In Southern California at the Disneyland Resort, along with the two parks and hotels, you’ll find the Downtown Disney District. This stretch of shops, restaurants and entertainment venues is the perfect way to explore just a little bit of Disney without the ticket price to get into the parks.
Even if you aren’t a big Disney fan it’s still a great way to spend an afternoon or evening getting to know another piece of Southern California. They do a good job putting just enough Disney in the area and adding a lot of other fun twists from Legos to the House of Blues.
Plus they offer free parking for those visiting. Two hours for anyone, and four hours if you eat at one of the sit-down restaurants.
Squeeze in Some Shopping
Many of the shops in Downtown Disney are great to just wander around. My favorite has to be the Lego Store. Outside you’ll find Maleficent as a dragon with Prince Phillip coming to defeat her. As well as, Buzz Lightyear and Woody out to save the day. In the store, you can buy unique sets or pick your own combination of legos.
On top of that, you’ll find some unique Disney stores that carry much more than your standard Disney paraphernalia. For a twist on Disney art stop in the WonderGround Gallery. You’ll find some funky and creepy twists on your favorite characters.
Indulge in Different Cuisines
My number one spot to in Downtown Disney is the Jazz Kitchen. Whether you go into the sit-down restaurant and order gumbo and fried chicken, or you grab a quick bite for the take-out stand, you’ll enjoy complex cajun flavors that leave you wanting more.
For a good sandwich or soup, and just plain delicious bread, La Brea Bakery, a Southern California local company, has some of the best bread you can find. It’s a great casual bite you can grab while wandering the district.
If you’re looking for a savory burger the House of Blues does a solid job and has some fun flavor combinations.
Don’t forget to get a little Disney in your dessert with Marceline’s Confectionery. Here you can find your caramel apples, peanut butter brittle, and many of the other treats you find inside the theme parks.
Catch a Show or a Game
Downtown Disney also offers a variety of entertainment. You can watch not only any but every, sporting event over at the ESPN Zone. Grab a bite or a brew and sit in their giant sofas while you watch your team battle it out.
On the music side, the House of Blues brings in a wide range of acts to play in the general admission venue. It’s a personal experience in this just big enough theater, that if you catch it right, you can see some of your favorite bands. If you’re looking for a more impromptu music experience the Jazz Kitchen has performers most nights.
Grab Drinks At One of the Hotels
End your afternoon or evening in one of the hotel bars. At the Disneyland Hotel. you’ll find Trader Sams, Enchanted Tiki Bar. A tiki-themed bar where you can sit out over the hotel’s pool and relax with a tropical drink. Or head into the California Grand Hotel for a glass of wine in the Napa Rose’s lounge.
For more information about Disneyland check out these great books on Amazon including The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland 2017, Disneyland’s Hidden Mickeys: A Field Guide to Disneyland® Resort’s Best Kept Secrets, Fodor’s Los Angeles: with Disneyland & Orange County.
Have you explored Downtown Disney before? If so what were your favorite things? If not what would you like to see? Leave a comment below.