What would you do with 160 square acres of orange and walnut trees in a dusty California farming community? Harvest oranges and walnuts? You’re not dreaming big enough. When Walt Disney bought a large tract of land in Anaheim in the early 1950s, he used it as the setting for one of the most popular and magical theme parks ever devised.
When Disneyland opened—with much televised fanfare—in the summer of 1955, the previously quiet town of Anaheim became a top tourism destination overnight, spawning hotels, restaurants, and rival theme parks, and inspiring generations of kids to beg their parents to take them there. The Orange County city remains a popular choice for travelers, not only for its family-friendly attractions, but also for its proximity to the beach and its year-round warm weather.
- Disneyland: Check out all the classic rides—which involve spinning teacups, flying Dumbos, and Caribbean pirates—in Disneyland Park, then explore the Disney California Adventure Park and Downtown Disney.
- Adventure City features a petting zoo, gentle roller coasters for younger kids, an arcade, and, best of all, admission prices that won’t break the bank.
- Knott’s Berry Farm: where to go for water rides, extreme roller coasters, and a bunch of Peanuts-themed stuff
Beyond the Parks
- Huntington Beach: a 3.5-mile stretch of free-to-the-public sand where sun-lovers go surfing, play volleyball, and browse stalls hawking flip-flops and other beach-related wares
- Center Street Promenade: Located in the heart of downtown, this pedestrian-friendly area is filled with shops, restaurants, and upscale bars.
- Yorba Regional Park: Take a much-needed nature break along walking paths that go past three small lakes and the Santa Ana River.
Where to Stay
- Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa: This luxe hotel features a private entrance to the Disney California Adventure Park and has themed pools with water slides and outdoor hot tubs.
- Disneyland Hotel: A modern hotel close to all the Disney action, this property offers three new pools and signature suites with pirate, princess, and explorer themes.
- Castle Inn & Suites: A medieval-times theme dominates this hotel, located right across the street from the Disneyland Resort.