Most people head to Anaheim with one goal in mind – Disneyland – but there is so much going on there that adding some extra time onto your stay is a great way to squeeze more fun into one trip. Start your holiday by choosing a centrally located hotel and then hit the ground running!
Of course you’re going to Disneyland! It’s epic! It’s exciting! And it’s an amazing amount of fun however old you are.
If you’ve never been, it’s difficult to describe the park. For most people the rides are what first come to mind, but there are themed restaurants (for kids and adults), an arcade, shopping and lots of benches for taking a break and watching the crowd. Most summer evenings include the fireworks and some late-running rides.
2. California Adventure
Creativecommons.org/ Andy Castro
Right next to Disneyland is another Disney park and it is just as cool.
Opened in 2001, the park was designed to promote the culture of California, replicating some of the landmarks and landscapes that are iconic symbols of the state. There are more rides that are really for adults (The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is amazingly terrifying) and attractions that are themed around newer Disney productions, such as Toy Story and Monsters, Inc. There are also live theatre productions that rival anything you’ll see on Broadway and a Dance Party Parade that will exhaust you just watching it.
3. Downtown Disney District
Creativecommons.org/ Sam Howzit
Between the two parks, this is an oasis of calm with nothing much to do but wander the shops and eat. There are a lot of shops with interactive events to entertain your little one and night time activities for adults. The best part is that there is no admission fee to this section so you can get a taste of Disney without the big ticket.
4. ESPN Zone Anaheim
As long as you’re right there, why not have some serious sports immersion at the all-sports themed restaurant with an enormous 16-foot HD screen? You won’t miss any of the details of the game as you nosh on fries and burgers, while the youngsters are happily enjoying their kid-friendly meals. After dinner, head upstairs to the game room and challenge the kids to game of air-hockey and show ‘em how it’s done.
5. Howard Johnson
Yes, it’s a hotel, but it’s a hotel with a water park! HoJo Anaheim is within walking distance of Disneyland which means you get a free viewing of the nightly fireworks over the park. The water playground is the only one in the city outside of the Disney hotels and it has a great pirate-theme to add to the fun.
5. Anaheim Hills Golf Course
Get away from all the asphalt and spend some time walking the greens at one of the more peaceful spots in the county. If you don’t play golf, set aside a Sunday morning for the Champagne brunch with live jazz. It’s a beautiful setting and an excellent way to recharge before tackling more of Anaheim’s attractions.
6. K1 Speed Anaheim
Have you been nursing a secret desire to be a race car driver but that pesky “job” thing keeps getting in the way? Go-kart racing might just be what you need to really enjoy a holiday and scratch that speed-demon itch. Sure, they have a kids’ track, but you want the big karts that can reach speeds of 72 km per hour. Bring a friend to race against, put on a helmet and stomp down on that pedal!
7. House of Blues
Creativecommons.org/ Justin Higuchi
Concerts, music events and even karaoke are happening in this cross between a restaurant and a club in the Disney District. The venue presents music of all genres on their stage and the menu is standard American with a southern flair. On select Sundays the House of Blues offers a Gospel brunch that features live gospel music performed by local talent and a buffet with a mix of breakfast favourites, southern specialties and their signature chicken and waffles. Grown-up diners can belly up to the Create Your Own Bloody Mary bar to mix up a morning drink to suit any mood.
8. Anaheim Marketplace
You don’t have to be shopping to have a great time at the largest indoor swap-meet in Orange County. Actually, it’s even more fun if you aren’t looking for something in particular because you can browse some of the unique items on offer in this ever-changing array of goods. There’s a lot more than shopping going on here – keep an eye out for concerts, mariachi groups and free toilet paper! It’s all about fun here, and you can spend an afternoon being entertained without spending a dime if you don’t want to.
9. Shows and performances
If you have a couple hours of free time and you’d like to relax without going back to your hotel, there are several places around town to sit down and watch a show. The Anaheim Ballet has performances and events several times a year and the Orange County Symphony has monthly concerts. Cinema City in Anaheim Hills has 10 theatres showing the latest films and the Brea Plaza has old favorites for $4 a film.
10. Pro tip
Parking at Disney is a nightmare. Leave the car at the hotel and take public transportation. The train and bus system is user friendly, but if you’re planning on hitting a number of tourist attractions look into using the Anaheim Resort Transportation system. The 20 routes cover most of the city and the buses stop exactly where you want to go. Passes are sold by the day and are good on every route for the number of days purchased. It’s easier and more economical than either driving or using city buses.