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5 Free Anaheim Attractions

When you’ve exhausted Disneyland, check out these Anaheim gems that’ll educate and entertain your family on the cheap.

 

It’s easy to rack up the bills when you’re on vacation, what with the cost of meals, accommodations and fees for attractions. Anaheim, famous for Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm and gorgeous nearby beaches, might surprise with its cultural and outdoor offerings that won’t cost you a dime. So when you need a break from sand in your shoes and Mickey ears, head to these five spots for some free and fascinating experiences. [Read Beyond Disneyland, the Birthplace of Mickey for more information about Anaheim.]

1. The Bowers Museum features more than 130,000 works of art, including exhibits on Native American, Pacific Islander, African, Pre-Columbian and Asian art, and Orange County history. Bowers is the first museum in the United States to showcase collections from the prestigious British Museum. The Kidseum is a must for families, where kids can dress up, play tribal instruments, check out ethnic masks and learn about other cultures (free with Bowers admission; otherwise $6 for age 3 and up). Free admission at both the Bowers Museum and the Kidseum is offered on the first Sunday of every month. Bowers Museum tickets are normally $12 for adults, $9 for kids 6 to 17 and free for children under 6. Bowers Museum, tel. 714-567-3600; Kidseum, tel. 714-480-1520. www.bowers.org

2. The Newport Sports Museum was founded by an avid sport memorabilia collector who started the museum to inspire children. Exhibits about baseball, basketball, football, golf, hockey, surfing and the Olympics, among others, are packed with paraphernalia. Look for boxing gloves used by Muhammad Ali, a collection of baseballs signed by every Cy Young winner since the award’s inception in 1956 and the “Evolution of the Surf Board” display. Admission is free, but donations are welcome. Tel. 949-721-9333, newportsportsmuseum.org.

3. Yorba Regional Park, built on land that once was a cattle ranch, is a 175-acre recreational green space located in Santa Ana Canyon in Anaheim. You can bike, horseback ride, picnic, fish, sail model boats and even connect to the 20-mile-long Santa Ana River trails system, which leads to the Pacific Ocean. Numerous playgrounds are scattered throughout, plus volleyball courts, a horseshoe pit and two ball fields. The only fee is if you drive in: weekdays you pay $3 per vehicle; weekends, $5; $7 to $10 during major holidays. Tel 714-973-6615. www.ocparks.com

4. Fullerton Arboretum located just north of Anaheim, is the largest botanical garden in Orange County, with 26 acres and a collection of more than 4,000 plant species from around the world. Four areas make up the Arboretum’s collections, covering the Mediterranean, woodlands, desert and the “Cultivated Collection,” which explores the relationship between people and plants. You can easily spend the day wandering through the gorgeous gardens. Sign up for tours of the arboretum, museum or the heritage house, or explore on your own. Nature tours are free but donations are requested: $2 for adults, $1 for children. Tel. 714-278-3407, www.fullertonarboretum.org.

5. The Irvine Museum, founded in 1992, focuses exclusively on California Impressionism, or plein-air painting, an art style that flourished in California from 1890 to 1930. New exhibits are installed four times a year. Paintings from this American Impressionism era are mostly landscapes that document the early years of California before the huge population explosion. Admission and parking are free. Tel. 949-476-2565, www.irvinemuseum.org


Destinations: Orange County, Anaheim

Themes: Art and Museums, Family Travel, Outdoor Adventures

Activities: Cycling, Fishing, Horseback Riding, Museums, Parks and Playgrounds


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