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Things To Do In Anaheim: Fun, Free Besides Disney

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There's nearly an endless list of things to do in Anaheim, CA besides Disney that's free, fun, and affordable. Although closely associated with the mouse, the city offers some of the richest array of entertainment in Southern California.

There is always something happening.

From sports teams (angels, ducks anyone?) to restaurants, shops, concert venues, and holiday events.

If you're staying in Costa Mesa known as the shopping mecca (sorry guys), Harbor Blvd runs right into the city.

Need public transportation?

The ART is a bus that connects you to the resort area and nearby cities. 1-day pass $5.50, 3-day-$14 for adults.

Less for kids. Text “TOKEN” to 41411 for a link to the app. Visit riders.org for more info.

ARTIC is the train station for Metrolink and Amtrak if you wish to venture outside the area. A cab ride to downtown is about 20 mins. 

Without further ado, here's our list of what to do in Anaheim day or night.

FLIGHTDECK

FLIGHTDECK

1. FLIGHTDECK.

Need a rush? Experience what it's like to be a combat pilot with aerial maneuvers or fly a Boeing 737. 

The cost: from $59. 

Get into the danger zone with a fighter jet. They hook you up with a suit and briefing. It lasts 40 to 90 minutes.

The total time depends on the plane.

Go thru the pre-flight inspection, takeoff, fly, and land that bird. Both are exact replicas of the real McCoy.

NOTE: Reservations Required. 1650 S. Sinclair St. Tel: 714-937-1511

2. Rock City Climbing Center.

Cost: day pass $12, Shoes $3. Described as fun, challenging, and unique. From bouldering (without ropes), top roping (harness) to lead climbing. 

Hours: Monday-Friday 12pm-11pm, Sat 10am-8pm, Sunday 10am-6pm. Waiver required. Tel: 714.777.4884 

3. Crossroads Escape Games.

Experience an Interactive adventure where people try to escape a locked room.

Here’s how this works.

There are clues in the room to solve a series of puzzles to escape within a set time! Lockers are available to keep belongings. Dress comfortably. 

4245 E La Palma Ave. Tickets: 32 to $45. 

4. Go Bowling at Bowlmor Lanes.

41 lanes, free WIFI, there’s billiards and a sports bar. Bowling isn’t cheap but there $2 Tuesdays and specials. A private 9-lane bowling suite is available for your crew.

**NOTE:
Make sure to verify availability as they host events.
Dress Code: NO Baseball Caps, Work Boots, Baggy Jeans and/or Attire, Athletic Jerseys are forbidden.

400 W. Disney Way. Tel: 714.783.2810 bowlmor.com

Mon 4:00PM - 12:00AM
Tues 4:00PM - 11:00PM
Wed 4:00PM - 11:00PM
Thurs 4:00PM - 11:00PM
Fri 12:00PM - 2:00AM
Sat 11:00AM - 2:00AM
Sun 11:00AM - 11:00PM

5. Public Skating at The Rinks.

It's the official training facility of the NHL Ducks. There’s a snack bar, You can sharpen your blades here. Great for kids. Lessons: 8 weeks for $110.

Parking is free with validation. Hours 11:30 am daily but vary. See site before going. anaheimice.therinks.com

Admission:

  • Under 5 with Skates: $8

  • 5-15 years: $10

  • 55+: $8

  • 16-54 years: $12

Skate Rentals: $5 (Hockey and Figure)

NOTE: It’s going to be cold inside. Make sure you have proper dress.
300 W. Lincoln Ave. Tel 714.535.7465, extension 0.

K1 Speed

K1 Speed

6. Go-Kart Racing at K1 Speed

Karts can reach 45 mph! Definitely one of the more affordable things to do in Anaheim.

Cost: Starts at $19.99 a race with buy more to save. The course is professionally designed with quick turns. Weekends are busy.

Height Requirements:

ADULT: 4 feet 10 in (58″).
Junior minimum of 4 ft (48″) tall to race. 

HOURS: 
Mon – Thurs: 12:00 pm to 10:00 pm
Fri: 11:00 am to 12:00 am, 
Sat: 10:00 am to 12:00 am, 
Sun: 10:00 am to 10:00 pm.

1000 N. Edward Ct. Tel: (714) 632-6999.

7. Catch an Angels Baseball Game.

Root for the home team that's the Angels. Cost: Tickets from $10.00. Parking is also $10.00. Angel Stadium, 2000 Gene Autry Way. Tel: (714) 940-2000.

8. Farmers’ Market on Thursdays

Certified Farmers’ Market located next to the packing district. Shop local fresh produce. Features a two-acre park with boardwalk and community gardens.

Tel: (714) 956-3586. Hours: 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. 

9. Visit Camelot Golfland.

Another inexpensive thing to do with kids. Mostly known for miniature golf, they have arcades, laser tag, and host kids' parties for $15.99 for up to 10 people.

Starts at $10. 3200 E Carpenter Avenue. (714) 630-3340. 

Hours:

  • Sun 10AM–10PM

  • Mon 11AM–10PM

  • Tue 11AM–10PM

  • Wed 11AM–10PM

  • Thur 11AM–10PM

  • Fri 11AM–12AM

  • Sat 9AM–12AM

10. Skyzone Trampoline Park.

Great for kids and adults,

Bring them here. Dodgeball, bouncy basketball courts, and a foam pit should burn it off.

There is a toddler time for parents.

Hours: 2:00 PM to 8:00 PM, 1301 N. Kellogg Dr. Tel: 714-693-0250

TIP: Save time by filling out the wau

11. Starlight Cinema City Theatres.

Movie tickets are $11 after 6 pm and before noon it's $5. Sunday matinees are also 5 before 6pm.

Free popcorn when you purchase a drink. How do you beat that?

5635 East LaPalma Avenue. Movie Line: 714- 970-6700.

12. The Convention Center.

The Anaheim Convention Center hosts some of the premier events, exhibits, and trade shows in several industries. It's the largest exhibit space on the west coast. 

From the auto show to VidCon, tickets go fast. Parking is $15. 
800 W Katella Ave. Tel: (714) 765-8950

13. Play Golf at Anaheim Hills.

Greens Fees are $37 to $54 depending on the time of day.

It's well maintained, however, reviewers state pace of play is an issue. Course is pretty challenging. anaheimhillsgc.com

Notable Anaheim Attractions

1. MUZEO.
A small museum by all accounts but it packs a punch. Rotating exhibits, events, and lectures. A museum on history, art, and culture. They also host wedding receptions. 

Cost: adults $10, Kids $6.

241 S. Anaheim Blvd. Street parking free for 2 hours. Tel: 714-956-8936

The Packing District

The Packing District

2. The Packing District.

The hub of commerce during the early 1920's has been restored to pristine beauty.

Today, it features 20+ artisan eateries with live music weekends and a large outdoor picnic garden.

Hours: 9AM–11PM

440 S. Anaheim Blvd. Tel: 714.533.7225.

3. Adventure City.

One of the fun things to do in Anaheim besides Disneyland with kids.

Ideal for ages 2 to 10.

Cost: $16.95. Free parking! Infants 12 months and younger get free admission. Seniors $11.95 (55 yrs+).

238 South Beach Blvd. Tel: (714) 236-9300.

4. Disneyland Park.

If you can’t help yourself, Disney does offer quite a bit. Deemed the happiest place on earth, it was built under the supervision of Walt Disney. It's best to buy a 3-day instead of cramming everything in one day.

Ticket prices continue to rise.

Buy a 3-day pass thru Sam’s club or if you’re a SOCAL resident you can get discount.

1313 Disneyland Dr. Hours: 9:00 AM to 12:00 AM. Tel: (714) 781-4636.

NOTE:
Mickey's Halloween party (October) closes the park at 6:00 pm to regular guests. You must purchase a special party ticket to get in!

5. Center Street Promenade.

Explore a collection of shops and local services, You’ll find independent businesses and the Weekly Farmers’ Market.

You can hop on the trolley to get here.

It’s recommended to come here during the day as most shut down at 5 pm. Between Harbor and Anaheim Boulevards.

Disneyland Quick Advice/Tips

View the top 10 Anaheim Disney tips before visiting.
  1. Avoid Trolley from Parking Lot - Walk
  2. Bring Water Bottles, Snacks in Backpack
  3. Download "My Disney Experience App"
  4. Downtown Disney Parking: 5 Hrs Free Validated
  5. Eat In Downtown Disney: Way Better Food
  6. FASTPASS For Busy Rides: Use Wisely
  7. Kid's Rides After 9 PM: Less Crowded
  8. Phone Charging Stations: Main Street/Buena Vista
  9. Watch Fireworks From Innoventions Hall
  10. Sign up For My Magic+ If Staying at Disney Resort
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What are the Disneyland Hours Today?

General hours are listed below; they tend to fluctuate a lot.

  • Disneyland Park hours are 8:00 am to 12:00 am seven days daily.

  • Disney California Adventure Park Hours are 9:00 AM to 10:00 PM.

  • Extra Magic Hour is for Disneyland Resort Hotel Guests and changes weekly.
    it can be as early as 7:00 am.

Things To Do In Anaheim For Free


Free stuff to do is always tough to come by but here's a few.

1. Oak Canyon Nature Center
Tucked away in the Anaheim Hills is a 58 acre park with hiking and jogging trails as well as canyons.

There is also free movie nights on Friday!

Donations of $5 per family are asked. Several hikes to choose from. Good shoes advised. Gates are locked at 5 pm sharp. 6700 E Walnut Canyon Rd. Tel: (714) 998-8380.

2. Yorba Regional Park.
Experience 140 acres of beauty featuring geese, ducks, jays, robins, water lilies, 4 lakes, AND more than 400 picnic tables.

Just about endless possibilities.

There are bike, kayak and paddle boat rentals. Paved and dirt roads for cyclists and runners alike. Great for dogs! It’s also perfect for kite flying.

Fall/Winter Hours, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. 
Spring/Summer Hours, 7 a.m to 9 p.m.

Parking: $3 per vehicle  Tel: (714)973-6615. 7600 E. La Palma. 

3. Visit Pearson Park.

Cost: FREE. Offers a playground for kids, ponds, ducks, tennis courts, and swimming pools. The Tennis courts are lighted and popular. (It’s recommend to get there by 4:00 PM)

See fireworks from Disneyland.

The YMCA offers free public swimming on select days: June 24 to August 12 and June 25 to August 13 (Fridays 12-2 pm and Saturdays 1-5pm) 

400 North Harbour Boulevard. Tel: (714) 765-5155

6. Pearson Park Amphitheatre.

During the summer, they offer free concerts. In the past they have had Eagles and Beach Boys Tribute bands.

The space can also be rented to host your event.

Free parking is available on the side streets.Paid events such as movies are $3 with children 8 or younger free. 

401 N. Lemon Street, Tel: (714) 765-4429. Box office is at city hall 4th floor.

7. Kids Bowl free.

Cost: FREE. Runs June to Sept. Part of the program by bowling centers around the country to give back to the community. Ages 15 and under. Shoes rental rates apply.

Registered kids can get two bowling games daily!

Concourse Entertainment Center 3364 E LA Palma Ave. Tel: (714) 666-2695.

What to Do Around Anaheim

Returning for another vacation? Here's a few suggestions of what to do that's near Anaheim. With or with kids, these are worth checking out.

1. Knott's Berry Farm.
Open in 1920, it consists of 160 acres of fun. Featuring more than 40 rides that includes a water park and even a merry go round.

Boredom does not exist in this place.

There is everything from family rides to roller coasters (prepare to scream). 

Cost: Tickets for 1 day at $50, however they run online specials. 

Parking: $18. MarketPlace validated gets 2 hours.

8039 Beach Blvd, Buena Park, CA 90620. Knotts.com Hours: 9:00 am daily. 

2. Discovery Cube.
A fun and educational range of science based activities, exhibits, and interactive programs.

This place is a blast!

From a bubble laser show to a virtual helicopter, this is one of the best things area attractions near Anaheim. COST: $17.95 for adults, kids $12.95, under 2 free. 

2500 N Main St, Santa Ana, CA 92705. discoverycube.org/oc - Order tix online.

4. Sun and Surf.

Seal Beach is the closest beach city. The draw is downtown for the historic pier seen in several Hollywood movies. A small town feel reminiscent of the the East Coast.

Nearby Main Street offers over 150 local shops and affordable eats. Quaint and relaxing, there are a few free parking options.

It's 30 minutes travel time. From Long Beach it’s about 15 min.

5. Marconi Auto Museum.

COST: A $5 donation is requested to help children’s charities. From exotic cars to classics, it's all here.

Convenient if you're flying into John Wayne.

See unique Ferraris, a last production Lamborghini and more. It does not get any better.

1302 Industrial Dr, Tustin, CA 92780. Tel: (714) 258-3001.
Hours: Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 pm.

NOTE: They host private events, check before going.

6. Visit Ralph B. Clark Regional Park.
With 104 acres, it's a great place for families or just to unwind. 8800 Rosecrans Ave. Buena Park, CA 90621. Tel: (714) 973-3170

  • Biking and Hiking Trails

  • Picnic Areas

  • Sand Volleyball Courts (2)

  • Softball Fields (2)

  • Tennis Courts (4)

  • Fishing

  • Playground For Kids

Parking is $3 Monday thru Friday and $5 on weekends. Try parking on the side street to save. Download the OC parks mobile app if exploring.

7. Visit The Outlets at Orange,
The only outlet shopping mall in Orange County, it has 120+ stores.

To name a few:

Adidas, Nike, GAP, Victoria's secret, Steve Madden, Dsquared2, Under Armour, Polo

20 City Blvd W, Orange, CA 92868. Hours: 10 am daily with closing hours as late as 10 pm depending on the day.

8. Stay at Great Wolf Lodge Water Park.

You do have to stay overnight here, however, there is a guest pass that allows your friends to visit.

There’s a wave simulation, arcade, cabanas to rent, AND free WIFI.

Reviews are generally favorable with families choosing a quick overnight to stay within budget. Cost: $199 a night. Specials typically are offered in the fall.

There is a complimentary shuttle to DISNEYLAND, 3 miles away.

12681 S Harbor Blvd, Garden Grove, CA 92840 (888) 960-9653

Notable Annual Events

For events, here's a list of notables that happen throughout the year. 

1. Half Marathon.
A 13.1-mile course through Disneyland Resort and then onto the streets of the city. Finishes at the Disneyland Hotel. Cost: $199. Tel: 407-939-iRun.

2. Orange County Auto Show.
An annual event each October at the convention center.

Feast your eyes on over 500 of the hottest new cars and trucks.

800 West Katella Avenue. Tel: 714.765.8950. Parking is $15.00. entrance is on West Street. 

Cost: Children 12 & under free. Adults (13 & over) $12. Senior Citizens (62+) $10.

3. BlizzCon.
A gathering mecca for Blizzard gaming communities. It's typically held in the first week of November at the convention center.

Cost: $199 a ticket.

4. Halloween Parade. Part of the fall festival with ghosts, goblins, jack-o'-lanterns, witches, grumpy trees, and costume contests. All things spooky happen in downtown the last week of October. The headless horseman kicks things off.

It's one of the largest Halloween parades in the country since 1924!

Parking is located along Oak Street between Anaheim Blvd and Clementine. Enter from Oak Street. Hours from 6 to 8 pm.

205 Center Street Promenade. Tel: (714)905-9098. 

5. Orange County Auto Show.
Typically held in late September/Early October.

Yes, you can test drive cars.

Tickets $10 to 15. Parking at Convention center is $16. Free weekend Parking and shuttle from Angel Stadium on Sat, sun. Children 12 & under: FREE

800 West Katella Avenue. 714.765.8950

Nightlife in Anaheim

There are a number of venues for a great night out for adults.

1. City National Grove.

Live music venue with a capacity of 1,700. They hosts musicals, comedy, and top recording artists. 2200 East Katella Avenue. Tel: (714) 712-2700

2. House of Blues.

From R&B to Soul to Rock and of course blues. HOB just moved into a new space in early 2017. Standing room holds around 500 people.

VIP is on the second floor. It's called the Foundation Room.

It overlooks the main floor and stage. It also has its own stage with live performances.

400 Disney Way #337. Tel: (714) 778-2583.

Hours: Sunday-Thursday 11 AM-10 PM,
Friday & Saturday 11 AM-12 AM. 

Parking: Free with validation for the first 3 hours.

3. Honda Center.

Home to the Ducks and host of many concerts and sporting events. Capacity ranges from 17,174 to 18,325 depending on the type of event. Parking at the arena is $20.

Food will be pricey.

TIP: If you don’t mind a short walk, park in the general lot. It’s easier to exit than preferred lot.

2695 East Katella Ave. Tel: (714) 704-2500

4. The Fifth.

The draw is it's the only rooftop restaurant Bar in the city. It offer great views of downtown and fireworks from Disney (on select nights).

Fridays and Saturdays there is a cover of $10. Closed on Mondays.

There's live entertainment either with a band or DJ.

Cocktails start at 11 and beers at 9. Not inexpensive but you get what you pay for.

TIP: Valet gets full as it's attached to the hotel. Park at garden walk to avoid an hassles during peak times.

1650 S Harbor Blvd, Reservations. (714) 772-0899.

About Anaheim, California

Home to the largest convention center on the West Coast with 1.6 million square feet, a number of events take place here.

Several airports serve the city. John Wayne (SNA) is closest to 16 miles. Long Beach is (LGB) second at 22 miles and Los Angeles (LAX) at 34 miles.

Anaheim, CA is located 28.4 miles south from Los Angeles in Orange County. It's the largest city in the county with a population of 345,012 according to the last census in 2013.

Founded by German families, the city takes its name from Ana, the Santa Ana River and heim, a German term meaning home. 

Together its literal translation is "home by the river". The major draw of course is Disneyland Park which opened in 1955 under the direction of the man himself.

NOTE: Originally Published September 5, 2015, updated April 2018.

Related Posts:

Things To Do Costa Mesa

Photo by Ron Reiring, modified, Creative Commons

Suggestions

See anything we missed? If you have ideas for what to do in Anaheim, discuss in the comments.

Written by

Nicholas McDonough

Nicholas is a senior contributor to The Hangout Blog living in Southern California.Connect with Nicholas on LinkedIn