Skip to Content

Beyond Disneyland: Outdoorsy Things To Do Around Anaheim

Anaheim’s reputation as a theme park haven belies its lesser-known treasures. Beyond the glamour of entertainment, dining, and shopping, this sunny Californian city harbors a wealth of natural wonders and outdoor adventures waiting to be unearthed. Nature enthusiasts, families seeking fun in the great outdoors, and solo travelers craving tranquility will find something that resonates with them in Anaheim. The city’s appeal extends far beyond Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park, hiding a multitude of experiences waiting to be explored.

Oak Canyon Nature Center

Located in Anaheim Hills, the Oak Canyon Nature Center sprawls across 58 acres of lush terrain, providing a serene escape from the urban bustle. The natural sanctuary comprises three interconnected canyons, boasting four miles of leisurely hiking trails that crisscross through one of the last remaining oak woodlands and coastal sage scrub areas in the region. A meandering stream flows year-round, supporting native wildlife such as deer and coyotes. As you stroll along the trails, which are all under a mile long, be sure to pause at the scenic lookout point and wind caves. The John J. Collier Interpretive Center, a small museum nestled within the nature center, offers a unique opportunity to interact with live animals and explore exhibits highlighting regional natural history, providing valuable insights into California’s ecosystem. While entry to the nature center is free, visitors are encouraged to make a voluntary $5 donation in support of programming. Parking is available on-site in a designated dirt lot, though spaces are limited; alternatively, street parking can be found along Walnut Canyon Road in designated areas.

Yorba Regional Park

Located in Anaheim, California, Yorba Regional Park sprawls across 140 acres of natural beauty, situated at the mouth of the Santa Ana Canyon. This day-use park offers a serene escape for outdoor enthusiasts and families seeking a picturesque setting for relaxation and recreation. The park’s tranquil lakes, interconnected by streams, provide an idyllic backdrop for activities like fishing, paddle boating, and model boat sailing.

With over 400 picnic tables, many under permanent shade structures, the park accommodates everything from intimate family gatherings to lively group events. Additionally, there are approximately 200 barbecues available for those who enjoy a cookout.

For outdoor enthusiasts looking to stay active around Anaheim, Yorba Regional Park offers an extensive network of bicycle trails that weave through the park and connect to the renowned Santa Ana River Trail, stretching an impressive 20 miles all the way to the Pacific Ocean.

The park is equipped with family-friendly amenities, including playgrounds and well-maintained restroom facilities. Visitors can also enjoy volleyball courts, horseshoe pits, a physical fitness course, and two ball diamonds for some friendly competition.

Please note that parking fees apply, starting at $3 per vehicle entry Monday to Friday and $5 on Saturdays and Sundays, with higher rates during holidays and special events.

Santa Ana River Trail

Currently under development, the Santa Ana River Trail will span an impressive 110 miles, connecting the untouched wilderness of San Bernardino County National Forest to the sun-kissed shores of Huntington Beach. This remarkable trail is designed to be highly accessible, featuring multiple entry points and ample parking areas along its route. Whether you’re a seasoned cyclist, a nature-loving hiker, or simply seeking a peaceful promenade, this trail caters to every interest and skill level.

One popular starting point for the journey is the Huntington Beach Trail, which whisks you away on a picturesque adventure through Orange County’s heartland. The trail’s diverse landscape is characterized by multiple parks, side trails, and nature centers, providing natural rest stops and offering tantalizing detours for discovery.

Catalina Island

image source

Escape the mainland’s hustle and bustle by taking a day trip to the enchanting Catalina Island, situated just off the coast of Southern California. This picturesque haven is a treasure trove of outdoor adventures and captivating sights, easily accessible from Anaheim via a scenic ferry ride from Long Beach. Once on the island, immerse yourself in the crystal-clear waters, exploring the vibrant marine life and kelp forests – some of the most stunning in the world. Take time to wander through the charming town of Avalon, where quaint boutiques and delectable eateries await discovery.

For a dose of adventure, hike along the island’s trails, which offer breathtaking vistas of the Pacific Ocean. Alternatively, join a guided tour to spot the island’s famous bison population, descendants of a 1920s movie shoot. If relaxation is more your speed, indulge in the serenity of the island’s beautiful beaches.

While a day trip provides a tantalizing taste of Catalina’s allure, consider lingering longer to fully absorb the island’s charm. With numerous excellent hotels to choose from, you can easily plan a weekend getaway and truly immerse yourself in this coastal gem.

Fullerton Arboretum

Located at 1900 Associated Rd in Fullerton, California, the Fullerton Arboretum is a unique botanical museum situated on the California State University, Fullerton campus. This verdant oasis presents an impressive array of plants from diverse regions and ecosystems worldwide. Visitors can stroll through meticulously curated themed gardens, each featuring a distinctive collection of flora, including woodlands, deserts, and lush landscapes showcasing rare fruits, vibrant orchids, conifers, roses, and many other species. Beyond its aesthetic appeal, the arboretum plays a vital role in conservation and research efforts, contributing significantly to our understanding of plant life and its crucial role in maintaining ecological balance. Parking for visitors is available at an hourly rate of $4 from Monday through Friday; weekends and university holidays are free of charge. The Fullerton Arboretum transcends being simply a garden, serving as a valuable educational resource and serene outdoor retreat for all who venture there.

Anaheim Hills Golf Course

Just beyond the iconic Disneyland Park, nestled in the picturesque landscape of Orange County, lies the Anaheim Hills Golf Course at 6501 Nohl Ranch Rd, Anaheim, CA 92807. This inviting haven offers an unparalleled outdoor retreat, mere minutes from the thrill of Disney magic.

As you meander onto the lush fairways, a tranquil tapestry of rolling hills and verdant landscapes unfolds, providing a serene setting for your golfing adventure. The course’s cleverly designed layout seamlessly caters to diverse skill levels, ensuring that both newcomers and seasoned pros can indulge in a round of golf with ease.

With its par-71 charm, this esteemed golf course has mastered the art of balancing fun, accessibility, and challenge, making it an irresistible destination for golf enthusiasts and casual players alike.

Huntington Beach

image source

Huntington Beach, affectionately known as Surf City USA, is an outdoor enthusiast’s haven and a nature lover’s paradise. The city boasts five distinct beaches, each offering a unique experience and endless opportunities for adventure.For those seeking action-packed activities, Huntington State Beach, Huntington City Beach, and Bolsa Chica State Beach offer prime spots for beach volleyball, yoga sessions, or simply soaking up the sun. Meanwhile, water enthusiasts can chart their own course with private boat excursions, luxury harbor cruises, or get their hearts racing with kayaking or stand-up paddle boarding.Surfers will revel in the consistent waves and expansive beaches at Huntington Beach Pier, a true paradise for those who ride the surf. And with this being one of California’s best winter beaches, many activities can be enjoyed year-round.Nature lovers, on the other hand, will find solace in the pristine Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, a haven for native birds and plant life. This wetland is a birdwatcher’s and nature photographer’s dream come true.As the sun dips below the horizon, gather around one of the over 500 beach bonfire pits scattered throughout the beaches and ignite a sense of community with friends and family. Roast s’mores and hot dogs while taking in the breathtaking views of the sparkling water.

Pearson Park

Located at 400 N Harbor Blvd, Anaheim, CA 92805, Pearson Park is a beloved destination that seamlessly blends entertainment and recreation for people of all ages. For nature lovers, active adventurers, and families seeking a fun-filled outing, the park’s diverse offerings make it an ideal choice. The picturesque surroundings feature winding trails surrounding serene ponds, perfect for leisurely bike rides or peaceful strolls. Meanwhile, sports enthusiasts can enjoy lit facilities for football, soccer, softball, volleyball, and tennis, while kids of all ages will have a blast at the playgrounds. To beat the heat on summer days, take a refreshing dip in the swimming pool, or gather with family and friends around the picnic tables for an unforgettable day in this wonderful park.

Newport Beach

image source

Experience the quintessential coastal charm of Newport Beach, just a stone’s throw away from Anaheim. This picturesque city offers an abundance of outdoor activities to get your adrenaline pumping and your senses tingling. Start your day with a thrilling whale-watching excursion, where you can marvel at migrating gray whales, dolphins, sea lions, and other marine life in their natural habitat.For a dose of nostalgia, head to the iconic Fun Zone, where carnival rides and arcade games provide a fun-filled experience for young kids and grown-ups alike. Enjoy snacking on treats from the concession stands, playing classic games, or simply basking in the sun-kissed atmosphere. The great thing about this outdoor area is that it’s an equal opportunity playground – everyone gets to have a blast!Of course, Newport Beach is also renowned for its world-class water sports. Catch some of the finest surf southern California has to offer, or explore the ocean on a kayak, stand-up paddleboard, or even try your hand at parasailing for an unparalleled aerial view of the coastline.For those seeking a more serene experience, head to nearby Crystal Cove State Park in Laguna Beach, where you can immerse yourself in nature’s splendor. Discover rugged coastlines, tide pools teeming with marine life, and hiking trails that weave through lush vegetation, providing a peaceful respite from the bustling beach scene.And for those who simply want to relax and soak up the sun, Newport Beach boasts miles of pristine sandy beaches, perfect for body surfing or just lounging in style.

Walnut Canyon

In Anaheim, there’s more to the outdoors than meets the eye. One often-overlooked gem is Walnut Canyon Reservoir, where a 1.7-mile trail weaves its way around the water’s edge. This tranquil escape from urban bustle invites exploration and immersion in nature.As you stroll along the winding path, keep your senses on high alert for the fascinating creatures that inhabit this unique ecosystem. Keep an eye out for Western Pond Turtles, Desert Cottontail rabbits, or even a Mule Deer making its way through the underbrush. The landscape is dotted with Prickly Pear Cactus and majestic Coast Live Oaks, offering a visually stunning backdrop to your adventure.For bird enthusiasts, Walnut Canyon is a true paradise. With binoculars at the ready, you might catch a glimpse of the vibrant Lesser Goldfinch, California Towhee, Anna’s Hummingbird, or Hooded Oriole flitting through the trees or perched on a branch.

Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park

In Orange County’s eastern corner, nestled near Anaheim, lies the 2,500-acre Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park. This natural haven, situated at 27901 Glenn Ranch Rd, Trabuco Canyon, CA 92679, is a must-visit for outdoor enthusiasts and families alike.

The park’s diverse landscape features riparian and oak woodland canyons, rolling hills of grassland, the rugged slopes of coastal sage scrub and chaparral, as well as the breathtaking Red Rock Canyon. Peaceful streams like Borrego, Serrano, and Aliso Creek weave through the terrain.

As you explore the 23 trails, totaling approximately 17 miles, keep an eye out for deer, coyotes, and a variety of bird species that call the park home. Remnants of the area’s cattle ranching heritage still linger, adding a unique layer to this adventure.

With its well-maintained trails and scenic views, Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park is ideal for hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians alike. A daily parking fee of $3 supports the park’s maintenance and preservation efforts.

Angel Stadium

For sports lovers seeking an outdoor adventure, Angel Stadium offers an unbeatable experience. With its expansive seating capacity of over 45,000, this open-air ballpark provides the perfect setting to watch a thrilling baseball game, indulge in tasty concessions, and soak up the sun while immersing yourself in American culture. As home to the Los Angeles Angels, this iconic venue is a must-visit for any sports enthusiast.

Beyond the excitement of the game itself, Angel Stadium also offers guided ‘behind-the-scenes’ tours that provide a unique glimpse into the world of professional baseball. Alternatively, spend some time exploring the surrounding area before or after the game to discover an array of restaurants, breweries (including the renowned Golden Road), and bars. These local hotspots offer the perfect opportunity to extend your Angel Stadium experience, making it an unforgettable day out.

Long Beach

Experience the great outdoors in Long Beach by taking a short drive from your current location. Begin your day with a unique adventure on the Naples Canals using a Duffy boat – an easy-to-navigate, electric vessel perfect for couples or groups of friends. Afterward, take a leisurely stroll along Shoreline Village to admire stunning views of the Queen Mary ocean liner, the Aquarium of the Pacific, and the Lions Lighthouse.

Dog lovers will rejoice at Rosie’s Dog Beach, one of the few dog-friendly beaches in the area where your furry companions can freely run and play in the sand and surf. For thrill-seekers, rent a bike, kayak, or paddleboard for some exercise. Alternatively, visit the Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden or El Dorado Nature Center to immerse yourself in beautiful scenery and serenity.

Weather in Anaheim

Anaheim’s Mediterranean climate is marked by distinct seasonal patterns, featuring mild and wet winters that give way to hot and dry summers. This unique climate profile creates an ideal setting for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy the city’s natural attractions throughout the year. Here’s a more detailed look at what you can expect from Anaheim’s weather:

Spring (March to May):

As the seasons transition, Anaheim transforms into a charming destination in the spring. The mild temperatures, ranging from mid-60s to low 70s degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 24 degrees Celsius), create an ideal atmosphere for outdoor enthusiasts. While nights can still be crisp, with temperatures dipping into the 50s degrees Fahrenheit (10 to 15 degrees Celsius), the pleasant weather makes it perfect for exploring the city’s many parks and attractions. Furthermore, spring brings minimal rainfall, ensuring a dry and enjoyable visit.

Summer (June to August):

Anaheim’s summers are characterized by scorching heat and arid conditions. Daytime temperatures frequently climb into the 80s and 90s Fahrenheit (27 to 35 degrees Celsius), with occasional spikes reaching triple digits. In contrast, warm and comfortable nights prevail, ranging from the mid-60s to low 70s Fahrenheit (15 to 20 degrees Celsius). As for precipitation, summer months are notable for their scarcity of rainfall.

Fall (September to November):

As the seasons transition, Anaheim transforms into a haven for outdoor enthusiasts during the fall season. As daytime highs settle between the mid-70s and low 80s Fahrenheit (24 to 29 degrees Celsius), the warmth is tempered by cooler evenings that dip into the 50s and 60s Fahrenheit (10 to 20 degrees Celsius). A silver lining of this change in climate is the scarcity of rainfall, ensuring a dry and pleasant experience for those seeking to enjoy the great outdoors.

Winter (December to February):

Anaheim’s winters are marked by mild temperatures, with daytime highs typically ranging from 60°F to 20°C and cooler evenings averaging 40s to 50s°F or 4 to 15°C. While this season sees more rainfall than other times of the year, it’s still a relatively dry period compared to many other regions. It’s rare for Anaheim to experience snowfall. The city’s weather is defined by its pleasantness and moderate temperature fluctuations throughout the year, making it an attractive destination for outdoor enthusiasts and tourists alike.

Tips for Getting To and Around Anaheim

When traveling to Anaheim, consider flying into John Wayne Airport (SNA) or Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). From there, utilize shuttle services or rent cars if you plan to explore beyond the city’s boundaries. Within Anaheim, the Anaheim Resort Transit (ART) shuttle provides convenient access to major attractions, while walking is a great option for areas like Disneyland Resort and downtown. For those who prefer a more eco-friendly approach, bike lanes are available, and public buses operated by the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) offer affordable transportation options. Additionally, ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft operate within the city, and the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center (ARTIC) train station provides further travel flexibility.

Where to Stay in Anaheim

The Anaheim Hotel

Immersed in nostalgia, this mid-range hotel offers cozy retreats with a retro flair. Its prime location allows for effortless strolls to the Disneyland Resort and the Anaheim Convention Center, making it an ideal choice for visitors seeking convenience.Beyond its charming atmosphere, the hotel boasts a range of amenities, including a sun-kissed heated pool and a restaurant serving delectable dishes. Furthermore, the property offers diverse room options catering to varying needs, ensuring a comfortable stay for all.

JW Marriott, Anaheim Hotel

For a truly indulgent getaway, consider the JW Marriott in Anaheim, which boasts lavish amenities and an unparalleled atmosphere. Its opulent rooms, rooftop pool with breathtaking vistas, and gourmet dining options make for an unforgettable experience. While it may be at the higher end of the price range, this luxurious retreat delivers exceptional service and effortless access to the city’s top draws.

Anaheim Desert Inn & Suites

For those on a budget, this hotel provides an affordable retreat without sacrificing comfort. Situated in the heart of the city, it’s the perfect blend of convenience and value.

Amazing Things To Do in Anaheim Beyond Disneyland

Beyond its iconic theme parks, Anaheim offers a surprising array of opportunities for nature lovers and thrill-seekers alike. The city’s natural beauty is showcased in various ways, from the serene landscapes of Oak Canyon Nature Center and Fullerton Arboretum to the stunning coastlines of Huntington Beach and Newport Beach. If you’re seeking to elevate your Anaheim experience beyond the main attractions, these outdoor destinations serve as a portal to a lesser-known side of this vibrant city, where adventure and tranquility await.