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There are so many fun things to do in Anaheim, California! 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.
FUN THINGS TO DO IN ANAHEIM CALIFORNIA
Anaheim is located around 45 minutes from Los Angeles, within sunny California. 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.
Plus the city is essentially flat making it rather easy to walk longer distances without having to hike up and down big hills. This is great since many of the main attractions are central to the huge number of hotels.
VISITING ANAHEIM WITH KIDS
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. 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
There is no end to fun things to do in Anaheim, California. The city is a hub of activity with Mickey Mouse ears everywhere as hoards of people make their way to the theme parks each day.
But there are plenty of other places to visit in Anaheim too! Here are some fun attractions for the whole family:
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 family fun attraction not to be missed when visiting Southern California!
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!
And if you want to save money at Disneyland, avoid these common tourist traps.
2. Anaheim Convention Centre
The Anaheim Convention Centre is the largest convention centre on the West Coast, having undergone a massive expansion in 2017.
With an array of events and entertainment scheduled 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, great food and a lively 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 Anaheim Ducks tickets and find out when their next game is at Honda Center. A trip to the USA isn’t complete without checking out an ice hockey game, of course!
4. California Adventure Park
Disneyland’s sister amusement 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.
We recommend setting aside at least a full day for each park. This is by far one of the best things to do in Anaheim with kids.
5. Los Angeles Angels Baseball Game
Another one for the sports 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
If you are looking for things to do in Anaheim for adults, check out a concert in Anaheim’s coolest new venue, House of Blues in the 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.
7. Oak Canyon Nature Center
Oak Canyon is a 58-acre nature reserve in Anaheim Hills where you can get outdoors and enjoy some fresh air.
Hike the tracks that take you through the three adjoining canyons. Pack yourself some lunch and enjoy eating outdoors at one of the many picnic tables.
BEST PLACES TO SHOP IN ANAHEIM
1. Downtown Disney
Want to get yourself some Disney memorabilia or gifts while in Anaheim CA? Downtown Disney is the place. Plus there are plenty of other shopping outlets too, all in one convenient location.
You can also enjoy dining at one of the many restaurants or cafes, or watch live entertainment!
Downtown Disney entrance is located right near the Disneyland parks entrance so you will need to go through the bag check process but it’s a must-visit Anaheim attraction 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, which is fun for the kids to see.
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.
4. Anaheim Packing District
Visit the 1919 historic citrus-packing house renovated into an upscale food court and enjoy a huge range of delicious food choices.
With live entertainment and seasonal events, this is the ultimate place to enjoy a buzzing atmosphere and sample some new dishes. Find out what’s coming up at the Anaheim Packing District.
Check out some more great dining options with our recommended family friendly Anaheim restaurants.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN ANAHEIM
There is no shortage of great hotels in Anaheim, with plenty of family-friendly options in the centre of the cities main attractions.
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.
Suites 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.
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.
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!
The Holiday Village event happens 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 is 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 and interactive exhibits 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 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 Tussauds 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.
There is also SeaWorld and of course, simply enjoying the day at Balboa Park, with rides, regular events and park grounds.
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.
4. Buena Park
Take a day trip to Buena Park, Northwest of Santa Ana in Orange County. Here you will find Knott’s Berry Farm and Soak City, in case you want even more amusement park fun!
This is also where you will find the California Welcome Centre plus the chance to enjoy some outdoor activities.
The Medieval show is also a popular attraction in Buena Park.
Visiting Anaheim soon? Leave a comment below telling us what you’re most looking forward to. We would love to hear it!
This article was first published in 2017 and has been updated for 2020.