There are lots of things to do in Anaheim – and not all of them revolve around Disney! Before we get to the good stuff, let’s have a look at the facts and figures. Anaheim is a city in Southern California, just a short drive from Los Angeles. It’s perhaps most famous for its Disney theme parks, which makes it a huge draw for families across the United States, as well as overseas tourists. The city was settled by German incomers in the 1850s, and its name reflects that. The word ‘ana’ is taken from the Santa Ana River, which runs close by, and ‘heim’ which is German for ‘home.’ Anaheim has a population of around 352,000, and the majority of these are within the 1-44 age range. The largest employer in the city is Disney, which accounts for 31,000 full and part-time jobs.
So, let’s take you on a quick journey and explore all the great things to do in Anaheim on your visit.
This is the first of two Disney parks based in Anaheim and covers 27,000 acres of land. If you have kids, expect to spend several days there. If you don’t have kids, also expect to spend several days there but probably get around a bit quicker. The park is made up of so many different specialty areas, we can’t even begin to talk about them all, to be honest. However, some of the highlights are Haunted Mansion, Star War Galaxy, Fantasyland, and the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. This and the sister California Adventure Park are the top-rated things to do in Anaheim.
Tickets required, available online or at the entrance, from $68, depending on package.
Disney California Adventure Park
Disneyland Adventure Park is part of the overall Disney Anaheim complex and is more like a small city, which helps to differentiate it from the amusement park nearby. Although both are quintessentially Disney in style and content, the Adventure Park has more to appeal to older kids and parents. As well as the rides and slides you’d expect in any Disney park, there’s also a large shopping and entertainment district, offering food, drinks, and ways to part with your hard-earned cash. Highlights include the pretty Pacific Wharf for dinner and cocktails and the fantastic Cars Land from the Pixar movie of the same name. The park is another one of the top things to do in Anaheim with kids.
Tickets required, online or from the entrance, from $68, depending on package
Anaheim Packing District
The Packing District is a rejuvenated downtown area of the city which is now home to a large range of food businesses, with space for events and entertainment (including a movie theatre). The District is housed in a renovated 1919 Sunkist packing plant. There are dozens of artisan food vendors, selling everything from Umami burgers, to freshly pressed lemonade to ramen noodles to wine. The BXCR is a restored 1920s railroad carriage, which is now an upscale wine bar and nearby is the popular Farmer’s Market, which gives you a chance to see an amazing range of local produce from across Anaheim and wider Orange County. If you fancy yourself as a bit of a foodie, it’s a must-see thing to do in Anaheim. Also, if, like us, you just like eating, the Packing District makes for a great day out.
Knott’s Soak City
Knott’s Soak City is a water park in Buena Park and is open May through September. The park is massively popular with children and is one of the best things to do in Anaheim with kids. Knott’s has 22 rides and slides and offers a full day of water fun for the little ones. There’s also a giant wave pool and a lazy river. For adults, there are a few dining options, and families can rent out cabanas for the day to give themselves somewhere to base the fun from.
Tickets required, available online or at the entrance, $46, depending on package.
Richard Nixon Museum and Library
OK, so he might be the dodgiest President in US history (maybe…), but he did achieve some good in between all the breaking into DNC HQ (he didn’t do that personally, we have to point out) and the general lying through his teeth and stuff. Unfortunately, not many people remember the good stuff because of Watergate, so why not pay Tricky Dicky a visit and see the positive changes he made to the US and his wider impact on us all? The library and museum are based in Yorba Linda, where Nixon was born. As with all Presidential Libraries and Museums we’ve visited, it’s a high-quality, absorbing experience that gives you a glimpse behind the scenes of some of the most powerful men in the world.
Tickets required, available from the entrance, $11-$21
Christ Cathedral (Crystal Cathedral)
Welcome to the Megachurch of Anaheim! This enormous Catholic church is fully constructed from glass – hence the name – and is located in Garden Grove. The Cathedral was built using 10,000 panes of glass, and these are held together using silicon glue, which makes it sound like it could be a scary place to be in a storm. We jest, of course; it’s perfectly safe, and it’s also a quite incredible sight. Despite having been a fixture in the area for a while, the building has only recently held its dedication Mass (July 2019). If you can swing by for a visit, it’s a unique and fun thing to do in Anaheim. Should you also feel like venturing inside – and you should because it’s jaw-dropping, you can check out the world’s fifth-largest organ. Megachurch, mega organ.
This sports park is home to the Los Angeles Angels MLB baseball team. Angel Stadium has a capacity of more than 45,000 seats and is the fourth oldest MLB stadium in the United States. The park has a unique landmark in a 230 feet tall ‘A’ which certainly makes it a wee bit easier to find for tourists. The ‘A’ gets all lit up when the team wins a game, which is a pretty cool sight. If you’re in town during baseball season, catching an Angels home game is one of the best things to do in Anaheim for all the family. The atmosphere is fantastic, and it’s a really fun day out.
A day spent wandering around the historic downtown area is one of the best things to do in Anaheim. The area has lots of stores for shopping and even more restaurants and bars. This allows you to do a spot of shopping, then maybe have a beer at Anaheim Brewery. After that, you can do more shopping before hitting up the House of Chimney Cakes for a sweet treat. Once that’s all done, head to the ice rink or the beautiful Carnegie Plaza to see the majestic Bellagio Fountain.
Off-beat things to do in Anaheim
There are a few pretty unusual things to do in Anaheim, which always makes us happy. Head over to Brookhurst Community Park and have a wander around the rather odd-looking undulating concrete structures. The park is 27 acres in total, and there’s a whole lot to do here with kids, so it’s not just popular for the weird art-like structures. The basketball courts, baseball diamonds, kids play park, soccer field, and picnic tables are popular, too. If the park ‘ain’t your thing, wander over to Melrose Abbey Cemetery and pay your respects to the man who wrote the USA’s baseball anthem ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game.’ Jack Norworth is buried close to Angel Stadium, which is slightly ironic because he died around 10 years before the baseball park was built. His headstone is engraved with lyrics from the song.
FAQs About Anaheim
We’ve compiled answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the city and things to do in Anaheim. These will help your research, planning, and general education about all this sunny Southern Californian city has to offer.
Is there a beach in Anaheim, CA?
No. Anaheim sits inland, so it doesn’t have any beaches of its own. But, don’t despair because Huntington and Long Beach are only a half-hour drive away from the city.
Is it safe to walk around Anaheim?
In terms of Californian cities, Anaheim ranks as 137th safest from 228. Violent crime is lower than the average for California, but the crime rate per square mile is much higher. However, even the safest cities in the US have their share of crime, and it always pays to be on your guard when traveling. Stay in well-lit areas, don’t flash money or valuables, and keep to populated places. The Disney areas of Anaheim are safer than others as these are heavily patrolled and generally busy day and night.
Anaheim is an atmospheric city, famed for its affiliation with Disney and its close proximity to Los Angeles. It was initially settled by winemakers and grape producers but, without much experience to succeed, orange groves soon took over. The locals of Anaheim are a diverse bunch, with a high percentage of Latino and Asian residents, adding to the great mix of cultural events, food and languages spoken. John Wayne Orange County Airport, although visitors often arrive and depart through nearby Los Angeles International (LAX). and has a great mix of accommodation to suit even those with limited funds. Although it has a fairly high cost of living and the Disney attractions are quite expensive, there’s a great range of free things to do in Anaheim to suit travelers on a budget.