Credit: Gabrielle Veloz

20 Must-Dos in Anaheim That Aren’t Disneyland

Your 101 Guide to Exploring the Best of Anaheim

Disneyland® Park may have put Anaheim on the map, but this city has so much more to offer than the magic mouse. Home to the largest convention center on the West Coast as well as world-class entertainment venues, the energetic atmosphere of Anaheim is one that attracts a young local crowd and visitors from around the world. Local eateries are as imaginative as their Disneyland® Park contemporaries, and experiences are as adrenaline-inducing as watching a local Anaheim Ducks game. From immersive speakeasies to scenic rooftops and all things active, we’ve rounded up the ultimate guide of where to play, drink and dine in Anaheim.

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DINE + DRINK

Strong Water Anaheim

Adult Activities Anaheim
Credit: Ying Chang

Strong Water Anaheim replicates all of your favorite parts of Disneyland® Park’s Tiki Room without being quirky or kitschy. Wood-paneled walls are lined with bookcases chock-full of vintage artifacts while lush vines drape from the ceiling, creating a moody and intimate bar setting. Trade in Disneyland® Park’s all-ages Dole Whip for boozy pineapple whipped coladas and rum-based elixirs. Follow the tiki torches down Clementine Street, then hop aboard and become a stowaway on this clandestine sunken shipwreck.

 

Brewery X

Credit: Brewery X

Identifiable by the large green X off La Palma, Brewery X is Anaheim’s local watering hole for Friday happy hours and catching up with friends. The indoor brew hall is home to local sports fans who grab a table on game days and root on their favorite teams with a pitcher of something hazy. Out in the beer garden, groups mix and mingle under string lights—the vibe is reminiscent of warm summer nights. Brewery X is friendly to both kids and dogs, though weekends are primed for parties with live music, DJs and food trucks.

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Poppy and Seed

Credit: Brianna Danner

Poppy and Seed is not your average farm-to-table experience. Outdoor seating is set amid an organic garden, giving the place a lush, greenhouse vibe. While Poppy and Seed sits in the center of a bustling metropolis, the airy space feels as if you’ve entered a secret garden, replete with flowering citrus trees and ambient lighting. They offer much more than exquisite ambience—in fact, they were recently recognized by the Michelin Guide! Order the sustainably sourced steak tartare or the apple butter ham toast, and pair it with a creative side, such as the citrus and beets or duck fat fingerling potatoes.

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The FIFTH Rooftop Restaurant & Bar

Gabrielle Veloz
Credit: Gabrielle Veloz

There’s something about rooftop views, a top-floor breeze and spirit-forward cocktails that make every evening a little more magical. The Fifth Rooftop sits above the Grand Legacy at the Park hotel and boasts sweeping views of Anaheim’s city lights with front-row seats to Disneyland® Park’s fireworks display. Tiki Tuesdays, Whiskey Wednesdays and Taco Bout Thursdays ensure weeknights are never mundane, so take the elevator all the way up! Their must-try cocktail is the Attitude Adjustment: a fruity tequila concoction that will surely start your night right. It goes exceptionally well with the Nashville hot chicken sandwich—trust us.

 

The Blind Rabbit at Anaheim Packing District

The Blind Rabbit
Credit: Josh Wilcox

Whether you’re a Packing District regular or simply trekking out to check it off your bucket list, there’s always something new to try at this trend-setting hub. While the Food Hall offers endless variety—from soul food and hot pot to sacred junk food and gelato on a stick—we’re here to show you the door to the rabbit hole. Located on the lower level is a Prohibition-inspired, reservation-only speakeasy. Every nook and cranny of this sultry joint dates back to the underground nightlife of the 1920s. Find the entrance to The Blind Rabbit behind the wall made of sake barrels; from there, prepare to warp back in time. But keep in mind that all reservations are limited to 90 minutes, so use your time wisely!

 

House of Chimney Cakes

What’s a chimney cake, you might ask? Only the official dessert of Hungary and the best pastry available in Orange County. Known as Kürtöskalács in their native region, this organic sweet bread has a soft interior and a crispy outer shell (think donuts and churros combined!). Each chimney cake is finished with a dollop of ice cream and a sprinkle of toppings that will leave your local frozen yogurt shop wondering what to do with itself. Located in Anaheim, just minutes from Disneyland® Park, House of Chimney Cakes features a creative collection of chimney cakes with adorable names like So Hungary Delicious, The Mouse and Matcha Monster. If you’re feeling artistic, the custom chimney cakes are always made ready to order. The possibilities are endless at this adorable pastry shop, with chocolate chip cheesecake bites, caramel popcorn, coffee syrup, Pocky sticks and Cocoa Pebbles all available!

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Joe’s Italian Ice

Nestled in the heart of Anaheim, Joe’s Italian Ice stands as a testament to the pursuit of perfecting the art of Italian Ice. Guests are immediately immersed in an experience touted as the best Italian Ice on the planet—a bold claim that Joe’s confidently invites you to verify firsthand. The secret to their unparalleled Italian ice lies in an unwavering commitment to quality. Sourcing only the freshest, sweetest and highest quality fruits available, Joe’s creations are the product of meticulous experimentation and innovation within their very own kitchen laboratory. These exclusive recipes are then brought to life and served in a unique concoction known as the “Joe Latti”—a harmonious blend of Italian Ice with high-grade soft serve ice cream. And this soft serve isn’t just any ice cream; it’s shipped from a distinguished dairy farm in Pennsylvania. Come see why this dessert hotspot is and always has been all the rage.

 

Craft by Smoke and Fire

Credit: Craft by Smoke and Fire

In the bustling heart of Anaheim, Craft by Smoke and Fire is redefining the soul food experience with its innovative approach to American comfort food. This isn’t just another BBQ joint; it’s a gastronomic haven where traditional smokehouse flavors meet contemporary flair. At Craft, the ethos is simple: elevate every dish with the highest quality ingredients and a dash of creativity. From their succulent, slow-smoked meats that fall off the bone to their inventive sides that will make you rethink everything you thought you knew about barbecue accompaniments, each plate is a testament to the art of smoke and fire. Try the short rib birria quesadilla, scratch brisket and short rib sausage or Mountain High loaded fries topped with your choice of brisket, smash burger or Nashville hot chicken for a truly decadent, carnivorous experience.

 

18 Folds

Dine underneath a canopy of lantern lights at 18 Folds, a creative Asian fusion eatery that will satisfy all your dumpling dreams. Nestled in the Anaheim Packing District, the organic, modern dining space contains Insta-worthy vibes with wicker light fixtures, air plants and alternating wooden textiles. The menu at this eclectic eatery is a canvas of art with a fun, fresh collection of boozy boba cocktails and classic dishes with an original twist. Start with an order of Chinese breadsticks to warm up your taste buds before moving on to some of their top-pick dishes, such as the spicy shrimp wontons, Shu Mai and the Lucky Cat Cocktail—served in an adorable ceramic cat cup that’s yours to keep! 

 

Villains Brewing Company

If you’re craving something deep-fried, made from scratch and piping hot, Villains Brewing Company should be your next stop. This modern American brewhouse breaks away from traditional dining with two separate venues. Their fast-food hall delivers quick bites for on-the-go diners, while their full-service restaurant next door specializes in quality, personalized service. Either way, their hand-battered tenders, double-fried wings and animal-style smash burgers will leave you satisfied and craving just one more waffle fry. Paired with a cup of house brew (try the Snake Tycoon!) and a slice of sourdough Detroit-style pizza, you’re in for a crafty, villainous combo.

 

Tacos Los Cholos

Tacos, tacos, tacos! You can never have enough of them, and this Anaheim-based taqueria has been satisfying many a Southern Californian’s taco obsession since 2019. You know the food is good when word on the street is that Tacos Los Cholos is the reigning 2023 Taco Madness Champions. Don’t be fooled by the unpretentious brick exterior and barbecue-style setup. The food more than speaks for itself here with premium and prime cuts. These award-winning tacos are sizzled to perfection over smoldering charcoal, tenderized in butter and lime and pocketed into tiny homemade tortillas. Pro tip: the beef rib-eye taco might cost a pretty penny, but it’s more than worth the higher price tag!

 

Okayama Kobo Bakery & Cafe

Did someone say bread? Let’s be honest—nothing compares to the sweet smell of hot-out-of-the-oven bread, and this adorable Japanese bakery knows a thing or two about freshly baked dough. Crafted in-house daily using flour sourced straight from Hokkaido, Japan, Okayama Kobo Bakery will supply you with your fix of carbs for a week straight! Beyond the front door is a haven of bread galore, delivering everything from salt and butter rolls, sweet buns and savory paninis to sugary croissants and cinnamon rolls! Tucked in downtown Anaheim, Okayama keeps things cute and cozy with outdoor string lights, warm wood accents and a curated collection of caffeinated beverages to pair with your pastry.

 

The Craftsman 1904

Credit: Craft by Smoke and Fire

The Craftsman 1904 brings a taste of Central Texas barbecue to the Anaheim community. While this fine-dining steakhouse never skimps on quality beef and brisket, its secret to perfection rests in unique offset smokers. Tucked in a converted Craftsman-era house, the kitchen resembles an elegant home setting. Settle into their intimate dining space for a luxury eight-course meal that’s a five-star dining experience at half the price. Each course is named after songs by The Rolling Stones. Guests will begin the evening with “Start Me Up” and end strong with “Let’s Spend the Night Together.” You won’t want to miss out on their short rib ravioli, North Atlantic lobster or tri-tip steak!

 

THE RANCH Restaurant & Saloon

With a long list of accolades, THE RANCH Restaurant & Saloon embodies the spirit of the Old West in the heart of Southeast Anaheim. This upscale steakhouse has climbed its way onto California’s Michelin Guide with a selection of premium beef and seasonal vegetables sourced locally from ranchers and farmers. This rustic-chic restaurant emphasizes a steak-forward menu with fish, chicken and lamb sprinkled in between to create a carnivore’s dream. Familiar comfort dishes, such as creamed corn and lobster mac ‘n’ cheese, act as complementary sides to round out a porterhouse or Cowboy rib-eye. Make sure to show up hungry, as the steaks in this restaurant range from 40 to 58 ounces in size! Don’t forget to leave without trying their famous PB&J Milk Chocolate Bar with Concord grape and caramelized banana ice cream.

 

Don Churros Gomez

Credit: @donchurrosgomez

Churros—who doesn’t love this classic crispy cinnamon treat? Located in the Anaheim Marketplace, Don Churros Gomez has mastered the craft of a perfect churro with their family recipe that dates back to 1969. Their churros are made with all-natural vegan ingredients and labored from love with a three-day dough preparation process. Things get serious with their El Don Churro, a Mex Caramel-filled crispy dough topped with cinnamon and sugar. For an extra act of self-care, order their Churros con Nieve and say yes to the dip of ice cream that slowly melts over the freshly baked dough. An Anaheim favorite, this little food truck is often spotted with a line of locals at least a mile long!

 

DO + EXPERIENCE

Flightdeck + Rogue Racing

Flightdeck Rogue Racing
Credit: Flightdeck Rogue Racing

Unleash your inner Maverick at Flightdeck + Rogue Racing. This state-of-the-art flight simulator allows you to pilot your own plane—and even look the part with head-to-toe flight suits, minus the aviator sunglasses. After a class briefing, hop in the cockpit of an authentic military simulator and take off to a thrilling speed of 600 knots as you maneuver through dogfights in air-to-air combat. If ground-level is more your speed, race away in rogue racing simulators that put you behind the wheel of the world’s fastest race cars and most challenging tracks. 

 

The Islands Golf Center

Adult Activities Anaheim
Credit: Robert Bui

Practice your swing over the lake at The Islands Golf Center. This driving range is designed for all ages and offers 13 floating islands and over 80 hitting stalls. There are two putting greens with plenty of seating and shade for everyone. Pricing is by the bucket, starting at just $6 for Juniors (plus a $3 club rental fee if you don’t bring your own). Once you’ve hit enough balls to work up an appetite, dine by the lake at the on-site kitchen. The chicken bacon ranch pizza and grilled chicken patty melt combo never disappoints. The Islands Golf Center is a scenic place to swing, making it the perfect activity for corporate team building or a casual date that’s focused on fun.

 

Orange County Ropes Course

Calling all adventure seekers and adrenaline junkies! One of the largest courses west of Colorado, the Orange County Ropes Course offers two zip lines and 32 different challenges. The three-tier ropes course is designed to test agility, balance and strength while being approachable enough to be a team-building endeavor or the site of a camp-themed birthday party. Start on the rock wall before flexing your physical and mental skills on the high ropes. For those seeking technical training, sign up for classes in canyoneering, big wall climbing and rescue rigging. With a mission to be all-inclusive, they also offer programs for people with disabilities and at-risk youth.

 

Anaheim Ducks Game

Hnda center
Credit: GettyImages

Winter in Orange County means that it’s puck time, and catching an Anaheim Ducks game at Honda Center is a must! Even those who can’t tell defensemen from wingers will enjoy the heart-pulsing energy of roaring crowds during a hockey game. Start your night with some brews and bites at the Honda Center, but just make sure to take your seats when the iconic horn blares!

 

Hike Oak Canyon Nature Center

Credit: Kayla Saunders

Want to get away from busy Anaheim city life for a minute? Anaheim may not be known for  serene forests and rugged hillsides, but this city has more than meets the eye. Nestled between the Anaheim hills is 58 acres of peaceful wilderness in Oak Canyon Nature Center. Adventure through four miles of hiking trails that meander along the year-round stream while listening to the songs of bluebirds on the Wren Trail. Trails are moderate and kid-friendly and even feature a small on-site museum where you can learn about the native species. View their programs to learn about diverse offerings like archery, Night Hikes, Canyon Companions and more.

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Lover of the beach, food and fitness, Emily enjoys exploring all sunny Southern California has to offer! She has a passion for sharing about her favorite local gems and began writing for Locale in 2022. On the weekends, find her creating recipes for her food blog or out in Laguna!

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