Santa Ana is a fully developed city and is located in the heart of Orange County. The core of the city is the downtown area, which contains both retail and housing, as well as the Santa Ana Civic Center which is a dense campus of administrative buildings for both the city and the county of Orange. Several historic homes dating from the late 1800s can be found as well, and their preservation is a key issue as development of the downtown area continues.
Near the intersection of the Santa Ana Freeway and the Costa Mesa Freeway is the newly-designated “Metro East” area, which the city council has envisioned as a secondary mixed-use development district. Currently the area is occupied by several office towers, but little retail or housing. Also on the east side of the city is the Santa Ana Zoo, notable for its collection of monkeys and species from South and Central America.
The south end of the city is part of the South Coast Metro area, which is shared with the city of Costa Mesa. South Coast Plaza, a major shopping center, is the primary destination of this area, which also contains several high-rise office and apartment buildings.
Santa Ana has a number of parks that provide an improved quality of life for the residents. Disneyland and Knotts Berry Farm amusement parks are located northeast of Santa Ana, several kilometers away. Beaches are located around 20 minutes to the south, accessible by the 55 freeway. Huntington Beach and Newport Beach as well as other coastal communities offer world-class shopping, dining, boating, swimming and surfing opportunities.
Santa Ana is one of the most affordable communities in Orange County. Because of that, it is a very popular for first time homebuyers and investors: