It’s that time again, were we take a crash course through a town and see the sounds, taste the sights, and enjoy the flavors of another city. This time, we’ve assembled a team (a squad?) and spent 48 hours in Anaheim, CA. Even better, we got Visit Anaheim to hook us up this time on our itinerary. We recruited a makeup artist, an Air Force mechanic, an accountant, and a handsome drifter (yours truly) for a broad set of opinions and interests and proceeded to lay waste to Southern California’s most overlooked destination. Anaheim is a city with a thriving brewery scene, interesting food, activities just for adults, and a unique nightlife so it’s time to see what’s what! If you’re planning your trip, check out Visit Anaheim on Instagram for good ideas.
First up was a little morning air-to-air combat at Flightdeck. This flight simulation center lets you strap into the recreation of an F-16 or 737. As one of our group actually services F-16’s as a day job (lucky!), we knew what we had to do, and that was set him loose on the other tourists and watch him pummel them out of the sky with his simulated missiles. Before the action, you’re taken through a briefing, taught how to take off and fly the aircraft, and after the combat you land the plane for a full end-to-end experience. We had a blast here, but that might be because all of our squad dominated the top rankings after all the dog fights were over.
Nothing stirs the apatite quite like simulated air combat, so next we headed to the Packing House for some lunch. This former orange and lemon warehouse has been converted into a covered food bazaar of sorts with small restaurants and food vendors stuffed into every nook and cranny. We picked up some sandwiches, jambalaya, bespoke soda (no kidding), and ice cream all under the same roof and left stuffed for little more than $30.
Full of food but not beverage, it was time to visit Anaheim thriving brewery scene. First stop was the perfectly named Anaheim Brewery and a flight of beers at it’s quiet bar. In the afternoon, this brewery had a decidedly local feel with no discernible tourists or picture takers – besides us of course. This is the kind of place to head to when you’re sick of traveling and just want to relax.
Another of Anaheim’s brewery’s that has a decidedly different feel is Unsung Brewery and their mashup of craft beer and comic books of all things. Modern styling, friendly staff (including a portly bulldog), racks of comic books, and tables with great villain and hero quotes inscribed into them, Unsung is a place where your inner child and adult can co-exist. This is a must-visit for the ambience alone, although the beer flight here was stellar as well. The makeup artist in our group loved perusing the classic comics while sipping on a variety of beers.
If craft brews aren’t your thing and you’re looking for something a bit more lively, check out the next door town of Fullerton for their bar and club scene. With a college nearby, these spots skew a bit younger and louder but you’re guaranteed to leave with a story. No matter what your night is full of you’ll want to rest up for day two, at least that’s all we wanted after our full day, so we checked into the Marriott Residence Inn for some shuteye. Like all Residence Inns, our rooms came with kitchenette so we could make a late night without having to pop out of our complimentary robes and slippers. While all the visiting families book theme hotels close to the major parks, you’ll want something a bit quieter and more adult. We had no problem nodding off here.
After a good sleep we were ready for some good waffles, and there’s no better place in Orange County for good waffles than The Original Pancake House. This breakfast spot has been serving up eggs and bacon longer than you’ve been alive, and I think some of the staff have been around the since day one… You can’t go wrong with a bacon waffle, though the dutch baby looked mighty tempting as well.
It was now time for more adrenaline so we strapped ourselves into the electric go-karts of K1 Speed. These karts can reach 40mph, and the indoor circuit is full of challenging curves and overtaking points. At some of the other stops my guests shined, but now they were in my jungle and nobody comes into my jungle and leaves alive. And of course by that I mean I lapped the field and retired undefeated.
Orange County has long been home to many Asian immigrants, and one of the largest enclaves is a thriving Vietnamese community. Viet food has been having a bit of a moment this past year, with Pho and Bahn Mi conquering the culinary consciousness of even middle America, so what better lunch than in arguably the best Vietnamese restaurant in Anaheim’s Little Saigon where they know the truly authentic from the fad dishes. Brodard Restaurant is just such that place. Yes, I realize the name sounds like it’s your grandfather’s favorite steak joint, but this eatery is more know for their fresh spring rolls than for a porterhouse. Take the time to find this gem and one look around will tell you that you’re in the right place. Wall to wall you’ll see locals of the Vietnamese community enjoying dishes from the home country, and you’ll be smart to just point and say “I’ll have what she’s having.”
No vacation is complete with satisfying your sweet tooth, so we gathered up our group and headed out to Joe’s Italian Ice as we waived Anaheim goodbye. These flavored desserts are thick and satisfying, and the perfect accompaniment to a lively conversation as to our favorite spots. Our accountant friend loved the Packing House and I argued the merits of fresh noodles from Brodard, but as noshed on our fanciful ice we agreed that not a single one of missed having not visiting a theme park or the beach. There’s plenty to do in Anaheim that’s off the beaten track, and 48 hours isn’t nearly enough time to do all it.