With so much sunshine year-round, Anaheim is a fantastic place for families and, whether you decide to stay in Anaheim or to commute from another area of Los Angeles, there are so many things to do that don’t involve the big theme parks. We dedicated an entire day to checking out the best things to do in Anaheim for families, and found so many options we could have extended our stay by several days.
1. The Vans Skatepark at The Outlets At Orange
Regardless of skill level, The Vans Skatepark is an awesome experience for families. Located behind the extensive Vans Store at The Outlets At Orange, the skatepark is open to the public, with the option of skating by yourself or lessons from professionals. You may even recognise the skatepark from TV, as several shows have been filmed here! Competitions are regularly held in the park, which is incredibly popular with the locals. At least two hours is needed to enjoy this space, and for skate enthusiasts you could easily spend hours more.
The main course within the Vans Skatepark at Orange covers 20,000 feet indoors and features both timber and concrete surfaces for skating and BMX. A number of different obstacles are set up to test the skills of novices to proficient skateboarders, with rails, stairs, banks and ledges to manoeuvre. On top of this, there’s an incredible ‘combi pool’ set up with deep dips and curves for those more advanced skaters seeking bigger thrills.
Beginning with the smaller scale warm up course that’s perfect for those just starting out, our Brisbane Kids went from being completely timid of even standing on a board to cruising down ramps unaided. Their Vans coach, Devin, was amazingly patient with them, and built their skating confidence immensely in the brief time they both spent with him. We have been told that all the staff at the Vans Skatepark in Orange are just as wonderful with all skill levels, and that was certainly our experience with the staff we encountered on the day. It was fantastic to see the kids so proud of themselves and conquering their fears of falling off, and they are now super keen to continue developing their skills back home.
The Vans Skatepark is located within The Outlets At Orange, 20 City Blvd W, Orange, CA 92868. Find out more at https://www.vans.com/.
2. The Outlets At Orange
Shopping outlets may not seem like the best place to take the kids. Often, the mere thought of visiting the shops can induce some hearty whinging from kids of all ages. We believe The Outlets At Orange has completely perfected the shopping experience for families.
Not just a shopping precinct with outlet shops selling all the big brands at discounted prices, The Outlets At Orange include a huge selection of other activities to keep the rest of the family occupied while those who want to shop can do so in peace. The kids have no opportunity to be bored, with cinemas, play centres, trampolining, bowling alleys and more to offer non-stop fun.
Some of the activities we recommend families try out at The Outlets At Orange are –
- Thrill It Fun Centre – An indoor play centre for all ages that features a high ropes challenge and indoor rock climbing, laser tag, arcade games and tonnes more to entertain for hours.
- Lucky Strike – A 24 lane bowling alley with shuffleboard and billiards tables.
- AMC Orange 30 – With recliner seating and an IMAX theatre screening large scale movies, there are always dozens of movies to choose from.
- Dave & Buster’s – Combining food and entertainment, Dave & Buster’s offers an extensive selection of American faire, as well as classic arcade games and newer high-tech machines. Check out their Power Card that you can pre-load with games credit. NOTE: All minors under 21 years do need to be accompanied by a guardian aged 25+.
- Vans Skatepark – An incredible indoor skatepark for all skill levels. Lessons available for a fee.
- Burke Williams Day Spa – After a few days trekking the theme parks, you’ll probably be in need of a bit of pampering! Burke Williams will soothe those aches and allow you to relax before moving on to the next item on your US itinerary.
The Outlets At Orange are located at 20 City Blvd W, Orange, CA 92868. Find out more at http://www.simon.com/mall/the-outlets-at-orange.
3. Anaheim Packing House
Located in the Anaheim Packing District, the Anaheim Packing House is an expansive two-level dining space featuring dozens of independent food outlets, bars and a speak easy tucked away downstairs. Housed in one of the old Sunkist orange packing warehouses from 1919, this building and surrounding area is steeped in local Orange County history. This area is THE place to go for food, music, breweries and more, and is definitely worth checking out.
The Anaheim Packing House is now home to a gourmet food hall with communal seating scattered throughout, as well as outside. Almost any food you can think of is available to try and to share, including seafood, American, Indian, Japanese, bubble tea, cocktails, beer and wine, dessert and more. These were some of our highlights (we went back another day just to try some more!) –
- Grilled cheese – Grilled cheese toasties with several types of cheese to choose from, as well as other delicious additions
- Hot dogs – Miss 11’s eyes were bigger than her stomach, but she made a valiant effort with her American hot dog topped with bacon and mac and cheese.
- Poutine at The Kroft – Genuine poutine (fries topped with gravy and curds) is on offer here, with several varieties and toppings to choose from.
- Popbar – Choose an ice-cream on a stick, then have it dipped in your choice of chocolate, rolled in a variety of toppings, then further drizzled with chocolate. Need we say more?!
Anaheim Packing House is located at 440 S Anaheim Blvd, Anaheim, CA 92805. Find out more at http://anaheimpackingdistrict.com/.
4. Anaheim Brewery
Boutique breweries are flourishing in Anaheim, and one of the originals, Anaheim Brewery, is centrally located and surprisingly family-friendly. Located next door to the Anaheim Packing House, Anaheim Brewery features a bar and tasting room with large glass windows overlooking the brewery itself, along with an outdoor courtyard area with seating overlooking Farmer’s Park. Brewery tours are available by appointment.
Anaheim Brewery’s history dates back to 1870. Closing in the 20s due to Prohibition, the brewery reopened in its new form some 90 years later. Now, Anaheim Brewery produces a selection of around 10 different beers, from their flagship amber lager, Anaheim 1888, to deep brown ales. A beer flight, guided by one of Anaheim Brewery’s knowledgeable staff, is the perfect way to try out the selection; sitting at the vintage timber bar to round out the experience.
Whilst a brewery may not seem like the ideal place for kids, you’ll be surprised at just how open and friendly Anaheim Brewery is. Along with the outdoor courtyard and Farmer’s Park situated adjacent, the brewery has on hand dozens of board games and activities to keep the kids happy and occupied. At the front of the building, Umami, a gourmet burger restaurant, also offers the perfect accompaniment to your beer tasting session, or cross the park to discover the multitude of food options to tempt you at the Anaheim Packing House. A visit to Anaheim Brewery is a fantastic opportunity to learn more about the local history, whilst relaxing with the whole family happy and entertained.
Anaheim Brewery is located at 336 S Anaheim Blvd, Anaheim, CA 92805. Find out more at https://www.brewheim.com/.
5. Ice Skating at Anaheim ICE
Located a few blocks and easy walking distance away from the Anaheim Packing District, The Rinks at Anaheim ICE are home to the Anaheim Ducks hockey team—you may even catch a glimpse of the team training when you visit! Commissioned by Disney and built with two full sized ice rinks to home the then ‘Mighty Ducks’, the centre was formerly known as Disney Ice.
These days, the rink is open to the public at select times each day, and hosts many hockey and figure skating championships throughout the year. ‘Skate mates’ are available for inexperienced skaters, and offer a bit of extra assistance to those who need it. Skating gear, including skates and skate aids, is available for hire, and a couple of hours at Anaheim ICE provides a cool change from the often hot and sunny days Orange County is famous for. It can be very cold inside though, so make sure you bring warm clothes to put on once inside.
Fascinating fact: The building which houses The Rinks was designed by world-famous architect Frank Gehry. Look up when you’re inside and you’ll be wowed by the fascinating timber structure supporting the roof.
Anaheim Ice is located at 300 W Lincoln Ave, Anaheim, CA 92805. Find out more at http://anaheimice.therinks.com/.
Other places for families to check out in Anaheim
While these were the top 5 things to do in Anaheim for families outside of the theme parks, there were also some other places we visited that we’d highly recommend:
Pour Vida Latin Flavor – Serving hand crafted tacos, salads, beer, cocktails and pressed juices that you’ll find hard to beat, Pour Vida Latin Flavor is a taste experience you must try! They’re famous for their ‘Cheeseburger Taco’, which you may be lucky enough to try if on offer the day you visit. Many vegetarian options are also available. Check out their website for more information about their daily ‘happy hour’, when the food is even better value at 50% off sides and salads, discounted juices and cocktails. http://www.pourvidalatinflavor.com/
Muzeo – The Muzeo is Anaheim’s own museum and cultural centre. Set within the Carnegie Plaza in the historic 1908 Carnegie Library and Muzeo Main Gallery, the museum and gallery house touring exhibitions throughout the year, as well as private events and an educational program for schools. http://muzeo.org/
*The writer was a guest of Anaheim Tourism. Some costs were covered. Visit: http://visitanaheim.org/*
Of course, no trip to Anaheim is complete without at least a day at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. Read our top tips for your first Disneyland visit here. You’ll also want to take a look at the Best Hotel Near Disneyland for Families for your stay.