Situated outside Los Angeles, Anaheim is a popular Southern California destination. Home to Disneyland, professional sports teams, and world-class shops, Anaheim serves as the perfect base for exploring everything Orange County has to offer. Find out how to plan the perfect trip to Anaheim and discover the city’s can’t-miss attractions and places to stay.

Arrive at the Airport

There are several airports in the Los Angeles area, but most travelers coming to Anaheim will arrive at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) or the smaller John Wayne Airport.

Los Angeles International Airport

LAX is one of the largest international airports in the country, allowing you to enjoy convenient amenities and transportation options. The airport’s eight terminals serve all major airlines both domestic and international, including Spirit, Norwegian Air, Iberia, Emirates Airlines, WOW Air, Virgin Atlantic, and Air Canada. It takes anywhere from three to five minutes to walk between terminals. To catch the LAX Shuttle and Airline Connections, stand on the Lower/Arrivals Levels under the blue sign. The shuttle runs every 10 minutes.

The Lower/Arrivals Level is also the place to catch hotel shuttle connections. Other public transportation options include rental cars, taxis, FlyAway buses, shared ride vans, public buses, and the light rail. Catch the “Lot C” shuttle on the Upper/Departures Level under the Private Parking Lots Shuttle Zone sign to get to the Metro Bus Center with its service to the Los Angeles area.

Since Anaheim is about an hour from LAX, skip the expensive cab and take the SuperShuttle.

Los Angeles International Airport
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

John Wayne Airport

Located in Santa Ana, the John Wayne Airport is closer to Anaheim than LAX. The international airport’s Thomas F. Riley Terminal boasts a glass-enclosed central lobby constructed to resemble a fuselage. The Riley Terminal consists of three terminals with the Departure Level located upstairs. Arrivals will pass through the lower level and collect luggage at one of the baggage claims. Airport staff is happy to guide you toward visitor services and ground transportation.

John Wayne Airport offers on-site rental cars, taxis, and shuttles. Private shuttle companies offer door-to-door services and can be arranged on the lower Arrival Level in the Ground Transportation Center. Bus services include the Disneyland Resort Express and the OCTA.

Early Morning: Grab Breakfast

Before exploring Anaheim, fuel up with a hearty breakfast. Country Family Café on Euclid Street is a local favorite. The small neighborhood café serves delicious waffles, eggs, bacon, and other breakfast classics with quick, friendly service to boot.

Willy’s Eatery on Ball Road has been an Anaheim staple since 1986. The Greek restaurant serves a variety of breakfast classics, including the best eggs Benedict in the OC. Order a gourmet omelet, pancake stack, or French toast with a side of hash browns, an English muffin, or ham.

One of Anaheim’s hidden gems is The Scratch Room on Lincoln Avenue. Locals are more than familiar with the joint, so expect a long wait. Still, the wait is worth it when you can order tasty breakfast burgers on brioche buns, breakfast burritos, corned beef hash, biscuits and gravy, and chorizo bacon. You’ll also love the bottomless hot tea and coffee.

If you’re going to Disneyland, don’t forget Goofy’s Kitchen. Five food stations serve made-to-order omelets, waffles and pancakes, frittatas, French toast, and breakfast meats, including smoked salmon. You can even try Goofy’s peanut butter and jelly pizza for breakfast!

Midmorning: Visit Disneyland

No trip to Anaheim is complete without a stop at Disneyland. The only theme park designed and built by Walt Disney himself, Disneyland first opened in 1955 and has been a beloved landmark ever since. Today, Disneyland consists of Disneyland Park (the original Disneyland) and Disney California Adventure Park.

Watch your favorite Disney characters come to life in Pixie Hollow, Fantasy Faire, Buena Vista Street, Paradise Pier, and other locations throughout the parks. Draw your own Disney character sketch with step-by-step instructions at the Animation Academy. Take a tour of Boudin Bakery as you watch expert bakers turn the dough into delicious San Francisco sourdough bread.

After wearing yourself out on the Disneyland rides, pop into The Disney Gallery on Main Street, U.S.A. with its seasonal exhibits from Disney parks around the world. You can even shop for your own original and reproduction collectibles at the adjacent Disneyana shop.

To help you get around, be sure to download the Disneyland Resort app before visiting the parks.

Disneyland Hotel
Disneyland Hotel, established in 1955.

Noon: Sit Down to a Great Lunch

From soups and sandwiches to pub fare, Anaheim has it all. When you’re ready for the midday meal, the Bronx Sandwich Company is a smart option. This regional chain brings East Coast favorites to the West Coast with fresh ingredients and time-tested recipes. Order your favorite pastrami, Philly cheese, grilled chicken, or barbecue beef on rye, wheat, or a French baguette. Whether you order a hot or cold sandwich, don’t forget the street fries.

For something more upscale, try Reunion Kitchen + Drink. The menu consists of elevated American classics like hand-battered chicken and biscuits with grilled Broccolini, slow-braised short ribs with firestick onions, filet mignon with a blue cheese crust, and beer-battered fish and chips with Thai peanut slaw. If you’re on a tighter budget, try a café patty melt, barbecued hickory burger, or any other classic sandwich with a cup of soup or salad.

For something extra special, try The KROFT on Anaheim Boulevard. Poutine is the star here, which is a beloved Canadian dish consisting of french fries, cheese curds, and brown gravy. At The KROFT, poutine gets a twist with diverse flavors. Try the Japanese Katsu Curry poutine with panko-crusted chicken cutlets, green onions, Japanese curry gravy, cheese curds, and togarashi. Go with the short rib poutine and its braised ribs, short rib gravy, pickled red onions, and mushrooms, or the country fried chicken poutine with chicken nuggets, bacon, and country gravy.

Afternoon: Hit the Museums

Orange County is home to several museums and landmark attractions, including the Muzeo Museum and Cultural Center. Muzeo celebrates culture, heritage, and the arts through creative programming and engages the community in exploring the same. The contemporary museum showcases three inventive art exhibits annually and is suitable for all ages.

The Bowers Museum in nearby Santa Ana is another Orange County favorite. The museum’s permanent collection includes artifacts in the areas of Native American art, pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, Africa, Asia, and California en plein air painting. Currently, the Bowers Museum is hosting Gemstone Carvings: The Masterworks of Harold Van Pelt. The display showcases the artist’s mastery in gemstone carving and is a must-see for any art lover.

The Discovery Cube Orange County in Santa Ana should be at the top of any family’s attraction list. The Discovery Cube aims to inspire and educate youngsters with science-based exhibits and programs. Experience an interactive space flight exhibition, cooking classes, and Disney’s Doc McStuffins exhibit. There’s also a water gallery, rocket lab, theater, and dinosaur quest.

Late Afternoon: Shop ‘Til You Drop

There’s no shortage of department stores, boutiques, and marketplaces in Anaheim. When you’re looking to do some serious shopping, head to Anaheim Town Square on Lincoln Avenue. The large shopping mall center includes shoe shops, big box department stores, beauty shops, and specialty retailers, giving you everything you need in one convenient location.

For a more upscale shopping experience, head to Anaheim GardenWalk on West Disney Way. The city’s premier shopping destination in the popular Anaheim Resort District is steps from Disneyland Resort and a short drive to other nearby attractions. In addition to Skechers, Harley Davidson, Red Apparel, Aaira Luggage, and other shopping experiences, Anaheim GardenWalk also offers an escape room, a bowling lounge, nightlife, and a number of restaurants.

Dinnertime: Enjoy a World-Class Meal

Once you’ve had your retail therapy and seen a few sights, you’ll want to grab a relaxing dinner. Baci di Firenze Italian Restaurant serves up elevated Italian cuisine in a casually elegant atmosphere, making it perfect for date night. Start with a delicious pasta e Fagioli soup before digging into your favorite Italian dish. From ravioli Bolognese to fettuccine Alfredo, Baci explores the gamut of Italian flavors.

The Ranch Restaurant is a sophisticated farm-fresh eatery with an elegant atmosphere. Entrees include New York steak with housemade pancetta and wild arugula, petite filet with black-eyed peas, and Colorado grass-fed lamb chops with wild ramp spätzle. For dessert, try the miso cheesecake, the PBJ and milk chocolate bar, or the Tahitian vanilla bean creme brulee.

Late Night: Catch a Show

Anaheim’s Honda Center is home to numerous events. In fact, the 2017 lineup consists of Brad Paisley, Marvel Universe LIVE, John Mayer, OneRepublic, Janet Jackson, and Imagine Dragons. If you do plan to catch a show, download the Arena App to help you navigate the Honda Center.

Honda Center
Honda Center in Anaheim.

The City National Grove of Anaheim is an indoor, live music venue that’s much smaller than the Honda Center. Upcoming performances include Ann Wilson of Heart, Air Supply, and Shopkins Live. You can also book the City National Grove of Anaheim for special events, such as wedding receptions and business conferences.

Where to Stay in Anaheim

Since Orange County is such a popular destination for both leisure and business travelers, you have plenty of accommodation options to consider. Choose from the best Anaheim hotels, hostels, and private rentals to create your dream vacation.

Top Hotels

First and foremost, Disneyland Resort is not just one of Southern California’s premier resorts – it’s one of the most iconic accommodations in the world. The Disneyland Resort offers multiple hotels, including the premium Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, the classic Disneyland Hotel, and the seaside-themed Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel. Prices vary by hotel with Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel coming in on the less expensive side, although you’ll still pay more to stay at the Disneyland Resort than at most hotels located outside Disney.

Disney-approved hotels located close to the Disneyland Resort are called “Good Neighbor Hotels.” Courtyard by Marriott Anaheim, Desert Palms Hotel & Suites, Embassy Suites Hotel Anaheim – South, Hilton Garden Inn, and Red Lion Hotel Anaheim are all on Disney’s Good Neighbor Hotel list.

For an extended stay, check into TownePlace Suites by Marriott Anaheim Maingate Near Angel Stadium. This accommodation features spacious suites with fully equipped kitchens, two fitness facilities, and outdoor pool, and laundry rooms. Plus, thanks to its close proximity to Angel Stadium, you don’t have to go far to enjoy a baseball game.

Best Hostels

Solo travelers, budget-minded couples, and backpackers can save money on accommodations by staying at one of the Anaheim hostels. Fullerton-Hostelling International is a summer-only hostel open from mid-June to mid-September. A convenient base for Disneyland, Fullerton-Hostelling International features shared dorms and private rooms, free Wi-Fi, free make-your-own pancake breakfasts, a private backyard area, a fully equipped kitchen, and a shared lounge. You can even apply for a volunteer opportunity to earn free nights.

City National Grove
City National Grove of Anaheim music venue.

Another smart option is the Orange Mango Garden Hostel. Located in Santa Ana, Orange Mango Garden is an eco-conscious, privately owned and operated hostel that welcomes green-minded travelers. Backyard solar panels provide power for charging cell phones and laptops, and all shared rooms are coed. Private rooms are available at a higher rate. All utilities, including Wi-Fi, are included in the cost of your stay. The best thing about staying in a hostel is that you get to socialize with fellow travelers, make lasting friendships, and keep travel costs low.

Coolest Private Rentals

If you’re traveling with a big group of friends or the whole family, you may want to consider a private rental. Orange County private rentals vary but include private homes or apartments where you can feel at home. Booking a private rental is also a great option if you plan on saving money by cooking your own meals. Whether you stay in a private home in Anaheim or nearby Santa Ana, you’ll have easy access to all the nearby attractions.

Are you ready to take an unforgettable trip to Southern California? Plan and book the best Anaheim trip ever, from transportation and tours to accommodations and attractions, right here on GoDoTrip.