David Abolafia

An Elemental Adventure Around Anaheim

David Abolafia

Since 1955, the city of Anaheim, California, has been virtually synonymous with Disneyland. And by virtue of being home to “the Happiest Place on Earth,” it’s not surprising that Anaheim remains a top destination for travelers from all across the country and around the world.

Yet for those who like to venture off the beaten path and seek out lesser-known attractions, Anaheim and the surrounding Orange County communities offer a myriad of possibilities that will surprise and delight. It starts by getting down to the classical elements: earth, water, air and fire.


The Anaheim area offers an abundance of earthy points of interest, from the plants that grow from the soil to the animals who feed upon them. For example:

  • Centennial Farms – A three-acre working farm located at the Orange County Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa. Families can view livestock and the Millennium Barn while strolling through gardens of lush vegetation.
  • Zoomars – An innocent, old-fashioned and amazingly affordable petting zoo in San Juan Capistrano. Feed a variety of animals, hop aboard a mini-train, saddle up for a pony ride, pan for treasures at Miner’s Gulch, swirl and slide in the playground or lose yourself in the giant corn box.
  • San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary – One of southern California’s most notable nature respites. Visitors can walk along 12 miles of trails, glimpse more than 200 bird species or simply relax and listen to the sounds of nature.


Orange County can really put you in the swim with its many coastline communities and activities, including:

  • Pacific Marine Mammal Center – A haven for seals and sea lions in Laguna Beach. The Center rescues, rehabilitates and releases marine mammals, and inspires ocean stewardship through research, education and collaboration.
  • Laguna Koi Ponds – A touch of Asian aquatics in Laguna Beach. More than 35,000 gallons of display ponds and a 500 sq. ft. water garden area are the highlights of this center for the creation of beautiful, tranquil koi ponds.


Let your imagination soar as you take to the skies… and beyond.

  • Lyon Air Museum – Stories of aviation’s past, on display in Santa Ana. The museum is comprised of authentic aircraft, rare vehicles and related memorabilia, with an emphasis on the defining event of the 20th century: World War II.
  • John Wayne Airport Tour – Located right next door to the Lyon Air Museum in Santa Ana. Tour groups receive explanations of how planes fly and the Wright Brothers’ flight, and see terminal architecture, historic photo displays, flight display monitors, skycap activity and more. Participants also spend time viewing the airfield, as planes take off and land.
  • Great Park Balloon – A public observation deck that soars 400 feet above Irvine. With the ability to hold 25 to 30 passengers, the balloon provides visitors with an unmatched 360-degree view of the surrounding landscape, with visibility that can span as far as 40 miles.
  • Tessmann Planetarium – Sparking the flame of understanding and inspiration in Santa Ana. The planetarium’s brand-new shows are fueled by cutting-edge scientific data, resulting in stunning visualizations of the latest findings, discoveries and theories about our universe.


The passionate fire that stirs humanity to accomplish the incredible is on full display in Orange County.

  • Marconi Automotive Museum – A $30 million collection of historical, exotic and class cars to be seen in Tustin. The impressive assemblage of automobiles from around the world includes some very rare Ferraris, American muscle cars, one of the oldest existing Foxfire firetrucks and many more.
  • Angel Stadium – Baseball’s fourth-oldest active Major League stadium has been home to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim since 1965. The stadium tour, which includes highlights of the Angels’ World Series-winning 2002 season, is an enjoyable and educational experience, with insight into areas that are normally restricted to the public. Highlights include a trip down to the field, a visit to the Angels dugout and the visitors’ clubhouse, the post-game interview room, the broadcast booth and various stadium suites.

No matter how you add it up, Anaheim and the surrounding cities of Orange County provide a variety of element-ary experiences that can supplement a trip to Disneyland and the area’s world-class beaches and restaurants – or form the heart of your own adventure through earth, water, air and fire.

If you have any questions, or are interested in booking a vacation to Anaheim or any of our other dynamic destinations, please call (888) 269-0182.

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