Elegant Hotel near Disneyland
Just a few miles north of Crowne Plaza Anaheim Resort sits Disneyland, the flagship theme park that helped launch an empire when it first opened its gates in 1955. The Crowne Plaza is so close to the park that it has earned an official designation as a Disney Good Neighbor Hotel; a complimentary hotel shuttle travels back and forth from the “happiest place on earth” every half hour.
Back at the resort, you can play a game in the onsite arcade or go for a swim in the heated outdoor pool and whirlpool, located in a Mediterranean-style courtyard flanked by palm trees. Poolside, you can order a margarita, a daiquiri, or an appetizer such as nachos.
Fuel up after a long day of riding roller coasters at the hotel’s onsite restaurants. At The California Grill and The Cantina, you’ll find American fare such as blackened grilled salmon in a California-wine cream sauce ($16) and half-pound Angus burgers ($12). Each morning, The California Grill serves a breakfast buffet for an additional fee that includes made-to-order omelets, waffles, breakfast meats, potatoes, assorted pastries, and juices, coffee, and tea.
Anaheim, California: Magical Playland About a Half Hour from Huntington Beach
Less than an hour from Hollywood and Universal Studios, Anaheim is perfectly situated for making the most of a Southern California getaway. But most visitors never make it that far, as Disneyland has long dominated the city’s tourism scene. As Walt Disney’s original park, it has a handful of classic attractions that, though upgraded over the years, have been around since the park opened in 1955. You can ride the Mad Tea Party spinning teacups, hop on the King Arthur Carrousel, or sail in the Storybook Land Canal Boats (Walt Disney personally planted the small pine near Geppetto’s home).
Disneyland has plenty of modern exhibits too, including Cars Land, one of the newer additions to Disney California Adventure Park and a life-size re-creation of the town from Disney Pixar’s Cars. The highlight here is the slot-car attraction, which puts you in an automated vehicle that swerves around animatronic characters before engaging another car in a high-speed race.
If you’re in the mood for thrills, ascend the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror before dropping in a heart-pounding free fall, or climb aboard the roller coasters thundering around Paradise Pier with sweeping views of the park. Alternatively, trade fairy dust for white sand in Huntington Beach, where you'll find 3.5 miles of free-to-the-public beaches filled with surfing, pickup volleyball games, and countless stalls hawking flip-flops and seashell-themed wares.