From meeting new people to experiencing new sights, sounds, and smells – is there anything more exciting or rejuvenating than a break from the day-to-day mundanity? Traveling is an excellent way to immerse yourself in a new culture, setting, or way-of-life, but the best part is this: you don’t have to venture far from home to enjoy what this world has to offer.
Whether your journey takes you across your own city, to an unexplored part of your state, or even to the other side of the world, there’s no doubt you will still learn a lot about your surroundings – and yourself – along the way.
While the culture an hour away from your home might not be drastically different from what you’re used to, you can still gain a deepened sense of appreciation for where you’ve laid your roots. Plus, traveling locally has a lot of benefits:
More cost-effective. Local travel is certainly a budget-friendly way to explore! Many activities and parks are free or have a low cost of entry. For day trips, you can also pack your own meals to save.
Eco-friendly way to travel. Travel is hard on the environment, but putzing around your area is more sustainable than air travel.
Quick trips. Getting out locally means you can do it more often! Long weekend trips are a lot easier to take when the destination is a short drive away.
Easy to plan. Preparing your itinerary for a local getaway will likely save you some time and stress.
More convenient. Especially if you have little ones, sticking close to home may be much more convenient than far-off destinations. If you forget something, have an emergency, or need to cut the trip short, being closeby definitely has its benefits.
The second-largest city in Orange County in terms of landmass and home to more than 350,000 people, Anaheim is a beautiful and unique community that’s well worth taking time to get to know… even if you’ve already been there for a while.
A famous destination thanks to Disneyland, there’s so much more to this southern California gem. Read on to learn about our favorite things to do and places to explore in Anaheim.
*Note: Some of the suggestions may not be doable due to coronavirus closures, but keep this list handy for when things start opening back up more! Be sure to check individual pages for specific operation details.
Anaheim may be tucked into one of the biggest metropolitan areas in America, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t chock full of beautiful outdoor landscapes to explore! Here are some of the best state and national parks and preserves to add to your list while you’re in Anaheim, CA.
Only 27 miles from Anaheim, Chino Hills State Park is a sprawling wilderness offering green, rolling hillsides covered with wildflower blooms, perfect for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and plain-old relaxing. Its on-site Rolling M Campground offers 20 sites with stunning views, but no hookups are available.
The scenic steppes and stratified rock walls at Limestone Canyon Regional Park make it popular amongst hikers, mountain bikers, and naturalists — as does its rich diversity of animal and plant life. Criss-crossed with marked hiking trails and also beautiful to simply drive through, this regional park is a great spot for a day trip, and only three quarters of an hour from downtown Anaheim.
It isn’t southern California if you don’t include the beach, and Bolsa Chica State Beach is one of the most stunning. Offering three miles of oceanfront and an important nesting site for a variety of migratory shorebirds — such as the brown pelican, the western snowy plover, and the endangered California least tern — this beach is always a great place to get away, thanks to its relatively mild temperatures and sunshine year round.
Another seaside park offering both shoreline and tide pools, Crystal Cove State Park is a great place to get acquainted with the miniscule flora and fauna it’s so easy to otherwise miss. It’s beautiful and fruitful for landlubbers, too; the park features 400 acres of bluffs, 2,400 acres of canyons, and a 1,400-acre marine conservation area and underwater park, making it replete with options for exploration.
One of the most popular beaches on the southern California Pacific coast, Huntington State Beach is so much more than a stretch of sand. This park also offers beautiful marshlands, which are home to a wide range of wildlife including sea turtles and alligators, and also boasts a nearly-century-old Moorish castle.
You don’t have to venture very far afield to enjoy some beautiful outdoor recreation opportunities! Here are some of the very best hiking trails in Anaheim, all within an easy drive.
A quick, two-and-a-half-mile loop that seems about 500 feet in elevation gain, the Weir Canyon Short Loop is considered “easy” by southern California standards, but it’ll still work up a bit of a sweat. Because of its proximity to town and the ability to be done in a short period of time, this is a popular hike amongst locals and offers beautiful, sweeping views of the landscape and community.
If you want to extend your Weir Canyon stay, consider tacking on the Robbers Peak and Deer Trail excursion: these additions make the trail more like four miles in length, all told, and add an extra hundred or so feet in elevation gain as well. These areas are known for their beautiful wild flowers, making them worth your while, and is ranked as “moderate” with some steep portions.
The Oak Canyon Nature Center is a great spot to get outside without leaving the city, and the Oak Canyon Bluebird and Wren Trail is the perfect opportunity to explore the place on foot. Ranked as “easy” at a little more than a mile in length and with less than 200 feet in elevation gain, this trail is great for hiking with kids or taking a quick morning or after-work run.
Looking for a bit more of a climb? The Anaheim Hills, Barham Ridge and Mountain Goat, Hawk, Oak trail might be a mouthful, but at about three miles in length and 800 feet in elevation gain, it makes for a wonderful and sweaty excursion. Keep in mind that there’s very little shade on this track, and Anaheim, as you probably know, gets hot in the summer — so be sure to bring plenty of water and sun protection!
The Santa Ana River Trail meanders more than 50 miles in total throughout the sprawling southern California metro, but the Riverdale Park to Yorba Regional Park section is especially popular for those calling Anaheim home. This piece of the trail runs approximately six miles and sees very little elevation gain, making it popular for cyclists as well as hikers.
With so much to see and do in Anaheim, you’d better fuel up. Good thing there are plenty of opportunities to do so! Here are some of the best restaurants in Anaheim, from Italian and Mexican to health junk food (yes, you read that right).
Sometimes, absolutely nothing will scratch the itch the way a good, old-fashioned Italian meal might — and if that’s how you’re feeling and you’re in Anaheim, you’d best make your way to Rufino’s Italian Restaurant. Dishing up classic treats like chicken fettuccine alfredo and veal parmigiana, this joint has been earning its reputation since 1967.
In the mood for something indulgent and satisfying, like a fried chicken sandwich or loaded fries… without thinking about the animals that put those things on your table? Healthy Junk serves up creative, plant-based versions of your favorite pub grub, all of which is vegan and much of which is wheat-free. Whether you’re a vegetarian, celiac, or just craving some delicious chow, check this place out.
If you’re craving Mexican food while you’re in Anaheim, head to the original: El Cholo has been serving up tacos, tequila, and all the rest of your favorite Mexican eats in a classic setting since the 1920s. They also offer onsite parties and off-site catering, as well.
With five locations strewn throughout Orange county, Orange Roll & Sushi is an area classic for a reason. Serving a broad menu of classic and specialty rolls, as well as appetizers and salads, this is the perfect spot to stop for lunch or dinner.
From vegetable pakoras to clay oven tandoor dishes to curries, meats, and more, India Table offers up all your favorite Indian eats in a convenient and relaxing location — and it’s pretty darn affordable, to boot.
Pali Wine is a part of the famous Anaheim Packing District, in the Make building. The cozy tasting room is a perfect place to meet a friend for a glass or carafe of wine, or to sit outside and curl up with a book. The friendly staff will happily pour you a glass of wine on tap or open a bottle from their vineyard. They offer a wide selection of wines, but if you can’t choose, grab a flight for only $16! If you’re craving a snack, they provide tasting boards with cheese and crackers that pair well with your choice of vino. Personally, I recommend the cabernet on tap.
California is often known for authentic Mexican food, and if you’re hungry for a unique taco and horchata, you have to check out this kitchen’s take. Their dishes are like nothing you’ve had before; from Brussels sprout tacos to mango pork tacos, they have something for everyone. Enjoy a gourmet taco with a freshly made horchata and a side of habanero plantains, and don’t forget the photo op outside with their “tacos are cheaper than therapy” sign. You will not be disappointed!
After a long day at Disney, why not treat yourself? Sugarbuzz is an ice cream parlor located in Anaheim Hills known for their unique flavors, colorful hot chocolates, and incredibly gaudy milkshakes. Whether you try a butterbeer ice cream float or a unicorn milkshake, their sweets look almost too incredible to eat! They’re definitely on the sweeter side, so if that’s what you’re craving, this is the perfect place to put the pep back into your step.
Once you’ve dined and discovered the great outdoors, you’ve only just begun experiencing all Anaheim has to offer! Here are the top things to do in Anaheim, whether you’re setting aside this weekend for an adventure or getting acquainted with town over a longer-term period.
Basically anyone with kids who lives west of the Mississippi probably has Anaheim on their to-do list already — for mouse-related reasons. But there’s even more fun to get into with little ones in town.
The original Disney theme park and a sort of sacred Mecca for children and animation lovers of all ages, Disneyland is a can’t-miss for anyone in Anaheim, but especially those with kids. It may be significantly smaller than the east coast’s Disney World, but it’s significantly older, and its wide range of thrilling rides, attractions, and experiences makes it well worth any Disney lover’s while.
Looking for something to do with the kids that doesn’t require a multi-day excursion? SkyZone Indoor Trampoline Park is the perfect place to watch them bounce into oblivion… ensuring you enjoy a nice, long night of delicious sleep, to boot. Along with trampolines, there’s also a Ninja Warrior Course, dodgeball, free climbing and more — plenty of ways to help your family stay active!
There’s certainly no lack of things to do in Anaheim during the daytime hours… and there’s plenty to keep you occupied at night, as well. Here are a couple of options.
A walkable open-air market filled with dozens of options for food and drink, the Anaheim Packing District is the perfect place to enjoy an evening of mostly-aimless wandering. Enjoy a craft beer alongside a serving of fried chicken and corn on the cob, or a hand-mixed cocktail alongside sushi. The choice is yours… and there are plenty of choices!
Think Disney is just for kids? Think again. The Downtown Disney District offers visitors of all ages the opportunity to shop, dine, and connect, and many locations are open for business after sunset. Grab a bite to eat before wandering the district clutching a Salt & Straw ice cream cone — there’s live entertainment many nights, as well!
It can be easy to feel like you’re always spending in SoCal, but it doesn’t have to be that way! Here are some eminently affordable options that are on our list of the top things to do in Anaheim.
Just a block away from Downtown Disney, Kip Barry’s Cabaret offers free magic performances and demonstrations in an inviting atmosphere — including a well-known Variety and Magic show every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. Shows are affordably priced for the amount of entertainment they provide, and you can add dinner or brunch to your experience, too!
A 26-acre garden displaying specimens from across the world, the Fullerton Arboretum is located on the northeastern corner of California State University, Fullerton. Visitors can enjoy strolling around the plant life and learning more about the natural world around them, and admission is free (though donations are encouraged and accepted).
Speaking of free, here are a few more things you can do in Anaheim without spending a single cent.
An outdoor shopping and dining district located in the heart of Anaheim’s beloved resorts, Anaheim GardenWalk is basically like a great, big beautiful mall… and while you can spend money there, you certainly don’t have to. Meeting spaces are also available for events and parties, and a rotating calendar of activities takes place here throughout the year.
When in doubt: just head out! As mentioned above in the State Parks and Hiking sections, southern California is lucky in that it’s chock full of incredible outdoor venues to experience. Along with the parks listed above, be sure to check out local green spaces like Yorba Regional Park and Eucalyptus park, which are free to enter.
Need some R&R? Been there. Here are some of the best salons and day spas in Anaheim to help ensure you’re looking and feeling your best.
Looking for the kind of indulgent treatments that go beyond the normal spa fare? Burke Williams Day Spa offers a wide range of indulgent services, from massage of all sorts to facials, skin care, nail care, and even chiropractic services — all in a relaxing and welcoming environment. Spa memberships are also available to help you achieve your wellness goals by enjoying regular treatments at the best price possible. Enjoy!
Want to look as good as you feel? Royalty Beauty Spa will make you feel, well, like royalty, with its wide range of nail, hair, and skin care products and services. Along with manicures, pedicures, facials and hair care, this spa also offers waxing services to help you move through your day confidently.
Staying in shape is important, regardless of where in the world you are. Here are some of the best spots in Anaheim for those looking to get a sweat going, whether you prefer weightlifting, treadmill running, cycling or yoga.
Planning to choose a life of fitness and wellness? Head to Chuze Fitness to get moving! Offering memberships as low as $14.99 per month and including all the amenities you need, whether you’re after cardio, strength training, circuit training, and more, this is a comprehensive fitness studio that will help you meet your goals in an inviting atmosphere.
If you’ve yet to enjoy a spin class, you’re about to understand why it’s the fitness craze sweeping the nation. GritCycle Anaheim Hills offers a killer workout — as its name implies — but with the pumped-up music and motivating, community atmosphere, it’s as fun as it is intense. And we promise you’re gonna sweat!
Offering not only a variety of yoga classes but also pilates, guided meditations, and more, SunSpark Yoga endeavors to ignite in each student that walks through its doors that unique, individual spark that yoga and mindfulness can help cultivate. Namaste.
While you’re certainly not going to get bored if you stay in Anaheim proper, there’s so much to do in the surrounding areas it would be a shame not to branch out! Here are some of our favorite day trips and weekend getaways worth taking if you’re calling Anaheim home base.
One of the coolest things about southern California is its diversity of landscapes — and few places make that more apparent than Joshua Tree National Park, nestled in the desert directly to the east of Anaheim. Named for the unique trees that dot its sand dunes (which are actually not trees at all, but rather giant succulents!), this surreal environment is one you have to see for yourself. Just be sure to bring lots of water!
Whether en route to Joshua Tree or as a trip all its own, Palm Springs is well worth stopping into. Known as a popular oasis and weekend getaway for fancy Los Angelites and other southern Californians, this is a posh spot to get some well-deserved R&R.
While it’s hard to argue that any part of southern California isn’t scenic, those native to the Los Angeles area — of which Anaheim is a part — are often surprised how much the landscape can change with a simple trip a few hours south. San Diego is known for its beautiful beaches, sprawling green spaces and relatively laid-back attitude. (Plus, if you’ve got your passport with you, it’s just a quick trip over the border into Tijuana.)
As a final reminder, some of these activities may need to wait until businesses fully reopen from coronavirus closures. However, there is still much to see and experience in Anaheim that you can enjoy today! What are your favorite spots in Anaheim? Send them our way to [email protected] or by tagging us on Instagram @rvshare and using the hashtag #rvsharelocal.