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Best Anaheim Nightlife

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Anaheim’s best nightlife may not exactly be a clubbing mecca, but the family-friendly city does offer some fun spots in which to relax and unwind after a crowd-filled day at one of the parks. Want to get that pesky “It’s a Small World” song out of your head? Visit one of several live-music venues to see big-name or local talent. Or take the edge off by sipping varietals at a local wine bar. Your carriage might not turn into a pumpkin at midnight, but chances are if you’re still out when the clock strikes 12, you’ll be one of the few.

Heat Ultra Lounge

Neighborhood: Disney Resorts District

This O.C. nightspot might be trying to bring a bit of Vegas to tame Anaheim with its disco balls, blue lights, velvet ropes, DJs and bottle service, but there’s only so much you can do in this proximity to the Happiest Place on Earth. Located in the Anaheim GardenWalk, the over 10,000-square-foot club features a cool lounge area in which to sip cocktails and mingle, two dance floors, indoor and outdoor smoking lounges and plenty of VIP spaces to make you feel important (or not-so-important, if you can’t gain access). The club attracts a young crowd who seem still pretty excited about being old enough to drink, but you will find a few tourists thrown in due to its location near Disneyland and the convention center.

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Heat Ultra Lounge  

Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen

Neighborhood: Disney Resorts District

While this two-story Disneyfied version of a New Orleans jazz club in Downtown Disney is primarily a Cajun restaurant (created by respected Big Easy restaurateur Ralph Brennan), it also serves up live jazz nightly at 6:30 or 7PM. Reserve a seat in the Flambeaux Room on weekends, where you’ll find a four-piece jazz band. Even on weeknights, when there’s just a piano player in the place, the ambiance and the music combine to create a surprisingly authentic NOLA experience. Gumbo and jambalaya aren’t as spicy as you’d hope, but this place is really all about the music.

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Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen  

Chain Reaction

Neighborhood: Downtown Anaheim

When your teens want a night away from you, consider dropping them off at this live music club that’s open to all ages. Up-and-coming bands, as well as a fair share of musical acts that never should have ventured out of the garage, perform punk, rock and ska at this kinda grungy nightspot. With no liquor served, there’s only so much trouble your kids can get into. And, when curfew arrives, you won’t be the only parent waiting to pick them up in the parking lot.

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Chain Reaction  

Pop the Cork Wine Bar

Neighborhood: Disney Resorts District

Wine lovers can sample 40 to 50 wines by the glass, or a flight, at this relaxed wine bar located in the Anaheim GardenWalk. Owner Ron Kring and his wife Lucille are often on hand to help you select a vintage from more than 150 wines on the list. If you need a little sustenance with your wine, there are small-plate offerings like paninis, cheese and olives and chocolate truffles. On weekends, there’s live entertainment indoors, or head outside to enjoy your wine on the patio—if you don’t mind a few smokers puffing stogies while they drink.

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Pop the Cork Wine Bar  

House of Blues

Neighborhood: Disney Resorts District

Located in Downtown Disney, this outlet of Dan Aykroyd’s famous music venue might not attract the big-name performers you’ll find at its Sunset Strip locale in L.A., but some great bands (as well as local up-and-comers) make their way to this intimate stage with an impressive sound system. Rumor has it a box of mud from the Mississippi Delta resides under the stage for good luck. The folk-art-filled club also features a mediocre Cajun restaurant for before-the-show dining. Diners, however, are still required to purchase tickets for the show. Gospel brunch, with live gospel music and a buffet meal, is a popular draw here. While many find the show entertaining, it’s probably something you’ll only need to do once in your life.

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