Anaheim offers visitors more than Disneyland Resort

By on November 4, 2013

Deep into the planning stages of a recent trip to Southern California, I discovered that Anaheim (the 10th largest in the state of California) and Orange County have so much more to offer visitors than the Disneyland Resorts. This became my only regret of the 11-day trip: I underestimated and overlooked nearly an entire county. While this destination tends to suit those who enjoy the occasional surge of adrenaline, beaches and premier coastal destinations, fine dining, excellent shopping and world class sports and entertainment venues are all there too. While it was too late to go back to the drawing board with my itinerary I spent an afternoon on an exploratory mission, scoping out what I’ll focus on during my next visit. Here’s what I discovered:

1) Convenient airports – Orange County is serviced by 4 airports. Sure, you could fly into LAX but who needs the hassle? Instead fly into Orange County Airport / John Wayne in Santa Ana (SNA) for a smaller yet full service airport experience. The traffic on the ground and in the sky is much more manageable.

2) Beaches – Biggest regret, not getting to see the beaches that Orange County is famous for: Huntington Beach for it’s classic surf culture, Newport Beach (pictured in slideshow) for it’s classiness and wealth and Laguna Beach (pictured in slideshow) for it’s artistic focus. 42 miles of coastline and an average temperature of 70 degrees and you’ve got yourself one perfect beach destination.

natural sunscreen with zinc oxide

beff9ab5d749731d8f31f434855aa4fe3) Spas – Yep, there are some spectacular spas in Orange County too. Next time, I will not miss the spa at the Resort at Pelican Hill, recently voted “#1 Spa in California” by Conde Nast Traveler magazine and recipient of the Forbes Five-Star rating for its fourth consecutive year. Even Disney gets in on the spa action with the Mandara Spa in Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa.

4) Dining – Worthy of ditching your diet, my meal at Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen was memorable not only for the balcony table with view of Disneyland’s nightly fireworks show, but for the New-Orleans inspired cuisine. If you like jazz, have a cocktail or two in the Flambeaux Room first. Other dining options that thrilled the health conscious diner in me were the Gypsy Den Cafe featuring seasonal ingredients (pictured above), Healthy Junk for vegan alternatives to typical “junk” food and 118 degrees featuring mostly raw and organic vegan options. Of course, every cuisine imaginable is available within the OC’s nearly 800 square miles.


5) Sports – I’m not a sports fan myself but I can see why sports fans flock here for the well-designed 43,000 seat Angels Stadium , home to Major League Baseball. Anaheim is also home to The Honda Center – home of the Stanley Cup winning Anaheim Ducks NHL team – and is the official host City of the US men’s and women’s National Volleyball teams. All bases are covered here, pun intended!

6) Orange County offers open air shopping centers like the Anaheim Garden Walk and the fun and quirky independent shops on Center Street. Luxury shopping, outlet shopping and boutique shopping are practically a sport here.

And I haven’t even mentioned the 7) Outdoor Adventures, 8) Arts and Culture 9) World Class attractions and 10) proximity to Catalina Island. Anaheim and Orange County are full of more hipness, trendiness and sleekness than I’d imagined. Next time I head to Southern California, this is one area that will have a prominent place on my itinerary!


Originally posted on Examiner.

About Michele McIntyre

Michele McIntyre is a freelance writer who covers spas, travel, fitness, wellness, beauty and healthy living/eating. She is happiest when lying face up on the treatment table, writing about her spa and travel experiences or testing new products to share with her readers. She lives near Syracuse, NY with her husband and son. Michele is a regular travel contributor to LivingBetterat50+ and has written for Today’s Central New York Woman Magazine and online at Tripology, TripAtlas, and Splash Magazines Worldwide. Michele blogs about the spa and travel industry, and anything else she can think of, at When she isn't writing about or visiting spas, Michele loves traveling, hiking, skiing, camping, yoga and reading. If any of these pursuits can be combined with a visit to the spa, even better! Michele can be reached at [email protected]

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Anaheim offers visitors more than Disneyland Resort