14 Best Things To Do In Westminster, California - Updated 2021

things to do in westminster california
Nicole
Nicole
Updated

Westminster, “The City of Progress Built on Pride” has certainly seen its share of changes over the years. Founded in 1870 as a temperance colony by a Presbyterian Minister, it is now home to the highest concentration of Vietnamese Americans in the United States. Westminster is a location in Orange County, part of Metropolitan Los Angeles. From classically Californian adventures to exploring the culture of Vietnamese immigrants, there are plenty of ways to see the city’s progression. Read on to find out about the things to do in Westminster, California.

1. Museum of the Republic of Vietnam

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

The original guitar from pre-1975 used by the late musician and Colonel Nguyen Van Dong and the late musician Y Van.

Posted by Museum of the Republic of Vietnam on Sunday, October 11, 2020

Museum of the Republic of Vietnam opened in 2016. Conveniently located in Little Saigon, the destination of the largest Vietnamese diaspora during the Vietnam war, the museum is the “first and only museum in the world dedicated to the history of the Republic of Vietnam and its military.” For history buffs, this is definitely an unmissable spot full of historical artifacts, scale models of military vehicles, alongside a long list of lectures, film screenings, and much more.

The Museum of the Republic of Vietnam

Address: 9842 Bolsa Ave b106, Westminster, CA 92683, United States

Website: Museum of the Republic of Vietnam

Opening hours: Thu - Fri: 12pm - 4pm; Sat - Sun: 10am - 4pm; (closed from Mon - Wed)

Price: Free

2. Bleu Restaurant & Dancing

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Posted by Bleu Restaurant & Dancing on Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The low building is found along Beach Boulevard at the intersection with 14th Street. Bleu Restaurant & Dancing offers a spacious lounge where guests can enjoy and dance to the tunes of live music played by local bands or famous Vietnamese artists. The menu offer is extensive and features, quite obviously, classic dishes of Vietnamese cuisine. Guests particularly enjoy the food, especially the baked catfish.

Bleu Restaurant and Dancing

Address:14160 Beach Blvd, Westminster, CA 92683, United States

Opening hours: Mon: 9:45am - 7pm; Tue - Sun: 9am - 9pm

Price: From 7 USD

3. Asian Garden Mall

Asian Garden Mall
Source: Photo by Flickr user Orange County Arc... used under CC BY 2.0

Located in Westminster’s Vietnamese quarter, aptly named Little Saigon, Asian Garden Mall is the largest majority Vietnamese-owned-and-operated shopping mall in America. The venue organises exciting seasonal events such as weekly night markets, Halloween-themed harvests, and other shows that showcase and celebrate Vietnamese traditions. The mall is famed for selling cosmetics and jewelry as well as its grand entrance that mimics a red-roofed Vietnamese gate.

Asian Garden Mall

Address: 9200 Bolsa Ave, Westminster, CA 92683, United States

Website: Asian Garden Mall

Opening hours: 11am - 7pm (daily)

4. Sigler Park Splash Pad

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

An absolute hit among toddlers, Sigler Park Splash Pad is a rectangular playground with water sprinkles in the shape of pelicans and palm trees. No wonder the little ones greatly enjoy the place. As for the adults patiently waiting and supervising on the sidelines and on the few cement benches provided, know that there’s more than enough chance that you will get splashed too. If you visit Westminster with your kids, make this free water park a stop on your list.

Sigler Park Splash Pad

Address: 7200 Plaza St, Westminster, CA 92683

Website: Sigler Park Splash Pad

Opening hours: 8am - 9pm (daily)

Price: Free

5. Phở Thanh Restaurant

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Situated at the intersection between Bolsa Avenue and Pagoda, this popular Vietnamese restaurant is open 24/7 for the joy of its hungry customers. Phở Thanh Restaurant serves nearly 20 different types of phở, the famous Vietnamese specialty that consists of broth, rice noodles, herbs, and meat. For those who are not particularly fond of soups, there’s an ample choice of dry noodle and rice dishes.

Phở Thanh Restaurant

Address: 9625 Bolsa Ave, Westminster, CA 92683, United States

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

6. Westminster Mall

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

We're open! This week's hours are Monday-Wednesday 11am-7pm, Thursday & Friday 11am-6pm.

Posted by Westminster Mall on Monday, December 28, 2020

In operation since the 1970s, Westminster Mall feels almost like an institution in the area. It’s a two-storey shopping centre on the southwestern side of town, just off San Diego Freeway. With over 90 stores and facilities alongside nearly 20 food vendors selling everything from exotic fusions to cinnamon buns, Westminster Mall, as with every other mall in the US, constitutes an attraction in its own right.

Westminster Mall

Address: 1025 Westminster Mall, Westminster, CA 92683, United States

Website: Westminster Mall

Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 11am - 8pm; Sun: 11pm - 7pm

7. Donut Life Museum

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

A limited-time experience you DONUT want to miss out on! We are an interactive pop-up museum in beautiful...

Posted by Donut Life Museum on Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Did somebody say donut? Who doesn’t love those soft, ring-shaped, fried sweet treats? Westminster has dedicated a museum to this American favourite but there’s a twist: there are no actual donuts involved. It can be slightly anti-climactic but the idea behind the museum was to use the donut as a symbol, a metaphor of the circle of life, its values, and experiences. The imaginative, captivating stories the staff tell all revolve around donuts and are accompanied by colourful donut-themed art installations. Donut Life Museum is found inside Westminster Mall. The space also serves as a creative hub for content creators and artists. If at this point you’re left craving for donuts, know that the museum organises donut-making classes alongside other DIY workshops.

Donut Life Museum

Address: 2036A Westminster Mall, Westminster, CA 92683, United States

Website: Donut Life Museum

Opening hours: Thu: 2pm - 6pm; Fri: 12pm - 6pm; Sat - Sun: 11:30am - 6pm (closed from Mon - Wed)

Price: 22 USD

8. Westminster Ice Rink

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account


Westminster Ice Rink is located along Garden Grove Boulevard, just off the busy Garden Grove Freeway. It’s the ideal place whether you’re an absolute beginner or an experienced ice skater. If you’ve never worn a pair of skates in your life, the venue offers skating camps for you to become familiar with the sport. Westminster Ice Rink also hosts hockey day camps suitable for all abilities. On their website, there are useful virtual workout sessions and nutrition tips to stay in shape when far from the rink.

Westminster Ice Rink

Address: 13071 Springdale Street, Westminster, CA 92683

Website: Westminster Ice Rink

9. Little Saigon

Thanh Nien Co Vang
Source: Photo by user DHN used under CC BY-SA 3.0

In the 1980s, Vietnamese refugees began settling in Westminster, in an area now known as Little Saigon. The community is spread out, sprinkled with strip malls filled with Vietnamese-owned businesses. The heart of Little Saigon is the Asian Garden Mall, a two-story shopping centre with restaurants and shops selling imported goods. It’s a great place to shop for jewelry and knick knacks. Stop for a refreshing, freshly-squeezed sugar cane juice when you need a break from shopping.

This community of strip malls and shopping centers boast numerous mom-and-pop restaurants. The popular Vietnamese noodle soup, Pho, is in abundance. It’s definitely worth trying a strong, French-roasted coffee in one of the many coffee shops, and stopping into a bakery for sweet pastries is a must for those with a sweet tooth.

If you prefer to cook at home, stop into one of the many Vietnamese grocery stores and pick up some supplies. From fruit like durian and persimmon, to Vietnamese spices, you’re sure to find ingredients to help you whip up your own meal at home.

If you’re in the area in late January to early February, check to see if Vietnamese Lunar New Year, or Tết, is on. Each year, the New Year is celebrated with a carnival, parade, and fireworks. The Flower Festival, at the Asian Garden Mall, kicks off the New Year. Flowers, some selling for as much as 1,000 USD, welcome in the new year.

Little Saigon

Address: Bolsa Ave, Westminster, CA 92683

Website: Little Saigon

10. Vietnam War Memorial

Vietnam War Memorial (5872096262)
Source: Photo by user InSapphoWeTrust used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Once you’ve explored the culture of Vietnamese Americans in Little Saigon, it’s worth stopping by the Vietnamese War Memorial. The memorial is located just 2 miles (3.2 km) from Little Saigon and provides a quiet opportunity to reflect and remember. 

The memorial was designed by Tuan Nguyen, a Vietnamese artist who survived the fall of Saigon and escaped to the United States. His sculpture features two soldiers: one American and one South Vietnamese. The memorial was completed in 2000, 25 years after the end of the Vietnam War. The memorial can be found at Sid Goldstein Freedom Park.

Vietnam War Memorial

Address: 14199 All American Way, Westminster, CA 92683

Website: Vietnam War Memorial

Nearby attractions

11. Bowers Museum

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Posted by Bowers Museum on Thursday, January 6, 2011

Now holding the title of the largest museum in Orange County, Charles W. Bowers Museum opened to the public in 1936. It first served as a small repository for Orange County’s history but later evolved and expanded to house six permanent galleries. It’s now nearly nine times larger than the original edifice and features 8 galleries, a foyer, courtyard, and a 300-seat auditorium. Its status grew alongside the demands for membership and the importance of the special exhibitions displayed within its halls over the years. Currently closed to the public, it offers virtual public and private gallery tours.

Bowers Museum

Address: 2002 N Main St, Santa Ana, CA 92706, United States

Website: Bowers Museum

12. Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge

Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge
Source: Photo by Flickr user USFWS Pacific Sou... used under CC BY 2.0

Managed by the National Wildlife Refuge System based in San Diego with the aim of protecting the indigenous species and their habitat, Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge is a vast expanse of marshland that’s home to some federally listed endangered and threatened species such as the California least tern and the Eastern Pacific green sea turtle. Since the refuge is located within Naval Weapons Station whose mission is to store and handle munitions, the center opens to the public only on the last Saturday of each month, or occasionally, on special tours arranged with the facility.

Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge

Address: 800 Seal Beach Blvd bldg 226, Seal Beach, CA 90740, United States

Website: Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge

13. Huntington Beach Pier

Surfer at Huntington Beach Pier
Source: Photo by user Mcclane2010 used under CC BY-SA 3.0

With all the sun and surf California has to offer, it’s worth heading to Huntington Beach Pier, a little over 7 miles (11 km) west of Westminster. As one of the West Coast’s longest piers, it is the place to go to experience the area’s notable beach culture. The pier boasts year-round surfing, due to naturally enhanced waves.

The pier, built in 1903, is a popular spot for fishing and to take in the scenery. The pier offers panoramic views of Catalina Island and Newport Beach to the south, and Long Beach and San Pedro to the north. Ruby’s Diner, a chain designed to emulate the diners of the 1930s and 40s, can be found at the end of the pier. Stop in for a burger, fries, and shake before heading back out to catch a wave.

Each summer, the U.S. Open of Surfing is held on the south side of the pier. Typically lasting one week, it is the largest surfing competition in the world. Join the nearly 500,000 spectators to watch surfers compete into the Surfing Walk of Fame and the Surfers’ Hall of Fame, both of which can be found directly across from the pier. The pier is free and open from 5am until midnight.

Huntington Beach Pier

Address: Main St. and Pacific Coast Highway, Huntington Beach, CA

Website: Huntington Beach Pier

14. Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve

Bolsa Chica Wetland Reserves
Source: Photo by user DHN used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Also in Huntington Beach is the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, one of the most important wetlands in California, spanning 1,449 acres (586 hectares). The reserve is an excellent spot for hikers, birdwatchers, photographs, and nature lovers, with 5 miles (8 km) of trails to explore.

The wetlands support a large number of plants and animals. There are plants native to the area, such as coastal sage scrub, as well as non-native plants brought over after the Spanish first arrived in the area in 1542. The plant life provides nesting grounds for the high number of birds flying through the reserve—the best times of year to watch the largest number of birds is in the winter or summer. And if marine life is more your thing, the wetlands are home to around 80 species of fish and shark.

If you’d like to dig deep into the habitat of the reserve, private tours can be scheduled. A guide will take you on a guided hike and give you a tour of the interpretive centre, and exhibition space highlighting various aspects of the reserve.

Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve

Address: 3842 Warner Avenue, Huntington Beach, CA 92649

Website: Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve

15. California Scenario

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

A short drive southeast of central Westminster is California Scenario, a public sculpture garden created by Japanese-American artist Isamu Noguchi. This hidden gem is nestled between local businesses, but well worth the visit. It’s small, but a great place to relax and take in nature and art. The garden was created in the 1980s, and features seven different nature scenarios. These include a stream, rocks, and foliage. In mixing sculpture and nature indigenous to California, Noguchi has created a zen garden.

Visitors enjoy the park for its quiet and calm. It’s also become a popular spot for snapping photographs. You’re likely to catch people jumping over the stream in front of the pyramid, in search of the perfect photograph.

California Scenario

Address: 611 Anton Blvd, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Website: California Scenario

Westminster: a place to explore classic Californian fun and Vietnamese culture

A trip to Westminster will allow you to experience classic California fun in the sun, as well as the culture of Vietnamese expats. It is a place that allows you to stroll along a pier, enjoying the sun and surf. It is also a place rich in recent changes—Vietnamese immigrants have created a large community of family-owned restaurants and shops, allowing visitors to experience the food, products, and culture of Vietnam. Come to Westminster and grab a bowl of Pho before grabbing your surfboard.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Nicole is an American expat living in London, England. When she moved from the midwest to London in 2012, it was her first time leaving the US. She has traveled steadily since then, making trips...Read more

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