Open-air cafés, street musicians, sparkling shops and soaring temples to everything Disney, this tempting pedestrian zone in Anaheim is as must-see as the resort's two theme parks. If you’re hungry when you get here, you won’t be for long: find creative and delicious dishes at born-in-California favourites such as La Brea Bakery Café (the outdoor seating under leafy trees is particularly nice). Feel like you’re relaxing on an Italian piazza at Naples Ristorante e Pizzeria. Or take it up a notch with contemporary Mediterranean cuisine at Catal, created by Los Angeles-area chef-restaurateur Joachim Splichal.
For those with a sweet tooth, there’s a branch of upmarket 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 flavours such as Mummy’s Pumpkin Spiked Potion and Sightglass Coffee Cashew Praline.
There’s also plenty of live entertainment, activities and shopping: 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. And stock up on gifts at the World of Disney® shop, or browse big-name stores such as The LEGO® Store or Sephora. Girly Disney fans will appreciate the vintage-inspired clothes and accessories at The Disney Dress Shop, and if your home is lacking some magic, call in at the Disney Home store to find the perfect themed kitchenware and decor.
Star Wars fans will love Star Wars™: Secrets of the Empire by ILMxLAB and The Void, a total-immersion virtual reality experience with state-of-the-art 3-D imagery and sound. Teams of four, in VR disguise, can engage with their favourite Star Wars characters, as well as with one another.
Insider tip: you don’t have to have a ticket to Disneyland to visit Downtown Disney (admission is free). Plus there's no need to worry about parking, it’s free for up to five hours with validation from participating locations.