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FUN, Free Things To Do In Anaheim, CA Besides Disney

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There's nearly an endless list of things to do in Anaheim, CA that's free, fun, and affordable  besides Disneyland. Although closely associated with the mouse, the city offers some of the richest array of entertainment in Southern California. From sports teams (angels, ducks anyone?) to restaurants, shops, concert venues, and holiday events — there is always something happening.

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.

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.

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1. Flightdeck.

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

For the Boeing, it last about 60 minutes. 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. an Interactive adventure where people try to escape a locked room. There are clues in the room to solve a series of puzzles to escape within a set time! There are lockers 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. They have $2 Tuesdays and specials. There’s a private 9-lane bowling suite.

**Make sure to verify availability as they host events.

[NOTE: Dress Code:
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.

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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: 4ft 10in (58″).
Junior minimum of 4ft (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. Tickets Online: k1speed.com

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. Farmer's Market on Thursdays

Certified farmer's 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.

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. Another inexpensive thing to do with kids. 3200 E Carpenter Avenue. (714) 630-3340. 

Hours:

  • Sun 10AM–10PM

  • Mon11AM–10PM

  • Tue 11AM–10PM

  • Wed11AM–10PM

  • Thur 11AM–10PM

  • Fri11AM–12AM

  • Sat9AM–12AM

10. Skyzone Trampoline Park.

Have kids with too much energy? Bring them here. Dodgeball, bouncy basketball courts, and a foam pit should burn it off. 1301 N. KELLOGG DR. Tel: 714-693-0250

11. Catch A Movie at Starlight Cinema City Theatres.

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. Attend the Latest Exhibit at The Convention Center.

The Anaheim Convention Center hosts some of the premier events 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 18 holes of 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. Cost: adults $10, Kids $6. 241 S. Anaheim Blvd. Street parking free for 2 hours. They also host wedding receptions. Tel: 714-956-8936

2. Visit 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. A relaxing way to spend an afternoon. 440 S. Anaheim Blvd. Tel: 714.533.7225.

3. Adventure City. One of the fun things to do in Anaheim besides Disneyland with kids. An affordable alternative. Cost: $16.95. Free parking! Infants 12 months and younger get free admission. Seniors $11.95 (55 yrs+). Ideal for ages 2 to 10. 238 South Beach Blvd. Tel: (714) 236-9300.

4. Disneyland Park. Deemed the happiest place on earth, it was built under the supervision of Walt Disney. Cost: 1 day: $99.00, 3-Day Theme Park Ticket is $235.00. Parking is $17.00. 8 extravagantly themed lands. It's best to buy a 3-day instead of cramming everything in one day. 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 Farmer’s Market. You can hop on the trolley

Come here during the day as most shut down at 5 pm. Between Harbor and Anaheim Boulevards.

Disneyland Advice/Tips

If you can't help yourself, view our top 10 Anaheim Disney tips and advice before visiting.
  • Avoid Trolley from Parking Lot - Walk
  • Bring Water Bottles, Snacks in Backpack
  • Download "My Disney Experience App"
  • Downtown Disney Parking: 5 Hrs Free Validated
  • Eat In Downtown Disney: Way Better Food
  • FASTPASS For Busy Rides: Use Wisely
  • Kid's Rides After 9 PM: Less Crowded
  • Phone Charging Stations: Main Street/Buena Vista
  • Watch Fireworks From Innoventions Hall
  • Sign up For My Magic+ If Staying at Disney Resort
Anaheim-Disneyland-Tips

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. Cost: FREE. 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. 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. Cost: FREE. Experience 140 acres of beauty featuring geese, ducks, jays, robins, water lilies, 4 lakes, AND more than 400 picnic tables. There are bike, kayak and paddle boat rentals. Paved and dirt roads for cyclists and runners alike. Great for dogs! Perfect for kite flying. Just about endless possibilities. Let's do this. 7600 E. La Palma. 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.

3. Visit Pearson Park. Cost: FREE. Offers a playground for kids, ponds, ducks, tennis courts, and swimming pools. Tennis courts are popular weekdays at 6 pm hour. You can see fireworks from Disneyland. Bathrooms are the only downside. 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. Paid events such as movies are $3 with children 8 or younger free. 401 N. Lemon Street, Tel: (714) 765-4429. Free parking is available on the side streets. The space can also be rented to host your event.

NOTE: 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. Registered kids can get two bowling games daily. Ages 15 and under. Shoes rental rates apply. Concourse Entertainment Center 3364 E LA Palma Ave. Tel: (714) 666-2695.

What to Do Around Anaheim That's Nearby

Returning for another vacation? Here's a few suggestions of what to do outside of Anaheim that's nearby. 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. There is everything from family rides to roller coasters (prepare to scream). Boredom does not exist in this place. 

Cost: Tickets for 1 day at $50, however they run online specials. Parking: $18. 8039 Beach Blvd, Buena Park, CA 90620. Hours: 9:00 am daily. Note: MarketPlace validated gets 2 hours. Knotts.com

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. Public transportation is available. The draw is downtown for the historic pier seen in several Hollywood movies. 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. 

5. Marconi Auto Museum. COST: A $5 donation is requested to help children’s charities. From exotic cars to classics, it's all here. Unique Ferraris, a last production Lamborghini; it does not get any better. Convenient if you're flying into John Wayne. 

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

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. Adidas, Nike, GAP, Victoria's secret, Steve Madden, Dsquared2, Under Armour, Pol etc. 

20 City Blvd W, Orange, CA 92868. Opens 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, free WIFI. Cost: $199 a night. Specials typically in the fall.

Reviews are generally favorable with families choosing a quick overnight stay to stay within budget.

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

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. It's one of the largest Halloween parades in the country since 1924. The headless horseman kicks things off. 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. 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

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. Experience a symphony. Cost: $20.00, Seniors/Students: $15.00. Founded in 1985, the Orange County Symphony (OCS) consists of a 70 piece orchestra.  Throw on something nice and head over to 1952 West La Palma Avenue. Tel: 714-778-0314.

3. 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 a stage with live performances. 400 Disney Way #337. Tel: (714) 778-2583. Hours: Restaurant Bar is open Sunday-Thursday 11 AM-10 PM, Friday & Saturday 11 AM-12 AM.  Parking: Free with validation for the first 3 hours.

4. 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. 2695 East Katella Ave. Tel: (714) 704-2500

5. 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. 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.

NOTE: 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. 1 (714) 772-0899. Closed on Mondays.

Where is Anaheim, California?

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

Best Museums Orange County

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 Google+