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Knotts Berry Farm

Image © Knotts Berry Farm

Splash down in Anaheim

While Disneyland is its most famous attraction, Anaheim in California is a perfect holiday destination, with more than Mickey and his mates to offer, writes Helen Hayes.

Grab your Mickey Mouse ears and start planning an adventure to Anaheim, California, a sun-drenched piece of paradise between Los Angeles and San Diego.


First stop for any fun-loving family has to be Disneyland Resort, a wonderful, magical land that creates happiness in all who hop excitedly through its rather large gates. Two incredible parks – Disneyland and Disney California Adventure – keep you busy for three or even four days, and it suits children of any age.

Legoland California

Legoland California

There are some wonderful new events coming this year, with the Pixar Fest Celebration kicking off on 13 April at Disneyland Resort. This will be the biggest celebration ever of the stories and characters we love from Pixar Animation Studios, with characters from Toy Story, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo and Up. There will be a new fireworks show, Together Forever – a Pixar Nighttime Spectacular; the Pixar Play Parade will move into Disneyland Park; and Paint the Night will light up Disney California Adventure. And wait until you hear about the new Pixar Pier which will feature neighbourhoods filled with characters from The Incredibles, Inside Out and Toy Story. It will be open by mid-2018 and visitors can be assured that it will be incredible!

"At Lego City Deep Sea Adventure, passengers will get to board one of eight real submarines and head underwater."

Not to be left out, Knott’s Berry Farm is opening the only dive coaster on the west coast. HangTime will feature the steepest drop in California and is only the second rollercoaster in the Western Hemisphere to feature a negative-G stall loop. That might terrify most parents, but teenagers will love it. The ride will complement Knott’s Berry Farm’s dozens of existing rides, shows, rollercoasters and other attractions.

Legoland California also has some exciting new offerings. The new Legoland Castle Hotel will open in autumn with 250 rooms that cover three themes: Knights and Dragons, Magic Wizard and Royal Princess. And, when the Lego City Deep Sea Adventure ride opens in the middle of the year, passengers will get to board one of eight real submarines and head underwater.

For kids who love more watery attractions, head to the Aquarium of the Pacific where you can touch sharks and fall in love with frolicking sea otters, or jump on the Catalina ferry. Within an hour, you will be on the shores of beautiful Catalina Island. Swimming, diving, kayaking, snorkelling, hiking and biking are just a few of the activities kids can enjoy on the island.

Stay, shop and dine

A great place for families to stay is the Residence Inn Anaheim Maingate. This new all-suite hotel offers 292 spacious suites within walking distance of Disneyland. The suites offer a living area, full kitchen and luxurious beds for a restful night’s sleep. After a day of exploring Anaheim, the kids will love splashing about in the rooftop pool with its oversized hot tub.

Conveniently located 1.6 kilometres from the Disneyland and Disney California Adventure parks, DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Hotel Anaheim Resort is another great property, providing easy access to all Anaheim has to offer. Its spacious suites are perfect for families with separate living and sleeping areas.

The Anaheim Packing District has made a splash since it opened in 2014. Families are sure to head to the Anaheim Packing House which offers two storeys of restaurants to please all tastes.

There are more dining choices just a short walk away at Anaheim’s historical Center Street Promenade, which also has some fantastic artisan shops that will tempt mum. Dads aren’t forgotten either with 12 craft breweries now frothing in Anaheim. It is worth planning half a day to hit the shops in Anaheim, as Orange County has some fantastic places to shop up a storm. South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa and Fashion Island in Newport Beach are at the luxury end of the scale, and the Outlets at Orange has exceptional sales.

Batter up

One thing that is a must when visiting the USA is to see a game. Whether it be baseball, basketball, NFL, the atmosphere is electric.

See if you can get tickets to see the Los Angeles Angels (baseball) or the Anaheim Ducks (ice hockey), a team founded by Disney after the successful movie, The Mighty Ducks. There is even an AFL team in Anaheim – the LA Kiss! Being in the stands at a baseball game is a not-to-be missed experience, and yes, eating a hotdog is part of the fun.

After watching all that action, the kids might well need to expend some energy, and there are plenty of places to do that. Orange County has six beach cities including Huntington Beach. Known as Surf City USA, this wide beach has a magnificent pier, great waves and plenty of surfboard rental shops and surf schools if your budding Mick Fannings or Tyler Wrights want to ride the waves.

It is a must to walk along the pier, stopping to watch the surfers from above, and maybe even stop for a snack at Ruby’s Diner right at the end of the pier. If you visit during the holiday season, the pier is beautifully lit and is a great sight from one of the firepits on the beach. You can even buy a s’mores kit and make some of the sticky chocolate delights yourselves.

There really is so much to do in Anaheim. It’s convenient with Los Angeles International Airport close by. From here, you can easily head south to San Diego or north to Hollywood, making it the perfect holiday destination.

This article appeared in volume 54 of Holidays with Kids magazine. To subscribe to the latest issue, click here.


Visit Anaheim

Getting there

Qantas flies from Sydney and Melbourne to Los Angeles. Anaheim is a 55-kilometre drive from LAX.

Getting around

Hire a car from Avis

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