Anaheim is dominated by all things Disney, and The House the Mouse Built is a considerable player in the area. We LOVE Disneyland and go all the time since it’s just 90 minutes up the freeway from our house. Yet there are many other fun things to do in Anaheim in addition to Disneyland, and our family explored a few recently with great experiences.
Fun Things To Do in Anaheim in Addition To Disneyland
Let’s face it. Disney made Anaheim what it is today – a bustling metropolis surrounding the magic of Disneyland. What was once acres and acres of orange groves (get it? Orange County?) is now a collection of pretty fun stuff. And oh yeah, there’s this major global attraction plunked down right in the middle of it all.
Still, if you need variety and would like some fun things to do in Anaheim in addition to Disneyland, read on.
Anaheim Packing District
Just a short drive from the center of the Disney Park dynasty lays a whole area of Anaheim where the locals hang out. And it’s really cool! We had heard great things about Anaheim Packing District, and set out at lunchtime to check it out.
Since we were hungry we headed for Anaheim Packing House first, which is a newish communal gathering spot located within an old citrus packing warehouse. We were greeted at the front door by two giant rooster statues, and the quirky fun continued from there. The whole two-story warehouse is energetic, fun and colorful. Originally, oranges from nearby groves were hand-packed into wooden crates here and shipped around the world. Now it’s home to some 20+ eateries and food vendors. The place is kind of like a frenzy of stationary food trucks, each offering delicious and unique dishes.
We loved wandering through the entire space to see all the various offerings before sampling a variety of fare. We were intrigued by the gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches from Black Sheep. Others that tempted us were yummy fish and chips from Chippy, a smoky pulled-pork sandwich piled with coleslaw from The Kroft, and smooth and creamy hummus with pita bread from Adya Fresh Indian Flavors. It was fun to eat off each other’s plates and enjoy the smorgasbord of offerings.
Desserts for Days
For dessert, we landed on the custom-coated popsicles from PopBar, with many choices of flavors, coatings and toppings. I scarfed down a Dulce de Leche popsicle with my choice of melted dark chocolate topping, rolled in chopped hazelnuts. YUM. The kids were drawn to a visual concoction from I Am that looked like something from a Harry Potter movie. Brightly colored shapes the size of ping pong balls were plopped into a big cup, which was somehow oozing with frosty clouds from the bottom. It was more visually exciting than tasty, but the kids chomped it all down nonetheless. It tasted even better when dipped into the sidecar of sweetened condensed milk that came with our order.
Anaheim Packing District also includes a Farmers Park for some outdoor fun, as well as free entertainment and live music several days each week.
Knotts Berry Farm
Few realize that Knotts Berry Farm is the original amusement park in this area (technically not Anaheim, but only 5 minutes away in Buena Park). It opened quite a few years before Disneyland. The Knott Family started their farm in 1920, growing acres of berries and even invented the Boysenberry. Mrs. Knott first opened her famous fried chicken restaurant to great success. Mr. Knott started adding amusements to keep the people entertained as they waited in long lines for her delicious chicken. And the story builds from there.
Now a full-blown amusement park with an Old West theme, Knotts Berry Farm still offers guests that famous chicken and boysenberries. And so much more! We had a blast on the rides, and marveled at the short lines in comparison to waits at “other” amusement parks nearby. Camp Snoopy entertains the younger tykes with kiddie rides and play areas. Older kids and adults can ride a large number of rollercoasters, water rides and other thrills. Smaller than Disneyland, it seemed less overwhelming to walk through the park without your kids on a leash.
Crazy Fun Rides
Our kids went straight for the Silver Bullet, which is a stomach-turning thrill ride where your feet dangle beneath you as the ride twists, turns and inverts through loops and corkscrew. I managed to ride it once (and that was enough) but the kids went over and over and over…
Other favorites were the Xcelerator, which starts out launching at high speed and never lets up through a series of heights and turns. We also loved the Supreme Scream, which raises you more than 250 feet in the air – and then drops you at 50 miles an hour in a free fall. We could see downtown LA in the distance before our rapid descent. It was a blast!
While there, you must sample the famous boysenberry pie that started it all. Of course, we had to order ours a la mode with vanilla ice cream. (Note: we found the pie is better consumed AFTER going on all the rides, not before!)
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