Although Disneyland Resort is Anaheim’s main claim to fame, the city’s other impressive family attractions will also help round out your itinerary. I grew up near here and still return often. The best things to do in Anaheim with kids include theme parks, but also opportunities for education, exercise, great food, opportunities to explore nearby cities, and then some.
Note: As you know, some of these attractions are temporarily closed. The idea behind this post is to put these ideas top of mind when it becomes okay to visit them again. If you make bookings or purchases through links on this site, I may be compensated.
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 its famous theme parks.
Disneyland Park is responsible for the bulk of tourists who visit Anaheim, 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’re Annual Passholders and 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 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 Disney rides (and we’ve been to all Disney Resorts worldwide) so adults will enjoy it just as much. 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. A new land called Avenger’s Campus is scheduled to open later in 2020.
(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’d like to take a break from the crowds at Disneyland, take the kids to Adventure City, a smaller theme park that 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.
The 17 rides at Adventure City, include two roller coasters. Non-ride attractions keep everyone entertained, such as 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.
If you love a good game of baseball, make sure 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 such as nachos that come in a life-size plastic Angels baseball hat that you can take home as a keepsake. Table service dining is also available as are plenty of Major League Baseball souvenirs.
Flightdeck Flight Simulation Center
Among the most unique family activities in Anaheim is the Flightdeck Flight Simulation Center. You can schedule different flight and fighter pilot program packages, 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 morning of fun at Disneyland.
Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park
If you’re looking for ways to help the kids get out their excess energy, head over to Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park. It features a Ninja Warrior course where you can compete against each other and test your strength and agility, an ultimate dodgeball court, and a freestyle jump area.
A free-climb bouldering wall that extends above a foam pit allows you to test your free climbing skills without fear. If you have small kids in tow, take advantage of Sky Zone’s Toddler Time Program, which is a safe, fun place for this age group.
Bowlmor Lanes is a fun, unique bowling alley that has 41 bowling lanes, a sports bar, 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. Bowlmor Lanes offers free Wi-Fi and is wheelchair accessible. Private lanes are available.
If anyone in your family has a birthday during your stay in Anaheim, Bowlmor Lanes is a great place to celebrate because they offer customizable party menus that can include mouthwatering burgers and snacks.
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.
Great Wolf Lodge Day Pass
You can buy a day pass to Great Wolf Lodge so that the family can enjoy this water park for the day which is normally reserved for overnight guests only. It’s one of the Anaheim kids’ activities that is an especially great idea if it happens to be raining as the indoor temperature here is maintained at 84 degrees. Life jackets are included and kids ages 2 and under do not require a ticket.
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 theatre is that it offers showings of both new releases and cinema classics. That means you could see a 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 in a large, comfortable theatre.
Camelot Golfland is the largest miniature golf course facility in the entire country, and it’s one of the most fun things to do in Anaheim with kids because it’s more than mini golf. Attractions include an arcade area, laser tag, Fastcar raceway (valid driver’s license is required and size restrictions apply), bumper cars, and bumper boats.
Who says you can’t enjoy winter activities in Anaheim? If you’re dying to get away from the heat, a few hours at Anaheim ICE will cool you down. Go to watch tournaments, learn to skate, take advantage of public skating opportunities, 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.
Do you feel the need for speed? K1 Speed is a favorite Anaheim kids’ activity. The venue features electric go-kart opportunities for people of all skill levels. Most people sign up for the Arrive & Drive race option, which gives you the ability to race against up to 11 other racers at a time.
Unlike traditional racing games, this one doesn’t reward you for pure luck. Instead, every driver receives rewards for using good strategy and skill on the racetrack. 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 at Cross Roads Escape Games, one of the most fun and entertaining family activities in Anaheim. 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.
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 and fantastic places to eat.
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. Workers eliminate risks and 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 Instagrammable desserts and great places to eat. The pre-prohibition Anaheim Brewery is located in the Packard House here, too. It’s a win-win for parents and kids.
Pearson Park Amphitheatre
Pearson Park Amphitheatre is a great place to go for your family’s nighttime entertainment. The charming amphitheater was built in 1927 but has since been updated to ensure the comfort of its guests. Surprisingly, the theatre 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.
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.
Vans Skatepark is a popular skate park in Orange, California with several different courses and mixed terrain. The Main Street Course is constructed of concrete and wood, has many different obstacles to make the course more challenging, and offers over 20,000 feet of adrenaline-rushing fun. Beginners should head over to the Warm Up Course, specifically designed to help newbies learn basic skills in a less intimidating environment. You can also hone your skills under SoCal sunshine on an outdoor course.
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. Both young children and teenagers enjoy the park because it has rides and attractions that range from scary to very mild.
Popular Knott’s Berry Farm rides include the Hang Time roller coaster, Xcelerator roller coaster, Calico Mine train ride, and Timber Mountain Log Ride. It’s known also 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.
Pirate’s Dinner Adventure
Pirate’s Dinner Adventure is another themed dining experience that tells the classic story of good versus evil through stunts, swordplay, special effects, and more. The Broadway-quality show is located in Buena Park. The ongoing show is called Secrets of the Deep but they switch things up for Halloween and Christmas. Get discounted tickets.
Discovery Cube Orange County
Discovery Cube Orange County in Santa Ana, California, is an interactive education center that teaches kids healthy living, STEM proficiency, and other educational subjects in a fun and engaging way. There’s a planetary research station where kids can learn about the world from a giant, animated globe that’s suspended in midair. Other exhibits include Dino Quest, Discovery Theater, Petersonville Healthy Kitchen, and Boeing Rocket Lab.
Dave & Busters
If you’d like to catch a sporting event while the kids play arcade games, Dave and Busters is about 10 minutes away from Disneyland in Orange. 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 Extra Magic Hour which entitles hotel guests to enter either Disneyland or Disney California Adventure (check the calendar for which park it will be on your dates) an hour 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 and FastPass selections loaded. 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 an often 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 being able to walk 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.