Living in Anaheim, I’ve spent a lot of time exploring every nook and cranny of this popular city. My knowledge goes way beyond Disney!
If you are visiting Anaheim (or currently planning a visit), chances are that you will be checking out a Disney Park or two while you are here. That’s great! But I want to let you in on a little secret…
There are sooo many things to do near Anaheim with kids (besides Disney), that you may want to plan a few extra days to really get the most of your family trip to sunny Southern California. No, seriously!
So to help make sure your visit to my hometown truly rocks, I will share with you some of the hottest things to do in Anaheim and the surrounding area with children of all ages.
Here’s what’s in this article:
Unique area attractions
- Knott’s Berry Farm (Buena Park)
- Medieval Times (Buena Park)
- Discovery Cube Science Center (Santa Ana)
- Pretend City Children’s Museum (Irvine)
- Adventure City (Anaheim)
- Orange County Fair (Costa Mesa)
- Orange County Beaches
- Aquarium of the Pacific (Long Beach)
- Angel’s Stadium (Anaheim)
Kid-friendly live music & nightlife
- Anaheim Packing District (Anaheim)
- The Fifth rooftop bar (Anaheim)
- City National Grove of Anaheim (ticketed events)
- House of Blues @ Gardenwalk (Anaheim)
- Rosine’s Mediterranean Restaurant (Anaheim Hills)
- Segerstrom Center for the Arts (Costa Mesa)
- Birch Street (Brea)
- The Post at Rockwell’s (Villa Park)
Historic sites & districts
- Old Towne Orange (Orange)
- Balboa Fun Zone (Newport)
- Queen Mary (Long Beach)
- California Marketplace at Knott’s (Buena Park)
- Historic Mission (San Juan Capistrano)
- Richard Nixon Library (Yorba Linda)
Bustling shopping areas
- South Coast Plaza (Costa Mesa)
- Gardenwalk (Anaheim)
- The Outlets at Orange (Orange)
- Fashion Island (Newport)
- Irvine Spectrum (Irvine)
- Pacific City (Huntington)
- OC Marketplace (Costa Mesa)
Parks & hiking trails
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Kid-friendly Anaheim Attractions
8039 Beach Boulevard, Buena Park, California 90620
Knott’s Berry Farm is a 57-acre amusement park in Buena Park with a cool history. Dating back to the 1920’s as a roadside attraction where Walter Knott sold his famous boysenberry products. He had a love for California history he added a replica ghost town and the park continued to grow into what it is today.
7662 Beach Boulevard, Buena Park, California, 90620
Medieval Times in Buena Park, is like stepping back into a time when knights were heroes, testing their strength, endurance and coordination in front of a cheering crowd. Families get to dine on a four-course medieval-style meal as they root for their assigned knight in this two-hour tournament as he tests his might in jousting, swordsmanship, falconry, horsemanship and more.
88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa, CA 92626
OC Fair runs during the summer months starting mid-July and goes until mid-August. The fair features exciting exhibits, animals, concerts, food vendors, rides and more. When the fair is not in town, the OC fairgrounds are used for the OC Marketplace where you can still enjoy shopping, food and live music.
There are some great Orange County beaches near Anaheim, like Laguna Beach, a coastal resort city made famous to mass public thanks to various television shows. Then there is Newport Beach, a lux beachside city the most known for the Newport Harbor, Balboa Fun Zone and Balboa Island. Huntington Beach is California’s cool Surf City and home US Open of Surfing every summer. However, the original California surf town award goes to Dana Point, a casual yet sophisticated seaside town that is packed with adventure. For lots more details about planning a trip to these Orange County Beaches near Anaheim, see our custom guide HERE.
100 Aquarium Way, Long Beach, CA 90802
The Aquarium of the Pacific is a huge public aquarium located on Rainbow Harbor in Long Beach.The aquarium has over 11,000 animals on display throughout the various exhibits including sharks, penguins and sea otters.
2000 E Gene Autry Way, Anaheim, CA 92806-6143
The atmosphere is always fun for the kids and the Angels’ Stadium really caters to families with a family center with games, fireworks on Friday and Saturday nights and even a mini-firework display when our boys hit a home run. Go Angels!
Kid-friendly Live Music near Anaheim
440 S. Anaheim Blvd, Anaheim, CA 92805
The Anaheim Packing House is a historical landmark built in 1919 and one of the last remaining citrus packing houses in Orange County. Today, it has been given a new life as a popular food hall with over 50 culinary artisans and live music performances every weekend!
1650 S Harbor Blvd, Anaheim, CA 92802
The Fifth is a rooftop restaurant and bar on top of the Grand Legacy at the Park hotel in Anaheim near Disneyland. Families are invited to come and enjoy food, drinks, Disneyland fireworks and live music nightly Tuesday through Sundays. They do close sometimes for private events, so check the calendar before heading over.
2200 E Katella Ave, Anaheim, CA
The City National Grove of Anaheim is an indoor concert hall that hosts various celebrity performers, musicians and comedians. Most shows are all ages, but some (like concerts) will be more appropriate for older kids and teens. They do have shows like Peppa Pig LIVE and Charlie Brown Christmas on-stage for younger kids, so be sure to check their schedule HERE.
721 S Weir Canyon Rd, Anaheim, CA 92808
Rosine’s is a family-owned and operated Lebonese/Armenian restaurant that is not only the best food in town, but a great family-friendly spot for some live music and a little dancing on Friday and Saturday nights.
600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Segerstrom Center for the Arts Orange County is a great place to catch a play, musical or concert, but it also has the Julianne and George Argyros Plaza where the community gathers for a number of free events, live music and family dance nights.
Birch Street in Downtown Brea is where to go if you want live music action. Not only do many of the restaurants that line this lively street have nightly live music, but there is always a fun event to look forward to. The Jazz Festival is great for families as there is Jazz music filling the street, arts & crafts market, fun food and a Kid Zone!
Villa Park, CA
This a cute little place with two different lives. By day it is a sweet little cafe and bakery – but by night it is rocking with live music and dancing for locals. There are nightly specials like Martini Mondays, Taco Tuesday, Wine Wednesdays and live music on Friday and Saturday nights. It does have a lively nightlife crowd, but kids are allowed until the kitchen closes.
Historic Districts in Orange County
Old Towne Orange is a lovely historic neighborhood that was founded in 1871. Protected by the Old Towne Preservation Association and the Orange Community Historical Society, Old Towne Orange has maintained its historical charm. It is known as the Antique Capital of California with all the cute shops and restaurants that surround the original historic plaza park. It also happens to be a happening spot, hosting a number of events throughout the year like the super popular International Street Fair. See our own custom family visitor’s guide HERE.
Long Beach, CA
Queen Mary set sail on her maiden voyage in 1936 from Southampton and for the next three years functioned as a luxury cruise liner hosting celebrity guests and British royalty regularly. Then in 1940, the Queen Mary was painted grey and served her county in WWII as the Grey Ghost before returning to her cruise liner glory again in 1947 to 1966. By 1967 her sailing days were over and the Queen Mary was moved to Long Beach, California where she sits as a famous landmark hotel today! Oh and it’s reportedly haunted, and they have an awesome Scottish Festival.
Buena Park, CA
California Marketplace at Knotts is a collection of restaurants and shops just outside the theme park and does not require a ticket to enter. Stop by for a delicious dinner at newly remodeled Mrs. Knott’s Chicken House. It’s so good, we had it catered for our wedding. No joke!
San Juan Capistrano, CA
Mission San Juan Capistrano was founded in 1776 and is the seventh of the 21 California missions established by the Spanish Catholics. It is a beautiful mission to explore with highlights being the Great Stone Church Ruins and the Legend of the Swallows.
Yorba Linda, CA
Richard Nixon Library is the birthplace and burial site of US President Richar Nixon. Along with his childhood home, you can tour beautiful gardens, over 70 tech-savvy exhibits in Presidential Library and more than 300 artifacts including Marine One, the Presidential Helicopter used by presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Ford.
Fun places to shop near Anaheim
Costa Mesa, CA
South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa is the largest shopping mall on the west coast and has the highest concentration of designer fashion retailers in the United States. If you like shopping high end fashion in a lux mall, this is the place to spend your afternoon.
The Outlets at Orange is an open air outlet shopping mall with over 120 value outlets from designer retailers. There are also a number of restaurants and a 3D IMAX movie theatre. Oh, and they have an excellent seafood restaurant called Market Broiler, which is the main reason we like to go there.
Newport Beach, CA
Fashion Island in Newport Beach is a fancy open-air shopping center with a cluster of premier designer retailers, lushly landscaped piazzas, boutique shops and restaurants. You can even see the ocean from certain angles at the mall, which helps remind you that you are in friggin Newport Beach!
Costa Mesa, CA
The OC Marketplace in Costa Mesa fills in the fun gap when the fair isn’t in town. It is a great place to wander the outdoor market with hundreds of unique vendors, food trucks and live music. It is sort of like an outdoor flea market where you can find great deals on everyday items.
Parks and hiking near Anaheim
Irvine Regional Park is a beautiful outdoor space surrounded by heritage Oak and Sycamore trees with the tranquil Santiago Creek running through. There are a number of leisure activities as well as OC Zoo and Irvine Park Railroad inside the park to enjoy. They also host the number seasonal activities with Halloween and Christmas being super festive.
Orange County Great Park is located on the decommissioned Marine Corps air station, El Toro and focused on the arts, agriculture and sports. This innovative park features a giant orange hot air balloon, a carousel, a farm and food lab, farmer’s market, kids’ play areas, an art complex and trails.
Newport Beach, CA
Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve, also known as Back Bay, is a 1,000 acres of coastal wetlands and home to about 35,000 migratory birds and 200 endangered species. It has tranquil hiking trails and a popular spot for paddle-boarding and kayaking.
That’s a Wrap!
Now that you’ve made it to the end of this list, I hope you understand that there are so many fun things to do with kids in Anaheim besides Disneyland. You can go hiking and enjoy nature, visit an famed OC beach city, spend an afternoon at a museum, or shop to your hearts content. There are just so many fabulous things to do near Anaheim with children. Enjoy your visit to sunny Southern California!
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