The City of Anaheim, located in the beautiful Orange County, California, is an extremely popular destination for family vacations. There are plenty of things to do in Anaheim, including a variety of theme parks, dining locations, and more!
While Disneyland is the most famous attraction in Anaheim, there are so many other fun things to do and see in the area outside of the Disneyland parks, especially if you are enjoying a longer vacation. We will take you through our top ten family-friendly recommendations for the best things to do in Anaheim during your vacation.
Explore the Anaheim Packing District
If you’d like to take a day off from theme parks, one of the best things to do in Anaheim is to visit the Anaheim Packing District, located conveniently only ten minutes away from Disneyland and around the corner from Downtown Anaheim. The Anaheim Packing House is filled with history, as it used to be a 1919 citrus packing warehouse.
It is now a food court filled with over 30 small businesses, offering a wide variety of cuisines and drink and dessert locations. California has some amazing restaurants and you will be sure to discover a new favorite dish here.
A particularly popular choice is the Kroft, which features Canadian-style food and menu items like chicken tikka poutine and cheeseburger egg rolls. For dessert, make sure to check out Hans’ Homemade Ice Cream, which offers delicious, unique flavors like Strawberry Oreo and Taro!
Many people around the world have Disneyland on their bucket list or list it as one of their life’s goals to experience the magic that is Disney. There is so much to experience during a trip to Disneyland, so it is a must-do if you are visiting Anaheim for the first time.
The Disneyland Resort features two parks, Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park, that are within walking distance of one another.
Disneyland has been expanding its offerings recently between the reimagined Toontown and San Fransokyo Square, the new Quick Service location Tiana’s Palace, and more new rides at Disneyland coming in the future. Whether you visit Disneyland frequently or have never been before, it is without a doubt one of the best things to do in Anaheim, California. To visit both parks, you’ll need a park hopper Disneyland ticket.
You can enjoy thrill rides like the immersive Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland Park, classic attractions like Pirates of the Caribbean, and other Disneyland must-do experiences. With a Park Hopper pass, you can head to Disney California Adventure and greet Marvel superheroes in Avengers Campus or experience the thrilling Radiator Springs Racers in Cars Land.
Whether you are greeting Mickey and other Disney characters, snacking on some delicious Dole Whip, or enjoying the fireworks or the World of Color show, there are so many things to do at the happiest place on earth.
If your primary stop is Disneyland, you can stay at one of Disneyland’s Good Neighbor Hotels or a Disneyland Resort hotel and be in close proximity to several amazing attractions in the surrounding Anaheim area.
Have a Beach Day
During your visit to Anaheim, enjoy the beautiful Southern California weather and explore one of the many beaches along the coastline that boast beautiful views and activities, including Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, San Clemente Beach, and more.
You can enjoy various activities during a day at the beach, like hiking, surfing, playing beach volleyball, exploring the tidepools, and checking out nearby shopping and dining options, or you can just relax and soak up the sun.
This is a particularly great option if you are planning on visiting multiple theme parks during your visit and want a day to unwind and enjoy your family vacation at a casual pace.
Try Flightdeck Flight Simulation
If you’re itching to live out your Top Gun fantasies, be sure to check out Flightdeck, where you can experience different flight simulators for multiple types of aircraft with no prior experience required.
At Flightdeck, you can engage in a variety of immersive adventures:
- Embark on air-to-air combat missions
- Fly a Boeing 737
- Drive the fastest race cars across challenging tracks
No matter which experience you choose, you’ll have classroom training and guidance from experienced flight instructors for these realistic simulation experiences.
Only a seven-minute walk from Disneyland, Flightdeck is considered one of the best things to do in Anaheim and is a great option to explore for a unique, hands-on experience. This takes the rides at the theme parks up a notch, as you are in control of the experience!
Go to Knott’s Berry Farm
What started as a small family berry farm is now a popular destination home to four themed areas with a variety of thrilling rides, entertainment options, and more. The rides here are a bit more intense than the ones at Disneyland, so this is a great park for thrill-seekers to visit, and it’s only ten minutes away from the Anaheim resort area.
The park has several thrilling roller coasters to experience, like the popular GhostRider, or you can enjoy the Timber Mountain Log Ride, which takes you on a log flume ride through a nineteenth-century lumber camp with drops.
You can also explore Knott’s Berry Farm’s water park, Soak City, which has a 750,000-gallon wave pool, waterslides, a family raft ride, and other fun water-themed activities.
Visit the Honda Center
The Honda Center is an indoor sports and entertainment venue home to the professional ice hockey team, the Anaheim Ducks. If you are visiting during hockey season, you can check the schedule to see if you can catch a game.
If you’re not a sports fan, you can also see concerts, shows, and family events like Disney on Ice. Be sure to check out the Honda Center and see which events are being offered during your visit!
Spend a Day Shopping
If you’re looking to spend a day shopping while in Anaheim, you can explore various shopping centers in the area, like the South Coast Plaza, one of the largest malls in the United States with over 250 fashion boutiques.
You can also check out Anaheim GardenWalk, which has an AMC Theatre and Mission Escape Games as well as a variety of dining options and live entertainment, or the Outlets at Orange, an open-air center featuring over 120 outlet and retail stores, bowling, a Vans indoor skate park, and more.
If you’re visiting Disneyland but taking a day off from the parks, you can stay immersed in the Disney magic by exploring shopping at Downtown Disney, which features entertainment, dining locations, and several shops, including the massive World of Disney store.
Do an Escape Room
Building off of the previous suggestion on our list, a great interactive experience is to participate in an Escape Room at Mission Escape Games in Anaheim GardenWalk. You’ll be locked in a themed room and have an hour to sort through several clues and puzzles, working together with your party to escape.
Mission Escape Games offers themes like the apocalyptic End of Days, Ultimate Bank Heist, and more for your party to choose from. This engaging hour-long experience is a great bonding activity for friends and family, as teamwork is the key to unraveling the puzzle and escaping the room.
Play at Great Wolf Lodge
Great Wolf Lodge is only about ten minutes away from Disneyland and provides a wide variety of activities, from its massive indoor waterpark to glow-in-the-dark mini golf and bowling.
You can get a full-day pass or a half-day pass to the 105,000-square-foot waterpark, which includes slides, a lazy river, an indoor wave pool, water playgrounds, and more. You can enjoy popular attractions like the six-story Howlin’ Tornado thrill ride or explore Fort Mackenzie, the interactive four-story water fort treehouse.
This is a great place to have some fun if you’d like to take a day off from the theme parks!
Bonus! Visit Universal Studios Hollywood
Universal Studios Hollywood features amazing rides and shows, including the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the World-Famous Studio Tour, the brand-new Super Nintendo World, and more. Super Nintendo World features an interactive augmented reality race in Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge, the popular Toadstool Cafe with Super Nintendo World-themed food items, and more.
The World-Famous Studio Tour features a behind-the-scenes look at studio sets with floods, sharks, and additional special effects and movie magic. Fans of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter can enjoy a Butterbeer and explore two attractions: Flight of The Hippogriff roller coaster and Harry Potter and The Forbidden Journey, where you’ll fly over castle grounds as the Dementors attack.
Many choose to visit Universal Studios during their Anaheim vacation, as it’s located only about 35 miles from Disneyland. The trip between the parks could take as little as 40 minutes, depending on your transportation option.
Where To Stay in Anaheim
There are several hotels you can stay at during your Southern California vacation, which range in pricing and the type of experience they offer. If your primary stop is Disneyland, the best hotels near Disneyland are conveniently near Anaheim attractions.
If you spend most of your time outside your hotel room and just need a place to recharge for the next day, there are great hotels at a lower price point that provide basic amenities, comfortable beds, and clean accommodations.
The Castle Inn and Suites, for example, is a great place to stay with an inviting, family-friendly medieval theme and offers fast Wi-Fi, complimentary parking, amenities like an outdoor pool and on-site laundry facility, and excellent service at the front desk.
Ready for Your Anaheim Vacation?
Whether you decide to enjoy an action-packed Southern California vacation filled with back-to-back theme park visits, take it slow exploring the Anaheim area, or a bit of both, you’ll find an incredible amount of fun things to do during your visit. Between rides, shopping, dining, and unique experiences, there is an incredible variety of attractions to fill your time. Make sure to explore these top 10 things to do in Anaheim during your next vacation!
This article originally appeared on Savoteur.