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  1. Thursday, April 17

    Spring Break Part 2: Anaheim!

    Time to share how we finished up our Spring Break last week! Once we were done having fun in Los Angeles, we hopped in the car and headed south 1 hour for a visit to Anaheim.

    I think in most people’s minds when you hear the word “Anaheim” you automatically think “Disneyland.” Disneyland is most certainly in Anaheim, but there is actually tons to do there in addition to visiting the Magical Kingdom. In the last few years the downtown area of Anaheim has been completely rebuilt, featuring local shops and restaurants. The Anaheim area has so much to offer (museums, sports, amusement parks, Medieval Times), you could easily spend a week staying in Anaheim and keeping incredibly busy! The other great thing is that there are so many hotels in town to choose from and many of them have shuttles that can take you to all the places you want to go. It’s basically a town built for vacation with the family and we have always had a blast when we visit. This time around we only had two days, so we visited Knott’s Berry Farm and Disneyland. We also had the chance to stay in two hotels.

    What We Did!

    visit to knott's berry farm by @janemaynard

    Knott’s Berry Farm: Here’s the thing about Knott’s Berry Farm – it is totally fun, less expensive than Disneyland, and NEVER as crowded. As much as we absolutely love Disneyland, it is almost always filled to the brim with people, which can be a little overwhelming. Even on a busy day at Knott’s there is room to breathe and the lines don’t take hours to get through. Plus, our family loves Peanuts, and Camp Snoopy is perfect for the little ones. We also had lunch at Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant, where it all began. When you eat there, just eat a dozen biscuits and a few pieces of fried chicken and you should be all set. DELISH.

    visit to knott's berry farm by @janemaynard

    On our visit this time around we did a few things we had never done before, including the horse-drawn carriage ride and a ride on the narrow gauge steam engine. The carriage ride was actually really fun and the kids and I got to sit on top in front by the drivers. The steam engine was incredibly cool – it was the last working narrow-gauge engine in the U.S. when the Knott family purchased it for their park, and the cars you ride on are 130 years old. Owen is seriously obsessed with trains, so we chatted with the engineers for a bit and it was fascinating.

    visit to knott's berry farm by @janemaynardThis is the little train ride in Camp Snoopy, not the big steam engine. But the kids all look so happy here, I had to share. And, yes, this was the vacation of train rides. SO MANY TRAINS.

    Cate and I also did the Ghostrider roller coaster for the first time and, um, HOLY HEADACHE. Yes, that pile of wood you see below is a roller coaster. But Cate thought it was awesome, even “wilder than a buckin’ bronco!”

    the ghostrider at knott's berry farm by @janemaynard

    visit to knott's berry farm by @janemaynardWhen you’re 2 and you’re tired you just sit where you are.

    Disneyland: There is just something about Disneyland. Sure, it costs about a billion dollars to go. Sure, it’s almost always crowded. But it is also always magical. Everything there is just so well done and beautiful. We spent most of our day on this visit in California Adventure. Cate got to ride on Radiator Springs Racers THREE times (thanks to fast passes and the parent swap passes when you have a stroller). I think she also rode on California Screamin’ 4 times. Crazy girl!

    california screamin' at california adventure at disneyland by @janemaynard

    Cars Land will forever be my favorite part of visiting the Disney parks. It is just so BEAUTIFUL, both day and night. And the rides are all awesome.

    cars land at california adventure at disneyland by @janemaynard

    Oh, one more thing to mention! We have never ridden the entire train ride at Disneyland until this visit. The kids LOVED it. We had no idea there were dioramas at the end of the ride as you arrive back at Main Street. We actually circled the park twice before the kids would let us get off! Then we watched the parade from the train station above Main Street and it was perfect!

    visit to disneyland and california adventure by @janemaynard

    Where We Stayed!

    Ayres Hotel in Anaheim: Our first hotel was the Ayres Hotel in Anaheim. The hotel is located across the street from the Honda Center where the Ducks play, and just a block away from where the Angels play. It’s just a few minutes’ drive to Disneyland and all the other attractions, and the ART shuttle runs by the hotel if you don’t want to drive to those places. The rooms were very nice and sort of “fancy” – when Anna stepped off the elevator and looked down the hallway for the first time she exclaimed, “This hotel is BEAUTIFUL!” We stayed in a King VIP room, which had a king-sized bed and a pull-out couch, as well as plenty of room for the kids and all of our luggage. The pool was small but perfect for kids and they had a great time swimming. Plus, we got to see Owen’s true colors at the hot tub.

    owen wooing the ladies at the ayres hotel in anaheim by @janemaynardDon’t hate the playa, hate the game.

    The Ayres also had a fabulous full breakfast, with the busiest yet friendliest chef I’ve ever met! The kids were in heaven at the breakfast and I think it might have been their favorite part of the trip. (Kids are so funny!) The staff was incredibly helpful and friendly at every turn.

    The Anabella Hotel: For our last two nights we stayed at the Anabella, sister hotel to the Carousel (where we originally thought we would be staying). The Anabella is across the street from Disneyland and was just a short 10-minute walk to the park gate. The walk was also really lovely and un-crowded, running along the backside of California Adventure (rather than Harbor Blvd). We’ve gone to Disneyland both ways – staying in a hotel across the street and having to drive or shuttle ourselves in. If you’re going to Disneyland and can swing a hotel within walking distance of the park, DO IT. Parking at Disney is such a pain. Being able to just walk to the park is HEAVEN. They’re building even more hotels across the street from Disneyland, so there will be even more options in coming years.

    the anabella hotel in anaheim by @janemaynard

    The Anabella Hotel was a beautiful property, with a great pool and restaurant. We stayed in a Concierge room, which is an L-shaped room with a king bed, double bed and a pull-out couch. Our room had its own patio area, which was really lovely, too. After we put the kids to bed, Nate went outside to read on the patio in the perfect southern California air! The rooms were pretty, although we could hear our {noisy} neighbors pretty well and the bathroom wasn’t super easy to use, with practically no counter space or storage areas. There is a very long vanity area outside of the bathroom, however, which is nice for getting ready while someone else is actually using the bathroom. We had that counter covered with all of our stuff from the road trip – basically we are really good at using up all available storage space! (Note: The noisy neighbors arrived on our last night. The front desk quickly shut down the craziness at night and were very attentive to the situation. The neighbors were noisy again the next morning, but we were leaving so we didn’t request a new room or anything, but I’m certain the staff would have worked with us on that as well if we had asked.) Like the Ayres, the staff were very nice and friendly everywhere we went on the property.

    So, there you have it! A Spring Break packed with FUN. (And Nate and I even survived!)

    Knott’s Berry Farm provided us with tickets and lunch. Disney and the Anaheim Visitor and Convention Bureau provided us with media passes for Disneyland and California Adventure. We received discounted rates for our hotel stays at the Ayres and The Anabella. All opinions are my own! Anaheim is fun, fun, fun!