Located in southern Los Angeles, Anaheim is one of America's finest tourist destinations, mainly thanks to the presence of Disneyland California. Disney's massive entertainment complex draws 18 million visitors annually, and while it's a good reason to visit Anaheim in itself, it is a mere fraction of what the city has to offer.
Anaheim's city center is an oasis of calm away from both LA and Disneyland. In pedestrianized areas like Center Street, you can shop at farmers' markets, window shop for crafts and designer clothing, and dine al fresco in Hawaiian, Mexican, or Italian eateries.
Sports fans can watch the Ducks in the NHL or the Angels in Major League Baseball, while all visitors can take the Orange County Line into LA to sample the city's nightlife and tourist attractions. Whether you just want to visit Disneyland or you need a base to explore LA, Anaheim is ideal.
Disneyland revolutionized family amusement parks with its themed zones, the chance to meet children's heroes, and its huge choice of attractions. These days, it's one of LA's greatest family destinations. With rides like the Peter Pan Flight, Splash Mountain, and the Indiana Jones Adventure, there should be something for everyone.
Anaheim is one of California's great sporting cities. You can catch the Ducks competing in the NHL at the Honda Center, or cheer on the Angels in Major League Baseball, so schedule your visit to coincide with the season of your favorite sport.
It's not all about Disney. There are smaller family amusement parks like Knott's Berry Farm and Adventure City, as well as the Aquarium of the Pacific, which is home to more than 12,000 animals. Once you've met Mickey and Goofy, there's still much more to see and do.
One of Anaheim's more unusual attractions, the Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament in Buena Park provides a totally unique two-hour show, including mounted knights, hand-to-hand sword fighting and damsels in distress.
September's Fest of Ales celebrates the town's vibrant craft brewing scene. There's a spectacular Halloween Parade in the fall, and a Greek Food Festival in May. Whatever time of year you visit, you'll find an event going on.
Whether you are visiting for Disneyland or not, head to Anaheim outside high tourist season to avoid the worst of the crowds. Between March and May, school isn't out yet, and the weather will be fine. Fall is another good time to go. The crowds will be receding, and there are events in town like the Fest of Ales to enjoy.
The nearest airport is John Wayne Airport (SNA), which is about 30 minutes away by taxi. Airlines like United, American, and Southwest all fly into the airport. Visitors can catch a shuttle bus from the airport into town (ticket prices start at $10 per person one way). Failing that, Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is about an hour away.
Anaheim Station is a stop on Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner service, which runs from San Luis Obispo to San Diego, and it's also on the Los Angeles regional rail network. The Orange County Line can take you to Anaheim from Union Station in about 40 minutes.
Driving to Anaheim is easy as the city is just off Interstate 5, providing easy access from Los Angeles and San Diego. If you are coming from the east, take Interstate 15, and Interstate 10 from Arizona or Nevada.
Anaheim Bus Station (located at 2626 E Katella Ave) is on the Greyhound national bus network, so you should be able to catch services from most parts of the country. If you are coming from LAX, the Disneyland Resort Express is another option. It takes an hour and costs $20.
The presence of Disneyland means that Anaheim has plenty of hotels to choose from. There are comfortable budget motels like the Alpine Inn or Best Western Park Place Inn, along with more upmarket chain hotels like DoubleTree Resort by Hilton, or Hyatt Place Anaheim, and more intimate options like the mission-style Anabella Hotel.
Downtown Anaheim - Downtown Anaheim is a prosperous, lively neighborhood that is a short walk from the Disneyland resort. Visitors can shop for organic food at the local farmers' market, join Art Crawls to see the works of local painters, and sample local brews at the Fest of Ales (held in September).
Disneyland California - Disneyland is a neighborhood in its own right, and it dominates the area. Anyone who loves Disney cartoons will enjoy Main Street U.S.A., the tropical jungles of Adventureland, exciting rides like Peter Pan's Flight and Splash Mountain, as well as themed areas devoted to Star Wars and Finding Nemo.
Platinum Triangle - if you want to watch the Anaheim Ducks in the NHL or the Angels in MLB, Platinum Triangle is the place to go, as it's home to Angel Stadium and the Honda Center. It's also a great place to socialize thanks to wine bars like Calivino Wine Pub and seafood restaurants like The Catch.
For journeys around the city and into neighboring parts of LA, Orange County Transit Authority (OCTA) buses will do the job. Local fares are $2 and express buses cost $4, but the prices are lower if you buy an OCTA bus pass. A day pass costs $4, while seven-day passes are $25. If you are traveling to Disneyland, you can take Anaheim Resort Transportation buses (which also head to the sports stadiums). Day passes cost $5 and three-day passes are $12.
Expect taxis in Anaheim to cost around $2.85 for the meter drop, then $2.70 for every subsequent mile, although you can save money by traveling with Uber. Their cheapest vehicles in Anaheim tend to charge as little as $0.90 per mile (as long as you reach the minimum fare of $5.15).
Renting a vehicle in Anaheim can make visiting LA or the coast more convenient, but it's not vital for visiting Disneyland or the local sports venues. If you do choose to rent a car, you'll find companies like Avis and Enterprise in Anaheim itself. Expect to pay upwards of $15-20 per day.
Anaheim has a number of shopping options for fashion lovers and bargain hunters. The best shopping street in town is Center Street Promenade, where you'll find everything from gourmet cheese shops, unique jewelry items at J.Mac, men's shoes at Heart & Sole, and the town's farmers' market every Thursday. For a more conventional shopping mall, try the Outlets at Orange, which features brands like Aldo, DKNY, and Shoe Palace.
The best place to purchase fresh, delicious groceries is the Thursday farmers' market on Center Street Promenade, but if you can't get there, you'll find supermarkets like Super King, Walmart, and Albertsons in the Anaheim area. La Bodega is also a great Mexican grocery store, and Wholesome Choice stocks organic produce. Expect to pay around $3.50 for a gallon of milk and just over $1.30 for a pound of apples.
Top-quality Hawaiian fusion food is on offer at Roy's and Palapa (where you can find a huge range of cooked seafood and sushi dishes). Mi Casa is the best Mexican restaurant in town, Umami Burger cooks up innovative and delicious burgers, while Calivino blends fine wines and superb Italian food. Expect to pay around $10 for a burger and upwards of $20 for a full meal.