Planning a trip to Disneyland Resort is a whole different ball game compared to a vacation to Disney World.
While the size of Disney World is comparable to the size of TWO Manhattan Islands, Disneyland Resort is a bit smaller with only two parks and Downtown Disney District located in the heart of Anaheim, California. But, don’t let the size of Disneyland fool you, you can still get that relaxing 5-7 day vacation out of your trip — you might just want to look outside of the resort area!
So, what exactly is there to do in Anaheim that will turn your weekend getaway into a full-fledge family vacation? Let’s take a look!
Places to Eat
House of Blues at Anaheim GardenWalk
You know that we’re all about the food scene here at DFB, so we’re starting off with some of the BEST places to venture if you’re looking to grab a tasty bite outside of Disneyland and first up is the House of Blues! Long-time Disneyland fans will likely remember that the House of Blues used to be located in Downtown Disney, but it closed in 2016 and headed to a new location that’s just a short walk away from Disneyland’s entrance — Anaheim GardenWalk.
The restaurant is even bigger than before, but it still boasts all of the delicious Southern-inspired dishes including the popular Voodoo Shrimp, Jambalaya, Cajun Chicken Pasta, and more.
The House of Blues is also a concert venue, so you could end up seeing your favorite band and visiting Disneyland all in one trip! And, as a secret BONUS, you can get a Pass the Line voucher that will give you priority entrance for most shows when you spend $20 in the restaurant.
Huckleberry’s at Anaheim GardenWalk
We’re sticking on the Southern cuisine train for this next spot in Anaheim GardenWalk and heading over to Huckleberry’s! This restaurant is only open for breakfast and lunch and, trust us, it’s worth the 5-10 minute walk from Disneyland if you’re looking for something you can only get in California (at least for now!).
The menu is all about “southern cookin’ with a California twist” and they sure do deliver. The specialty drinks come served in a glass that is the size of your head (we got the Huckleberry Lemonade)…
…and the appetizer menu has something for just about every palette. So, you can start your meal with crispy Fried Green Tomatoes and Fried Okra or you can go straight for the sweets with the Mardi Gras Beignets that come with huckleberry, strawberry, and peach toppings for dipping.
Both the breakfast and lunch menu is served all day, so whether you’re craving their popular Louisiana Catfish at 9AM or you want the overflowing Stuffed French Toast at 2PM, you can have whatever you want, whenever you want.
You’ll just want to be sure that you’re coming here hungry because they aren’t shy with the portion sizes here!
Anaheim Packing House
If you’ve rented a car for your Disneyland trip or don’t mind paying a small fee to use the Anaheim Resort Transportation (or ART) buses in the city, then you’re only a short ride away from one of the most unique places to eat in Anaheim — the Anaheim Packing House. Located just outside of Downtown Anaheim, the Anaheim Packing House is a building that served as an orange processing plant back in 1919 and was converted into a hip food hall with a number of small eateries in 2014.
Aside from the delicious mix of smells that you can enjoy as you shop through all of the different restaurants available, this can be a great place to head for lunch or dinner if you have picky eaters in your party. With over 20 different eateries in one building, everyone in your family can easily split up to get what they want and then meet in the middle to eat together.
Some of our favorites include the Anti-Gravity Shrimp from 206 BCE (though keep in mind that this one is REAL spicy)…
…the Cereal Killer Pie from The Pie Hole (yes, it really does taste like your childhood cereal)…
…and the Himalayan Hot Chocolate from Mini Monster.
Now, there’s also a hidden gem tucked away inside the Anaheim Packing House for all you folks who are 21+. Down on the first floor, you likely won’t be able to find a bar at first glance, but we promise, it’s there! The Blind Rabbit is an immersive prohibition-era speakeasy that is so popular you only have 90 minutes to enjoy it. Reservations are required and can be hard to get at the last minute, so you’ll want to plan ahead to experience this unique bar that just might convince you that you’re still on Disney property with its theming and high-quality cocktails.
Prefer something a bit more relaxed? Well, just across the street in the MAKE Building, you’ll find Unsung Brewing Company! This brewery is geared towards comic book lovers and features a full list of brews named after Disney superheroes and villains (and even some made-up ones!).
Plus, all you Disney beer fans just might recognize the name because select drinks are actually served in Disneyland at Sonoma Terrace, Club 33, and at select Disney hotels.
Things to Do
Mission Escape Games at Anaheim GardenWalk
Of course, it’s not just food that you’ll find when you venture outside of Disneyland Resort! If you haven’t already tested the patience and wit of your family during your park days, then there’s another spot to put your teamwork to the test — Mission Escape Games! Yes, a lot of family bonding can happen on your ride through Pirates of the Caribbean in Disneyland, but here you’ll be bonding (or competing) on a whole new level to see if you can escape in 60 minutes or less.
Reservations are preferred here and you can choose between four different themed escape games. Just keep in mind that pricing varies based on the number of people in your party and what day of the week you’re playing, so be sure to check the website before you book.
Farmers Market in Downtown Anaheim
For those who like to experience the local culture when they’re visiting a new place, look no further than the Farmers Market in Downtown Anaheim! Every day from 11AM to 3PM you can find a variety of small local vendors selling everything from homemade jewelry to local honey to fresh produce and more.
Plus, on your way down the street, you can also stop into the unique stores and bakeries like Okayama Kobo Bakery & Cafe which serves up fresh pastries that are made with Hokkaido flour and have a unique selection of coffees and teas.
Unlike many other spots near Disneyland, this is one of the activities that isn’t geared toward tourists as much. So, if you’re looking for a reprieve from crowds and overpriced Disney souvenirs this can be a great activity to add to your trip.
Muzeo Museum in Downtown Anaheim
Just a short walk from the Farmers Market is the Muzeo Museum and Cultural Center. The small museum features a gallery dedicated to the history of the City of Anaheim and two rotating exhibitions throughout the year. And, if you’re a big Disney history buff, then you’ll likely enjoy seeing what the city was before and after Walt Disney brought Disneyland to life.
Admission costs $10 for those ages 16+, $7 for those 4-15, and is free for children 3 and under.
But what draws both locals and vacationers alike to the Muzeo Museum is the annual Muzeo Express exhibit that is put on around the holidays each year. During this special event, one of the exhibits is transformed by local volunteers into a winter wonderland that is full of holiday model train displays. Plus, they also host Polar Express Pajama Parties on select evenings which features a viewing of The Polar Express, a chance to meet a conductor, make a craft, drink hot chocolate and eat holiday treats, and more.
Daytime admission to the Muzeo Express is $8 per adult and $5 per child and the Polar Express Pajama Party is $10 per adult and $15 per child.
How to Get Around
So, clearly, there’s A LOT to do in Anaheim outside of Disneyland, but how exactly do you get around? Well, the Anaheim Resort Transportation (also known as ART) services 65 local hotels, Disneyland Resort, Anaheim GardenWalk, Downtown Anaheim, Knott’s Berry Farm, and more daily.
If you’re planning on using the buses to get around, you can purchase 1-5 days passes for prices between $6 to $25 per adult and $2.50 to $5.50 per child by downloading the Trip Shot App.
And, if you’re planning to spend the day exploring Downtown Anaheim at the Farmers Market or even heading over to Anaheim Packing House, there’s an even easier (and FREE) way to get around! FRAN (which stands for Free Rides Around the Neighborhood) is Anaheim Transportation Networks’ “complimentary on-demand micro-transit service” that functions very similarly to Uber or Lyft.
All you need to do to use it is download the A-Way WeGo App and then you can call up the golf cart-style vehicle to take you between over 15 stops in the area free of charge.
Where To Stay
While Disneyland Hotel, Disney’s Pixar Pier Hotel, and Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa are great places to consider staying when you’re planning a trip to Disneyland, the surrounding area features quite a few other hotel options. And, if you’re looking to save some cash on your hotel stay but still want to be within walking distance to Disneyland, that’s totally doable!
Element by Westin
One of the newest hotels in the area is Element by Westin. It is located about a 10-minute walk from the entrance to Disneyland Resort and you’ll be even closer to Anaheim GardenWalk!
Room choices include everything from one-bedroom suites to rooms with separate living and sleeping areas. Plus, there are also kids’ suites that come with bunk beds. And, if you choose to stay in a room with a theme park view (which is a bit pricier), you’ll have your own private view of Disneyland’s fireworks each night.
Keep in mind that this is a Marriott hotel, so you can save even more by using Marriott points to book your room!
Located even closer to Disneyland Resort in the heart of Anaheim GardenWalk is the newest AAA Four Diamond hotel, the JW Marriott, Anaheim Resort. The hotel features spacious rooms and even has a variety of unique activities for guests to enjoy outside of the parks, including a one-of-a-kind augmented reality experience and a Butterfly Wall. Plus, you’re only a few steps from all the activities and restaurants in Anaheim GardenWalk!
Hungry? Well, the JW Marriott features a rooftop restaurant called Parkestry Rooftop Bar! Here you can enjoy specialty cocktails and appetizers like the Angel Spritz topped with orange slices that turn your drink into the ultimate hidden Mickey.
And, we’d suggest reserving your dining experience for the evening so that you can watch Disneyland’s fireworks!
Reservations can be made through Open Table and you’ll want to request Deck 1 for the best view of fireworks (though it’s not guaranteed that you’ll be seated there).
Howard Johnson by Wyndham
Even closer to Disneyland is Howard Johnson by Wyndham. This hotel boasts a lot of character as it opened back in 1965 and is still themed after the mid-century modern feel.
The rooms are large enough to accommodate families of up to five and include free wifi, Amazon Alexa technology (so you can request things like more towels without having to call room service), and more.
And, while you’ll be about an 8-minute walk away from the parks, you’ll still feel like you’re on a Disney vacation thanks to subtle Disney decorations and artwork throughout the buildings and rooms. Plus, if you want to make your stay even more special, they have a variety of suites that are themed after Disney attractions and movies like Pirates of the Caribbean.
Beyond the rooms, you’ll also have access to the hotel pool and kids’ water playground throughout your stay.
Pricing can vary based on what room type you’re booking, but they do have Magic Key discounts available.
Courtyard by Marriott
Want to be so close to Disneyland’s park entrance that you’re basically staying on property? Well, the Courtyard by Marriott Theme Park Entrance can offer you that!
Unlike other hotels in the area, each room sleeps up to six people and comes with two queen beds and a bunk bed making it ideal for larger families. Plus, the Courtyard by Marriott is one of the only hotels that features TWO showers in the room to make your morning or bedtime routine easier with kiddos.
And, of course, there’s a water park here too!
So, are you ready to extend your Disneyland Resort vacation and get to planning? Well, we’ve got more Disneyland tips and tricks coming, so be sure to stay tuned to DFB for the latest!
Disclosure: In nearly all circumstances, Disney Food Blog writers and photographers pay full price for their own travel, hotel, food, beverage, and event tickets. We do this because it’s important to us as journalists to ensure not only that we give you unbiased opinions, but also that you can trust us to do so since we’re paying our own way. On rare occasions, when we are invited by a company to attend a preview as media, and when we choose to accept that invitation, we will always make you, our readers, aware of that situation. Recently, we were invited by Visit Anaheim to attend their event. Note that when we attend events as media we are 1) Not required to review that event/food on any of our channels, and 2) Not required to review that event/food favorably. You can always count on DFB to give you a 100% unbiased and honest review of any event that we attend, food that we eat, or beverage that we drink. You can see more in our Disclosure Policy. Thank you for reading. — AJ
Do you typically stay or do anything outside of Disneyland Resort when you visit Anaheim? Let us know in the comments!