Los Angeles Things to Do

Visiting Anaheim is worthwhile, but it can be tricky

disneyworldAs someone who grew up only a few miles from Disneyland, it’s not always easy to put myself in the shoes of someone who’s coming to visit the place for the very first time. I probably visited the park about 20 times over about 10 years, so it sometimes feels like my backyard. Coming to Los Angeles to visit Disneyland is a major highlight for hundreds of thousands of people each year, but at the same time there are some pitfalls to be aware of, which I’ll cover just below.

Is Disneyland worthwhile?

Absolutely it is. After traveling around the world I can honestly say that very few things match Disneyland (or Disney World) for sheer excitement and novelty. But the deeper question is whether you should plan your entire trip around that visit, and I think the answer is no.

Getting to Anaheim

If you are coming from another country and you’ve gotten some international air tickets that get you to LAX, then you’ll only be about 40 kilometers from the park once you land.

If are coming domestically then you have several more airports to consider when looking for cheap flights to LA. Still, the best deals tend to be into LAX, so next you are probably wondering how to get from Los Angeles to Anaheim. We’ve covered that subject in the article linked here, but the bottom line is that renting a car is probably your best bet, though there are various buses and other possibilities.

Staying near Disneyland

This is where things can get tricky. There are several large and quite luxurious hotels located on the grounds of the park itself, so if you can afford it you might look into the hotels at Disneyland. But the city of Anaheim is quite large, and there are plenty of cheap places located within a few miles of the park. Generally speaking, hotels in Anaheim are fairly cheap compared to the ones that are on the grounds, but there are some run-down places mixed in so pay attention to the ratings for a place you want to book.

Should you really stay in Anaheim?

If you and your family are flying to Los Angeles and you plan on spending at least two days in the various Disney parks in Anaheim, then staying in the city isn’t a bad idea. But if you only want to spend one day in Disneyland then you really should think about staying elsewhere. There are great hotels near the beaches in Newport or Huntington, and both of those are in Orange County and close by. There are also plenty of great hotels in other parts of Los Angeles. The point is, the rest of Anaheim is a bit cheesy and parts of it are falling apart. If you want to stay near great restaurants and other attractions, choose somewhere other than Anaheim.

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Fall Travel Deals in San Diego

sandiegoA quick jaunt from Los Angeles and a city full of fun for all ages, San Diego is an ideal U.S. city to explore. I have always loved San Diego. Lots of sunshine, tattooed surfer boys, bikes along the boardwalks and great bars—and while the San Diego I love now is not the San Diego I loved as a kid (the zoo, Seaworld, the sea lions, the beach) it is certainly a city that can please all different kinds of demographics of travelers—from wild 20 somethings to families. And, with plenty of sunshine and the summer crowds gone, fall is actually an ideal time to spend some time in San Diego.

Bike along the beach at Mission Bay, hit the bars in Pacific Beach, catch one of the great ethnic heritage festivals in September or October, or check out some of the restaurants in the Gaslamp Quarter. For those who are mourning the end of summer—blue skies and bikini weather lasts well through the autumn months in San Diego, making it an ideal place for a little getaway.

Plus, with strong completion into San Diego Airport between Virgin America, United, Southwest and Alaska Airlines it usually isn’t too difficult to find affordable flights to San Diego. I recently wrote about all of the great fall travel deals to San Diego—and from plenty of great hotel deals and cheap flights it may be hard to resist an autumn getaway to the Southern California city.

For those who want nice accommodations for not a whole lot of money, the cheap hotels in San Diego tend to be centered about 3 miles from downtown in the Mission Bay beach area. Here you can find hotels that are not only super close to the beach, but are also just a short cab ride or drive downtown and walking distance to Pacific Beach. The Best Western at Mission Bay has a three-night-for-the-price of-two offer for stays through December 31.

Another hotel in Mission Bay offering up discounted rooms is the Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa, which is actually the property where my cousin got married just a few years ago. I can attest that this hotel is absolutely beautiful and with rooms now being offered $129/night (the same rooms can go for as much as $239/night). Jen Leo from the Los Angeles Times tested some of these rates and found that while it was difficult to find the discounted rates on the hotel’s web site, she found the $129 San Diego waterfront resort and spa deal easily for both mid-week stays and weekends on Hot Wire’s Travel Ticker web site.

Another way to save money on a trip to San Diego is to book your hotel and airfare as a package. With hotels and airlines bundling your trip for you, you’ll not only save time, but you could also potentially save money by booking one of the many San Diego vacation packages.

Deals on Cruising From San Diego

San Diego is also a launching point for many cruises heading south to Mexico to warmer waters and temperatures this time of year. While cruise line executives have been making plenty of statements on how well they are faring in the recession, it’s clear from all the crazy sales on cruises that some cruise lines are frantically slashing prices to fill up ships.

If you are still hoping to get away for the upcoming holiday weekend, there are plenty of great deals to be had on last-minute cruises departing from San Diego.

If you’ve got a little more time on your hands and want to take more than a 3-7 day cruise, you can sail for 14 days from San Diego to Miami on board the Celebrity Constellation, visiting Cabo San Lucas, Acapulco, Huatulco, Putarenas, Cristobal and Cartagena. The cruise departs December 6, and will offer passengers the opportunity to check out fabulous beaches on both the Pacific and Caribbean, as well as make stops in two continents and several countries for $899.

If you would rather opt for a shorter, more family-orientated cruise, Disney cruises also depart from the Port at San Diego. Plus, not only can you score some deals on Disney cruises (and all cruises fdor that matter) right now, but San Diego is the perfect city to explore with the kids before the ship ever leaves port. MSNBC recently ranked San Diego as one of America’s 10 Most Kid-Friendly Cities. With the fabulous San Diego zoo, Sea World, and plenty of fun activities to enjoy outside, San Diego is an ideal place to vacation with the kiddos.

If San Diego is not your thing, check out more travel deals from Los Angeles.

photo by Nick Chill

Featured Articles Los Angeles Transportation

Getting from Los Angeles to Anaheim

matterhornAnaheim is a suburban city located 25 miles from Los Angeles in the Orange County of California. This city is known for its theme parks, sports team and a convention center. The main attractions of the city include Disneyland resort, Adventure City Anaheim Garden walk, Angel stadium and The Grove of Anaheim. Anaheim Convention Center here is also the largest convention center on the American west coast. Anaheim is also known for its sports teams namely Anaheim Ducks in the NHL and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the MLB. Its proximity to Los Angeles attracts several tourist here. If you plan a travel from LA to Anaheim there are a lot of travel options that are available.

But in spite of all these choices, most people are probably interested in going from somewhere in Los Angeles to Disneyland, so those options are spelled out below.

By Car

The traveling distance from Los Angeles is approximately around 26 miles from Downtown Los Angeles to Anaheim, a bit over 30 miles starting from Hollywood, and around 40 miles if you start from the Santa Monica/Venice area. Even coming from one of the closer areas, it is at least a 30-minute drive by car from Los Angeles and at times it might take up to a hour and a half or two hours, depending upon the traffic. There is also a option of renting cars from Los Angeles if required. Since cars are so dominant in this area, this is definitely the most popular way to do it, but you have other options.

By Bus

One could take LUXBUS from Los Angeles. There are two daily departures from Los Angeles to Anaheim. One being at 7.30 in the morning which could be the most comfortable option. There is also another bus service available at 3:30 in the evening. In both the cases the travel takes around 1 hour approximately. The ticket prices are around $32 for one way and $52 for a round trip. Tickets can be reserved in advance.

There are LuxBus tourist packages that are available. One could say this is a slightly expensive option to get to Anaheim. But the buses are very comfortable to travel. It is also worth its price because the seats are really good and it’s a luxury bus. There are also Greyhound buses that run between Los Angeles and Anaheim. There are around 7 buses daily available. The first bus is at 5.45 in the morning and last at around 6 in the evening. The travel by Greyhound takes around a hour. Buses are available every 2 hours.Tickets can be around $8 to $15 depending on the bus you take. This Greyhound buses are much more economical when compared to the LUXBUS which is really expensive. Anaheim is also well served by two public transport systems Metro and OCTA, but using these local services could take many hours each way if you are going a longer distance.

By Airport Shuttle

There is also a option to take airport shuttle from Los Angeles airport. At around $13 this is a much cheaper option compared to the Luxbus. The bus is know as the Disneyland Resort Express could be a very good option whether you travel alone or as a group. This service, operated by the Grayline Bus Company, is also a convenient and reliable mode of travel. At around $13 per head this could be a cheaper and better option than the LuxBus. There are also Super shuttles that are available from Los Angeles International Airport to Anaheim.These shuttles need not be booked in advance. There are Super shuttles around every 15 minutes and the cost is around $15-$20.

By Train

Finally, if you’re going by train there are two rail systems namely Amtrak and Metrolink available in Anaheim. One could take a Amtrak train from Los Angeles. This is more flexible because there are a lot of trains that are available. The journey by train is also very quick at 39 minutes. There are around 10 trains daily and we can travel in the time that suits us the most. The tickets are also very easy to get. The first train is around 6:00am and trains are available all around the day. The trains depart from the station almost every hour. The last train is around 7:15 in the night. The cost of the ticket is usually around $12. This could be the cheapest option to get to Anaheim from Los Angeles.

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guitar_blues_electric_263163_l.jpgAnaheim is located in Orange County, 28 miles southeast of Los Angeles and is best known for being the home of Disneyland, several sports teams and the Anaheim Convention Center.


Disneyland is located in Anaheim, just off Interstate 5 in the heart of Orange County. Disneyland brings millions of visitors to Anaheim each year and is a big part of the reason that Los Angeles is such a popular tourist destination. Disneyland, however, is largely self-contained. Disneyland offers deals on park admission and hotels so that it makes the most sense for visitors to spend as much time as possible in the park or their hotel. Some visitors to Disneyland never see the rest of the city.


Anaheim is California’s 10th largest city and the city hosts many of Orange County’s sports teams. Just down the street from Disneyland, the Anaheim Pond is home to the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim play their games next door at Angel Stadium.

Anaheim’s sports teams have enjoyed incredible success over the last few years, the Ducks winning the Stanley Cup and the Angels winning in the World Series in 2002.


No, that’s not a typo and no, we’re not going to make snarky comments. OK, there might be a few, but we thought it worth mentioning that Anaheim is the home of that sad, angsty pop sound that is so popular now on the radio. Blame Anaheim for the rising popularity of emo-music and sad-punk that pubescent teens sink into as they grow up. Social Distortion, No Doubt, and many other bands with their own flavor of affected rock come from Anaheim.