Best Attractions in AnaheimWith so many things to do in Anaheim, you may have trouble deciding where to spend your time. Here are the highlights for this destination, as chosen by AAA editors. GEMs are “Great Experiences for Members.”
The Most Magical Trip on Earth
Walt Disney put Anaheim on the map in 1955 when he chose the city for his new theme park. And where Mickey goes, others will follow. Today, the northern Orange County area is home to a number of kid-friendly attractions centered around the Disneyland® Resort , a AAA GEM attraction. The resort itself encompasses two theme parks, a bustling night spot with plenty of places to eat and three resort hotels. The main draw, of course, is Disneyland® Park , home to Mickey, Minnie and other Disney-inspired characters who reside in the park's eight theme lands. While visiting the park, you can catch a parade in Main Street, U.S.A.; hop aboard a Jungle Cruise in Adventureland; spin yourself into a tizzy on the Mad Tea Party ride in Fantasyland; brave the darkened tracks of the Space Mountain roller coaster in Tomorrowland; explore pirate hideouts on Tom Sawyer's Island in Frontierland; search for “hunny” on The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh ride in Critter Country; and call on Mickey and Minnie at their houses in Mickey's Toontown.
Allow a second full day to visit Disney California Adventure® Park , another AAA GEM attraction. The 55-acre park highlights the state's best features in its thrill rides and attractions in four theme lands. Holler till you're hoarse on the California Screamin' roller coaster; learn how It's Tough to be a Bug! in a 3-D film filled with special effects; ride Heimlich's Chew Chew Train; and “fly” over California scenes in a simulated hang gliding ride. As to be expected, Disney offers plenty of fun things to do with friends and family.
It Doesn't Have to Be a Disney Vacation
Visit Buena Park
There are plenty of fun places to go off Disney property. Once a family-owned fruit farm, Knott's Berry Farm Theme Park in Buena Park re-creates the Old West in such theme areas as Ghost Town, Fiesta Village, Wild Water Wilderness, Indian Trails and The Boardwalk. Thrill rides abound, and the AAA GEM attraction also has characters: Members of the PEANUTS gang welcome guests in Camp Snoopy, with rides for little tykes. Its partner attraction, Knott's Soak City U.S.A.-Orange County is a great spot for summer fun, with plenty of water rides—a lazy river, tidal pool, tube rides, body slides and the like—to help cool off.
Budding scientists will enjoy experimenting at the Discovery Cube Orange County in Santa Ana , which has more than 100 hands-on exhibits that explore science, space, math and technology. Another great place to take the kids is the local zoo. Home to Nacho the bear, mountain lions, a bald eagle and horned owls, the Orange County Zoo in Orange is set in a shaded wilderness park.
Group Travel “Eater-tainment”
At night, the diversions only get more entertaining. Head to Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament in Buena Park for a knightly theme dinner show. Seated around a simple dirt ring, guests watch jousting, sword fighting and fancy equestrian moves while noshing on a medieval-style feast. A more modern nightspot awaits at Downtown Disney® District , an entertainment promenade in Anaheim with a movie theater, restaurants and shops (including the largest World of Disney store on the planet, where you'll find nearly anything Walt and friends ever created).
Venture Into the Past
Courtesy of Mission San Juan Capistrano
If you're looking for history and culture, Orange County has that as well. Begin at the Mission San Juan Capistrano , a AAA GEM attraction in San Juan Capistrano , The 1776 mission was the seventh of its kind established in the state, and its chapel is considered to be the oldest. If you're visiting in the spring, try to time a visit around the annual arrival of the swallows, little birds who have been traveling from Goya, Argentina, to the mission for as long as anyone can remember. The mission receives worldwide attention when they arrive in mid-March to nest at the church.
Relive Presidential History
More recent history is celebrated at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum , a AAA GEM attraction in Yorba Linda. The compound encompasses an enormous museum, 22 high-tech galleries, movie and video theaters, a meticulous garden and the memorial sites of the president and first lady. A special asset to the attraction is the 1912 farmhouse, where Nixon was born. Nixon's father built the home himself on this original site, and the family's furniture and personal effects remain inside.
Experience World-Class Art
Art collections include Newport Beach's Orange County Museum of Art , which focuses on modern and contemporary art by California artists. Find paintings, sculpture, photography, drawings and prints as well as video and digital art. Historical pieces at the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana encompass Pre-Columbian art from Mexico, Central and South America and works by Native Americans as well as California artists from 1875-1955.
Nature lovers will appreciate the Fullerton Arboretum in Fullerton for its gardens. Find desert, woodlands, cultivated and Mediterranean gardens filled with rare plants from around the globe. While on the grounds, stop in for a tour of the refurbished Eastlake Victorian-style Heritage House. And if you prefer fauna to flora, trails traversing the ecological wetlands at Bolsa Chica Conservancy Interpretive Center in Huntington Beach are a good place to spot some 300 different bird species.
Take in the Architecture
Inventive structures also attract visitors to this destination. In Costa Mesa the Segerstrom Center for the Arts is prominent for its design. Narrated tours take you behind the scenes as well as explain the center's architecture and history. Another impressive architectural marvel is the contemporary, edifice-like Christ Cathedral , which features thousands of panes of mirrored glass. An impressive sculpture garden surrounds the building, which has an address in Garden Grove .
See all the AAA recommended attractions for this destination.
AAA’s in-person hotel evaluations are unscheduled to ensure the inspector has an experience similar to that of members. To pass inspection, all hotels must meet the same rigorous standards for cleanliness, comfort and hospitality. These hotels receive a AAA Diamond designation that tells members what type of experience to expect.
State and county sales taxes total 7.75 to 8 percent in Anaheim. A lodging tax, called a transient occupancy tax, of 17 percent also is levied along with an 8 percent rental car tax.
Anaheim Global Medical Center, (714) 533-6220; Anaheim Regional Medical Center, (714) 774-1450; Kaiser Permanente Orange County - Anaheim Medical Center, (714) 644-2000; St. Joseph Hospital, (714) 633-9111; West Anaheim Medical Center, (714) 827-3000.
2099 S. State College Blvd. Suite 600 Anaheim, CA 92806. Phone:(714)765-2800
John Wayne Airport (SNA) in Santa Ana, nearly 13 miles south of Anaheim, is served by major domestic and commuter carriers. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), approximately 33 miles northwest of Anaheim, is served by international and major domestic carriers. Long Beach Airport (LGB), about 19 miles west of Anaheim, is served by three major domestic airlines. Ontario International Airport (ONT), approximately 33 miles northeast of Anaheim, is served by international and major domestic carriers.
Most major car rental agencies serve Anaheim. Hertz, (800) 654-3080, provides discounts to AAA members.
Amtrak, (800) 872-7245, departs from Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center (ARTIC). Amtrak provides daily service north to Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo, and south to San Diego. Metrolink is a commuter rail service in Southern California with two stations in Anaheim, Anaheim Canyon Station and ARTIC, (800) 371-5465.
Anaheim Resort Transit (ART), (888) 364-2787, is an 18-route bus network to nearly every local point of interest and hotel. Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), (714) 636-7433, provides regional service. Greyhound, (800) 231-2222, provides national service. Tres Estrellas de Oro, (323) 588-9188, provides service to Tijuana. Greyhound and Tres Estrellas de Oro buses have a terminal at Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center (ARTIC), 2626 E. Katella Ave.
The base rate is $3.50 at flag drop and $2.75 per mile. Two large companies are California Yellow Cab, (714) 444-4444 and Yellow Cab Co, (714) 999-9999 OR (800) 649-1222.
Transportation by bus and commuter rail service is available in Anaheim.