Beyond Disneyland: Outdoorsy Things to Do Around Anaheim

Anaheim, located near Los Angeles, is world-renowned for its thrilling theme parks, but there’s a lesser-known side to this sunny California city waiting to be explored. Beyond the world of theme parks, entertainment, dining, and shopping, Anaheim has a wealth of natural treasures and outdoor adventures waiting to be discovered. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a family looking for fun outdoor activities, or a solo traveler seeking tranquility, Anaheim has something for everyone.

Rescue tower at huntington beach during sunset.

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There is more to Anaheim beyond Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park. Here are the top 11 outdoorsy things to do in and around Anaheim.

1. Oak Canyon Nature Center

Address: 6700 E Walnut Canyon Rd, Anaheim, CA 92807

Nestled in the Anaheim Hills, the Oak Canyon Nature Center spans 58 acres, offering an easy-to-access city escape.

Native oak trees with morning light in California.
Photo credit: trekandshoot/Shutterstock.

This natural oasis is made up of three adjoining canyons with four miles of hiking trails, showcasing one of the few remaining oak woodlands and coastal sage scrub areas in the region. A year-round stream winds through the park and native wildlife, including deer and coyotes, inhabit the canyon.

Spend some time walking along the trails, which are all less than a mile long, and stop at the scenic lookout point and wind caves. Make sure to stop into the John J. Collier Interpretive Center, a small museum that houses live animals and exhibits on regional natural history. Here, you can learn more about the California ecosystem.

Entrance and parking at the nature center are free of charge (though they ask for a voluntary $5 donation to support programming). The free parking within the Nature Center’s dirt lot is limited, but street parking can be found along Walnut Canyon Road in designated areas.

2. Yorba Regional Park

Address: 7600 E La Palma Ave, Anaheim, CA 92807

Located at the mouth of the Santa Ana Canyon, this sprawling natural park covers 140 acres. Yorba Regional Park is a day-use park, creating a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and families seeking a picturesque setting for relaxation and recreation.

Daytime view of a public trail and city view of Yorba Linda, California, USA.
Photo credit: Matt Gush/Shutterstock.

As you explore the Yorba Regional Park, you’ll be treated to a series of four tranquil lakes interconnected by streams. These waters offer fantastic opportunities for fishing, paddle boating, and even model boat sailing.

There are over 400 picnic tables, many of which are under permanent shade structures, perfect for everything from intimate family picnics to lively group events. There are about 200 barbecues as well if you enjoy a cookout.

For those looking to stay active in the outdoors around Anaheim, Yorba Regional Park has you covered. The park boasts a network of bicycle trails that wind their way through the beautiful park and connect to the renowned Santa Ana River Trail, which extends a remarkable 20 miles all the way to the Pacific Ocean.

Family-friendly amenities are scattered throughout the park, including playgrounds and well-maintained restroom facilities. Enjoy the volleyball courts, horseshoe pits, a physical fitness course, and two ball diamonds for some friendly competition.

Please note there are parking fees, starting at $3 per vehicle entry Monday – Friday and $5 Saturday to Sunday with higher rates for some holidays and events.

3. Santa Ana River Trail

Though still currently a work in progress, this trail will ultimately stretch an impressive 110 miles from the pristine wilderness of San Bernardino County National Forest to the sparkling shores of Huntington Beach, connecting mountains to the ocean.

The Santa Ana river trail in the evening.
Photo credit: sean ehrke/Shutterstock.

The Santa Ana River Trail is very accessible, with numerous entry points and parking areas scattered along its course. Whether you’re an avid cyclist, a dedicated hiker, or simply seeking a spot for a leisurely stroll, this trail accommodates every preference. 

One popular starting point is the Huntington Beach Trail, leading you on a picturesque journey through the heart of Orange County. The trail’s landscape is categorized by multiple parks, side trails, and nature centers, creating resting points and offering a few fun detours for exploration.

4. Catalina Island

One of the absolute best outdoorsy things to do around Anaheim (and really in all of Southern California) is to escape the mainland’s hustle and bustle with a day trip to the picturesque Catalina Island. This idyllic island is full of outdoor adventures and captivating sights. 

A Male Teenager Scuba Diving at Catalina Island, California.
Photo credit: Brent Barnes/Shutterstock.

Catalina Island is easy to access from Anaheim, with a scenic ferry ride from Long Beach. Once you reach the island, there are plenty of fun things to do.

Dive into the crystal-clear waters for snorkeling and scuba diving to see the colorful marine life and kelp forests — some of the best in the world! Take some time to explore the island’s charming town of Avalon, lined with quaint boutiques and delicious food options. 

Catalina Island trans Catalina trail.
Photo credit: Kristen Lindbergh/Shutterstock.

Hiking trails through the island provide breathtaking vistas of the Pacific Ocean. Or hop on a tour to spot the island’s famous bison population, descendants of a movie shoot from the 1920s. If you prefer to simply relax in the outdoors, the island’s gorgeous beaches offer a peaceful escape.

While a day trip can give you a taste of Catalina’s beauty, consider staying longer to fully immerse yourself in the island’s charm. There are many excellent hotels to accommodate a weekend trip.

5. Fullerton Arboretum 

Address: 1900 Associated Rd, Fullerton, CA 92831  

The Fullerton Arboretum is an exciting plant museum located on the California State University, Fullerton campus. This natural oasis showcases a range of plants from around the world.

Fullerton Arboretum and Botanic Garden.
Photo credit: Calvin Hy/Shutterstock.

Wander through themed gardens, each a curated collection of plants representing different regions and ecosystems from around the world. Enjoy beautifully designed landscapes from woodlands to deserts, showcasing rare fruits, colorful orchids, conifers, roses, and much more.

The arboretum also plays a vital role in conservation and research, contributing to our understanding of plant life and its importance in sustaining our planet.

Fullerton cactus garden in California.
Photo credit: Darilynn/Shutterstock.

Parking to visit the arboretum is currently available at a rate of $4 per hour from Monday through Friday with weekends and university holidays free.

The Fullerton Arboretum is more than just a garden; it’s an educational display, making it a valuable resource and a peaceful outdoor activity for all who visit.

6. Anaheim Hills Golf Course

Address: 6501 Nohl Ranch Rd, Anaheim, CA 92807

Just minutes away from Disneyland Park is the Anaheim Hills Golf Course, which offers a unique and refreshing outdoorsy experience in the heart of Orange County.

A view of the front entrance and sign to the Anaheim Hills Golf Course.
Photo credit: The Image Party/Shutterstock.

This par-71 golf course seamlessly combines fun, accessibility, and challenge, making it an ideal destination for golf enthusiasts and casual players alike. 

As you step onto the pristine fairways, you’ll be treated to rolling hills and lush landscapes, providing a serene backdrop for your game. The course’s well-designed layout caters to a range of skill levels, ensuring that everyone, from novices to seasoned pros, can enjoy a round of golf.

7. Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach, often called Surf City USA, is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. With five distinct beaches to explore, there’s no shortage of activities to get some sun and sand.

Surfer Silhouettes at Sunset at Hungington Beach.
Photo credit: Kate Dalton/Shutterstock.

Enjoy a game of beach volleyball on Huntington State Beach, Huntington City Beach, or Bolsa Chica State Beach, or opt for some beachside yoga sessions.

Those looking for water activities will find many exciting opportunities in Huntington Beach. Charter a private boat for a fishing expedition, cruise the harbor in luxury aboard a private charter or a Duffy boat, and get some exercise by kayaking or stand-up paddle boarding.

Of course, the consistent waves and expansive beaches also make Huntington Beach Pier a surfer’s paradise. Fortunately, this is one of the best winter beaches in California and many of these activities can be enjoyed year round.

One of the area’s most pristine natural settings is the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, a wetland full of native birds and plant life. It’s the perfect spot for birdwatchers and nature photographers.

At night, light up a bonfire at one of the over 500 beach bonfire pits scattered throughout the beaches. Roast s’mores and hot dogs and watch the sun go down over the sparkling water.

8. Pearson Park

Address: 400 N Harbor Blvd, Anaheim, CA 92805

This family-friendly park caters to all ages, offering a diverse range of activities that make it a cherished destination for residents and visitors alike. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, an active adventurer, or a parent seeking a fun outing for the kids, Pearson Park has something for everyone. 

Waterfalls at Pearsons Waterdall and Glen off NC Hwy. 176, between the towns of Tryon and Saluda in North Carolina USA.
Photo credit: Jim Schwabel/Shutterstock.

The park has a few winding trails around a couple of ponds that are perfect for leisurely bike rides and peaceful walks. Sports enthusiasts will love the outdoor space, with lighted facilities for football, soccer, softball, volleyball, and tennis.

A swimming pool offers a refreshing escape on hot summer days, while the playgrounds offer an exciting space for kids, and the picnic tables are great for the whole family to use during your day of fun in this great park.

9. Newport Beach

Another coastal escape near Anaheim is the city of Newport Beach. There is a plethora of outdoor activities here.

Start your day with a thrilling whale-watching excursion, where you can spot migrating gray whales, dolphins, sea lions, and other marine life.

Balboa pier in Newport Beach, California after sunset, USA.
Photo credit: kan_khampanya/Shutterstock.

For a dose of nostalgia, head to the iconic Fun Zone, where carnival rides and arcade games provide family-friendly fun activities. This outdoor area provides a fun experience for young kids and grown-ups to play games, snack at the concession stands, and spend a few hours enjoying the incredible experience.

Of course, Newport Beach also offers many opportunities for water sports. Catch a wave with some of the finest surf in southern California, or explore the ocean on a kayak or stand-up paddle board. For an adrenaline rush, parasailing offers once-in-a-lifetime aerial views of the coastline.

For those who want a bit more pristine nature, the nearby Crystal Cove State Park in Laguna Beach features a rugged coastline, tide pools, and hiking trails, offering a serene contrast to the bustling beach scene.

And if you’re a fan of body surfing or simply laying in the sun, the miles of sandy beaches provide the perfect spot for your outdoorsy adventure.

10. Walnut Canyon

One of the lesser-known outdoorsy things to do in Anaheim is to explore near the Walnut Canyon Reservoir. The 1.7-mile path that meanders around the reservoir is open for the community to explore and connect with nature.

Walnut canyon reservoir in anaheim california.
Photo credit: Kinographer/Shutterstock.

As you wander this scenic trail, keep your eyes peeled for the diverse array of wildlife that calls Walnut Canyon home.

Among the remarkable inhabitants of this ecosystem, you may spot the Western Pond Turtle, the adorable Desert Cottontail bunny, or even a Mule Deer. Prickly Pear Cactus and Coast Live Oaks create unique natural scenery to marvel at.

Birdwatchers, in particular, will find Walnut Canyon a birding paradise. Keep your binoculars handy to catch a glimpse of the colorful Lesser Goldfinch, the California Towhee, Anna’s Hummingbird, and the Hooded Oriole.

11. Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park

Address: 27901 Glenn Ranch Rd, Trabuco Canyon, CA 92679

Located to the east of Anaheim in Orange County, Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park sprawls across 2,500 acres of pristine wilderness.

This expansive park is a nature lover’s paradise and is perfect for getting outside on your family vacation. With a diverse landscape that includes riparian and oak woodland canyons, rolling grassland hills, the rugged slopes of coastal sage scrub and chaparral, and the incredible Red Rock Canyon.

Hiking Along Path in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park in Southern California.
Photo credit: Arne Beruldsen/Shutterstock.

Peaceful streams, including Borrego, Serrano, and Aliso Creek, wind through the park. As you explore the trails, keep your eyes peeled for glimpses of deer, coyotes, and an array of bird species that live in the park.

Visitors will also find remnants of the cattle ranching days still visible, adding a unique twist to this outdoor adventure.

With a network of 23 well-maintained trails totaling approximately 17 miles, Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park is great for hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians.

There is a $3 daily parking fee, which helps support the park’s maintenance and preservation efforts.

12. Angel Stadium

If you’re a sports enthusiast looking to enjoy a fun day outdoors, this over 45,000-seat open-air ballpark is an excellent spot to catch a game. Home to the Los Angeles Angels, watch a classic baseball game, snack on the delicious concessions, and soak up the sun while getting a taste of American culture.

The main entrance of Angel Stadium, a major league baseball team in Anaheim,CA.
Photo credit: Usa-Pyon/Shutterstock.

The stadium offers “behind-the-scenes” tours of the venue. Or, spend some time before or after the game exploring the surrounding area. There are quite a few restaurants, breweries (Golden Road is awesome!), and bars nearby to extend your activity at Angel Stadium.

13. Long Beach

Consider taking a short drive to Long Beach to explore more exciting outdoor activities. Start your day by renting a Duffy boat – an electric, easy-to-navigate boat – and cruise along the charming Naples Canals. A perfect experience for couples or a group of friends. Afterward, head to the Long Beach waterfront and take a leisurely stroll along Shoreline Village for stunning views of the Queen Mary ocean liner, the Aquarium of the Pacific, and the Lions Lighthouse.

Private Swan pedal boats are for rent to the public in Echo Park, Los Angeles, CA.
Photo credit: Gerry Matthews/Shutterstock.

For dog lovers, Rosie’s Dog Beach is a must-visit spot. It’s a dog-friendly beach (one of the few in the area) where your furry friends can run and play freely in the sand and surf. For adventurers, rent a bike, kayak, or paddle board for some exercise. Or, visit the Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden or El Dorado Nature Center for beautiful sights and a serene experience.

Weather in Anaheim

Anaheim enjoys a Mediterranean climate, characterized by mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers. It makes for a great place to explore the outdoors at any time of year. Here’s a breakdown of the weather in Anaheim year-round:

Spring (March to May):

Spring is an especially lovely time to visit Anaheim. Highs range from the mid-60s to the low 70s°F (18 to 24°C), making it ideal for outdoor activities. Nights can still be cool, in the 50s°F (10 to 15°C).

Rainfall is minimal during this season.

Summer (June to August):

Summers in Anaheim are hot and dry. Daytime temperatures often soar into the 80s and 90s°F (27 to 35°C), and occasionally even reach triple digits. Nights are warm and comfortable, in the 60s°F (15 to 20°C).

Rainfall is rare during the summer months.

Fall (September to November):

Fall is another pleasant time to enjoy the outdoors in Anaheim. Temperatures gradually begin to cool, with daytime highs ranging from the mid-70s to low 80s°F (24 to 29°C). Evenings start to become cooler, with temperatures in the 50s and 60s°F (10 to 20°C).

Rain remains infrequent.

Winter (December to February):

Winters are mild in Anaheim, with daytime highs in the 60s°F (15 to 20°C) and cooler evenings in the 40s and 50s°F (4 to 15°C). While it’s one of the wetter periods, rainfall is still relatively low compared to many other regions. Snowfall is extremely rare.

Overall, Anaheim’s weather is characterized by its pleasantness and relatively mild variations in temperature throughout the year, making it a popular destination for outdoor activities and tourism.

Huntington Beach Sunset Silhouette - Sunset on Huntington Beach, silhouettes of 3 girls admiring the sunset with Huntington Beach Pier in background.
Photo credit: Peter Beckwermert/Shutterstock.

Tips for Getting To and Around Anaheim

To get to Anaheim, consider flying into John Wayne Airport (SNA) or Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and using shuttle services or rental cars (especially if you plan to travel outside of Anaheim to nearby cities) for transportation. 

Within Anaheim, you can rely on the Anaheim Resort Transit (ART) shuttle for easy access to major attractions, or simply walk around areas like Disneyland Resort and downtown. 

Bicycling is also a good option with bike lanes available, and public buses operated by the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) offer affordable transportation. 

Ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft operate in the city, and Anaheim has a convenient train station, the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center (ARTIC), for additional travel options.

Where to Stay in Anaheim

The Anaheim Hotel

This mid-range option provides comfortable accommodations with a retro vibe. It’s conveniently located within walking distance of the Disneyland Resort and the Anaheim Convention Center.

The hotel features a heated pool, a restaurant, and a variety of room types to suit different needs.

JW Marriott, Anaheim Hotel

For a more luxurious stay, The JW Marriott in Anaheim is an excellent option. It offers upscale accommodations, a rooftop pool with stunning views, and exceptional dining options.

While it’s on the higher end of the price spectrum, it provides top-notch service and is within easy reach of the best attractions.

Anaheim Desert Inn & Suites

This budget-friendly hotel offers comfortable accommodations and is conveniently located within the city.

Hiking Along Path in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park in Southern California.
Photo credit: Arne Beruldsen/Shutterstock.

Amazing Things To Do in Anaheim Beyond Disneyland

While Anaheim is known for its world-famous amusement parks, it also offers a plethora of outdoorsy activities that are sure to captivate nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike.

From exploring the beauty of Oak Canyon Nature Center and the Fullerton Arboretum to venturing out to Huntington or Newport Beaches, Anaheim provides a diverse range of natural experiences.

So, if you’re looking to add depth and adventure to your Anaheim visit beyond the main attractions, these outdoor gems are your gateway to a different side of this vibrant city.

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Janelle Axton

Janelle is a travel consultant and owner of Make the Trip Matter, a service dedicated to helping people create a lifestyle around frequent travel and extended time abroad. She grew up in California and specializes in creating custom itineraries and travel plans.

Welcome to xoxoBella! I am Bella Bucchiotti and I am a recipe developer, content creator and writer. Here you will find delicious recipes, travel inspiration, crafts, pet tips and more.

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