As you may know, we are natives of Orange County CA, and have lived in Anaheim for at least 7 years. Given how often we like to do local OC getaways, or staycations on the weekends, it is safe to say we know some of the best hidden spots and fun activities in OC, including one of our favorite pastimes – going to the beach! I love beach houses, and if we didn’t already live here, we’d definitely look into staying at a luxurious Orange County vacation rental.
Anyways, if you happen to be visiting our city of Anaheim, then you are likely one of many families that visit Disneyland every year, and you may be wondering “what are the best beaches near Disneyland?”
Well, we are here to answer that exact question! By the end of this article, you will know everything you need know to have a great day in each of the fabulous beaches near Anaheim.
There are actually a few beaches to choose from and each provides a unique atmosphere and experience. The trick is to find the one that best fits your individual style and your family’s needs.
Best Beaches near Disneyland Infographic
Here is a useful infographic highlighting the top beaches near Anaheim and Disneyland. Feel free to share with your friends and family, or even download for reference while you are out exploring the city.
Hot Tip: Looking for a family hotel near Disneyland? We created an awesome resource to help you find the best kid-friendly hotel in Anaheim (close to Disneyland Park).
VISITING NEWPORT BEACH
The beach is my own happy place and Newport Beach is like home to me. It is where I first tried my favorite mint chocolate chip ice cream when my family rented a beach house at the age of five. Newport Beach is where my baby girl was born. Two kids later, it is where I get to watch my children play like I did when I was little. Newport Coast truly offers something special for everyone, from the chic to the family-friendly.
Just south of Disneyland, it is an 18 mile drive on the 5 south to the 55 south to reach Newport Beach, which is quite literally the end point of the 55 freeway. During traffic times, you can also take side streets and avoid the freeway, as Harbor Blvd also goes pretty much straight toward Newport. Best practice is to use a GPS app anytime you drive in Orange County during the week 😉
What it’s like:
Despite several areas with high end shopping on Newport Coast, such as Fashion Island Mall, Newport Beach can actually be pretty laid back, especially where we like to go (and pretty much everybody else), which is 21st street. You can find metered parking on Oceanfront (you might have to circle a few times during peak hours) and do a host of family-friendly activities like walking on the Newport pier, eating ice cream at one of many local shops, grabbing a drink at one of the dive bars like Baja Sharkeez, walking along the boardwalk to see the quaint beach houses, and of course, swimming in the beautiful surf near the Newport pier. Every time we go to Newport we have to eat dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory, our family’s all-time favorite restaurant. It is just home to us.
List of Things to do in Newport Beach:
- Venture over to Balboa Fun Zone (I provide a detailed guide here)
- Enjoy OC’s longest happy hour at Harborside in Balboa
- Take the ferry over to Balboa Island
- Dine at the Crab Cooker (I provide more details here)
- Visit Newport Dunes (I provide detailed guide here)
VISITING LAGUNA BEACH
Laguna Beach is a little piece of paradise in Orange County, California. The setting for many popular movies and television shows, Laguna Beach has definitely earned its extraordinary reputation. There are endless options for fantastic dining, miles of untouched coastline, hiking trails and tide pools to explore, and a thriving art culture. It is a beautiful mix of sophistication and simplicity. As adults, we love the variety of restaurants and rooftop cocktails. The kids love playing on the beachside playground and discovering sea life in the tide pools. In so many words, it is a great place to take the family and has a little something for everyone to love.
Southeast of Disneyland, it is a 25 mile drive on the 5 south to the 133 toll road to reach Laguna Beach. Or if you want to avoid the tolls, you can reach Laguna Beach via 55 south toward Newport Beach, and then turn south on the Pacific Coast Highway 1. Each way provides a scenic drive either through Laguna Canyon (via 133) or along the beautiful coastline (PCH).
What it’s Like:
Laguna Beach is a very unique place. There are quaint, seaside boutique shops and restaurants everywhere. There are art galleries galore on just about every corner. The beach part is actually pretty small, but it never seems too crowded when we’ve gone. The beach has volleyball courts, a children’s playground, and tide pools to explore and see little creatures and sea animals. It is impossible to leave Laguna without feeling refreshed and inspired.
List of Things to do in Laguna Beach:
- Tour all of Laguna for free on the beach trolley during the weekends
- Try the global cuisine at one of Laguna’s many fabulous restaurants, like Mozambique and C’est La Vie
- Check out the tide pools and visit the Pacific Marine Mammal Center
- Explore one of the five wilderness parks
- Catch one of the many art festivals, like Sawdust
- Have a cocktail and massage at the Ritz, or even just walk around the posh hotel
VISITING HUNTINGTON BEACH
Surf City USA, Huntington Beach is known for their active-lifestyle beach culture and superb surf. In fact it has been coined the “Surfing Capital of the World”. Mind you, this is not due to the massive size of the swells, but rather the consistency in excellence of the waves. A beach of juxtapositions, Huntington is laidback yet active, cool yet approachable. I always got excited to hangout in Huntington, especially when I was in my early twenties. There is always some kind of festivity or sporting event going on, making this a very lively beach town and where you go if you are looking for a good time.
20 miles southwest of Disneyland, there are two primary ways to get to Huntington Beach. Much like going to Laguna Beach, you can take the 5 south to 55 south toward Newport, but instead take the PCH 1 north for a few miles. Alternatively, you can take the 22 west to Beach Blvd (also called the highway 39) and basically take Beach Blvd right into Huntington Beach.
What it’s Like:
We used to visit Huntington Beach a lot in our twenties, and it is a great town for young singles, young couples, or younger families. Heck, who am I kidding it is a great little surf town for anybody. It just does not have an Old Spaghetti Factory, so we usually find ourselves at Newport Beach. At any rate, Huntington is the most laid back and affordable option of the three best beaches near Anaheim. The Main Street has a bunch of surf shops, bars and restaurants, and one of our favorite things to do in Huntington Beach is to dine at Ruby’s on the Pier, a retro themed diner with excellent burgers and shakes. Oh yeah, and if you fancy surfing, this is absolutely the place to go, and you can even rent a board when you get there.
Things to do in Huntington Beach:
- Visit the International Surf Museum
- Spend the day shopping and dining at the new Pacific City
- Dine at the infamous Ruby’s Diner on the Pier
- Catch the U.S. Open of Surfing
- Enjoy The Tuesday Surf City Nights that features a farmer’s market, entertainment, food, and a carnival atmosphere complete with kids’ rides.
- Hangout on Downtown Huntington’s Main Street for all the action.
That’s A Wrap!
Any one of these beaches near Anaheim makes for the perfect place to visit for a day or a week. However, with so much to do and see at just one of these beautiful beaches, it makes sense to come and stay awhile. Take it all in one day at time, living like a local. Make that, a fabulous local. Orange County is known for being a little bit glamorous, so why not have some fun and step it up by staying at one of Orange County vacation rentals? It is a great way to gather the family up to make some wonderful beach memories of your own.
*This post contains sponsored links from Luxury Retreats
See my other Related Posts
- Guide to Anaheim
- What to do in Newport
- Guide to Balboa
- Rving at Newport Dunes
- Guide to Laguna
- Global Cuisine in Orange County
Have you been to the OC? What is your favorite public beach?