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Best Things To Do in Anaheim

AOL PICK from our Editors

Let’s face it: 99.9 percent of Anaheim visitors are here to visit Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure. That said, the first thing to do when planning your Anaheim stay is figure out how many days you want to spend at each park, and the answer will most likely depend on whether or not you have young kids in tow. Indeed, the under-11-year-old set can spend days in the Magic Kingdom. Thrill park seekers may want to add Knott’s Berry Farm to the mix, and those with really young tykes can consider an Adventure City visit. With two major sporting venues in the ‘hood, Anaheim visitors can take a break from the theme parks and head out to an Angels baseball or Anaheim Ducks hockey game. And, as a true tourist destination, Anaheim offers plenty of shopping options.

Grove of Anaheim

Neighborhood: Platinum Triangle

Managed by Nederlander Concerts, the Grove of Anaheim theater has played host to such touring Broadway productions as “Stomp” and “Rent,” family events like “Sesame Street Live,” and concerts by such performers as Seal, Jill Scott and Cyndi Lauper. With seating for only 5,000 guests, this performing arts and concert venue is an intimate place to catch a show (depending on your idea of intimate). The venue’s flexible seating configuration can be reconfigured for dinner theater. Dinner main dishes include the basics, like chicken, pasta, beef or seafood, and run $17 to $35 per person, plus you’ll need to arrive two hours before the performance is scheduled to start, to make time for dining.

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Adventure City

Neighborhood: Anaheim Adjacent

Still craving theme park action after a visit to Disneyland, Disney’s California Adventure and Knott’s Berry Farm? This little and low-key amusement park offers 17 rides, shows and attractions, geared mostly for the 5-and-under set. There are two roller coasters, a rock climbing wall for kids ages 4 and up and a Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends area filled with trains, tracks and lots of room for wee ones to play with the popular locomotive. A petting zoo and a children’s theater with puppet shows and sing-alongs round out the kid-friendly attractions.

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The Rinks Anaheim Ice

Neighborhood: Downtown Anaheim

Ice-skating might not seem like a SoCal pastime, but for those in the mood to lace on skates and glide across a frozen surface, this is the place. The official training center for the Anaheim Ducks hockey team, this indoor skating facility offers NHL-size and Olympic-size rinks. Skaters can circle around the rink, take lessons, sign up for hockey clinics, learn to curl, or rock out during Weekend Rock-N-Skate sessions, when music videos accompany open skating. Anaheim Ducks fans may even be able to catch a glimpse of their favorite players, heading in to work it out on the ice.

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Disney's California Adventure

Neighborhood: Disney Resorts District

Opened in 2001, this 55-acre theme park was created to pay tribute to the State—and state of mind—of California. Five areas, including Sunshine Plaza, Hollywood Pictures Backlot, The Golden State, A Bug’s Land and Paradise Pier, are each meant to represent aspects of the state, its culture, landmarks and history. Thrill rides like California Screamin’ roller coaster and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror appeal to older kids, while A Bug’s Land offers rides and shows for younger visitors. Everyone, however, should experience Soarin’ Over California, a simulated hang-glider ride over the Golden State that seems so real, you can even detect the fragrance of orange blossoms as you fly over groves. The park is set to open several new rides in 2011, including an attraction based on “The Little Mermaid.” In the evening, the park’s “World of Color” show features some pretty spectacular effects using light and water.

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Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament

Neighborhood: Anaheim Adjacent
Jousting knights, fair maidens and regal horseplay in a faux castle are all a part of the Medieval Times experience, where 1,000 guests are transported from suburban Orange County to the Middle Ages during a two-hour show and dinner. As costumed performers duel it out in the center arena, guests dine on a four-course meal that includes roasted chicken, spare ribs, dessert and two rounds of non-alcoholic drinks. (Vegetarian meals are available, too.) And, you can forget about silverware at this 11th-century feast.

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Honda Center

Neighborhood: Platinum Triangle

Formerly known as Arrowhead Pond, this modern entertainment and sports stadium is the home of the Anaheim Ducks NHL team. While the indoor facility seats up to 18,900, fans with connections may be lucky enough to score a spot in one of 83 private suites on the venue’s Private Club level. When there’s no ice on the floor, the Honda Center serves as one of Orange County’s largest performance venues, attracting concerts by major stars like Elton John and Madonna, and events like the Harlem Globetrotters and Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus. The Honda Center Box Office and Will Call are located on the east side of the building.

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Angel Stadium of Anaheim

Neighborhood: Platinum Triangle

Home of the American League’s The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, this 45,050-seat stadium, known as “The Big A,” is the fourth-oldest stadium in Major League Baseball. Last renovated in 1998, the stadium recently hosted the 2010 MLB All-Star Game. If you can’t catch a game, consider taking the Angel Stadium tour. For just $3 for adults, $2 for kids, you’ll get an hour-and-15-minute tour of the stadium, including a visit to the Press Box, Press Conference Room, Clubhouse and Dugout. When there’s no game on the schedule, the stadium serves as a popular concert venue, and has hosted such big-name performers as U2, Madonna and the Rolling Stones.

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Disneyland Park

Neighborhood: Disney Resorts District

When Walt Disney threw open the doors to the Magic Kingdom in 1955, it was set on 160 acres surrounded by orange and walnut groves. His dream was to create a place where families could have fun together, which he more than achieved. Disneyland has maintained its squeaky-clean image over the years, and remains the premier Southern California attraction. Between the eight themed “lands” and approximately 60 rides and attractions, it’s easy to spend days here. Stroll down Main Street USA, ride on Space Mountain, cruise Adventureland’s faux jungles, or spin in teacups in Fantasyland, and you haven’t hit even the tip of the Disneyland iceberg. Thanks to FASTPASS, you can check in for popular rides early and avoid the lines. Finish your day with fireworks above Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, and then head home to dream of Mickey, Minnie and Donald.

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Muzeo

Neighborhood: Downtown Anaheim

Opened in 2007, the Muzeo (which means museum in Esperanto) doesn’t offer your typical museum fare. Recent exhibits have explored the origin of the blues in the Mississippi Delta and an in-depth look at rare and unusual frogs. Set in the former Carnegie Library (a 1908 neoclassical building with an area-appropriate red-tile roof), the museum is pretty small, so it doesn’t take long to tour the exhibits. However, you can extend the Muzeo experience by staying for classes, lectures and special events that relate to each show. The Muzeo features three traveling exhibitions a year, and techies will appreciate the museum’s self-guided audio podcasts, Wi-Fi access and the interactive components to each exhibit.

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Pirate’s Dinner Adventure

Neighborhood: Anaheim Adjacent

If Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean didn’t fulfill your swashbuckling quotient, make a reservation at the Pirate’s Dinner Adventure. You’ll board one of six ships surrounding an 18th-Century Spanish galleon, replete with 40-foot masts, anchored in an indoor 250,000-gallon lagoon. Helmed by the evil Captain Sebastian the Black, the ship serves as an interactive stage, where over 150 guests have a chance to join the pirates in their adventure. A hearty dinner includes soup or salad, chicken or barbecued pork loin, plus warm apple cobbler. If the pirate’s life isn’t really for you, pints of beer and goblets of wine may help you get in the spirit.

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Knott’s Berry Farm

Neighborhood: Anaheim Adjacent

Just 10 miles northeast of Disneyland, this sprawling theme park was once a boysenberry farm belonging to the Knott family. Along with the fresh berries and jams, Mrs. Knott began serving hearty chicken suppers in her old farmhouse kitchen, which became so popular the family built a ghost town to entertain diners while they waited. Over the years, the family added to the attractions, until it morphed into a full-on theme park. While much of its original old West charm remains, today Knott’s Berry Farm lures thrill-seeking teenagers in search of such high-speed, stomach-wrenching rides as GhostRider, Silver Bullet and Xcelerator, which give Six Flags Magic Mountain’s coasters a run from their money. For young kids and those who can’t handle a few G-forces pummeling their bodies, there’s Camp Snoopy. In the fall, the park transforms into Knott’s Scary Farm, where the spirit of Halloween takes over the park with costumed workers, themed rides and hokey fright-filled fun. Next to the park, Knott’s Berry Farm Soak City OC offers a seasonal, often-crowded water park that requires a separate admission fee.

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