Although Disneyland Resort is Anaheim’s main claim to fame, the city’s other impressive family attractions will also help round out your itinerary to maximize family fun. I grew up near here and still return often. The best things to do in Anaheim with kids include theme parks and opportunities for education, exercise, and great food while exploring nearby cities (such as glorious Orange County) that the whole family will enjoy.
From Adventure City to indoor water park Great Wolf Lodge to the Pearson Park amphitheatre and Anaheim packing district, read on to find out why Anaheim with kids extends beyond the Walt Disney empire!
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Things to Do in Anaheim with Kids
Anaheim offers a diverse selection of attractions, so you’re bound to find something that will please every member of the family in and around the city. Of course, this list starts with the most famous of Anaheim amusement parks.
Disneyland Park is responsible for most tourists who visit Anaheim (and Southern CA), so it deserves a spot at the top of our list.
The beloved theme park opened in 1955 under the direction of Walt Disney, and while much has stayed the same, the recent addition of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge skyrocketed attendance at “The Happiest Place on Earth” over the last year.
Rest assured that long-time favorite Disneyland rides such as Pirates of the Caribbean, Space Mountain, and Dumbo still make up the over 90 rides and attractions.
It was a privilege to grow up with this park on my doorstep. It’s just as fun to visit now as an adult. We like to return as much as we can.
Tip: Don’t forget that it’s easy to save with a Disneyland tickets discount!
Disney California Adventure Park
Disney California Adventure first opened in 2001 on the site of the original Disneyland Park parking lot. This means that it’s easy to bounce between the two Disney parks as they are just across from each other (you might want to consider Park Hopper tickets which you can also buy at a discount).
Toddlers and younger kids love Cars Land. In fact, Radiator Springs Racers here is one of the best, all-time favorite Disney rides (and we’ve been to all Disney Resorts worldwide) that the entire family enjoys Older kids head to the thrill rides like the extreme (to me) drops in Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout! or the Incredicoaster for its inversion. Avenger’s Campus and Web Slingers: A Spiderman Adventure is also popular and family-friendly.
(In between the parks and the Disneyland hotels is the Downtown Disney entertainment area which you can stop into without a park ticket.)
If you’re looking for a smaller theme park, take the kids to Adventure City, which is one of Anaheim’s best-kept secrets. The cost of admission for a family of four is less than the price of a 1-Day Disneyland ticket plus parking is free!
The 17 rides at Adventure City amusement park include two roller coasters, a petting farm, and interactive dance parties at stage 39. When you’re ready to relax and rest your feet, hop on the Adventure City Express Train to take a sightseeing trip around the entire park.
Anaheim Garden Walk
Across the street from Disneyland, Anaheim Garden Walk is the perfect place to relax and unwind for the whole family after a long day at the theme parks.
This one-stop-shop has it all, from restaurants and shopping galore to murals and art installations. Do the kids still have steam left? An escape room, movie theaters, bowling, flight deck simulator, and indoor playpark Billy Beez are all for the choosing at Anaheim’s ultimate family playground (second to the famous amusement park, of course).
If you love a good game of baseball, make sure the family-friendly and energized atmosphere of Angel Stadium is on your list of things to do in Anaheim with kids during the season. The atmosphere in the stadium is friendly and energized.
Concessions are part of the fun, and the famed Helmet Nachos that come in a life-size plastic Los Angeles Angels helmet that doubles as a keepsake is a must-have. Table service dining is also available as are plenty of Major League Baseball souvenirs.
Flightdeck Flight Simulation Center
The Flightdeck Flight Simulation Center is a unique family experience where aspiring pilots (older kids 10 and up) can take flights ranging from 30 minutes to 120 minutes.
Though the experiences are all simulated, they feel very real and do not require prior experience. You’ll receive classroom training and in-flight instruction to prepare for this one-of-a-kind experience that your family will never forget.
Flightdeck Flight Simulation Center isn’t open all day, but it’s the perfect activity to enjoy in the afternoon or evening after a fun morning at Disneyland.
Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park
If you’re looking for ways to help the kids release their excess energy, head over to Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park. It features a Ninja Warrior course to test strength and agility, an ultimate dodgeball court, and a freestyle jump area.
A free-climb bouldering wall that extends above a foam pit helps hone free climbing skills without fear.
For the 6-and-unders, Little Leapers is an exclusive time for younger kids to play together in a safe and engaging environment.
Bowlmor Lanes features 41 bowling lanes, a sports bar, an arcade area, and a billiards/pool area. The hip bowling lanes feature black lights and have large HD video walls that show everything from music videos to live sports.
Birthday celebrations and group gatherings are made easy at Bowlmor Lanes With customizable party menus, free Wi-Fi, wheelchair accessibility, and private lanes.
Rock City Climbing Center
Want to brush up on your rock-climbing skills or introduce your kids to the sport? Consider spending a few hours at Rock City Climbing Center, which has earned great ratings for its friendly, laid-back atmosphere. Different climbing opportunities correspond to various skill levels.
Whether you choose to try bouldering or accept the challenge of conquering a top-roping wall, you’re guaranteed to test skills while having a ton of fun. Day packages are affordable and include chalk bag rentals, shoes, and harnesses.
Yorba Regional Park
When the family is ready to escape from the bustling city, just a short drive away, beckons Yorba Regional park. This gorgeous park provides so much fun for when the kids want a playground to climb on or walk along the Santa Ana river trail.
A lake in the middle of the park offers paddle boat and kayak rentals or choose to stay on land with a surrey or bike rental. Either way, take a breather on your visit to Anaheim with kids at this urban oasis.
Great Wolf Lodge Day Pass
Ready for some pool time? A day pass to Great Wolf Lodge lets the family can enjoy this indoor water park for the day (or even half a day) which is normally reserved for overnight guests only.
With temperatures maintained at a balmy 84 degrees, the water parks of Great Wolf Lodge are an especially great idea in inclement weather when you visit Anaheim with kids. Life jackets are included and kids ages 2 and under are free.
Starlight Cinema City Theatres
Whether you’re at home or on vacation in Anaheim, sometimes it’s nice to go out for a family movie. One unique and lovable aspect of this Starlight Cinema City theatre is that it shows both new releases and cinema classics.
Catch that brand-new movie one night then watch a classic movie like the original Superman the next night to introduce your kids to some of your favorite childhood movies. Be sure to check out matinee, early bird, and Bargain Day Tuesday prices for even more savings.
Don’t come here just for mini golf because Camelot Golfland is one of the most fun things to do in Anaheim with kids because it’s more than mini golf.
An arcade, laser tag, Fast Car raceway (valid driver’s license is required, and size restrictions apply), bumper cars, bumper boats, and a pizza parlor (because you’ll be here all day) — it’s all here.
Who says you can’t enjoy winter activities in Anaheim? If you’re dying to escape the heat, a few hours at Anaheim ICE will cool you down. Go to a hockey game, take skating lessons, join a public skate session, or celebrate a birthday.
There’s also an Ultimate Skate & Hockey Pro Shop on-site where you can go to purchase figure skating apparel and souvenirs. If you’re looking for an NHL game during the season, check out Honda Center to catch an Anaheim Ducks game.
THE ADVENTURE LAGOON
Open April through October, another hot day activity for kids in Anaheim is the water park at Adventure Lagoon.
Adventurous kids will navigate and slide down inflatable obstacle courses while trying to avoid a wipeout while young kids play in an area designated especially for littles. Rent a beach chair on their “beach” while the kids splash away at the water parks.
Do your kids feel the need for speed? K1 Speed is a favorite Anaheim kids’ activity. The venue features electric go-karts for drivers of all skill levels. The popular Arrive & Drive race option gives drivers the ability to race against up to 11 other racers at a time.
However, instead of racing for position, drivers race against the clock where skill, consistency, and strategy are rewarded. Live telemetry allows you to monitor your performance on the track and make adjustments as necessary.
Cross Roads Escape Games
Discover what all the escape room fuss is about at Cross Roads Escape Games. You’ll work as a team to solve puzzles, find clues, and ultimately escape the room you’re trapped in.
It’s currently rated the third best escape room in the nation by USA Today and #1 in Southern California.
Center Street Promenade
If you’re planning to buy gifts and souvenirs, stop by the Center Street Promenade in the revitalized center Anaheim.
You’ll find anything from artisanal jewelry to sustainable housewares in the boutiques to the local farmers’ market and unique eateries.
SwingIt Trapeze Lessons
SwingIt Trapeze teaches everything from acrobatic lessons to circus classes. Whether you’re naturally athletic or have two left feet, you can learn to swing on a trapeze here. Even those who enter with very little knowledge of acrobatics leave knowing how to pull off stunts that most people only dream of performing.
Safety is a top priority at SwingIt Trapeze Lessons and the operators work hard to help you have fun in a safe environment.
Anaheim Packing District
The Anaheim Packing District is a shopping area comprised of restored, historic buildings. A highlight includes the Anaheim Packing House gourmet food hall which has lots of Insta-worthy desserts and great places to eat.
The pre-prohibition Anaheim Brewery is located in the Packard House, which makes this spot a win-win for parents and kids
Pearson Park Amphitheatre
Built in 1927, the charming Pearson Park Amphitheatre is a great place to go for your family’s nighttime entertainment.
Surprisingly, the concert venue has the capacity to accommodate over 2,000 seated guests. Check out the amphitheater’s website to reserve tickets for upcoming shows, such as live dance performances, balloon shows, and live music.
OAK CANYON NATURE CENTER
Nature lovers will love the 58-acre nature park, Oak Canyon. Meander through the canyon’s hiking trails and oak woodland on your own, or join a naturalist-led hike while keeping your eyes peeled for the Goldspotted Oak beetle and coastal sage scrub.
Don’t miss the John J. Collier Interpretive Center (check for hours as it’s not open daily), which is a small museum with regional natural history exhibits.
Things to Do Near Anaheim with Kids
It’s also worth also exploring fun activities around Anaheim in Greater Orange County. Whether you’re looking for pure entertainment, education, or both, here are some of the top things to do near Anaheim with kids.
Buena Park, California, is home to the epic Medieval Times restaurant and entertainment venue. If anyone in your family likes dressing up or watching movies about medieval knights, they’ll fall in love with this place.
While you enjoy a four-course medieval-style meal (without utensils), you’ll be treated to a live show that’s full of action and adventure. Knights compete and test their skills while you cheer them on. You’ll see everything from jousting to falconry. Get discount tickets.
Knott’s Berry Farm
Knott’s Berry Farm, America’s first theme park, is also located in Buena Park. The once-working berry farm has since been transformed into a theme park paradise.
We love Knott’s because they have a wide variety of rides and attractions that range from scary to mild, so there’s something for everyone — whether you’re an adult, young child or teenager.
Popular Knott’s Berry Farm rides include several thrilling roller coasters — don’t miss California’s first (and steepest) dive roller coaster, Hang time, the Xcelerator roller coaster, the Calico Mine train ride, and Timber Mountain Log Ride.
It’s also known for GhostRider, the tallest and longest wooden roller coaster on the West Coast. Don’t forget that you can also buy Knott’s Berry Farm discount tickets.
Irvine Regional Park
Let the rolling foothills and Sycamore tree groves of Irvine Regional park serve as your backdrop for a leisurely family day.
Rent bikes or aquabikes for the kids by the boathouse, hop on the train for a short journey, take on a pony ride and make sure to stop by the OC Zoo in the middle of the park to complete the day.
Pirate’s Dinner Adventure
Eyepatches and wood peg legs are encouraged at Buena Park’s other themed dining experience, Pirate’s Dinner Adventure.
Divided into teams to involve audience participation, your family will cheer on your pirate in daring tasks and friendly competition.
Acrobatics, swordplay, and stunts are all on the menu, in addition to a full dinner—the hardest part will be getting the kids to pay attention to eat with all the spectacles going on! Get discounted tickets.
Discovery Cube Orange County
Discovery Cube Orange County in Santa Ana is a next-level science center and museum. Over 100 hands-on interactive exhibits encourage kids to dabble in STEM by exploring physics with kid-built cars or investigating aerodynamics in a wind tunnel.
Kids can also test reactionary times against pro hockey goalkeepers or experience hurricane wind gale forces. Our family loved our time here, and give it two thumbs up after Disneyland!
Built with repurposed shipping containers, SteelCraft Garden Grove aims to unite the community through local craft food and drink vendors, live music, and other Orange county neighborhood events.
Its large, open-space communal dining area is family-friendly, with space for kids to swing and play ping pong while waiting for food. Our favorites included the Mexican x Asian fusion barrio ramen, made-to-order Duck donuts, and washing it all down with boba milk tea (other options include craft beer, wine, and cocktails).
Dave & Busters
If you’d like to catch a sporting event (such as an Anaheim Ducks game) while the kids play arcade games, Dave and Busters is about 10 minutes away from Disneyland. There’s also a robust food menu and a variety of adult drinks. Pick up a rewards card and keep it with you so you can start earning rewards while you play, eat, or drink.
Orange County Beaches
Without traffic, getting from Anaheim to the beach takes about 30 minutes by car. You have several beaches to choose from. For a stereotypical Southern California beach day, I prefer my hometown beach of Huntington Beach. The sandy area is enormous, you can get cheese strips (a local favorite from Jack’s), boogie board, ride bikes, and then some.
For a gorgeous beach with a small-town feel, Laguna Beach is another popular choice. It’s an artist community which means there are also galleries and boutiques to browse.
Where to Stay in Anaheim with Kids
The good news is that most Anaheim hotels were built with families in mind. The tough part is narrowing down the choices.
If you are going to Disneyland and can stay at one of the Disneyland Resort Hotels, there are benefits to doing so.
We like being near both parks and Downtown Disney. The top benefit is Early Entry which entitles hotel guests to enter either Disneyland or Disney California Adventure (check the calendar for which park it will be on your dates) 30 minutes before the park opens to the general public.
Trust me, you can wedge in more rides than you think because this allows you to get deeper into the park. Our favorite Disneyland Resort Hotel is Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa.
There are a variety of hotels near Disneyland also that are within walking distance or often a free shuttle ride away.
I prefer the Anaheim family hotels on South Harbor Boulevard, like Courtyard Anaheim Theme Park Entrance, because you can’t beat the convenience of walking to popular casual dining and a security entrance to the park in just minutes.
Whether you’re going to Disneyland or not, check to see if the offsite hotel is certified as a Good Neighbor Hotel, which means that the property has met strict Disney standards.
Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide, like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai, that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).
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