Family Vacations to Anaheim

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Anaheim – Family Vacation Guide

Disneyland first opened in 1955 and the town has never been the same. However, there’s much more to Anaheim beyond Disneyland for those who choose to explore.

Why Go

  • Located in California’s famous Orange County, families can find exquisite beaches, shopping, dining and more.

  • Before Disney, Knott’s Berry Farm was the first theme park in the country when it started in the 1940s.

  • Anaheim is also the home to several fantastic professional sports including Major League Baseball’s Angels who won the 2002 World Series and the Anaheim Ducks hockey team who won the 2007 Stanley Cup.

What to Do

The Disneyland Resort is certainly the big player in the Anaheim Resort Area, but you can also find a historic downtown area, professional sports and outdoor adventures.

Disneyland Park

Over the 60-plus years since it opened, the Disneyland Resort has grown to include two world-class theme parks, three resort hotels and the Downtown Disney entertainment/ shopping/dining complex. Disneyland Park has the classic attractions known the world over such as Cinderella’s Castle, Pirates of the Caribbean, Space Mountain, Jungle Cruise and it’s a small world. Disney California Adventure is the second theme park and contains Cars Land, World of Color and a growing Marvel presence for superhero-obsessed kids.

Take Me to Disneyland

Knott’s Berry Farm

Tracing its roots back to the 40s, this originally began when Walter Knott started to develop an old west Ghost Town to entertain families waiting for Cordelia Knott’s famous chicken dinners. Families can still get a delicious chicken dinner today at Knott’s Berry Farm, but they will also find a thriving theme park with dozens of rides, shows and attractions in four different themed areas.  Parts of the original Ghost Town still exist and transform into an immersive and exciting “Ghost Town Alive!” role-playing game in the summer. Older kids will have a blast on Xcelerator, a roller coaster that launches its riders at 82 miles per hour, and on Timber Mountain Log Ride. Camp Snoopy, the Peanuts- themed area, is perfect for younger tots.

Orange County Beaches

Find the quintessential beach town experience in one of Orange County’s beach communities including Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Seal Beach, Laguna Beach, Dana Point and San Clemente. Families can bask in the sunshine and find sand, surf and waves for a laid-back day at the beach. For a break from the sun, explore these communities, quaint restaurants, shops and galleries.  Got an animal-lover in your family? Hire a fishing charter, go on a whale watching tour or just watch seals laze around in the sun.

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In addition to a day at the ballpark or ice rink to see the Angels or Ducks, there’s plenty of entertainment options in Anaheim. Just a stone’s throw from Los Angeles, there’s always a rich offering of performers, concerts and shows coming to Anaheim. The House of Blues at the Anaheim GardenWalk hosts different concerts and events every day, including their famous Gospel Brunch. Dive into the future at GardenWalk, where families can find a virtual reality arcade at Go VR Gaming offering VR scenic getaways, adventures, sports, puzzles, horror and more.

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Where to Stay

  • The closest airport to Anaheim, California is John Wayne (SNA), just 13 miles from the city.
  • The much larger (and often easier to get to) Los Angeles International Airport is 45 minutes west of Anaheim.
  • Orange County has 42 miles of Southern California coastline for sun-worshippers looking for the best beaches and families will also find plenty of hotel options at all price points. There are seemingly endless entertainment, shopping and dining options here.
  • Anaheim and Orange County make an ideal hub for a Southern California vacation with easy day trip options to Los Angeles and San Diego.

Getting Around

Southern California has a strong car culture and is not particularly known for great public transportation options. However, there is an extensive freeway system that makes Anaheim and Orange County accessible. Families flying into one of the major airports will probably want to rent a car for the easiest way to get around. Once you arrive in the Anaheim Resort Area there is an Anaheim Resort Transit (ART) that provides a reasonably priced shuttle service around the area hotels, convention center and Disneyland attractions.

Dave Parfitt is a reformed academic with a PhD in neuroscience, who began writing about his family travel adventures after surviving a trip to Walt Disney World with his two budding princesses, now ages 19 and 16. As owner and editor of Adventures By Daddy, Dave offers family travel advice and escapist fun from Dad’s point of view.

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