Open-air cafés, street musicians, sparkling boutiques, and soaring temples to everything Disney—the Downtown Disney District, a tempting pedestrian zone in Anaheim, is as much a must-see as Disneyland Resort's two theme parks.
Downtown Disney District Sweets
For sweet tooths, there’s a branch of upscale cupcake purveyors Sprinkles—the creative cupcake bakery credited with launching the cupcake craze—that’s not to be missed. And save room for a few scoops of artisanal goodness from Salt & Straw, an innovative family-run ice cream shop that offers hand-made, small-batch seasonal flavors like Mummy’s Pumpkin Spiked Potion and Sightglass Coffee Cashew Praline.
The newest—and most over-the-top—treat on the block comes from CrazyShake inside the Black Tap Craft Burgers restaurant. The whimsical milkshakes come stacked with things like slices of cake, cookies, and candy rolled in frosting. If you’re looking for a photo-worthy dessert, try the CrazyShake featuring Mickey Mouse: It’s a strawberry shake with a vanilla frosted rim topped with Mickey sprinkles, a Mickey crispy treat, white and red rock candy, whipped cream, red sprinkle, and a cherry.
If a healthier treat is what you’re after, Jamba provides smoothies and juices with quick service that will have you back out exploring Downtown Disney in no time.
Downtown Disney District Restaurants
Whether you’re looking for a break from the parks or are making a day at Downtown Disney, you’ll be pleased with the quantity and quality of dining options available.
Feel like you’re relaxing on an Italian piazza, for instance, at Naples Ristorante e Pizzeria. Or bump it up a notch with contemporary Mediterranean cuisine at Catal, created by Los Angeles-area chef-restaurateur Joachim Splichal.
If you’re after a quick snack to go, Wetzel’s Pretzels is on hand with fresh-baked pretzels in unique flavors like jalapeño cheese or cinnamon.
For a kid-friendly atmosphere, check out Tortilla Jo’s. Kids will love the simplicity of the kids’ menu and the balloon makers that are usually on hand, while adults will love the made-to-order guacamole and the house margaritas.
The newest restaurant in the Downtown Disney District has quickly become one of its most popular. Ballast Point Brewing Co. features a three-barrel brewing rig and an array of craft beers on tap and to go. The food is as good as the beer, with favorites like the smash burger and ahi poke available all day. The rooftop patio overlooks the Downtown strip, making it the perfect place to watch the action.
Downtown Disney District Entertainment
There’s also plenty of live entertainment, activities, and shopping in the Downtown Disney District: New Orleans–inspired music is the main course at Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen®. Take the family bowling at the rock 'n roll-themed Splitsville Luxury Lanes after dining indoors or al fresco at the on-site restaurant Splitsville Dining Room.
Downtown Disney District Shopping
Load up on gifts at the gigantic World of Disney® shop, on the end of the Downtown Disney District that is near the theme parks’ gates. Disney fans with girly style will appreciate the vintage-inspired apparel and accessories at The Disney Dress Shop, and if your home is lacking some magic, stop by the Disney Home store to find the perfect themed kitchenware and decor. Collectors will enjoy the Star Wars Trading Post and Disney’s Pin Traders.
If you’re after more traditional shopping, you can browse big-name stores such as The LEGO® Store, Sephora, Pandora, or Sunglass Icon.
Downtown Disney District Quick Tips
1. You don’t have to have a ticket to Disneyland to visit the Downtown Disney District (admission is free).
2. No need to stress out over parking—it’s free for up to five hours with validation from participating locations.
3. Even if you won’t be entering the parks, you must go through a security checkpoint to enter the Downtown Disney District. Pay attention to what time you’re headed there as the crowds working to get into the theme parks can lead to long wait times.
4. If you’re planning to dine at one of the sit-down restaurants, aim to grab a reservation at least a few weeks in advance. Reservations aren’t required and odds are you’ll find somewhere to eat, but if you’re looking for a certain restaurant at a specific time, it’s a smart move.
5. If you’re looking to make the Downtown Disney District a big part of your theme park experience and budget is no issue, consider staying at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa, which has its own convenient entrance to Downtown Disney.