and colorful sights.
Street vendors hawk food, souvenirs, and art that is made locally.
The tourist downtown area is fairly compact and easy to get around.
Placess to Avoid in Santa Ana
Most of the crime happens in the southeast and northwest parts of town.
The crime rate is significantly higher here than in most cities its size.
The tourist areas of Santa Ana are great fun and safe for the most part.
It is outside of that area that it is unsafe even during the day at times.
Fairhaven, and Park Santiago, are communities on the north side that are very dangerous.
The violent crime rate in Fairhaven is 3,403 per 100,000, and 1,692 in Park Santiago.
The national average is 400.
Merideth Parkwood is in the same area and also has a very high crime rate.
Centennial Park and Briston-Warner in the southeast are also high crime areas with some reported gang activity.
The bad areas are in the northeast and southwest primarily, and they can be very bad.
The good areas are very good.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Santa Ana
- Learn the layout. Know where the bad areas of town are, and avoid those areas any time of day. Knowing the layout will help keep you in the safer areas of the city.
- Stay alert. Just as you would in any large city, pay attention to your surroundings and what is going on around you. Watch what people are doing around you.
- Avoid the dark. Don’t go into dark or secluded areas, and avoid the streets at night. The main tourist area is fine, even at night for the most part. Use common sense and don’t go to places that look dangerous.
- Don’t go alone. Especially at night, don’t go out on the street by yourself. Some areas are OK at night, but there is no reason to take a chance when you do not have to.
- Hide your cash. Keep your money hidden and keep expensive electronics out of sight as much as possible. Do not count your money in public. Avoid letting anyone see how much money you have, or where you keep it. A money belt is advisable for any large city.
- Protect your wallet. Especially in crowded areas, watch out for pickpockets. Don’t carry your wallet in your back pocket. Keep valuables in a money belt instead. Hold your purse in your hands, not across your shoulder when using public transportation.
- Be confident. Always act like you know where you are going. Avoid looking confused or lost. It is OK to ask for directions, but be aware that pickpockets and other criminals look for someone who seems disoriented because they should be an easy target.
- Watch your drink. Keep an eye on your drink to keep anyone from slipping something into the drink. Don’t accept drinks from strangers. Drugging people this way is one way that criminals rob people, or rape people, at times.
- Follow your heart. If your instincts make you feel uncomfortable, get out of the situation as fast as you can. Your instincts are probably right. Even if not, you won’t lose anything by getting away from something that feels wrong.
- Watch for fakes. Tours are great, but be sure to take the official ones. Sometimes people offer fake tours, and they may be safe, but that is a way for someone to get you alone and away from the crowd. Be very wary of anyone offering you a tour on the street.
So... How Safe Is Santa Ana Really?
Santa Ana is a city of contrast.
There is some of everything here.
There are beautiful historical areas, hip art areas, and these are the areas most tourists flock to.
There are also some bad areas with low incomes, poverty, and very high crime rates.
The bad areas are in the southeast and northwest.
The parts in between are very safe.
The high crime rates on the edges may be what gives the overall city a high crime rate and a bad reputation for violent and property crime.
If you do not go into the bad areas, you will be safe.
Some tourist areas are even pretty safe at night.
The highest crime rate in the city is in Fairhaven in the north, with an astounding 3,403 crimes per 100,000.
Most of the rest of the city is in line with the national average of 400 or so.
The city ranks 66th out of the biggest cities in the nation as far as violent crime.
Tourist areas where the very wealthy live are very safe, even at night.
The lower-income areas can be very dangerous and should be avoided.
Except for one or two very bad areas, even the lower-income areas are not as bad as many American cities.
There were 207 rapes and 472 robberies in the city in 2019, which is more than many cities, but few of those were in the tourist areas.
In 2020, there were 30 percent fewer rapes and 20 percent fewer robberies.
Overall, there was a two-percent decline in crime in Santa Ana in 2020.
How Does Santa Ana Compare?
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- Visas - You need a Visa to enter the United States, but you do not need it to travel once inside the country. There are a lot of tourists in Santa Ana, and many foreigners, so you might be asked for your visa at some point.
- Currency - The accepted currency is the U.S. Dollar and that is what is accepted in businesses. There is a strong Mexican population, and there may be street vendors that will take pesos. Credit cards from anywhere are accepted. You may exchange currency at any bank.
- Weather - The weather in Santa Ana is great almost all the time, which is what makes the entire area attractive. Summers are warm but not overly hot, winters are cool but never really cold. The yearly average high is 84 and the low is 45. It rarely gets below 40 or above 90. Rain is also rare.
- Airports - The John Wayne Airport is one of the largest airports in Orange County and is very busy. It is the closest airport to Disney World. There are taxis, buses, and trains from the airport to hotels, Disney World, and main stops in Santa Ana. The John Wayne Airport is a mile south of town.
- Travel Insurance - In a heavy tourist area like Santa Ana, there are more opportunities for things to go badly. It is a good idea then to have some insurance so you will be covered in such a situation. Travel insurance is particularly good for foreign travelers a long way from home.
Santa Ana Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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