Last October, we set off to on our Ultimate USA Adventure to visit all of our favourite places in America. Our first stop was Anaheim with the main purpose of visiting Disneyland. Being a family of Disney Addicts, we purchased the ten-day Park Hopper which is only available through travel agents in Australia, for Australian residents. We knew, of course, that we wouldn’t spend the full ten days at the theme parks, but given it was the same price as a 3-day park hopper, it allowed us the flexibility to move freely during our stay. Knowing we had a 10-day pass enabled us to take it all in at our own pace, we could just head on over to Disneyland at night for a few hours whenever we wanted to. One thing that may surprise you about Anaheim, is that it’s full of other Aussie families, so it was definitely lots of fun making friends and hearing about their planned itineraries for the duration of their stays. We chose our travel dates to purposefully coincide with both Halloween and Chrismas festivities so we could fully experience the parades, the lights and the grandest celebrations! We decided to forego Mickey’s Halloween party and take the kids trick or treating, American style, down in Huntington Beach instead.
We’re a family of 6, so need at least two rooms in all hotels, which can quickly become costly. Given, that on this particular adventure, we would be out exploring and experiencing most days, we literally just needed somewhere comfortable to sleep. I ended up booking with Eden Roc Inn which was about a 10-minute walk to Disneyland, and it was only $130 AUD per night! We had previously stayed at Park Vue Inn which was extra close to Disneyland, but also triple the price, so we went with the more budget-friendly option this time around. The Eden Roc Inn was clean, basic and perfect for our family. It didn’t include breakfast, which can actually be such a fantastic bonus when staying at hotels, as it saves a lot of money, but we worked around this by making sure the kids had cereal and toast before we left on our daily adventures.
We headed straight to Target and Walmart to stock up on snacks and some quick, easy to prepare meals that we could have at the hotel, so we weren’t paying to eat out for every meal. I purchased a cheap little sandwich press and toaster to make easy lunches and breakfasts whenever we needed them. I also got disposable spoons, cups and plates, so it was easy to throw it all away at the end of our stay. Look out for my blog post soon for a more comprehensive list of food items purchased, to keep hotel life as inexpensive and easy as possible when travelling.
Some highly recommended eateries in Anaheim!:
- Cheesecake Factory – Well priced restaurant that has fantastic meals for families. It can get a little busy, so I would advise arriving early or to make a reservation.
- IHOP – this is an American chain diner/restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.
- Anaheim Garden Walk – Is an outdoor entertainment and chain of shopping centres with lots of good restaurants to choose from.
- Coco’s Restaurant and Bakery – Coco’s was right across the road from our hotel in Anaheim, so we ate there quite a few times, and we always had lovely food and excellent service.
- Denny’s – Denny’s is an American style diner/restaurant that is well priced for families. They have a great kids menu and the best shakes!
- Rainforest Cafe – I wouldn’t visit the Downtown Disney location because it’s just so SUPER busy! BUT it is an incredible restaurant to take the kids. It has a complete jungle/rainforest theme and is visually stunning inside. A storm happens inside the restaurant every half hour and suddenly all of the animals and birds come to life in a magical cacophony of noise and movement. My kids absolutely loved this thrilling place!
THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW
Laundry – Our hotel didn’t have laundry facilities, so I used the local laundry mat in Anaheim. Each large load was around $2.50USd per wash. I initially bought my own washing liquid pouches from Target which were convenient as you could just pop them in the machine, so there was no need to measure or carry around bulky containers. As the holiday went on, I decided it was more time and cost efficient to use the “fluff and fold” service most laundrymats provided, where you drop off your clothes and pick them up a few hours later all washed and folded. We had a lot of clothes and each time it was around $30-$40 for a huge striped bag worth of clothing. We never had a missing item and the clothes were always laundered perfectly. I’d highly recommend taking one of those big $2 plastic stripe bags you get from the cheap shop to put your laundry in and transport it between the hotel and the laundry mat. It was truly one of the best things we took along on our holiday.
Safety – Anaheim is safe around the Disney area, but as you slowly venture out of the main area, you’ll see a noticeable change in your surroundings. We felt safe to walk the streets around Disney at night and if we needed to go any further we would always drive. There are a lot of homeless people in America (much more than I’ve ever seen in Australia), so be prepared to see a lot of people begging and sleeping on the streets.
Transport – We have always hired a car for our holidays in America. On our first trip we collected a car from Anaheim, so had to go through the process of transfers, lugging a car seat, to get to our hotel. The second time around, we realised it would be much easier to just collect the hire car directly from LAX airport. I also purchased a GPS for $50 from Target, as it’s around $50 per week to hire one!
Car Seats – We hired a car from LAX airport so we didn’t have to organise transfers to our first hotel. I took some old booster cushions just to use until I could stop at target and get the kids (4 and 6) a suitable car seat. I picked up a booster seat for $40 and a car seat for $50 which worked out a lot cheaper than hiring the car seat at $12 per day.You could take your own but I was told by our travel insurance we wouldn’t be covered unless we had a USA approved car seat.
Mobile Phone – As mentioned in my previous USA adventure post, I purchased an unlimited sim card online in Australia before leaving. It was great, and I would recommend it to everyone travelling who wants and needs internet access and use of their phone abroad. You could also use your mobile phone as a GPS which is what we would do next time.
DAY 1 – We arrived at LAX in the early morning, but by the time we picked up the hire car and got to Anaheim to check in, it was around lunchtime. We hardly slept on the 12-hour flight, but we were all feeling surprisingly good, so decided to head to IHOP and have some lunch, then onto Target to grab supplies. We headed over to Disney to exchange our 10-day passes and had a look around California Adventure Park until closing time.
Day 2 – Hello Jetlag! We had a slow day checking out the parks and had a very early night! We decided to go to Dennys for dinner, which was only a few minutes walk from our hotel.
Day 3 – We were feeling much better and now adjusting to the new time zone relatively well, so spent the day over at the Disney parks again and checked out Anaheim Garden Walk. Finally topping off an excellent and full day with dinner at the Cheesecake Factory, my favourite!
Day 4 – We headed down to Knotts Berry Farm and I was pleasantly surprised at just how much we all enjoyed it! You can read about our time at Knotts HERE.
DAY 5 – We took some time out from Disneyland and headed to Santa Monica and Venice Beach to do some serious exploring. Unfortunately, we did the unthinkable and walked from Santa Monica down to Venice beach! This walk takes OVER an hour!! Obviously way too much time for the little kids, so next time we’ve promised to hire a bike and ride down the stretch of the beach instead! Venice Beach is a bit of a shady spot, but I still think it’s worth the visit, just to experience the unique culture it provides.
DAY 6 – We spent the Day at Disneyland switching between both parks and spending some time in downtown Disney. We had pre-booked our Disney Dining at Goofey’ Kitchen for dinner and it was truly worth every cent.
DAY 7 – We headed to the Citadel outlets to shop up a storm. There were so many bargains to be had here! I think it ended up being where we purchased the bulk of what we ended up lugging home.
DAY 8 – It was Halloween and we decided to spend the morning at Disneyland and then drive to Huntington Beach to trick or treat. We all really wanted to experience walking the streets and collecting candy and Huntington Beach seemed the perfect spot for it. We managed to find a street where all the houses were spookily decorated and the streets were lined with families trick or treating. There was also a terrific Halloween parade on that we managed to catch the end of.
DAY 9 – We headed over to Disneyland to see all of the Chrismas decorations they put up the very day after Halloween is done. It really is the best time to go to Disneyland as you get to see the park decorated for two visually incredible holiday experiences.
DAY 10 – We packed up early to head to our next destination, San Diego! We decided to take the scenic route, which was a little longer, but we wanted to drive along the coastline all the way down.
To follow our USA adventure stop, San Diego click HERE! To see all our USA adventures click HERE!
Now, I’m happy to answer any questions you may have on travelling America. It’s easier for me to respond to my social media posts, but feel free to email or message me privately too!