Anaheim is most famous as the home of Disneyland and for sporting popularity of the Mighty Ducks ice hockey team and the Angels baseball team. However Anaheim has so much to offer beyond these huge drawcards!
Anaheim is easily one of my favourite places in the USA that we have visited so far, being a perfect destination for a family holiday. The pristine city and palm tree lined footpaths all add to the appeal of this popular tourist stopover.
ANAHEIM CITY GUIDE
Anaheim is located around 45 minutes from Los Angeles, within sunny California, in the USA. Like the rest of California, Anaheim has mild temperatures in the colder months, and has an average of 300 days of sunshine every year. A great thing when there are beaches nearby in the Orange County area.
Anaheim is located near 4 major airports – LAX, John Wayne, Ontario and Long Beach, making it a very easy destination to get to from within the USA and internationally.
To get about in Anaheim, you have a range of transport options including buses, shuttle services, Uber, taxis and of course, the most popular mode of transportation, by car. However the city is essentially flat making it rather easy to walk great distances without having to hike up and down hills, with many of the main attractions being central to the huge number of hotels.
TRAVELLING WITH KIDS IN ANAHEIM
One thing that stood out for us during our visit is how safe Anaheim feels, even when walking at night. The whole city gives off a family friendly vibe and feels somewhat like an extension of it’s most well known attraction – Disneyland.
This makes Anaheim a safe destination for family travel with lots on offer to delight young travellers. While the usual safety precautions should be taken while travelling with kids anywhere, you will find it easy to enjoy Anaheim with kids, due to the many great attractions and local sights they can enjoy, as well as the warmer weather year round.
Anaheim has all the usual facilities and services to accommodate families everywhere. You will find basic amenities such as baby change tables and parent rooms in most shopping centres and public access buildings. It is also acceptable to breastfeed babies discreetly in most places.
All Anaheim supermarkets and chemists stock baby and toddler necessities such as nappies, wet wipes, formula and baby food. There is easy access to health care in case of emergencies or illness.
Strollers and prams are suitable for use in Anaheim, with footpaths along pretty much every street and ramp entrances to most buildings.
There are parks and playgrounds scattered all around Anaheim and the surrounding suburbs, with plenty of activities and locations suited to family travel – and of course, the theme parks!
BEST ATTRACTIONS IN ANAHEIM
Possibly the most famous theme park in the world, the original Disneyland theme park is situated in Anaheim and draws massive crowds every single day of the year. This is an attraction not to be missed when visiting!
Whether you love rides, shows, or simply the magic of Disney, you will find it all here. Ride the classic Tea Cups ride, get lost in fairytale worlds and get yourself a set of Minnie Mouse ears. So much fun! Check out our Disneyland first visit tips to help you plan your visits.
2. Anaheim Convention Centre
The Anaheim Convention Centre is the largest convention centre in the West Coast, undergoing massive expansion in 2017. With an array of events and entertainment on throughout the year, there is always something to see and do at the Anaheim Convention Centre. It also has an outdoor plaza which features regular live music, food and atmosphere.
3. Check Out the Mighty Ducks
The Anaheim Mighty Ducks are well known thanks to the early 90s Disney film however they are an ice hockey team well worth checking out when you’re in Anaheim. You can purchase tickets and find out when their next game is at Honda Centre here. A trip to the USA isn’t complete without checking out an ice hockey game, of course!
4. California Adventure Park
Disneyland’s sister theme park is situated right next door and offers a whole new exciting world of Disney and Pixar. This newer park brings even more of your favourite Pixar characters to life in their own worlds, along with classic Disney characters and some retro Hollywood. It is also home to the incredible live Frozen stage show, at the Hyperion. You can get passes that allow access to both parks but they definitely need at least a full day each!
5. Los Angeles Angels Baseball Game
Another one for the sport fans, be sure to check out the Los Angeles Angels at their home base of Angels Stadium for some baseball action. Check the website to find out when the next game is and how to get tickets.
6. House of Blues Anaheim
Check out a concert in Anaheim’s coolest new venue, House of Blues in the new Gardenwalk complex. Lots of big name concerts and lesser known musicians making this a fun place for a night out! Check out the website for the latest concerts and events. Or simply enjoy a meal and drink at the restaurant.
BEST PLACES TO SHOP IN ANAHEIM
1. Downtown Disney
Want to get yourself some Disney memorabilia or gifts? Downtown Disney is the place. Plus plenty of other shopping outlets too, all in one place. Or enjoy dining at one of the many restaurants or cafes, or enjoy live entertainment downtown! Downtown Disney entrance is located right near the Disneyland parks entrance so you will need to go through the bag check process but a great place for Disney fanatics!
2. Anaheim Plaza Shopping Centre
Located off Santa Ana Highway in Anaheim city, Anaheim Plaza Shopping Centre is the perfect spot for general shopping with lots of big chain shops, fashion, lifestyle and dining options.
BEST PLACES TO EAT IN ANAHEIM
1. Fire + Ice Bar & Grill
Our favourite place to dine during our Anaheim visit was by far Fire + Ice, in the Anaheim Gardenwalk complex. An interactive dining experience with a fusion of cajun, American, Italian and Mongolian flavours cooked on a massive BBQ right in front of you. Everything that goes into your meal is chosen by you, from meat & veggies to sauces & seasoning. Yum!
2. The Pizza Press
Number 1 on Tripadvisor, The Pizza Press is a budget friendly dining option that will keep the whole family happy. Located within a short walk to the Disneyland parks, The Pizza Press offers up a fantastic range of pizza toppings to create your own masterpiece or choose one of their pre-set pizzas, all with the newspaper press theme. The pizzas are made right in front of you too.
3. Baci de Firenze Trattoria
It seems Italian food is popular in Anaheim as the second highest rated restaurant in the area offers up more traditional Italian cuisine. Mid priced meals, vegan friendly.
Check out some more great dining options with our recommended family friendly Anaheim restaurants.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN ANAHEIM
1. Homewood Suites by Hilton Anaheim Resort
Rated number 1 by travellers on Tripadvisor, Homewood Suites is a Hilton operated resort and offers modern accommodation for couples, solo travellers or families with great facilities, including a swimming pool and play zones, a gym and breakfast options. Suits include full kitchens if you want to dine in too. Shuttle service available for local attractions also.
2. Courtyard Anaheim Theme Park Entrance
Courtyard Anaheim is located right at the entrance to the Disneyland parks, so there is no need for transport costs during your stay. The resort itself is popular for families, with large family sized rooms, fantastic resort facilities and on site restaurants. Most notable is the water park and pool area which kids LOVE! Waterslides and water play areas that will keep the kids cool in the warmer months when they aren’t spending their time at Disneyland!
3. Hyatt House at Anaheim Resort
Situated in central Anaheim and located around a 12 minute walk from the Disneyland parks, Hyatt House offers a convenient location with quality facilities and family rooms. There is a swimming pool, restaurants and it is situated above a Walgreens, with plenty of dining options nearby also.
Check out more Anaheim accommodation recommendations here.
SPECIAL EVENTS IN ANAHEIM
Anaheim is home to many special events and festivals through the year, many of those taking place either at the Convention Centre or in relation to the Disneyland parks.
1. Anaheim Fall Festival & Halloween
The annual seasonal event has been held in Anaheim for close to a century, a well known tradition involving an elaborate Halloween parade and massive community engagement to make it great fun! Usually held on the Saturday before or on Halloween. Find out more here.
2. Downtown Anaheim Nutcracker Christmas Tree & Holiday Village
If you love all things Christmas, and happen to be in Anaheim during the holiday season, you won’t want to miss the annual tree lighting and event. All things Christmas with stalls, live music, entertainment and the chance for kids to play in snow!! That magical time of year! Every December in downtown Anaheim.
3. Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival
In case you needed one more reason to visit California Adventure Park, foodies rejoice because the annual Food & Wine Festival is a must do! Happening around mid April, there are an abundance of food and drink stalls that pop up all around the theme park with incredible flavours and themes. Plus there are some fun food themed pop up activities for the kids too. We are big foodies so we were very happy our visit happened at the right time! Check the Disneyland Parks website for details.
BEST DAY TRIPS FROM ANAHEIM
1. Los Angeles
Of course we start with the most popular day trip from Anaheim. Around a 45 minute trip from Anaheim to downtown Los Angeles, it’s an easy choice and a chance to see so many of the famous LA sights! Check out the different neighbourhoods – Beverly Hills, Hollywood, Santa Monica and Venice Beach, plus views of the Hollywood sign, a visit to the Griffith Observatory or even enjoy one of the many fun family attractions, such as Universal Studios theme park, Madame Tussaunds or Ripley’s Believe It or Not museums. There is so much to see and do in Los Angeles, and it is such an easy day trip if you’re staying in Anaheim. If you want to see a lot in one day, consider a tour such as A Day in L.A Tours. We loved our tour on the Rasta Bus.
2. San Diego
Heading in the opposite direction to L.A., San Diego is around 1.5 hours from Anaheim by car and boasts some great family attractions. Most famous is the San Diego Zoo which is easily a day trip on its own, however there is also SeaWorld and of course, simply enjoying the day at Balboa Park, with rides, regular events and park grounds, and of course the home of San Diego Zoo. There are also 17 museums or cultural attractions within the Balboa Park grounds.
A beach day trip is easy from Anaheim with many great Orange County beaches to enjoy. You may want to trip to Seal Beach, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Dana Point or San Clemente. Each offer a little something different, depending on what you have in mind for your day trip. Or you may even have time to see more than one and enjoy a day in the Californian sun! Check out the Anaheim tourism page for more details on what to expect at each of the beaches.
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