Through some strange quirks of fate and travel, I have found myself visiting Anaheim four times in the last year. Before last summer, I had never even set foot in this Southern California city but now I find myself in possession of a certain level of expertise. It’s weird, I know. While it is true that a certain Mouse was the focal point for much of my time in Anaheim, I have experienced other ways to enjoy the city. Today I want to share what to see, do and where to stay in this popular destination including, yes, time in the Happiest Place on Earth.
This post is partly produced in partnership with Marriott International, The Americas, who asked me to share what I love about Anaheim and, honestly, I’m happy to do so.
Locals will probably scoff when they see this, but there are some fun history-oriented experiences in an around Anaheim. The city has worked hard in recent years to highlight the city itself, away from the theme parks, and to showcase what makes it unique. That being said, what I want to share here isn’t actually in Anaheim, but is a nearby spot well worth your time – The Richard Nixon Library & Museum. Located in Yorba Linda, the Museum is located on land that President Nixon’s family once owned and is also where the President and his wife are both interred. The museum offers a fantastic look into the President’s life and career and the library itself has been an invaluable resource for historians around the world. Visitors will see an extensive collection of memorabilia, artifacts and even a helicopter on display. Regardless of personal feelings, and even if you have just a passing interest in American history I think this is a must-visit spot.
Incredible Food & Beer Scene
Like many cities around the country, Anaheim is also experiencing a sort of Renaissance in its food and drink options. Innovative chefs, cooks and brewers have decided to call Anaheim home and, in the process, have created some incredible spots to enjoy a nice meal or just some time relaxing with friends. Although beer has been produced in the city since the 1850s, it’s thanks to new tax incentives that breweries in the city have started to pop up everywhere. It really comes down to a matter of taste, but a few notable breweries include:
Anaheim Brewery: A local favorite that first opened its doors in 1870 but closed during Prohibition. Brought back to life in 2011, the brewery now features a variety of flagship brews as well as seasonal drafts in a fun and relaxed atmosphere.
Unsung Brewing Co.: Definitely not your average brewery, here the brew masters are inspired by Superheroes and feature some pretty unique flavors. Meant to go well with food, some of their beers include Buzzman (Mutant American Ale), Troglodyte (Grisette) and Anthia (IPA).
The Bruery: Former home brewers turned professionals, The Bruery draws on those unique flavors that the founders used to experiment with in their homes. They also feature a number of barrel aged and sour beers, strong flavors that make this spot popular among locals and visitors alike.
Where to Stay
Anaheim is a strange place when it comes to hotels. Some literally haven’t changed in decades and are to be avoided, while still others offer both comfort and convenience. The trick is knowing the difference and my various hotel experiences have been very different from one another. Here are some great properties though that I think are ideal for any Anaheim getaway.
Anaheim Marriott: Of my four visits to Anaheim, staying at the Anaheim Marriott was by far the best experience I’ve had so far. Newly renovated, the rooms and public spaces alike are modern but comfortable offering everything I needed during my stay. I also decided to enjoy a couple of meals at the hotel itself and loved the mix of small plate options along with innovative entrees and never walked away hungry. The best feature though is its location. The Anaheim Marriott is adjacent to the convention center, but also a very easy walk to Disneyland so, no matter what you’re doing in Anaheim, it really is the perfect hotel.
Four Points by Sheraton Anaheim: Located in the heart of the Anaheim Resort District, this unique hotel offers well-styled decor and spacious rooms. Perfect for families or large groups, the hotel provides a great place to decompress after a long day at the parks and even has a 24-hour pool for guests.
Sheraton Park Hotel at the Anaheim Resort: Featuring the unique qualities one expects from any Sheraton, including their signature Sleep Experience, the hotel also enjoys a great location. Convenient if you’re heading to Disneyland or in town for a baseball game, this is another fun option in Anaheim.
Disneyland (You knew this was coming)
Even if you’re just a casual reader of this site, you may have noticed a somewhat recent and unexpected obsession on my part with Disneyland. Although my first Disney experience was just last year, I have come to love visiting the park for any number of reasons. Disneyland and the related parks that have since emerged have always been places for kids and families, we know that. But they are also wonderful places for adults, traveling solo or as a couple, to get away from stress and anxiety and instead believe in the magic that is Disney. I’ve always been a big Disney fan, as I imagine most of us are, whether it’s watching the movies and shows as kids or appreciating the many other ways they’ve impacted our lives. To live in that universe, even for a short little while is a special experience the likes of which truly is unparalleled. Before my first visit I was pretty sure that I would enjoy the experience, I just had no idea how much. I returned to a time in my life when things were all puppies and unicorns, and that’s where the Disney obsession for so many starts. We all want that, we all want to be free from stress and anxiety and visiting a Disney park is honestly one of the few ways I’ve found to accomplish that. So if you’re wondering if visiting as an adult on your own is worth it, wonder no more. The experience is so much more robust than you might think and I know that after your first visit, you’ll be just as eager to return as I am.