It's difficult to imagine that in such a beautiful and bright place that's home to a magic kingdom, land was once purchased for a mere $2 an acre. Back in 1889 that's exactly how it began when two German settlers acquired their "home by the river" to grow grapes and produce wine, which began a thriving agricultural industry that carried on until shortly after the second World War.
In 1955, Walt Disney introduced Californians to the world's first Magic Kingdom, one that predated its "worldly" Floridian brethren by 16 years, and was the start of a string of successive developments that would include the former Anaheim Stadium, currently Edison Field, where the Angels baseball team plays, Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim, the home to the Mighty Ducks hockey team, and the creation of the monumental Anaheim Resort, an 1,100-acre garden district that also includes the Anaheim Convention Center and Disneyland Resort.
With a population of nearly 330,000, Anaheim is the second largest city in Orange County next to Santa Ana. It is located approximately 28 miles south of downtown Los Angeles, 31 miles southeast of Los Angeles International Airport, 90 miles north of San Diego, and 400 miles south of San Francisco. Anaheim is also neighbored by several popular Orange County cities and coastal towns such as Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, Laguna, Irvine, Costa Mesa and others, and is less than an hour drive from the Hollywood and Beverly Hills.
Few places in the world have the lovely weather enjoyed by Southern California year round. Eighty percent of the days in Anaheim/Orange County bring sunny weather that's similar to Mediterranean climate patterns. Summers are moderate to hot with temperatures averaging 70 degrees. Winters are mild with an average temperature of 55 degrees, with breezy afternoons and cool evenings. Rainfall averages just 13 inches annually with most occurring from December through February.Current Weather
Downtown Anaheim underwent a massive $5 billion transformation in 2001 that included a redesigned and expanded Anaheim Convention Center, the creation of the Disney California Adventure Theme Park, which compliments the original Disneyland Park. Together, they comprise the Anaheim Resort, an 1,100-acre district that serves as an all-inclusive destination for business travelers and tourists. Disneyland Park
(1313 S. Harbor Blvd., Anaheim; 714-781-4565; www.disneyland.com
The original Disney theme park, encompasses more than 60 rides and attractions, including 50 shops and 30 restaurants divided among eight themed lands. Guests can board the Disneyland train and circle the park to explore the glorious history of the past as well as look into the future, then stroll through 1890s Main Street or along the Rivers of America in Frontierland. Catch a quick photo op with Mickey and Donald and all their famous friends, or take the ride of your life thundering through mountains or skyrocketing into space. It's a Walt Disney original that's wrought with tradition, yet continually forward moving and modern. Disney's California Adventure
(1313 S. Harbor Blvd., Anaheim; 714-781-4565; www.disneyland.com
The theme park, located directly across from Disneyland, celebrates the fun and diversity of California with the expected Disney slant. The treasures of the Golden State are revealed amidst true-to-life recreations where visitors can experience the making of movie magic in a Hollywood Pictures Backlot, visit the classic piers that dot the California coast or experience the romance of Napa Valley's wine country. Exciting thrill-rides and effects-driven shows and attractions allow guests to take a frightful freefall into the Twilight Zone then step into the secret world of Disney animation, or interact with Disney's Pixar Film pals, then settle in for an evening of Disney's Electrical Parade.
Discovery Science Center
(2500 N. Main St., Santa Ana; 714-542-2823; www.discoverycube.org
known as "the Amusement Park for your Mind," is where visitors learn more about the world by experiencing scientific phenomena in a fun environment through more than 120 interactive exhibits, live shows and hands-on experiences. Climb aboard the flight deck of a full-size replica of Space Shuttle Endeavor or try out a game of virtual volleyball; bring the kids to Kidstation where children five and younger will find safe activates that stimulate the imagination.
With origins dating back to 1920, Knott's Berry Farm
began life as just that. Today, that land is part of 160 acres that have become the unlikely host of an Old West Ghost Town, a Fiesta Village, a Boardwalk, White Water Wilderness, Indian Trails, and more. Together they form Knott's Theme Park (8039 Beach Blvd., Buena Park; 714-220-5200; www.knotts.com, America's first theme park and among the most visited amusement parks in the country. Not content to let their famous neighbors hog the spotlight, Knott's features plenty of its own thrills by way of an 80 mile-an-hour XCELERATOR ride as well as Southern California's longest and tallest wooden coaster and steepest water rides. Adventure City
(1238 Beach Blvd., Anaheim; 714-236-9300; www.adventurecity.com
is a two-acre theme park built to resemble a small city one might find in a children's storybook and is geared for kids ages two to 12, but provides plenty of rides, attractions, games, and live entertainment for the whole family to enjoy. Walk through a miniature airport terminal and learn about aviation before taking to the skies for the Great Balloon Race, take a cruise on the Freeway Coaster or, just for laughs, take a spin on the Giggle Wheel, make new friends in the Petting Farm or visit old ones at the Thomas and Friends Wooden Railway.
Anaheim is the oldest incorporated city in Orange County where historic and futuristic venues live side by side. There are strong Germanic roots of Anaheim.
The Phoenix Club
is an organization based from a group of German grape farmers and wine makers who founded Anaheim in 1857 and gave the city its name. "Heim" means home in German. thephoenixclub.com
Take a trip to Founders' Park
a carriage house that serves as a museum for historic artifacts, and includes a full-sized windmill, historically inspired gardens, a water pump, a sun dial, walkways and trails with interpretive panels depicting the area's history.Downtown Anaheim
is another blooming neighborhood building on roots. This quaint environment is home to an interactive museum of ever-changing traveling exhibitions selected for their cultural, educational, and pop culture merits. www.muzeo.org/home
There are more than 45 public and private golf courses throughout Orange County offering crystal blue backdrops and cool ocean breezes, rolling hills and lush green foliage to go with near-perfect weather year-round.
The Anaheim Hills Golf Course (6501 Nohl Ranch Rd., Anaheim Hills; 714-998-3041) presents a challenging 18 holes and is recognized as Orange County's finest golf value. Located just 25 minutes from Disneyland, Anaheim Hills rests in enchanting, old California terrain, featuring climbing vistas and cool valleys, with a natural stream flowing past stands of oaks and sycamores.
"Players of all abilities will find Black Gold a dramatic composition of beauty, challenge and strategic options," according to Arthur Hills, designer of one of Orange County's newest golf facilities, Black Gold Golf Club (17681 Lakeview Ave., Yorba Linda; 714-961-0253; http://www.blackgoldgolf.com
Located on the old Shell Oil Field in the foothills above Yorba Linda, the club is centrally located and freeway accessible, and only a 15-minute drive from Anaheim's attractions. The course features a challenging par 72 layout of nearly 7,000 yards and includes plenty of scenic beauty and picturesque ocean views. Future plans include the installation of golf cart Global Positioning Systems for enhanced analysis, scorekeeping and convenience.
Dana Point Harbor www.danapointharbor.com is home to two marinas, unique shops and restaurants, and is a hub for water activities that include parasailing, jet skiing and windsurfing, as well as fishing, kayaking, diving, and whale watching. Located midway between Los Angeles and San Diego, just south of Laguna Beach, the harbor boasts a picturesque port side community set within a natural cove surrounded by dramatic cliffs and the Pacific Ocean.
Orange County has an inventory of more than 50,000 rooms, with nearly 20,000 in Anaheim alone, ranging from fine family-oriented properties for the budget-conscious traveler to elegant, full-service, luxury 5-star hotels. Nearly half of the rooms in Anaheim surround the Anaheim Convention Center and are within walking distance of Disneyland.
Situated in the heart of the Disneyland Resort Area, the Desert Palms Hotel and Suites (631 W. Katella Ave., Anaheim; 714-535-1133; www.desertpalmshotel.com, one of Anaheim's newest hotels is conveniently located next to both Disneyland Park and Disney's California Adventure, and across the street from the Anaheim Convention Center. The hotel features 188 rooms and suites, 24-hour business center, an outdoor heated pool and spa, and countless shops and eateries within walking distance.
For a boardwalk-inspired slice of nostalgia to go with spectacular views of Disney's California Adventure, choose Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel (1717 S. Disneyland Dr., Anaheim). This Three-Diamond Deluxe Hotel features a classic retro design, rooftop pool and nearly 500 rooms. Disneyland Hotel (1150 Magic Way, Anaheim) is a Disney original. Located adjacent to the Downtown Disney District, the hotel features all the magical touches one would expect, from the oversized Sorcerer's Hat symbol to the Never Land themed pool. Disney's Grand Californian Hotel (1600 S. Disneyland Dr., Anaheim) offers premium accommodations within its grand timber-like structure Guests can enjoy a plunge in the Redwood Pool or enjoy a night out while treating the kids (five to 12) to a supervised evening of fun at Pinnochio's Workshop. Extra resort hotel benefits include park re-entry, services for children and charging priveleges. Contact (714) 956-6425 or visit www.disneyland.com for more details.
Having undergone a $40-million renovation, The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel (One Ritz-Carlton Dr., Dana Point; 949-240-2000; www.ritzcarlton.com/resorts/laguna_niguel offers a stylish and elegant new look to go with its priceless ocean views set atop a 150-foot bluff. The resort now features a new ocean-view restaurant, The Ritz-Carlton Spa and an oceanfront fitness center to go with its 393 guestrooms, 30 suites and 38 Club Level rooms.
Downtown Disney District is a lively promenade that offers plenty of unique shopping and dining opportunities as well as evening excitement. From the World of Disney superstore to Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen to the ESPN Zone Sports Arena dining and entertainment complex there's something to do for every member of the family minutes away from the theme parks and resort hotels.
Considered locally as the "Ultimate Shopping Resort," and recognized as among the "Most Famous Streets in America to Shop, Stay and Dine," Orange County's largest shopping mall, South Coast Plaza (3333 Bristol St., Costa Mesa; 714-435-2000; www.southcoastplaza.com brandishes a number of marquee stores from the likes of Bally, Bulgari, Cartier, Gucci, Versace, Saks, and many more. Its location is wrought with pleasant scenery and attractions including the California Scenario Sculpture Garden, South Coast Repertory and the Orange County Performing Arts Center.
Fashion Island (401 Newport Center Dr., Newport Beach; 949-721-2000), Orange County's only open-air shopping center to overlook the Pacific Ocean, is surrounded by world-class hotels and beautiful beaches. It features more than 200 specialty stores, a seven-screen cinema, spa and two food courts. Special events throughout the year include the Project Playhouse summer concert series, a holiday tree lighting ceremony and seasonal children's activities.
Orange County is home to 50 theaters, including the 3,000-seat Segerstrom Center for the Arts
(600 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa; 714-556-2121; http://www.scfta.org. The Honda Center (2695 E. Katella Ave., Anaheim; 714-704-2500) and Verizon Wireless Amphitheater (8808 Irvine Center Dr., Irvine) feature musicals and operettas as well as top-name musical and sports entertainment.
The Grove of Anaheim 2200 E. Katella Ave., Anaheim; 714-712-2700; http://www.thegroveofanaheim.com, and House of Blues (1530 S. Disneyland Dr., Anaheim; 714-778-BLUE) feature a more intimate setting with acts ranging from amphitheater headliners to stars from Vegas and the big and small screen.
For area dinner theater look for Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament (7662 Beach Blvd., Buena Park; 714-521-4740).
For a reliable source of information on the City of Anaheim and its neighbors contact the Anaheim/Orange County Visitor and Convention Bureau Tourism Department at (714) 765-8899.
For a convenient way to move around Anaheim's sprawling resort district the best option is the Anaheim Resort Transit System (ART). Dispersed among a number of colorful trolley cars that traverse the streets in and around the Disney locale, ART services the entire 1,100-acre district. It operates daily and is available by visiting the front desk of the Resort Hotel to purchase all-day or multi-day passes.
The Southern California City Pass offers visitors savings on five popular attractions. Included is a three-day Disneyland Resort Park Hopper bonus ticket, which is good for unlimited admission to both Disneyland Park and Disney's California Adventure Park for three days. Visit www.citypass.com/southern-california
Anaheim White House
Orange County's "hidden treasure" has been praised by celebrities and critics alike. The "White House" serves Italian cuisine with a few sophisticated French touches and includes delicacies such as grilled Ostrich tornadoes and roast rack of lamb with caramelized garlic sauce. Proprietor Bruno Serato is charming as ever and will regale you with historical anecdotes. With over 200 wines to choose from, go for a romantic dinner then an evening on the town. This turn-of-the-century Victorian-style mansion with small, candle-lit rooms, is one of the prettiest places in the county.
Anaheim White House
887 South Anaheim Blvd. (714) 772-1381 www.anaheimwhitehouse.com
Newport's back bay is the setting for the posh and sophisticated Bayside Restaurant garnished with lush tropical island decor and vibrant art collections to go with a dramatic floor-to-ceiling curved wine tower made of steel and glass and a bar that buzzes with late night action. It could be because of the extensive wine selection or it could be the Austrian executive chef Paul Gstrein whose menu includes delicacies such as spicy crab fritters, seared foie gras and venison medallions. A large bresaola with marinated mozzarella and arugula starter could be a lighter dinner by itself. Warm apple fritters with ice cream make the perfect ending. Dine in or al fresco.
900 Bayside Dr.
Newport Beach (949) 721-1222 www.baysiderestaurant.com
JW's Steak House
Just steps from the convention center, JW's Steak House is a cozy yet spacious restaurant in the Anaheim Marriott, which serves up traditional steak and seafood dinners with even more traditional sides-huge baked potatoes and grilled vegetables. JW's specializes in aged beef but also has some wonderful crab cakes and other seafood. A baked-to-order souffle puts the perfect end to a casual yet slightly upscale dining experience.
JW's Steak House
700 West Convention Way
For some of the best sushi this side of Japan try Newport's Kitayama, an authentic Japanese restaurant that would feel at home in Tokyo. A traditional Japanese garden and Oriental decor set the mood. The cuisine ranges from sushi served at the large bar to Pan-Asian dishes served on platters, bowls, baskets, and boxes. Bigger parties would do well to start out with the Chef's Choice Assorted Sashimi, then move on to the family-friendly Shabu-Shabu course, before capping it off with some delicious green tea or red bean ice cream. Come for some excellent and reasonably priced Japanese food in a beautiful setting.
101 Bayview Pl.
Joachim Splichal's posh Pinot Provence is a pleasant French style bistro that captures the enchantment of Provencal dining with dishes that accentuate the flavor of the Mediterranean. Though it's located in the Westin Hotel at South Coast Plaza, it's not long before the relaxing and rustic interior evokes images of the country in the South of France. Locals and visitors return for the white truffle-braised boneless prime beef short ribs, rosemary rabbit and crispy pommes frites. As a hotel restaurant, Pinot also serves up morning fare good enough for it to count as a player with the power breakfast set. On top of everything, the room is just plain beautiful. What a place to enjoy dinner after a long day of meetings.
686 Anton Blvd.
Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen
Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen is two-story replica of a traditional French Quarter that includes New Orleans style dining rooms, a Creole Cafe, jazz club, and an outdoor "jazz balcony" with a view of Downtown Disney. The restaurant and cafe sport a large Cajun menu that includes traditional favorites like pasta jambalaya, jambalaya skewers, chipotle shrimp salad, and the scrumptuous ya-ya pot pie to go with moderate pricing. If you're rushed, take a quick order of jambalaya, gumbo or bread pudding to go from Jazz Kitchen Express. Don't expect the fare to compare with what you'd actually find in the Big Easy, but this is a better-than-average attempt at bringing a little spice into Disneyland and, particularly for lunch, a good place to find a break from the crowds.
Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen
Downtown Disney Promenade
1590 South Disneyland Dr.
Ritz Restaurant and Garden
The Ritz Restaurant and Garden greets patrons with an elegant black porte-cochere (large carriage entrance) and has a menu that might have been prepared by the famous French chef Escoffier. The Ritz is actually an updated tribute to the Gallic master and features a luxurious pavilion-style dining room with classical Georgian accents to go with the garden, gallery, piano room, and more. Try out the catchy "Carousel" assortment of appetizers, then expect to find entrees such as duck with red cabbage and filet of Lake Superior whitefish sauteed in toasted hazelnut crust. A varied selection of house specialties includes almond crusted halibut or Piero's special osso buco, ribs, sirloin, and seasonal dishes. Sink back in one of the comfy chairs or booths and sip a vintage from a very eclectic wine cellar during or after dinner for a fine compliment or closer.
Ritz Restaurant and Garden
880 Newport Center Dr.
Fresh seafood and steak along with nightly entertainments has made Taverna Opa the top destination in dining in Orlando. Experience a festive Greek spirit where everyday is a celebration of good food and wine. While dining here tantalize your taste buds with traditional Greek food with a twist. Try appetizers like Dolmades, and eta and Elives, or Hot Pikilia. As a main courses the wood fired meats are amazing, as are the traditional Greek dishes like Sousaka, or Pastitsio. Make sure to save room for dessert with some classic Galaktoboureko which is honey phyllo filled with custard. Enjoy a different approach that energizes and gives the diner a different dimension of entertainment.
9101 International Drive, Orlando
Most feel that Zov's Bistro & Bakery Café in Tustin is worth the drive from Anaheim for its indoor elegance and pleasant patio dining options. Flavorful vegetarian dishes with Middle Eastern and Mediterranean influences are served up nightly by chef-proprietor Zov Karamardian, including many of Zov's "Classic Entrees"--lamb shishlik marinated skewered lamb loin grilled over jasmine rice pilaf, and eggplant garbanzo stew with yogurt mint sauce, Soujouk Arrabbiata Penne with dried armenian beef sausage in a spicy peppery sauce of fresh herbs, shiitake mushrooms, tomatoes and goat cheese. Also superb are the morning pastries, sandwiches and salads presented at the bakery, not to mention an endless selection of deviant desserts.
17440 East 17th St.