There's more to Anaheim than just the famous mouse and roller coasters. Kathleen Davidson looks at some of the higlights outside the theme parks.
Get some game time
You might have zero clue what's going on, but American sports games are a spectacle in their own right, with so much entertainment for your buck you won't know where to look. Local baseball team the Los Angeles Angels play at Angel Stadium, and tickets are inexpensive and easy to get.
In the (slightly) cooler months, head along to the Honda Center to see the Anaheim Ducks play ice hockey. Get yourself some merch, get on the kiss cam, explore the food and beverage options — you're guaranteed to have a great time.
Dine and drink
We're big fans of the Anaheim Packing District and its historic packing house, a former citrus packhouse built in 1919 which has been transformed into a fantastic food hall with more than 40 vendors, plenty of communal dining options and cool bars you'll want to linger at.
The Blind Rabbit is a hidden speakeasy you access by pulling on a small rabbit figurine tucked amongst a wall of Japanese kegs.
The wall swings open to reveal a dimly lit space with stylish period-appropriate decor and a cocktail list dreams are made of. Note that there's a 90-minute time limit so order fast. Food-wise, select anything from hotpot and Vietnamese to fried chicken sandwiches and authentic Syrian food.
Also worth pulling up a pew at is the Anaheim Brewery, also in the Packing District, a pre-Prohibition brewery with a tasting room and a 100-seat beer garden. Its beers are fresh and brewed using traditional techniques, and you'll find about 10 on tap.
Hit the beach
For quintessential Southern California sun, sand and surf, take a short ride to the beach cities of the Golden State. The stretch of beautiful Orange County beaches to Anaheim's southwest start with Surf City, aka Huntington Beach, about a 30-minute drive, and reach down to Newport, Laguna and San Clemente.
Laguna Beach is an artistic community brimming with plein air painters, who love its light quality, while at Newport Beach you can take to the water for some whale and dolphin watching.
Off the coast of Long Beach you can visit historic Catalina Island, once owned by chewing gum magnate William Wrigley jnr.
The island has been a mecca for Hollywood stars over the years, including Marilyn Monroe and Charlie Chaplin, and it was where actress Natalie Wood drowned in 1981. You can take a day trip or stay the night and explore over a couple of days.
Shop till you drop
Anaheim is famous for its outlet malls — Citadel Outlets, between LAX and Anaheim has more than 130 stores including famous names such as Coach, Kate Spade, Calvin Klein, GAP and Nike. Karmel Shuttle offers a couple of packages to the outlet, including Shop Until You Drop Off at LAX, which will collect you from your hotel and take you to the mall's air-conditioned VIP lounge where you can have a cold drink, snacks and store your luggage in-between browsing the shops. Karmel will collect you and your haul in plenty of time to get you to the airport for your flight.
The Outlets at Orange, 10 minutes south of Disneyland (accessible on the local public transport system, Anaheim Resort Transit), has more than 120 stores, including Nordstrom Rack, Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus, as well as eateries and entertainment options such as a bowling alley, movie theatre and indoor Vans Skatepark.
If you'd rather shop local, head to Anaheim's Center Street Promenade, which has revived the downtown area and offers a more boutique experience — check out the Rare by Goodwill store which curates the very best thrift shop offerings into an Urban Outfitters-type store.
including return flights from Auckland to LA, transfers and accommodation at the Castle Inn & Suites Hotel is from $1765pp, twin share.