Top 12 Free Things to Do in Anaheim in Feb 2024

Last Updated on February 15, 2024 by Emily Johnson

Anaheim is internationally famous as the home of the Disneyland Resort, drawing millions of visitors every year who come to experience the magic of Disney. But beyond the world of Mickey and Minnie, Anaheim has plenty more activities and attractions that can be enjoyed on a budget.

The city offers an array of museums and cultural sites, outdoor recreation, live music, and historic neighborhoods perfect for exploring. From watching a free concert under the stars to spotting migrating whales off the coast, Anaheim delivers memorable experiences without breaking the bank.

This guide shines a spotlight on the top free things to do in Anaheim for travelers looking to discover the city’s diverse offerings. All of these activities and attractions can be enjoyed without an entry fee or with minimal costs. Visitors can take photos with Sleeping Beauty Castle outside Disneyland, immerse themselves in art and history at the MUZEO Museum, hike oak-filled canyons, catch a jazz show at a local hotel, and much more. Anaheim surprises with options ranging from the iconic to the offbeat.

Keep reading for more detailed information on each of these stellar free experiences waiting to be discovered in this sunny Southern California destination. With open-air amphitheaters, a world-class transportation system, and natural wilderness just beyond the city limits, Anaheim offers wallet-friendly fun for all interests.

While Anaheim beckons visitors to its world-famous resorts and theme parks, this Southern California city also overflows with fantastic free activities away from the rides and crowds.

#ActivityBrief Description
1Take Photos Outside Disneyland’s Iconic CastleCapture nostalgic photos outside Disneyland without park admission.
2Stroll Through the MUZEO Museum and Cultural CenterExplore rotating exhibits and cultural events with free admission.
3Attend a Public Show at Pearson Park AmphitheatreEnjoy various performances in an outdoor setting, often free of charge.
4Explore Historic Sites at Founder’s ParkDiscover Anaheim’s history through its landmarks and historic homes.
5See the Sights from Anaheim Resort TransportationNavigate the city with free shuttle service and sightseeing.
6Look for Birds at Oak Canyon Nature CenterEnjoy birdwatching and nature trails in a desert wildlife preserve.
7See a Free Show at Downtown Anaheim Luxury Suites HotelAttend free live music events in a chic hotel setting.
8Tour Historic Buildings at Founder’s ParkImmerse in Anaheim’s early architecture and history.
9See Memorabilia at Angel Stadium’s Home Plate Gift ShopAccess a free-to-enter shop with Angels and MLB memorabilia.
10Scout for Whales at Newport Landing Whale WatchingSpot whales and explore marine exhibits from accessible viewing areas.
11Tour the Lyon Air MuseumDiscover vintage aircrafts and military vehicles near John Wayne Airport.

From scenic nature trails to cultural events at downtown’s museums, these wallet-friendly finds prove Anaheim offers plenty beyond Mickey Mouse. Enjoy free parks, venues and experiences across this surprisingly diverse city.

Take Photos Outside Disneyland’s Iconic Castle

Name and Location: Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Park

History and Significance: Sleeping Beauty Castle was completed in 1955 and serves as the iconic centerpiece of Disneyland Park. It was inspired by the fairy tale castle seen in Disney’s animated film Sleeping Beauty. The castle draws inspiration from medieval European design and is the oldest of all Disney parks castles. It has become one of the most photographed icons at any Disney park.

What to Expect: The front of Sleeping Beauty Castle features a drawbridge, turrets, and spires. It makes for a perfect photo backdrop, visible right outside the park gates. Snap photos in front of the castle any time of day, but come around 3-5pm to try and catch the parade passing by.

Visitor Information: The castle is located at the end of Downtown Disney nearest Disneyland Park. No park ticket required to view or take photos from outside. Best photo spot is right across from the exit of the Downtown Disney monorail station.

You needn’t buy park admission to capture nostalgic photos outside Disneyland’s fairy tale castle entrance and the instantly recognizable main gate signage just steps beyond.

Walk freely along Downtown Disney District’s lively shops and restaurants running parallel Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure to find unobstructed selfie spots with Cinderella’s Castle, the parks’ flowerbed logo, and the retro-futuristic Monorail whooshing colorful overhead.

At night, enjoy free views of Sleeping Beauty Castle and Main Street buildings romantically illuminated too.

Stroll Through the MUZEO Museum and Cultural Center

Name and Location: MUZEO Museum and Cultural Center in Downtown Anaheim

History and Significance: Opened in 2007, MUZEO is located in a former Carnegie Library building. It provides cultural and artistic experiences focused on Anaheim and Southern California. Exhibits combine history, art, and community engagement.

What to Expect: MUZEO’s main level contains permanent exhibits on Anaheim and California history. The upper level features rotating fine art exhibitions. Allow 1-2 hours to explore. Art classes and cultural programs occur regularly.

Visitor Information: MUZEO is located at 241 S Anaheim Blvd. Open Wednesday-Sunday from 10am-5pm. Closed major holidays. Admission is free, donations accepted. Metered street parking or city garage parking nearby.

Find inspiration at the thought-provoking MUZEO Museum near Anaheim’s bustling convention center area. Rotating exhibits encourage visitors to expand their worldview and connect with global stories promoting positivity. Current standouts include

The Happiness Project sharing inspirational first-person accounts and Beach Culture exploring surf history through art. Outside the MUZEO, The Imagination Playground encourages hands-on play. Frequent cultural events also offer free museum admission.

Attend a Public Show at Pearson Park Amphitheatre

Name and Location: Pearson Park Amphitheatre in Anaheim

History and Significance: This historic venue opened in 1957 in Pearson Park. It hosts a full season of music, theater, and dance by local performance groups.

What to Expect: The schedule includes symphony concerts, ballet productions, classic rock tributes, folk music shows, and more. Bring a blanket and picnic and enjoy shows under the stars.

Visitor Information: Pearson Park is located at 401 N. Lemon St. The amphitheater entrance is near the playground. Show schedules are posted at anaheim.net.

Anaheim’s Pearson Park Amphitheatre offers free public concerts and performances throughout the warmer months. Pack a picnic dinner and spread out on the grassy hillside while enjoying live music, theater performances, or dance shows on the outdoor stage.

Music acts range from symphony orchestras to rock bands to world music groups. Many weekends feature performances celebrating Anaheim’s diverse local cultures, like Mexican folkloric dance. With the sun setting behind the stage and music filling the air, an evening at Pearson Park Amphitheatre is a quintessential Southern California experience. Check the amphitheatre’s online calendar for upcoming shows.

Explore Historic Sites at Founder’s Park

Name and Location: Founder’s Park in downtown Anaheim

History and Significance: Opened in 1974, Founder’s Park preserves historic homes dating to Anaheim’s founding. Structures include the city’s oldest residence.

What to Expect: Park grounds contain the Mother Colony House Museum, Woelke-Stoffel House, Carriage House, and Dickinson Museum in historic homes. Costumed docents provide history during open hours.

Visitor Information: Founder’s Park is located at 400 N. West St. Historic buildings are open Wednesdays and Saturdays, 12-4pm for free guided tours.

Step back in time at Founder’s Park spanning verdant lawns dotted by historic homes and structures from Anaheim’s earliest years after German settlers founded the city in 1857.

Walk the park grounds to explore landmarks like Mother Colony House built from 1857, the 1912 Craftsman-style Woelke-Stoffel House or the parish church Father Serra founded 200 years ago. Don’t miss the classic 1936 Magnolia Packing House with fragrant citrus groves recalling Anaheim’s citrus legacy.

See the Sights from Anaheim Resort Transportation

Name: Anaheim Resort Transportation (ART)

Location: Shuttles operate around the Anaheim Resort district and to key locations citywide.

History and Significance: ART provides free transportation around Anaheim for visitors and residents. Opened in 2002, it operates 21 routes.

What to Expect: Hop on and off the air-conditioned shuttle buses to see top attractions and neighborhoods around Anaheim. Perfect for sightseeing on a budget.

Visitor Information: No tickets or reservations needed, just arrive at marked ART stops. Full route maps and schedules at RideArt.org. Shuttles depart every 10-30 minutes depending on route.

One of the handiest ways to navigate Anaheim is by boarding Anaheim Resort Transportation (ART), the city’s free shuttle bus system.

The air-conditioned buses stop at major tourist spots like Disneyland and Anaheim GardenWalk, but they also provide an easy way to explore neighborhoods off the main tourist track. Take route 10 to glimpse Anaheim’s Little Arabia district and historic homes around Founder’s Park.

Or ride route 18 along the trendy Center Street Promenade and through the Anaheim Packing District food hall. Sit back and watch the city sights roll by without any transportation cost.

Look for Birds at Oak Canyon Nature Center

Name and Location: Oak Canyon Nature Center in Anaheim Hills

History and Significance: This 612-acre nature area preserves coastal sage scrub habitat with hiking trails and wildlife viewing. Operated by OC Parks.

What to Expect: See native birds and animals on the nature trails. Exhibits showcase local Chumash Native American culture. Allow 2-3 hours to hike.

Visitor Information: Located at 6700 E Walnut Canyon Rd. Trails and exhibits open daily 9am-4pm. Free admission and parking.

Escape the city without leaving town at Oak Canyon Nature Center. Encompassing over 600 acres, this wild canyon offers 6 miles of hiking trails past streams, waterfalls, and native chaparral habitat. A visit here provides the chance to spot native birds like roadrunners, hummingbirds, and hawks.

Interpretive displays explain the different ecosystems and natural history. Make sure to allow time to visit the cute cottontail rabbits and other small animals living at the nature center. Picnic areas are available for those who want to make an afternoon of it. Entry to the nature center and trails is completely free.

See a Free Show at Downtown Anaheim Luxury Suites Hotel

Name and Location: Rockin’ Jazz Lounge at Downtown Anaheim Luxury Suites

History and Significance: This hotel lounge offers free live evening shows ranging from jazz to rock to blues. Local talent performs a couple times a week.

What to Expect: Intimate live music performances in a casual lounge setting. Music typically plays 9pm-midnight. Full bar menu available.

Visitor Information: Downtown Anaheim Luxury Suites is located at 2045 S Harbor Blvd. Show schedule is posted online at daluxurysuites.com. No cover charge but must be 21+ to enter lounge.

This chic boutique hotel’s posh open-air Grand Lobby Lounge invites the public to enjoy free live music from talented local musicians playing pop, jazz or classical favorites.

Meet friends or make new ones combining superb sounds with signature cocktails and shared plates like charcuterie boards or flatbreads.

Their popular free Blues & Brews events on select summer Wednesdays feature cold craft beers and soulful guitar. With a sophisticated yet inviting vibe, the Lounge makes an ideal upscale evening option needing no hotel reservation.

Tour Historic Buildings at Founder’s Park

Name and Location: Historic buildings at Founder’s Park in downtown Anaheim

History and Significance: This cluster of 19th century buildings provide a look into Anaheim’s early days. Structures include homes, a carriage house, and pharmacy museum.

What to Expect: Costumed docents lead free tours of the historic buildings during open hours. Allow 30-45 minutes to see all of them. Great for history buffs.

Visitor Information: Founder’s Park is located at 400 N. West St. Historic buildings are open Wednesdays and Saturdays, 12-4pm for tours.

Immerse yourself in Anaheim’s earliest architecture and living history just minutes from Disneyland Resort at Founder’s Park. Once an influential center of business and culture when Anaheim began as a German settlement, this park preserves original buildings from the city’s start.

Walk through fully furnished landmarks like Mother Colony House built in 1857 or Craftsman-style homes from the early 20th century. Don’t miss the still-active 19th century St. Boniface Church on site either.

See Memorabilia at Angel Stadium’s Home Plate Gift Shop

Name and Location: Home Plate Gift Shop at Angel Stadium of Anaheim

History and Significance: This shop in the ballpark is packed with memorabilia celebrating the Angels baseball team.

What to Expect: Find endless Angels caps, shirts, jackets, pins, and souvenirs. Kids can try on batting helmets. Game-used items available.

Visitor Information: Located at Angel Stadium, 2000 Gene Autry Way. Open every day of the year (except select holidays) from 9am to 5pm. Free to enter without a game ticket.

Calling all baseball fans! You can get a dose of Major League excitement at Angel Stadium without buying a ticket. The stadium’s Home Plate Gift Shop is open to anyone and stocked with merchandise for the LA Angels. Browse aisles of caps, shirts, pennants, and more while surrounded by Angels memorabilia.

Huge jerseys and photos of past players deck the walls. Kids can try on a batting helmet and imagine blasting a home run. There are even game-used items like signed bats available to purchase as memorabilia. Stop by on a non-game day and you’ll have the gift shop almost to yourself.

Scout for Whales at Newport Landing Whale Watching

Name and Location: Newport Landing Whale Watching in Newport Beach

History and Significance: This outfitter offers daily whale watching cruises during migration season from December to April.

What to Expect: Spot migrating gray whales and dolphins off the Orange County coast. Bring your camera! Trips last 2-2.5 hours.

Visitor Information: Located at 309 Palm Street. Free whale watching coupons available on website. Advanced reservations required at newportwhales.com.

Just a short drive from Anaheim, Newport Beach offers an iconic California experience: whale watching! From mid-December to mid-April, massive gray whales migrate south past the Orange County coast. Newport Landing Whale Watching takes visitors on boats to spot these magnificent marine mammals in their natural habitat.

The overloaded whales can get extremely close to the viewing boats, providing unforgettable sights. Trips run daily during peak season. While not free, Newport Landing offers a free whale-watching coupon on their website for those who book directly with them. So you can scout for whales and save some money.

Tour the Lyon Air Museum

Tour the Lyon Air Museum

Name and Location: Lyon Air Museum next to John Wayne Airport

History and Significance: Opened in 2009, this museum collects and displays historic aircraft, cars, and wartime vehicles.

What to Expect: Wide range of exhibits spanning the 1920s to 1960s. Many interactive displays perfect for aviation and history buffs.

Visitor Information: 19300 Ike Jones Road, Santa Ana. Open daily except Tuesday/Wednesday. Free admission, and donations are accepted. More info at lyonairmuseum.org.

Aviation enthusiasts will be in heaven at Lyon Air Museum, located next to the runways at John Wayne Airport. This facility houses an impressive collection of historic aircraft, automobiles, and military vehicles open for free self-guided tours.

Get up close to pristine planes and gleaming cars from the 1920s to the 1960s. Exhibits spotlight specific eras like World War II and the golden age of flight. Fun family programs like model plane building workshops happen monthly. A small donation is suggested but not required. The Lyon Air Museum is open five days a week, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in aeronautics and transportation history.

With its wealth of cultural sites, natural landscapes, and free entertainment opportunities, Anaheim offers plenty of things to do that don’t involve theme parks. Take time during your visit to appreciate the diverse local offerings of this sunny Southern California destination.

Conclusion:

Beyond its famed theme parks, Anaheim emerges as a destination full of culture, nature, history, and entertainment waiting to be uncovered. These free attractions and activities provide a variety of ways to experience the diverse sides of Anaheim on a budget. FromChecking out the stores and photos ops around Downtown Disney requires no park ticket. Exploring nature and history satisfies the cultural appetite. And free evening music around town sets the scene for an affordable night out.

With parks for strolling, shuttles for sightseeing, museums for browsing, and whales for watching, Anaheim delivers memorable experiences without having to spend a fortune. Take advantage of these free offerings to complement the theme park fun that draws so many visitors to Anaheim. You’ll discover this sunny California region has so many more experiences in store when you venture beyond the amusement rides and embrace all that Anaheim has to offer.

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