Spending a few days on vacation in the sun-drenched town of Anaheim? This SoCal destination appeals to the young at heart with its proximity to so many family-friendly attractions. Now that Anaheim's theme parks officially reopened after a year of pandemic-induced closures, people crave the thrills of plunging roller coasters and spinning teacups. Immerse yourself in the fantasy found in California’s beloved theme parks with this three-day itinerary packed with things to do in Anaheim for your weekend getaway.
Friday: Eats & Nightlife
Consider taking a slower-paced approach to the weekend by exploring where the locals go on a Friday night.
For dinner and shopping, head to the Anaheim Packing District, a spacious food hall with plenty of outdoor seating at the Packing House and Farmers Park. You’ll find cuisine to please every palate, from Cajun (206 BCE), Indian (Adya), and Soul Food (Georgia’s Kitchen) to Syrian (Mangal), Mexican (Urbana), and Thai (White Elephant). Dine alfresco, relax in the heart-shaped swing, then get a little retail therapy at nearby shops. Cap it off with a glass of wine (Pali Wine Co.) or craft beer (Unsung Brewery) just across the street.
End the night with a sweet treat from La Mirage Pastry, just a short drive away. While you might be tempted to nosh on a flaky pastry, go for the bouza instead. Owner Maher Nakhal, a Syrian baker, regularly whips up his family’s traditional recipe for bouza, a popular, taffy-like Middle Eastern ice cream.
Saturday: Disney Theme Parks
This is a choose-your-own-Disney-adventure day since both parks are right in Anaheim!
Disneyland continues to deliver the magic with both classic favorites (think Haunted Mansion) and the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge area, which debuted in 2019. Explore this 14-acre land, set on planet Batuu, while you journey through Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and join the mission of Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run.
If you’re a superheroes fan, head to Disney California Adventure Park. The new Marvel-themed Avengers Campus opened in June, anchored by WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure, an interactive dark ride. Don’t miss park favorites like the classic Radiator Springs Racers and the new Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!
Hungry? Dining options abound, but expect limited menus for now. At Disneyland, try pot roast at Plaza Inn and sausage wraps at Ronto’s Roasters. At Disney California Adventure, enjoy fine dining at Carthay Circle Restaurant and soak in panoramic views of Paradise Bay at the Pixar-themed Lamplight Lounge. Save room for the famous Dole Whips in Adventureland.
Sunday: Thrill Rides & Beach Sunsets
Nosh with locals at one of the eateries along Center Street Promenade. Jump-start your day at K&A Café with a hearty breakfast burrito, sausage bowl, or waffle sandwich.
As California’s original theme park, the 160-acre Knott’s Berry Farm boasts the Old West Ghost Town and kid-favorite Camp Snoopy. New this year is Knott’s Bear-y Tales: Return to the Fair. This 4D interactive dark ride with a gaming twist takes you on a journey through the County Fair.
Or, splash around in the 15-acre Soak City water adventure park. Whoosh down 23 speed, tube, and body slides. Catch a wave in the 750,000-gallon wave pool. Take a relaxing float along Sunset River. Then enjoy the ultimate water battle in the three-story Beach House, featuring 200 water guns, sprayers, and interactive surprises.
Late afternoon, leave the hustle and bustle of the theme parks behind. Head to Seal Beach to build sandcastles, then stroll along the iconic wooden pier to catch the sunset.