Hot O.C. Neighborhood: Downtown Santa Ana

The young and sophisticated flock to the shops, lofts, and restaurants in this metropolitan core.

This rebooted downtown, with its hip, edgy vibe, is a magnet for urban adventurers of every stripe—chef-stalking foodies, new-media types, and millennials happily camping out overnight to buy the latest limited-edition sneaker. Most recently reinvented is the East End, home of the former Fiesta Marketplace. The East End adds vibrancy to the bustling and diverse arts district, with the landmark 1928 Santora Building, Velvet Lounge, and an array of trendy hangouts. There’s a sense that something’s happening around every corner, from the constantly changing menu at Playground, food-truck star chef Jason Quinn’s brick-and-mortar fantasyland, to the cheekily named Bespoke Cut and Sew, purveyors of customized sports hats. One-off restaurants and boutiques draw residents from nearby French Park, with its restored Victorian, neo-classical, and Craftsman homes, and from the adjacent Station District, offering ultramodern loft-style housing as well as Queen Anne revival fixer-uppers. Then there are the downtown work-and-live lofts. Other neighborhoods may paint over graffiti, but this one’s an open-air gallery, with murals created by locals and globe-trotting artists.

The Need-to-Knows
91 Neighborhood Walk Score
92701 Median Home Sale Price $332,500
2012 Crime per 1,000 residents
4 Violent crimes
3 Burglaries
4 Vehicle thefts
330,920 Santa Ana City Population
Bowling Lounge - 5½ miles to Bowlmor at The District in Tustin
Savory Waffles - Playground sometimes has chicken and waffles
Trader Joe’s - Santa Ana location is 4 miles away on Bristol

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For our map of Orange County neighborhoods, click here.
This article originally appeared in the March 2014 issue.