People usually flock to Anaheim to visit the Disney Resort, with amusement parks, shopping, restaurants, and hotels.
But Anaheim has much more to offer like parks, hiking trails, entertainment, ethnic food from around the world, flight simulators, spectator sports, golf, and tennis.
I live in Anaheim and experienced it all. So here is a guide to some of my favorite places in and around Anaheim.
Dinsey of course
Downtown Disney is a hub of shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues that connects the resort's other properties.
You can visit downtown Disney without purchasing tickets to the parks. While here, enjoy a movie, dinner at an upscale restaurant like Catal and La Brea Bakery Café, watch street performers or bands, shop for Disney merchandise, or visit the Lego store and Build-A-Bear Workshop.
Downtown Anaheim, also known as CtrCity, is a revitalized section of town with housing, shops, restaurants, breweries, and entertainment.
On Center Street, you will find places like Pour Vida Latin restaurant, Hummus Bean Mediterranean restaurant, Muzeo Museum, and Cultural Center, and The Rinks Anaheim ICE.
Every Thursday, Center street turns into a pedestrian-only walkway with a Farmers Market where you can find sweet treats, lots of fresh produce, and unique gift items.
A few blocks away, on West Santa Ana street, you can find the Packing District, featuring a brewery, Park, and vendors selling snacks like crêpes and Mexican street food.
Across the street, the modern MAKE building draws a hip crowd for beer, wine, and BBQ.
The Amphitheater features concerts and special events. It was built in 1927, replicating the eloquent Spanish-style architecture with terra-cotta roof tiles; Wisteria and Bougainvillea-shaded column-supported arbors; and a towering Mexican Fan Palms landscape.
The Park also has a public pool and tennis courts.
Parking can be difficult during events, so use alternate transportation.
Yorba Regional Park
Yorba Regional Park is located in the east end of Anaheim. It is one of the largest parks in the area, with acres of turf, trees, lakes, and streams.
It also has multiple playgrounds for kids of all ages, a very long bike trail, volleyball courts, horseshoe pit, two baseball diamonds, and a physical fitness course.
Bike and paddleboat rentals are available at the Park.
The lakes are stocked with fish – so you can do some fishing. A variety of duck and goose species make this Park their home.
Bring some birdseed or bread to feed the ducks – or you can buy some from the consession store.
Oak Canyon Nature Center
Oak Canyon Nature Center is located in the Anaheim Hills area. It is a hidden nature sanctuary in the middle of urban development.
The center has many hiking trails with varying difficulties. They range from easy to moderate. A year-round stream meanders through the Park and crosses many of the trails.
Check out more details and directions at www.anaheim.net/ocnc.
Look for "Outreach Programs" - Those are basically interpreted nature walks. A park ranger will guide you through some of the trails while providing useful information on various topics. Those walks are a hit with the kids, especially the "Insects and other Amazing Arthropods" program. Read more here.
The Garden Walk
Take a break from the Disney Resort and catch a movie at the AMC Theater, go Bowling at Bowlmor Lanes, spend time on a flight simulator at Flightdeck, listen to live music, and dance at House of Blues and Heat Ultra Lounge.
For great dining experiences, visit Fire+Ice for Mongolian fusion cusine, PF Chang's for fusion Chinese, or the Cheesecake Factory for amazing cheesecakes and eclectic selection of dishes.
The area around Brookhurst and Ball streets evolved into a haven for middle-eastern shops and restaurants. It does not have an official designation from the city planners yet, but it is a well-known destination if you are looking for some great Arabic and Mideterenean eats.
So what can find in this district?
You can enjoy ethnic markets, restaurants, cafes, hookah lounges, clothing stores, hair salons, and much more.
My favorite restaurants are El Mahroosa Cafe, Alwadee Bakery & Restaurant, Zait & Zaatar, Olive Tree restaurant, and Zankou Chicken.
For ethnic groceries, visit Altayebat and Super King. Super King rivals major grocery stores with its large space and huge selection.
In neighboring Buena Park, you can visit Knott's Berry Farm for thrilling rides and popular restaurants. Also in Buena Park, you can find a beautiful Ralph B. Clark regional park with ponds and hiking trails.
Fullerton offers many hiking and biking trails, lakes, botanical gardens, and the Mock Museum.
In the city of Orange, you can visit the Outlets of Orange shopping mall with a large 31-theater movie complex.
Orange is also home to Irvine Regional Park, with plenty of trails, lakes, and a Zoo.