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The five best things do in Anaheim

Our family has created many special memories when visiting Anaheim. In fact, our first long-haul flight with Braeden was to Disneyland (located in Anaheim). The joy we felt and the experiences we had was the motivation for starting this website and the Have Wheelchair Will Travel Facebook community. We made one mistake though, we had Disney Park tunnel vision, and because of that we didn’t realise how much more there is to see and do in Anaheim.

Disneyland versus Walt Disney World Resort - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

Of course, a visit to Anaheim wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Disney Parks but it’s good to keep in mind that fun-filled Disney days are also exhausting. Designing an itinerary with some quieter days will keep everyone happy and ensure you make the most of your time when you do have a day at the Parks. We suggest taking a day off from park hopping to explore more of what Anaheim has to offer.

The five best things do in Anaheim 

Now that I’ve seen more of Anaheim, I want to share my list of the five best things to do in Anaheim.

Disney Parks

Okay, I know I said there’s more to Anaheim that the Disney Parks, but our Disney-loving family would also say, you can’t go to Anaheim without visiting the parks. Disneyland Anaheim is the original Disney Park and the only Disney theme park designed and built under the supervision of Walt Disney. I’ve visited Walt Disney World in Florida and while I was staggered at the size and variety the multiple parks offer, I still think there is something undeniably extra special about Disneyland California. I suspect it’s a sprinkle of intangible Walt spirit that is hard to replicate without Walt Disney involved.

Disneyland at Christmas - Sleeping Beauty's Castle - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

Disneyland and California Adventure Park sit side by side creating an ease of park hopping simply by walking or wheeling across the plaza that joins the two parks. Nearby accommodation options are bountiful and the accessible ART bus service makes transportation to the parks fast. Check out my reviews on Cambria Hotel & Suites, Clementine Hotel & Suites and Desert Inn & Suites.

There’s always something new to see in the Parks with seasonal changes to decorations including at Easter, Halloween and Christmas. We found the lead up to Christmas an exceptionally special time. Characters are especially jolly decked out in their best Christmas sweaters and the centrepiece of Disneyland, Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, is festooned with twinkling lights. The Christmas parade and atmosphere is enough to put a pep in the step of even the most cynical visitor.

We share our magical Disneyland Christmas-time visit here.

Five of the best things to do in Anaheim - Pixar Fest - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

Currently California Adventure Park is celebrating all things Pixar with “Better Together: A Pixar Pals Celebration!” Parade, a delightful opportunity to see all your favourite characters from The Incredibles, Toy Story, Up and other Pixar classic movies.

Five of the best things to do in Anaheim - Pixar Fest - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

Accessible accommodation near Disney parks in Anaheim:

 




Shop ‘til you drop

Anyone that’s been following our family for a while will know that I am inclined to dabble in a bit of retail therapy. I hate labels, but I think “shopaholic” probably sums up my compulsion to buy up big when travelling. I can totally justify my shopaholic tendencies when I am in Anaheim because the discounts at the stores at The Outlets of Orange are so good. It would almost be criminal not to partake!

Five of the best things to do in Anaheim - The Outlets of Orange - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

Shopping is always fun but it’s even better when I get a bargain and I always score well at the outlets. The Outlets of Orange house major brands like Levis, Nike, Old Navy and many designer labels. I always pop into Levis to stock up on jeans for Hubby and to BoxLunch, a store that stocks a range of Disney and other character themed items, for gifts for Braeden and Amelia. Due to the seasonal differences between Australia and the US it’s good to check out the sales racks first but even the regular items are usually a good price.

If you’re looking to stretch your shopping budget further, this is a good spot to do so.

Pro tip – sign up to any of the free loyalty programs the stores offer. It usually provides an additional discount and you can always unsubscribe to emails later.

The Outlets of Orange is accessible with companion bathrooms.

If you are really looking to shop till you drop, pop into the Anaheim Target and Walmart stores while you are in the area. The proximity of the stores to the Disney Parks means they stock an extensive selection of Disney merchandise at a fraction of the price of the items you’ll find in the Parks. One of my Uber drivers told me all the Australians she picks up are keen to head to Target – me included!




Play ball

Growing up watching many movies themed around US sports and the incredible atmosphere in the stadiums has given our family a great desire to be a part of the action. We are yet to do it as a family but on my most recent solo trip to the US I had the chance to attend a couple of baseball games and I am more enthusiastic than ever to make sure we make it happen. Braeden would absolutely love the spectacle, the fun and the crowd atmosphere at the parks.

Five of the best things to do in Anaheim - Angel Stadium - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

Nothing beats the vibe of an enthusiastic baseball crowd though I was a little surprised at the heckling that goes on.

The five best things do in Anaheim California - Angel Stadium - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

I’m not a sporty person but you don’t need to be to enjoy a baseball game. I had a great afternoon at Angel Stadium watching the Angels vs Phillies. My neighbours in the seats beside me were chatty and happy to answer questions for this baseball virgin.

Accessibility is good at the stadium with wheelchair accessible seating and companion accessible bathrooms available.




Old Town Orange

Nothing beats a local’s recommendation and my baseball pals assured me I’d love the shopping and dining in Old Town Orange so I ordered an Uber and spent an afternoon in the historic town.

Five of the best things to do in Anaheim - Old Town Orange - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

My first stop was lunch at Zinc Cafe where I enjoyed an omelette with salad and a refreshing fresh juice. Zinc offers a varied menu of savoury items but also some delicious looking sweet treats. I tried hard to walk off lunch so I could make room for a piece of the Hummingbird cake but the omelette was simply too filling (a good problem to have).

Five of the best things to do in Anaheim - Old Town Orange - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

After lunch I wandered the main street and soon found myself winding my way through myriad of antique and collectible stores. What impressed me was that for a historic town the majority of the stores are step-free.

Five of the best things to do in Anaheim - Old Town Orange - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

Even the antique stores, which are packed to the rafters with collectibles, are well laid out so there is plenty of space to move around. There is something for every collector and lots of well-priced Disney memorabilia. Boutiques, vintage clothing stores and cafes line the streets in this town with old school charm. My only regret was that I didn’t have more time to explore Old Town Orange.




Wining & dining in Anaheim

An ongoing theme during my stay in Anaheim was that I didn’t have enough time to delve deeper into all that was on offer. That was also an issue with Anaheim’s bar and dining scene. There were so many places I wanted to check out but only two evenings to do so. My solution was to bar and restaurant hop only ordering one drink and a starter so I could try at least a few places during my stay.

Five of the best things to do in Anaheim - Wining & Dining - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

Anaheim has a vibrant cocktail and brewing culture but given I don’t drink beer, it was straight to a rooftop bar for me. RISE Rooftop Lounge is located at The Westin Hotel offering views over Anaheim and the Disneyland Parks giving diners a good spot to watch the Disney fireworks without the crowds.

Five of the best things to do in Anaheim - Wining & Dining Anaheim - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

Live music, great food and stellar views for sunset make this an ideal pick for a relaxed evening in Anaheim.

 

Five of the best things to do in Anaheim - Wining & Dining - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

Access to RISE Rooftop Lounge is via elevator from The Westin hotel lobby. A variety of seating options are available. Some seating is bar stools at high tables so I suggest advising at the time of reservation a need for a wheelchair accessible table if needed.

Five of the best things to do in Anaheim - Packing House District - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

If you are travelling in a group or with family with varied tastes in cuisine head to the Anaheim Packing House where you’ll be sure to satisfy everyone’s dietary needs and wants. Housing multiple food outlets there’s plenty of options to choose from.

I started my evening across the lawn from the Packing House at Poppy & Seed Restaurant and Bar because after a long-haul flight I fancied sitting outside by the firepit.

Five of the best things to do in Anaheim - Wining & Dining - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

There were multiple main meals I could have indulged in but I stuck to my plan and had a drink and a starter so I had room to try somewhere else afterwards. At Poppy & Seed I had a Passionate (vodka, passionfruit, lime, demerara, tajin) and stuffed squash blossom. Both got my seal of approval and ensured I wasn’t too full to head back into the Anaheim Packing House for one more treat.

Five of the best things to do in Anaheim - Wining & Dining - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

The Blind Rabbit speakeasy is, as the name suggests, a hidden bar. It’s dark, cozy and offers an inventive cocktail menu. I must admit, it was so dark the waiter had to show me how to illuminate my menu under the light under the bar.

Five of the best things to do in Anaheim - Wining & Dining - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

I opted for crab cakes and a cocktail and spent my evening watching the artistry of the bartender. It’s clear that the bartenders at The Blind Rabbit take their cocktail making to an elevated creative level. I am prone to eavesdrop (I was travelling by myself so happy to indulge in it more than usual) and listened as the person beside me quizzed the bartender on the next drink he should order. The bartender asked a series of questions about my neighbour’s tastes and it was decided he’d give Absinthe a try. I’d never heard of it before so I was quite fascinated to see what was presented (see  photo below)

Five of the best things to do in Anaheim - Wining & Dining - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

In the light of day I read up on it and learnt that Absinthe rose to great popularity as an alcoholic drink in late 19th- and early 20th-century in France, particularly among Parisian artists and writers.  The Blind Rabbit website describes the process as “a traditional ritual which includes a dose of fine Absinthe in a glass upon which rests a slotted spoon holding a sugar cube. Ice-cold water is then delicately dripped over the sugar creating a mesmerising louche effect as the clear green liquid transforms into a milky opalescence.” This time-honoured cultural tradition apparently unveils the  intricate flavours and aromas of the Absinthe. What an unexpected find in Anaheim!

The Blind Rabbit is an intimate venue but staff did advise that they have had wheelchair users dine there before and can ensure a table choice is appropriate to a person’s needs if requested at the time of booking. Although hidden away, The Blind Rabbit is popular so reservations are essential.

As you can see, although the Disney Parks are central to many people’s visit to Anaheim, there’s plenty of reasons to allow more time to explore.

I was hosted as a guest of Visit Anaheim but as always my opinions are my own and reflective of a wonderful time.

Accessible accommodation in Anaheim:

This blog post contains affiliate links which means if you make a hotel booking I’ll receive a small commission at no additional charge to you. This helps support the website so I can continue to share information with you.




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