The 20 Best Things to Do Near Disneyland in California

Twilight descends on the historic Old Towne section of the city of Orange.

Matt Gush / Getty Images

Although the reason you're in Anaheim, California, is probably to visit the city's most popular attraction, Disneyland, there's more to do in this town than exploring the famous theme park. While most of Los Angeles' main attractions are up to two hours away, there's plenty to do close by that will entertain the whole family in the cities of Anaheim, Orange, and beyond. From performances at the House of Blues Anaheim to interactive exhibits at the Pretend City Children's Museum, you're sure to find something to enjoy without having to wander too far from Disneyland.

01 of 20

Drop In at the Vans Skatepark

Skaters feet with their boards hanging over the ledge

Image Source / Getty Images

20 City Blvd W Suite 2, Orange, CA 92868, USA
Phone +1 714-769-3800

If you're traveling with kids who love to skateboard, the Vans Skatepark at the Outlets Mall in Orange is a true experience. Much more than a shoe shop, this store has its own skate park with open sessions for skateboarding and BMX. In addition to renting out equipment like boards and helmets, they also offer lessons for newbie skaters. The park is huge, featuring a warm-up area for beginners, plus a mini ramp, skate pool, an outdoor course, and a 20,000 square foot street course.

02 of 20

Satisfy Your Cravings at the Anaheim Packing District

Meat and fries in a takeout box at Anaheim Packing District

Chris Alcoran / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Anaheim Packing House, 440 S Anaheim Blvd, Anaheim, CA 92805, USA

If you're looking for something different to eat and need to satisfy the many varied cravings of a big group, there's no better place to go than the Anaheim Packing District. A bonafide bazaar of different restaurants, you can taste a variety of cuisines, from Cajun, Indian, and Soul Food to Syrian, Thai, and more. Some sweet favorites include Popbar, an ice cream shop that serves gelato on popsicle sticks, and Pie Hole, a coffee and pie shop that serves up creative concoctions like the Cereal Killer, which is packed with fruity pebbles and topped with fruit loops.

03 of 20

Get Fresh Air at the Fullerton Arboretum

Heritage House at the Fullerton Arboretum

Soraya S. / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

1900 Associated Rd, Fullerton, CA 92831, USA
Phone +1 657-278-3407

With 26 acres of land, the Fullerton Arboretum is the largest botanical garden in Orange County. Home to over 4,000 plants, it is divided into four areas: Cultivated, Woodlands, Mediterranean, and Desert Collections. The gardens aim to educate visitors about wildlife conservation and offer classes for budding scientists to cultivate their own bonsai trees and learn how to compost. One of the main attractions of the garden is the Heritage House. Built in 1894 by one of the first doctors of Fullerton, it currently serves as a museum to 19th-century medical practices and family life.

04 of 20

Cool Down at Anaheim ICE

Ice skates in rink.

Unsplash / Kelli McClintock

300 W Lincoln Ave, Anaheim, CA 92805, USA
Phone +1 714-535-7465

Maybe you're inspired after watching the Anaheim Ducks match at the Honda Center, or maybe you just need to cool off after a long day baking in the Southern California sun—either way Anaheim ICE is the perfect place to go. With two NHL and Olympic-sized ice rinks, there is plenty of room to practice your skills. Skate rentals are plentiful and you can check out the website for public skating sessions, or if you plan to spend more time in the area, consider signing up any novice skaters for a lesson.

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05 of 20

Go See a Show at House of Blues Anaheim

ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 29: Atmosphere at Club Cosplay At House Of Blues Downtown Disney held at House Of Blues on April 29, 2016 in Anaheim, California.

Albert L. Ortega / Getty Images

400 Disney Way #337, Anaheim, CA 92802, USA
Phone +1 714-778-2583

The House of Blues in Anaheim moved from Downtown Disney to the nearby GardenWalk in 2017. The newer venue has four different live music rooms that each offer a different New Orleans-style dining and music listening experience.

From acoustic to rock and roll, you'll catch plenty of performances year-round at this popular venue. If you're in town for the weekend, stop by their signature Sunday morning Gospel Brunch for a real treat—both musically and in terms of flavor.

06 of 20

Test Your Skills at a Flight Simulator

FlightDeck Air Combat Center


400 West Disney Way, Anaheim, CA 92802, USA
Phone +1 714-937-1511

The Flight Deck 1 Air Combat Center is an authentic military flight simulation facility where you and your family can test their skills on the same equipment used to train fighter pilots. Open to the public but with a minimum age of 11 (or height of 4 feet 11 inches), Flight Deck 1 isn't an attraction for all ages, but everyone who tries it out remarks that it's a truly unique experience for kids and adults alike.

07 of 20

Watch a Baseball Game at Angel Stadium

Giant baseball cap symbol at Angel Stadium in Anaheim
Richard Cummins / Getty Images
2000 E Gene Autry Way, Anaheim, CA 92806, USA
Phone +1 714-940-2000

The Los Angeles Angels are one of the city's two Major League Baseball (MLB) teams, and baseball fans can take in a game of this American League team at Angel Stadium in Anaheim during the regular season from late March through early October each year.

If there's no game going on, you can still take a souvenir photo with the giant Angels baseball caps that flank the entrance. Angel Stadium also offers public tours on specific dates and hosts special events throughout the regular season including family days, fireworks nights, and military appreciation games.

08 of 20

Play in the Water at Great Wolf Lodge

Great Wolf Lodge Indoor/Outdoor Water Park

Great Wolf Lodge

12681 Harbor Blvd, Garden Grove, CA 92840, USA
Phone +1 888-960-9653

The Great Wolf Lodge California is an indoor waterpark resort just a few miles down Harbor Boulevard from Disneyland. However, the waterpark is only available to resort guests, so you have to stay here to play here. Fortunately, its convenient location near Disneyland makes it a great place to stay if you plan to visit both.

The Great Wolf Lodge California features a lazy river, wave pool, water slides, and a variety of signature attractions like the Howlin' Tornado, River Canyon Run, the Wolf Tail, and the Wolf Rider Wipeout, a surf-pond for boogie boarding.

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09 of 20

Check Out the Muzeo Museum and Cultural Center

Muzeo in Anaheim

Muzeo Museum and Cultural Center

241 S Anaheim Blvd, Anaheim, CA 92805, USA
Phone +1 714-956-8936

While the Muzeo Museum and Cultural Center doesn't have a permanent collection, it does host a wide variety of traveling cultural exhibits throughout the year.

On the smaller side, this quaint museum is easy to see in just over an hour. Recent exhibits have covered everything from America's buffalo soldiers to the local history of the city of Anaheim. Other exhibits include "I Am An American," which features artifacts, photographs, news clippings, and various other relics from Japanese incarceration in the United States during and after World War II.

10 of 20

Shop in Old Towne Orange Historic District

Old Towne Orange Historic District

Ken Lund / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Old Towne, Orange, CA 92866, USA

Old Towne Orange Historic District is a cluster of quaint antique shops and old-time diners and soda fountains centered around a traffic roundabout at the intersection of Chapman Avenue and Glassell Street.

It's a cool place to browse around, especially for people interested in antiques or historic home restoration. Many of the buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the unique boutique shops feature artisanal crafts and local goods that are perfect souvenirs to commemorate your trip.

11 of 20

Visit the Bowers Museum

Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, CA

TripSavvy / Kayte Deioma

2002 N Main St, Santa Ana, CA 92706-2731, USA
Phone +1 714-567-3600

Located in nearby Santa Ana, Bowers Museum hosts internationally renowned traveling exhibits alongside permanent exhibits that include one of the best California Indian collections in Southern California.

The museum's exhibitions mostly cover culture and anthropology from around the world, but you'll occasionally find contemporary art galleries here as well. Bowers Museum also hosts elegant dinners, holiday gatherings, and other special events throughout the year, so be sure to check out the event's calendar on the official website when you're planning your trip.

12 of 20

Get Hands-on With Science at the Cube

Discovery Cube Orange County
Courtesy of the Discovery Science Foundation

Discovery Cube Orange County, also known as the Cube, is Orange County's premier science museum. Located southeast of Anaheim in Santa Ana, this solar cube is a fun museum to explore with the kids. It offers over 100 interactive exhibits such as the Boeing Rocket Lab and a hands-on exhibit about hockey where kids can ride a Zamboni or play goalie.

Featuring special events geared toward kids throughout the year, there's no better place in the area to learn about the world while having a blast with your kids. During the summer, you can even send your kids to Summer Camps at the Cube, also known as Camp Discovery, where they'll have animal adventures, learn about space exploration, and engage in coding challenges for computer science.

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13 of 20

Explore the Muckenthaler Cultural Center

he Muckenthaler Cultural Center Fundraiser Event held at The Muckenthaler Estate & Cultural Center

Harmony Gerber / Getty Images

1201 W Malvern Ave, Fullerton, CA 92833-2429, USA
Phone +1 714-738-6595

The Muckenthaler Cultural Center, also known as the "The Muck," is housed in a 1920s Spanish Revival-style mansion surrounded by lush gardens in Fullerton, California.

In addition to traditional works of art shown in gallery exhibits, The Muck also hosts musical performances, festivals, and special events throughout the year. Be sure to sign up for Family Art Nights each season and check out the official website for gallery opening receptions and performance schedules before you go.

14 of 20

Visit Knott's Berry Farm and Soak City

Amusement Ride at Knott's Berry Farm
Audrey Gibson / Getty Images
8039 Beach Blvd, Buena Park, CA 90620, USA
Phone +1 714-220-5200

If you're in the mood for more theme park thrills, you can head down the road to Knott's Berry Farm in nearby Buena Park. Knott's has a nice combination of thrill rides and attractions as well as shows for younger kids.

In October, they offer the Halloween-themed Knott's Scary Farm, and from November into New Year's weekend, you can get in the holiday spirit at Knott's Merry Farm. However, if you're visiting during the summer, you can spend the day splashing around at Knott's Soak City waterpark.

15 of 20

Eat Dinner on a Pirate Ship

Pirates Dinner Adventure

Pirates Dinner Adventure

7600 Beach Blvd, Buena Park, CA 90620, USA
Phone +1 714-690-1497

Pirate's Dinner Adventure is a live-action musical dinner theatre production with lots of acrobatics and sword fights as well as delectable pirate-themed dinner options.

The show is kid-friendly and extremely interactive. Several kids and adults alike are chosen to assist in the pirate expedition, and the entire audience cheers or boos for your assigned pirate teams. Pirate attire is encouraged, and there's plenty for sale in multiple gift shops on site.

The action takes place on a pirate ship center stage surrounded by tiered seating, which offers multiple views of the production. Reserve a table early to get the best seats. The center sides have the best view since some of the areas closer to the ends are behind rope ladders that partially block the show.

16 of 20

Feel the Horsepower at Marconi Automotive Museum

Dick Marconi poses for a portrait at the Marconi Automotive Museum in Tustin, California on November 3, 2016.

Jim Steinfeldt / Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

1302 Industrial Dr, Tustin, CA 92780-6416, USA
Phone +1 714-258-3001

Housed in a former oil manufacturing facility in Tustin, the Marconi Automotive Museum celebrates historic, exotic, and classic cars as well as race cars from around the world. Opened in 1994 to showcase the founder Dick Marconi's extensive auto collection, the permanent collection at the museum includes a large collection of Italian sports cars and American muscle cars.

The Marconi Automotive Museum is open for self-guided tours Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on days when it's not hosting a special event. A portion of proceeds from museum admissions benefits children's charities in Orange County.

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17 of 20

Learn About President Nixon

Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum

Greg Doherty / Getty Images

18001 Yorba Linda Blvd, Yorba Linda, CA 92886, USA
Phone +1 714-993-5075

The Nixon Library and Museum is located at the former president's 1910 birthplace on a 9-acre estate in Yorba Linda, northeast of Anaheim.

In addition to the original home, the museum includes 22 high-tech galleries about the life and times of the 37th president Richard Nixon as well as grounds featuring the First Lady's Rose Garden and the Rose Woods Walk, which provide several gorgeous views of the surrounding countryside.

18 of 20

See a Performance at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts

Segerstrom Center for the Arts

TripSavvy / Kayte Deioma

600 Town Center Dr, Costa Mesa, CA 92626, USA
Phone +1 714-556-2787

After shopping and dining at South Coast Plaza, head across the street to watch a show and rest your feet at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts (SCA). Previously known as the Orange County Performing Arts Center, this space includes multiple venues that host concerts, Broadway shows, ballet recitals, and national children's performers, among others.

Check out the official website for all the latest shows and performances, including free activities on the Julianne and George Argyros Plaza attached to the main building of the SCA.

19 of 20

Shop for Antiques and More at the Orange County Marketplace

Orange County Marketplace​

TripSavvy / Kayte Deioma

18601 Airport Way, Santa Ana, CA 92707, USA

For fans of flea markets, swap meets, and bargains, the Orange County Marketplace is a shopper's paradise with more than 1,000 vendors selling new and used items—from clothing and shoes to furniture, antiques, and even prefab houses.

The swap meet takes place each Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa. The Orange County Marketplace also hosts various holiday celebrations and concert series throughout the year, including the Orange County Fair each July.

20 of 20

Let Kids Work Their Imagination at the Pretend City Children's Museum

Pretend City Children's Museum

Pretend City Children's Museum

29 Hubble, Irvine, CA 92618, USA
Phone +1 949-428-3900

Pretend City is a unique children's museum in Irvine that is set up as a Southern California beach town. Here, kids can let their imaginations run wild as they assume the role of workers across the lifelike Pretend City.

Activities in Pretend City include shopping at the grocery store, painting in the art gallery, pumping gas at the gas station, taking care of patients at the clinic or emergency center, or just relaxing in one of the kid-sized homes—everything you'd find in a real city for adults.

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The 20 Best Things to Do Near Disneyland in California