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Things to do in Garden Grove

Founded in 1874, Garden Grove was a quiet town until the railroad arrived in 1905 and crops became a larger part of the community’s economy. The city’s economy struggled in 1933 due to the Long Beach earthquake that destroyed the main business district but the city quickly bounced back post World War II like most of the country. Since then, Garden Grove has become a great city for dining, community events, and family fun.

Garden Grove Bucket List

Here are the must-visit places and events in Garden Grove.

Historic Main Street

Historic Main Street in Garden Grove is of course the heart of the city. Anyone in the area should pay a visit to enjoy the old town charm and visit the unique collection of shops and restaurants. The downtown district also hosts weekly car shows every Friday beginning at 4PM and a variety of other events throughout the year. Garden Amp and the GEM Theatre are also conveniently located along Main Street.


Garden Amp

This all-ages, open-air venue is located on Main Street next to Village Green Park. For years, the space was used for productions and events like the Strawberry Festival and Shakespeare performances, but in 2017, the venue signed a contract allowing Garden Amp to host music festivals, local bands, and touring acts. Music lovers should keep an eye on the calendar, as this one is worth the visit. 12762 Main Street, Garden Grove, CA 92840


SteelCraft

Composed of repurposed shipping containers, Garden Grove is the third installment of SteelCraft’s outdoor communal dining concept, with additional locations in Long Beach and Bellflower. Visitors to the Orange County location will find five kitchens, craft beer, wine and coffee bars, a vintage arcade, and ice cream. Keep an eye on the calendar for community events like parent and me classes and live music performances. 12900 S Euclid Street, Garden Grove, CA


Christ Cathedral

Originally an Evangelical church, Christ Cathedral is one of the first megachurches. The 34-acre campus is a focal point and must see for both religious and those with an admiration for architecture. The Crystal Cathedral was developed through Protestant Reverend Robert Schuller’s following and his vision to create a large permanent church. With the help of successful architect Philip Johnson and his partner John Burgee, his goal was achieved in the late 70s. The cathedral was the backdrop of the television program, Hour of Power

After Schuller’s ministry filed for bankruptcy, the Diocese of Orange bought the campus in 2012 to fill their need for a larger facility. Since then, the diocese has worked to renovate the cathedral. The Crystal structure seats 2,248 and features the Hazel Wright Organ which is the fifth largest pipe organ in the world. It was dismantled shortly before the sale and sent to Italy for tuning but is now in the Cathedral once more. There is also an all glass interior, Carrara marble altar, stone flooring, open and closed petals for beautiful sun light effects that vary with the time of day, and upgraded lighting and acoustics. 

Viewed as a symbol of unity, the Christ Cathedral is the first to be converted from Protestant to Catholic but means much more to the community than simply a house of worship, it is a structural masterpiece that can be admired by any denomination. 13280 Chapman Ave, Garden Grove, CA 92840


The GEM Theater

Owned by the city of Garden Grove, The GEM Theater is a historic live performance theater. Sitting at the end of historic Main Street, the GEM has a rich history in the community and has changed hands several times. The theater was a vaudeville house in the 20s, a single-screen movie theater in the 30s, and finally remodeled in 1979 after the city bought it and became the live performance theater it is today. 

The venue seats 158, features three lobbies, two concession stands, and balcony seating. After One More Productions remodeled the historic building in 2008, The GEM was brought back to its former glory and now includes state of the art sound and lighting systems, new curtains, and a reconfigured stage that is perfect for any production. 

Past shows include The Wedding Singer, Gypsy, and Back on Stage 6: Hearts for the Arts, to name a few. Whatever you are craving to see live, The GEM is sure to please. 12852 Main St, Garden Grove, CA 92840


Stanley Ranch Museum & Historical Village

Featuring over a dozen historic buildings, the Stanley Ranch Museum and Historical Village makes history more accessible for the community to enjoy. 

One of the most notable buildings on the property is the garage that Walt Disney used as his studio in 1923. Framed by memorabilia and a photo of Walt Disney in the garage, this is just a taste of how the Stanley Ranch Museum and Historical Village takes visitors back in time. Stroll through this peaceful remembrance of things past with the help of docents that lead visitors on hour-long tours. 

The museum began when Agnes Stanley donated her family home and their last two acres in 1970 to the Garden Grove Historical Society. A year later her son Emerson Stanley donated three more structures and ever since the property has become a final resting place for historical buildings at risk of demolition. 

Now on the property, sits the first Garden Grove Fire Station which was moved from 10811 Garden Grove Boulevard, the Stanley Ranch Tank House, the Stanley Ranch Barber Shop with equipment from the era and shoe repair artifacts. These are just a few of the interesting structures that can be found at the Ranch Museum.

Tours are held on the first and third Sunday at 1:30p.m. if you are looking to take a step back in time right in the heart of Garden Grove. 12174 Euclid St, Garden Grove, CA 92840


Great Wolf Lodge

They call it the Anaheim Resort because of the proximity to the nearby destination city for major tourism. But, this indoor waterpark and hotel in Garden Grove is the perfect place for a getaway the entire family will love. Great Wolf Lodge is a chain of 19 resorts headquartered in Chicago, Illinois that offer arcades, yoga for the entire family, gyms, laser tag, spas, six restaurants that offer everything from pizza to steaks, and themed rooms in every resort.

Founded in 1997 in Wisconsin, the resort has grown steadily over the years. The Great Wolf Lodge in Garden Grove opened in 2016 as the largest resort in the company. Spanning over 121,000 square feet, this Great Wolf Lodge location features numerous water slides including Alberta Falls where duos travel tandem on an intertube descending four stories quickly as you drop into the plunge pool. If Alberta Falls or one of the other adventurous slides isn’t quite your thing, be sure to relax in the Crooked Creek lazy river. The water park is not open to the general public but Great Wolf Lodge does offer day passes for those who wish to spend the day splashing around.

Next time you’re in Garden Grove or even if you’re just looking for a stay-cation, the Great Wolf Lodge is guaranteed family fun. 12681 Harbor Blvd, Garden Grove, CA 92840


Strawberry Festival

For over sixty years, the Garden Grove Chamber of Commerce has put on the annual Strawberry Festival every Memorial Day weekend. The festival kicks off summertime and has donated over $4.5 million to numerous non-profits. The Garden Grove Strawberry Festival Association which is separate from the city, has donated to city projects, and to the Police and Fire departments. 

Every year, events vary slightly however one thing remains constant, strawberries. The annual festival features a fiddler’s contest, a strawberry-pie eating contest, carnival rides including a roller coaster that was added in 2003, a petting zoo, and chalk art contest, just to name a few activities from over the years.

Every year opening ceremonies include the world’s largest Strawberry Shortcake, reported to weigh around 500 pounds. The shortcake is traditionally cut by the mayor of Garden Grove who gives the top of the cake to Miss Garden Grove. Then, up to 4,000 festival attendees get a slice for free.

If you are looking for a way to kick off the summer then the Strawberry Festival is the place to be. Euclid St & Main St, Garden Grove, CA 92840


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Rebecca has an undeniable love of writing and recently graduated from Cal State Long Beach with a degree in journalism. She enjoys watching hockey, scuba diving, swimming, and working out.