If there’s one place I’ve practically memorized, it’s Anaheim. Growing up in California, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve ventured to this bustling city, both in my carefree childhood days (for Disneyland of course!) and as an adult (to visit my best friend who resides in the area).
Sure, Anaheim is known best as being the home to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, but I’d be lying if I said that was the only thing you could do there!
There’s way more to this sunny paradise than just the enchanted kingdom. I’ve roamed these streets, scoured every nook, and uncovered the local secrets that are begging to be shared. Whether you’re a thrill-seeker, a foodie, or a curious wanderer, I’ve got you covered with a curated list of the best things to do in Anaheim other than Disneyland.
Yes, you read that right – a whopping 40+ ways to keep the magic alive outside the magical gates of Disneyland!
So, what’s in store, you ask? Well, how about indulging in a culinary adventure at the mouthwatering Anaheim Packing District? Or perhaps slipping into the enchanting world of The Blind Rabbit, a speakeasy that will make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time?
How about feeling like a witch or wizard at The Cauldron, or embarking on a family-friendly escapade at Adventure City that’ll leave the kiddos beaming from ear to ear?
Have I piqued your interest yet? If so, let’s dive into a world of non-stop adventure, flavor-packed discoveries, and moments that will have you falling in love with Anaheim all over again.
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Table of Contents
1. Grab dinner at Anaheim Packing District
Elevate your next meal in Anaheim by opting for a journey through many, many flavors at the Anaheim Packing District! This spot is perfect for couples, friends, or families that tend to have differing tastebuds.
Why? Because this culinary haven offers an array of dining options, from gourmet bites to international cuisines — all housed within this charming historic space.
As you explore the district, you’ll discover a world of flavors that cater to every palate. Whether you’re craving authentic street tacos, artisanal pizzas, or delectable desserts, the Anaheim Packing District has so much to choose from!
For modern Thai, there’s White Elephant. For smoked meats and prime steaks, there’s Craft by Smoke and Fire. For drinks, opt for Pali Wine Co. (great wine) or BXCR Wine (the cool train car turned cocktail lounge). For dessert, there’s the ever-popular Popbar or The Pie Hole, and too many others to list here!
You can check out all the food offerings at the Packing District here.
Don’t forget, there are two floors to this massive food hall!
2. Escape into The Blind Rabbit speakeasy
For a little dressier of an activity, you can embark on a captivating journey into the past at The Blind Rabbit, Anaheim’s first neighborhood speakeasy! This secret haven invites you to step back in time and experience the allure of the Prohibition era.
Nestled within the Packing House, this speakeasy exudes an air of mystery, making it an ideal setting for a fun and unique date night! You can expect nothing less than inventive craft cocktails and yummy small plates. Trust the skilled bartenders and chefs to create unique concoctions tailored to your tastes.
First off, finding the entrance is part of the adventure. Look for the hidden door marked by a rabbit emblem. For this experience, you should embrace the speakeasy ambiance by dressing in 1920s-inspired attire. It’s a playful way to fully immerse yourselves in the experience!
I won’t spoil the experience by showing photos of the interior! 😉 Lastly, The Blind Rabbit is known for its exclusivity, so it’s best to make reservations in advance. Call ahead or use the secret code to secure your spot in this hidden gem.
3. Have fun at the Anaheim Gardenwalk
The Anaheim GardenWalk is a buzzing outdoor shopping and entertainment district where visitors can shop, dine, and enjoy various entertainment options in a lively setting.
Sure, the Gardenwalk’s in a touristy area, but that just means there’s a lot of fun to be had here!
Puzzle your way through an escape room at Mission Escape Games, or take in soulful tunes at House of Blues Anaheim. Some notable food and drink joints in the area include Vietnamese coffee shop King Coffee, California ice cream institution La Michoacana, and Artist Row — an immersive outdoor arts & events venue!
4. Explore the Downtown Disney District
Elevate your night with a touch of magic at Downtown Disney! If you’ve been to Universal CityWalk, let me start by saying that Downtown Disney is so much better than that!
Begin your evening with a delectable dinner at one of the charming restaurants that line this vibrant district. Choose from an array of culinary delights, ranging from the delightful Italian flavors of Naples Ristorante e Bar to the enchanting ambiance and New Orleans-inspired cuisine at Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen.
After your meal, take a leisurely stroll through the lively promenade, surrounded by the sights and sounds that make Disney’s atmosphere truly enchanting.
Fancy a drink or two? Head to Ballast Point Brewing Co.
After dinner, stop at Black Tap for some crazy shakes! These shakes are not your average milkshake — think frosted, decorated rims and all manner of candy, cookies, and accoutrements. You may even get a slice of cake in your shake!
If your party consists of Disney fans, stop by Marceline’s Confectionery so they can ogle at the myriad of handcrafted Disney-themed candies, made daily in-house and beautifully arranged in glass cases up and down the walls!
💡 Fun Fact: Marceline’s is named after Walt Disney’s hometown of Marceline, Missouri.
5. Enjoy a themed dinner
OK, who said themed dinners were just for tourists and kids? I love me a themed dinner whenever I have the chance to visit Southern California because they’re just lacking in other parts of the state!
You can attend the Medieval Times Dinner And Tournament in Buena Park, where you’ll be able to storm the castle and cheer on a knight in shining armor. Kids and adults alike will love using their hands to dig into a feast for a king while watching an epic battle of jousting and extreme horsemanship in the arena.
There’s also the Pirate’s Dinner Adventure in Buena Park, where you can enjoy an acrobatic show aboard an authentic replica of an 18th-century Spanish galleon. Enjoy your meal while watching Captain Sebastian and his crew track down treasure through a series of death-defying stunts.
6. Go brewery hopping
Anaheim has no shortage of really great breweries to enjoy. In fact, Anaheim was founded by brewers and winemakers in the mid-to-late 1800s, so naturally, you’re going to find some GOOD drinkin’ here.
Here are a few options to inspire a brewery-hopping afternoon with your date:
- Radiant Beer Co. – Anaheim (they won Best Small Brewery and Brewer of the Year at the 2021 Great American Beer Festival!)
- Ballast Point – Anaheim (Downtown Disney)
- Golden Road Brewing – Anaheim (known for their yummy Mango Cart beer)
- Villains Brewing Company – Anaheim (Villain-themed beers)
- Noble Ale Works – Anaheim
- Bottle Logic Brewing – Anaheim
- Unsung Brewing Company – Anaheim
- Monkish Beer Co. – Anaheim
This is not an exhaustive list by any means so if you’re up for exploring even more breweries, you can find a lot more with just a quick Google search!
7. Strong Water Anaheim
If you’re up for a fun and slightly quirky tiki bar experience, then Strong Water Anaheim might be just the thing for you!
Nestled in the heart of Anaheim, Strong Water is an eclectic restaurant that’s all about a lively atmosphere and a diverse menu inspired by global flavors. To start your culinary adventure, you can’t go wrong with their handcrafted cocktails (like the Dole Whip Colada or the Taro Colada), known for their unique twists and bold combinations.
As for the food, you should indulge in their delectable small plates if you’ve got the appetite! The lomi lomi salmon, lumpia, and mouthwatering grilled pork chops come highly recommended!
For a memorable main course, consider trying their signature dishes like the savory Short Rib Pot Pie or the succulent Pan-Roasted Salmon.
Oh, and did we mention that it’s within walking distance from the Anaheim Packing House? You can easily do both in the same afternoon/evening! Reservations are highly recommended, as this place is quite popular!
8. Go ice skating at Anaheim Ice
For about $12, you can get an affordable afternoon of ice skating that lets you experience the Frank Gehry-designed rink that was built for NHL’s Anaheim Ducks!
Professionally maintained skates are available for rental. Public skating times vary so be sure to check their website for more information.
9. Take a trapeze class at Swingit Trapeze
If you’ve ever wanted to live out your circus performer dreams, you’ll get to do that in Anaheim! Swingit Trapeze allows people without prior experience to learn acrobatic techniques, including trapeze, trampoline, and aerial apparatus from professional circus artists.
They even do birthday parties and corporate events, should you find this experience more fun with a larger group!
10. Have a witch-themed night at The Cauldron
Calling all Harry Potter, Haunted Mansion, Sabrina The Teenage Witch, and all other fantasy / witch-obsessed individuals! The Cauldron is going to be your new favorite spot in town.
The Cauldron provides a dark, fairy tale witch-themed sanctuary for people who want to dine and enjoy drinks in a themed sensory setting! You won’t be able to ignore all the cool interior decorations that come together to create such fun “spooky” vibes!
For a truly immersive experience, don’t miss out on trying some of their signature drinks, like “The Raven’s Claw”, “Grey Witch”, or “The Black Cauldron” – they’re the perfect way to get your appetite going before chowing down on their French-inspired dishes.
We’re hoping you get the table right next to the boiling cauldron and the blinking dragon’s eye!
While walk-ins are allowed, it’s best to plan ahead by signing up on the Yelp Waitlist before you arrive. They are located conveniently in Buena Park, California, right across from Knott’s Berry Farm.
11. Attend a sporting event
If you’re a sports fan looking to infuse some adrenaline-fueled excitement into your night, you should embrace the OC’s dynamic sporting scene.
You’ve got your choice between Angels Baseball and the Anaheim Ducks (hockey)!
Angels Baseball: Immerse yourselves in the timeless American tradition of baseball at Angels Stadium. Enjoy the crack of the bat, the roar of the crowd – and of course, indulge in ballpark treats!
Anaheim Ducks Hockey: For those who prefer a fast-paced, ice-cold adventure, catching an Anaheim Ducks hockey game is a must. Feel the energy of the arena as the players glide across the ice, chasing the puck with precision. From the electrifying cheers to the dramatic moments on the rink, hockey games offer a unique blend of intensity and fun.
12. Catch a show at House Of Blues Anaheim
If you and your squad are music lovers, consider catching a show at House of Blues Anaheim, a legendary music venue that has hosted an array of iconic artists from various genres over the years!
Nestled in the heart of the Downtown Disney District, this venue offers an unparalleled concert experience where music really takes center stage.
With its state-of-the-art sound system, the VIP Foundation Room, eclectic décor, and the expanded restaurant and bar, House of Blues Anaheim stands as an awesome venue that not only delivers top-notch performances but also embodies a deep appreciation for music!
Be sure to check out upcoming shows on their website!
13. Flightdeck Flight Simulation Center
Aspiring fighter pilots and airline pilots, this one’s for you! Can you believe there’s an actual place for you to unleash your inner aviator as you step into the cockpit of a commercial airliner or a fighter jet simulator? Crazy!
Experience the thrill of takeoffs, landings, and aerial maneuvers, all while under the guidance of expert instructors.
The fighter jet experience is particularly fun! After donning your flight suit, you’ll learn the important stuff like how to shoot down your ‘frenemies” or protect yourself from getting shot down. Once in your cockpit, adjust your headset and you’ll be cleared for your catapult launch from an aircraft carrier in your F/A-18. When you hear “Fight’s On, Fight’s On” – start flying! Try everything to prevent being hit.
Whether you’re a seasoned aviation enthusiast or a curious first-timer, Flightdeck offers an unparalleled opportunity to immerse yourself in the world of aviation and experience the rush of flying without leaving the ground.
Flightdeck Flight Simulation Center is conveniently located at Anaheim GardenWalk.
14. Muzeo Museum and Cultural Center
If you’re looking to immerse yourself in captivating art and cultural exhibitions, you should definitely visit the Muzeo Museum and Cultural Center in Anaheim, where you can explore a diverse range of rotating exhibits, engage with thought-provoking installations, and gain insights into the rich history and creativity that define the local community and beyond.
They’ve got all kinds of exhibits — get a taste of what you can expect from these previous exhibits:
- “Houdini Unchained: The Legacy of Harry Houdini” – This exhibit delved into the world of legendary escape artist Harry Houdini, showcasing his incredible feats, magic performances, and enduring legacy.
- “A Walk in Their Shoes: The Lives of Three Mexican Immigrant Farmworkers” – This exhibit shed light on the experiences of Mexican immigrant farmworkers through personal stories, photographs, and artifacts, providing a glimpse into their challenges, aspirations, and contributions.
- “Dressing Downton: Changing Fashion for Changing Times” – Inspired by the popular television series “Downton Abbey,” this exhibit showcased an array of exquisite costumes and accessories from the early 20th century, offering a captivating glimpse into the world of British aristocracy.
- “The Beatles’ ‘Sgt. Pepper’s’ at 50” – Commemorating the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ iconic album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” this exhibit explored the cultural impact and musical innovation of the album.
15. Center Street Promenade
Step back in time as you wander down Center Street Promenade, a charming historic downtown area that exudes character and charm. Should you choose to experience this area, you’ll get to meander through cobblestone streets lined with charming boutiques, artisanal shops, and cozy cafes.
Located just streets away from Anaheim’s historic Carnegie Library, this hip area has already become an Orange County landmark and a worthwhile stop on your Anaheim to-do list.
Find gifts to bring home at Home Eco:nomics, shop the latest fashion trends at Look Boutique. or grab a bite to eat from one of the many eateries in the area. Check out the Good Food Hall while you’re in the area!
16. Downtown Anaheim Certified Farmers’ Market
If you know anything about me, I love a good and lively farmers market experience! At the Downtown Anaheim Certified Farmers’ Market, you can sample fresh produce, artisanal food vendors (think kettle corn, Chinese dumplings, tamales, Hawaiian food, and more), and crafts from local vendors.
At the time of writing, the Downtown Anaheim Farmers Market takes place every Thursday from 11am- 3pm at the Center Street Promenade. Check here for the latest days/hours of operation.
17. The Anaheim Indoor Marketplace
The Anaheim Indoor Marketplace, also known as the Anaheim Marketplace, is a lively and diverse indoor flea market located in Anaheim. It offers a mix of vendors selling everything from clothing, jewelry, Mexican candies, piñatas, party accessories, electronics, home decor, toys, and more. You can even get yourself a mani, pedi, eyebrow threading, and acupuncture!
What sets the marketplace apart is its emphasis on cultural diversity (it’s made up of a variety of ethnic vendors), making it a really fun place to explore and experience international products and flavors!
Don’t miss the chance to indulge in authentic ethnic cuisine that takes your taste buds on a global journey. When you’re here, make sure to try the mouthwatering street tacos from the local Mexican food stands – they’re a true local favorite!
18. Take the kids to Adventure City
Everyone knows about Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm, but did you know there’s one other theme park in Anaheim? Enter Adventure City, a hidden gem of Anaheim that sits in the shadows of those big guys!
This charming theme park is just a few miles from the Disneyland® Resort area. It offers an array of family-friendly rides, attractions, and captivating shows that cater to visitors of all ages. From the whimsical carousel to the zipping roller coaster to the cute little petting farm, you’ll find an exciting mix of entertainment options perfect for the kiddos.
While you’re here, be sure to catch the interactive puppet show – it’s a delightful experience that kids (and kids at heart) adore.
Admission for a family of four is less than ONE ticket to a big park so you can enjoy all of the 17 rides, shows, and attractions for one affordable price!
19. Anaheim White House Restaurant
The Anaheim White House Restaurant is an upscale dining establishment and an iconic restaurant housed within a historic mansion. Think opulent decor, elegant furnishings, and tasteful design to pair with your fine dining experience!
Should you opt for a meal here, you’ll be indulging in the art of fine Italian cuisine as you savor delectable dishes crafted from the finest ingredients.
The elegant ambiance and attentive service create a memorable atmosphere for a romantic dinner or special occasion. When you dine here, make sure to try the classic Osso Buco – it’s a tender and flavorful dish that captures the essence of Italian cooking!
20. Oak Canyon Nature Center
Lace up your hiking boots and embark on a journey through Oak Canyon Nature Center’s enchanting trails that wind through calm outdoor landscapes!
Oak Canyon Nature Center is a 58-acre natural park nestled in the Anaheim Hills. Consisting of three adjoining canyons, this park features four miles of hiking trails that traverse one of the few remaining areas of oak woodland and coastal sage scrub in the region. A year-round stream can be found meandering through the park too.
For an easy and tranquil trail experience, try out the 1.4-mile Oak Canyon Bluebird and Wren Trail. Great for starting your morning or as a pre-dinner stroll!
21. The Ranch Restaurant & Saloon
Indulge in a one-of-a-kind dining experience at The Ranch Restaurant & Saloon, a culinary gem nestled in the heart of Anaheim. This upscale establishment seamlessly combines the rustic charm of a Western ranch with the sophistication of a gourmet restaurant. Think reclaimed wood, cozy leather furnishings, and a hint of old-world elegance!
Let’s touch on the restaurant first. Their menu celebrates locally sourced ingredients, from premium steaks and seafood to inventive appetizers and decadent desserts. If you’re open to balling out, don’t miss the opportunity to try their perfectly cooked “Cowboy Ribeye” – a mouthwatering steak that’s a true showstopper.
And then there’s the saloon — existing for all your country music/dancing needs! Inspired by the old Crazy Horse Steakhouse & Saloon and the old Palomino Club, THE RANCH Saloon offers an up-close and personal country music and dancing experience.
If you’re a fan of country music, don’t miss your chance for a night of dancing the two-step and line dancing to local country bands or DJs. Guests can enjoy watching the entertainment from the comfort of a booth or join the crowds on the dance floor!
22. Camelot Golfland
At the longstanding Camelot Golfland in Anaheim, you can enjoy a variety of activities perfect for families and friends that want a little bit of excitement in their lives!
We’re talking TONS of activities to choose from, including mini-golf on whimsical-themed courses, go-kart racing, laser tag battles, arcade gaming, bumper boats, water slides, and an indoor play area for kids.
It’s a fantastic destination for families and friends looking for a fun-filled day of entertainment and amusement.
Pro Tip: On hotter days, opt for the Bumper Boats attraction, where you can make a splash as you bump and cruise your way around our bumper boat lagoon!
23. Yorba Regional Park
Unwind and connect with the great outdoors at Yorba Regional Park, a picturesque little oasis nestled within the city. We love this park — it’s so big, well-maintained, and just fun to be in.
On any given weekend, you can expect to find this place packed with families and groups of friends picnicking and enjoying their time outdoors — even if it happens to be a gloomy overcast day!
Spend a couple of hours spreading out a picnic blanket and enjoy a couple of sandwiches (or even a homemade charcuterie board) amidst the serene surroundings.
Looking for some more activity? You can also enjoy a peaceful paddleboat ride in one of those swan boats to soak in the scenic lake views. And if that’s not your thing, you can go fishing or rent tandem bikes to ride around the park.
There is free parking on the far west side of the park or you can pay a small fee and enter the park.
24. Race go-karts at K1 Speed
Go Kart Racing at K1 Speed in Anaheim is a whole lot of fun for all ages. This high-energy venue offers an adrenaline-pumping experience for both racing enthusiasts and beginners alike.
As you step onto the track, you’ll be greeted by the powerful roar of electric go-karts. The heart-pounding excitement begins as you navigate hairpin turns, tackle challenging curves, and strategically overtake your competitors.
With state-of-the-art technology, thrilling speeds, and a competitive atmosphere, K1 Speed delivers an authentic racing experience that allows you to unleash your inner racer and enjoy the thrill of speed in a safe and controlled environment.
25. Knott’s Berry Farm
While Disneyland is renowned for its whimsical kid-friendly atmosphere, Knott’s Berry Farm offers a unique twist by featuring roller coasters and attractions tailored to teens and adults.
From the heart-pounding drops of HangTime to the high-speed twists of Silver Bullet, the park boasts an impressive selection of rides that cater to the adventurous spirit in you. Don’t miss out on the gravity-defying Xcelerator or the immersive GhostRider wooden coaster for an extra dose of excitement.
Beyond the rides, Knott’s offers food that’s actually quite food! Be sure to try their famous fried chicken or indulge in the delicious boysenberry treats that pay homage to the park’s heritage.
To make the most of your day, I highly recommend purchasing your tickets online in advance, not only for convenience but also for substantial savings!
26. Rodeo 39 Public Market
Rodeo 39 Public Market is a modern food hall located in Stanton (about 15 minutes away from Anaheim), offering a hefty amount of Asian food options and shopping experiences.
Within its inviting spaces, you can discover a range of eateries and businesses, including Shootz, Banh Xeo Boys (my personal fave), Hironori, Fika Fika Creamery, Phoholic (another one of my faves), Tenori, among many others, each offering unique flavors and delights to satisfy various palates.
There is plenty of open seating here, so everyone can choose what they want to order and come together when it’s time to eat!
27. Catch an event at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts
Love the performing arts? Well, this dynamic performing arts center features an exciting lineup year after year. You can expect jazz, cabaret, chamber music shows, ballet, Broadway shows, and much more.
But this isn’t your average performing arts venue. At Costa Mesa’s Segerstrom Center for the Arts, you can expect to find all kinds of fun events (even if you’re not into performing arts), such as silent disco nights, movie Mondays, paint night parties, dance lessons, and much more!
Be sure to check their events calendar to see what’s going on. You can plan a night out depending on what types of events are coming up!
28. Catch a comedy show at Irvine Improv
Laughter is the best medicine, so if you and your buddies are looking for a night full of entertaining comedy, go here! The new and expanded Irvine Improv has the best in famous and upcoming comedians.
Previous performers have included Gabriel Iglesias, Tiffany Haddish, Iliza Shlesinger, Tom Segura, and Chris D’Elia. Be sure to check the club’s schedule in advance to see which comedians are set to perform during your visit – you might just catch a rising star or a seasoned pro delivering punchlines that will have you laughing all night long.
Pro Tip: Arrive a little early to enjoy a pre-show dinner at the nearby eateries, and then settle into the cozy ambiance of Irvine Improv for an evening of laughter!
29. Indulge in Asian cuisine at Garden Grove
If you want a truly delicious Korean or Vietnamese meal, you need to stop what you’re doing and head straight for Garden Grove, located less than 15 minutes away from Anaheim.
This vibrant city boasts a treasure trove of Asian cuisine that promises to transport your taste buds to distant lands! It’s easily my favorite neighborhood to dine in when I visit my best friend in Orange County!
Tasting your way through Garden Grove is an immersive experience that celebrates the art of Asian food and the joy of discovering new flavors!
Among the city’s standout restaurants is Mo Ran Gak Restaurant which I love for its delectable cold noodles (perfect for hot summer days) and exceptional Korean BBQ. Meanwhile, Banh Cuon Luu Luyen entices with its delicate banh cuon, while the aromatic pho from Pho 79 and Phoholic does wonders for comfort and warmth.
Follow up your food-tasting adventure by indulging in a delightful coffee and boba drink at Vintage 1979 in Garden Grove (multiple locations). I’ve got three words to describe the drinks and desserts here for you — cute, tasty, and innovative! The egg coffee is a must!
30. Go shopping at the outlets
When you’re in the Anaheim area, get ready to score amazing deals upon deals on your shopping spree! With three outlet options to choose from, you’re in for a shopping adventure like no other. Here are your options:
- Citadel Outlets: Located just 25 minutes from Anaheim, this 700,000 square-foot property houses more than 130 global name brands including Michael Kors, Calvin Klein and Kate Spade.
- The Outlets at Orange: This is Orange County’s largest outlet mall. It’s just a short drive from Anaheim and offers consumers the chance to shop at stores like Neiman Marcus Last Call, Nordstrom Rack, and Saks Off Fifth. Entertainment includes an indoor Vans Skate Park, a movie theater, and Dave & Buster’s.
- The Outlets at San Clemente: Escape to coastal charm and premium shopping at The Outlets at San Clemente, where ocean breezes and unbeatable deals collide. This Spanish-colonial outlet destination features all the big designer names.
- For smaller independent boutiques, drive 10 minutes to Avenida del Mar downtown!
31. Stroll among gardens at Fullerton Arboretum
The Fullerton Arboretum makes for an incredibly picturesque day in the outdoors, with its enchanting botanical gardens, winding pathways, and charming atmosphere.
During your visit, you’ll see a range of themed gardens, including a desert garden, a Mediterranean garden, a woodland garden, and a collection of rare and endangered plants.
For even more time out in nature, hit the Fullerton Panorama Trail, a 2.8-mile loop that brings hikers to scenic hilltops overlooking the Coyote Hills Golf Course (expect lots of green!). For a longer trek, cross over Brea Boulevard to connect with another few miles of trails at Brea Dam Park.
32. Spend a full day exploring Newport Beach
Nestled along the picturesque Southern California coastline, Newport Beach offers the perfect backdrop for a fun day out along the coast.
With its pristine sandy shores, two piers, a lively and charming boardwalk, tons of trendy dining options, and fun attractions, Newport Beach is a haven for people who want to enjoy the ocean breeze under the warm California sun.
For some classic family fun, head over to the Balboa Fun Zone, a classic Newport Beach attraction that exudes a vintage charm. Embark on a playful adventure with your partner by trying your hand at carnival games, taking a whirlwind ride on the Ferris wheel, or exploring the nautical-themed shops.
The panoramic views from the top of the Ferris wheel are especially mesmerizing and romantic!
After that, take a ferry ride (or walk over) to Balboa Island, a charming coastal community in Newport Beach. Once there, you’ll be greeted by a picturesque scene of charming cottages, blooming gardens, and inviting storefronts of boutique shops. Meander along the quaint streets, where local art and unique treasures await around every corner.
For ocean paddleboarding, Newport Beach’s Balboa Peninsula offers an adventurous experience where you can ride gentle waves while embracing the coastal beauty of Southern California.
33. Attend the Orange County Fair
If you happen to be planning your trip for the month of July, do not pass up the opportunity to go to the OC Fair! It’s one of the best county fairs in the entire state!
You’ll find all your favorite fair foods there, like turkey legs, loaded nachos, freshly-squeezed lemonade, funnel cakes, and many other fair faves. Plus tons of carnival games and rides blasting EDM music!
Because of how hot it gets here during the summer, we recommend going in the late afternoon and spending most of your time there at night, when it’s less hot!
The Orange County Fair in California takes place at the OC Fair & Event Center, which is located in Costa Mesa, CA.
34. Go to the Santa Ana Zoo
For a smaller, local zoo experience outside of the world-renowned San Diego Zoo, visit the Santa Ana Zoo located a city or so away from Anaheim. This 20-acre zoo is a sanctuary for primates (a huge plus for monkey lovers like me!). At any given time, there are at least 50 monkeys housed here!
It’s also one of 10 zoos within the United States to provide a home for ocelots, the endangered Brazilian cat that looks like a small cheetah.
35. Get wild at the American Ninja Warrior Adventure Park
Inspired by the popular NBC TV show, the American Ninja Warrior Adventure Park — found in Santa Ana’s MainPlace Mall, combines fitness and fun, giving visitors an opportunity to master their secret ninja skills.
In a one-of-a-kind experience, guests can try to conquer challenges, such as the monkey swings, spider walls, tilting logs, floating bridges, a 10,000-square-foot inflatable obstacle course, and the famous Warped Wall!
This park is tons of fun for people of all ages, but especially for those that are more on the competitive side and/or love jumping around obstacle courses!
36. Window shop at South Coast Plaza
This fashion mecca of a mall in Costa Mesa is the largest shopping center on the West Coast — so you know you’ll be able to get your shopping on here! It’s anchored by upscale department stores alongside top designer boutiques like Chanel, Dior, and Valentino.
Not into luxury? Not a problem! Some of my favorite stores to browse through aimlessly are Pop Mart, Paper Source, Crate & Barrel, and Anthropologie.
Not into shopping at all? It’s still a great place to walk around and enjoy some free AC (air conditioning).
37. Discovery Cube Orange County
Let your children’s imaginations run wild through more than 100 hands-on exhibits at Orange County’s leading destination for hands-on science fun.
Every corner of Discovery Cube OC in Santa Ana offers a new adventure, whether it’s uncovering the mysteries of science through captivating experiments, embarking on exciting simulated journeys, or engaging in creative activities that spark their imagination.
Kids can explore the cosmos, delve into ecosystems, understand water’s significance, become detectives, experience virtual flight, and ignite their passion for engineering through hands-on adventures that seamlessly blend learning with excitement.
Rotating exhibits and annual events such as Bug Invasion and Bubblefest ensure that there’s always something new for the kids to discover.
38. See art at the Bowers Museum
The Bowers Museum is an art and cultural museum located in Santa Ana. The museum features a collection of over 100,000 objects from around the world, including art, artifacts, and natural history specimens.
While you’re here, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to learn about local California and other world history. Previous historical exhibits include “California Legacies: Missions and Ranchos (1768-1848)”, “Spirits and Headhunters: Art of the Pacific Islands”, and “American Visionary: John F. Kennedy’s Life and Times”.
There are usually also some really interesting exhibits showcasing artifacts/relics that are seen as art in our culture, as seen in previous exhibits like “Gemstone Carvings: The Masterworks of Harold Van Pelt”, “Miao: Masters of Silver”, and “Guo Pei: Art of Couture”.
39. Attend the Santa Ana Artwalk
If local events are your jam and you’re a huge fan of community art, you’re going to want to attend one of the monthly Santa Ana Artwalks.
On the first Saturday of every month, the streets from Broadway to French are filled with people exploring this community-based art showcase from 6 to 10 PM. There’s something visually creative around every corner, so keep your eyes peeled!
You’ll find over 20 art galleries displaying works from the city’s finest creators throughout downtown Santa Ana, while two outdoor festival areas host live music performances, vendors, pop-up artists, and dancing.
Don’t miss the permanent street art at Callejon del Beso, which translates to “The Alley of the Kiss”.
40. Enjoy a 4-hour dinner at The Hobbit
Indulge in an extraordinary culinary journey at The Hobbit in Orange, where a 4-hour dinner waits for you! Yes, you read that right — 4 hours!
This intimate restaurant offers a prix-fixe menu that takes you on a meticulously crafted gastronomic adventure. As you step into this charming house-turned-restaurant, you’ll be transported into a world where elegance and food are the only two things that matter.
The evening unfolds through multiple courses, each thoughtfully designed to surprise and delight your palate. From amuse-bouches to exquisite main courses and delicate desserts, every dish is a masterpiece that reflects the chef’s creativity and commitment to excellence!
Plan ahead — waaaay ahead, as this restaurant is booked months in advance.
👉 For another cute date-worthy restaurant, check out The Cellar Restaurant in Fullerton. There’s a reason why they’re called ‘OC’s Best Hidden Secret’! The restaurant was designed by the same craftsman from the Pirates of the Caribbean, so if it looks familiar, that’s why!
41. Spend a day at Huntington Beach
Just 30 minutes away from Anaheim lives Huntington Beach, an ideal beachy destination for a memorable full-day getaway. If golden sandy beaches, water activities, an iconic pier, boardwalk shops, and an eclectic dining scene sound like your definition of a good time, Huntington Beach should be on your itinerary!
Begin your day with a leisurely stroll along the expansive shoreline, basking in the sun’s warmth and breathing in the ocean smells. The iconic Huntington Beach Pier stands as a focal point, inviting you to take a leisurely walk along its planks, watching surfers catch waves and admiring the panoramic views of the coastline.
For those seeking a taste of classic California cuisine, you will have an endless amount of choice here. Indulge in freshly caught seafood, savor gourmet fish tacos, or treat yourself to a beachfront brunch while relishing the stunning ocean vistas.
From there, it’s time to explore the boardwalk area! The lively boardwalk hums with activity, from souvenir shops to street performers, creating a lively and charming atmosphere that captures the essence of the Southern California lifestyle.
To infuse your day with a touch of adventure, head to the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, a haven for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts. Explore the scenic trails that wind through wetlands and coastal habitats, providing a serene escape into the beauty of the natural world.
For those of you who can appreciate the art of surfing, the Huntington Beach International Surfing Museum is a must-visit!
Annual Events In Anaheim, California
- Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend (January): A series of races held at Disneyland Resort, including a half marathon, 10K, 5K, and kids’ races, attracting runners of all ages and abilities.
- Black History Parade and Unity Fair (February) – Thousands gather in Downtown Anaheim to kick off Black History Month and celebrate Black heritage and culture. Expect lots of food, entertainment, and contests at this longstanding fair!
- WonderCon (March/April): A pop culture convention organized by the same team behind San Diego Comic-Con, offering panels, exhibits, and a diverse array of fandom activities.
- The OC Marathon (April/May): A family-friendly marathon with a 5k and Kids Run, in addition to the official 26.2-mile haul.
- OC Greekfest (May) – This festival has existed for more than 45 years and features plenty of gyros, baklava, local vendors, and live music — it’s a hit every year.
- Cinco de Mayo Festival (May): A cultural celebration of Mexican heritage with live music, dance performances, authentic cuisine, and family-friendly activities.
- Star Wars Celebration (late May): annual convention for fans of the Star Wars franchise.
- Taste of Anaheim (May/June): A culinary event where local restaurants and eateries offer samples of their best dishes, allowing attendees to savor a variety of flavors in one place.
- VidCon (June): An annual convention celebrating online video and digital content creation, bringing together creators, fans, and industry professionals.
- Independence Day Celebrations (July): Fireworks displays, parades, and festivities take place throughout the city in honor of the Fourth of July.
- Anime Expo (July): The largest anime convention in North America, featuring panels, cosplay, screenings, and merchandise for anime enthusiasts.
- Orange County Fair (July/August): A beloved summer tradition featuring carnival rides, entertainment, live music, fair food, and agricultural exhibits.
- D23 Expo (September): Disney’s official fan event where attendees can get a sneak peek at upcoming projects, attend panels, and immerse themselves in all things Disney.
- Orange County Children’s Book Festival (September/October): A celebration of children’s literature featuring author signings, book readings, and interactive activities for young readers.
- Orange County International Auto Show (October): A showcase of the latest automobile models, concept cars, and automotive technology.
- Anaheim Fall Festival and Halloween Parade (late October): A festive and family-friendly Halloween parade featuring creative floats, costume contests, arts and crafts, live entertainment, and community spirit.
- BlizzCon (November): A convention hosted by Blizzard Entertainment, showcasing their popular video game franchises and offering announcements, tournaments, and fan experiences.
Where To Stay In Anaheim, California
Anaheim is home to way too many good hotels to count — many of which offer free breakfast! This is an amazing perk if you’re visiting Disneyland with the family because it allows you to save on meal costs (since you’re paying so much for your vacation already!).
Other hotels in the Anaheim area that I like include:
The Westin Anaheim Resort – A must if you’re looking for a more upscale stay in Anaheim! Their swanky rooftop lounge offers cocktails, tapas, sweeping views, and live entertainment; some rooms feature views of Disneyland California Adventure!
Wyndham Anaheim – This sure is a good-looking hotel for a chain hotel brand! Also LOVE their free parking (which is rare in the Anaheim resort area these days)!
Hotel Pepper Tree Boutique Kitchen Studios – If you are not interested in staying within walking distance of Disneyland, consider this charming hotel featuring the cutest Mediterranean vibes, a full kitchen for each room, and Spanish handcrafted furniture. Parking is free and breakfast is included!
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