Anaheim, Orange County…Disneyland and Beyond

I first fell in love with Southern California in 1985. I was visiting from Michigan and fell in love with the weather and the beauty of the scenery, water, beaches and mountains! It was magical! My first trip had been to San Diego.
I have since been back to San Francisco and traveled the coastline, been from Big Sur down to San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbra, Los Angeles, palm Springs – I love it all.  But a few years back, I discovered Anaheim and Orange County!  Disneyland and beyond.  WOW!
Orange County’s total population is 3,000,000 + , making it the third most populous county in California, behind Los Angeles County and San Diego County.  The county is famous for its tourism, as the home of such attractions as Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm, as well as several beaches along its more than 40+ miles (64 km) of coastline.
Orange County’s 42 miles of alluring coastline features lively beach
towns, family fun, gay-friendly vibrant boardwalks and cool breezes in the warm
California sun. The Orange County coastline is comprised of six BEACH CITIES, each offering its own unique brand of the Southern California
experience. A day on the coast can include surf lessons, a romantic walk
on the beach or a nighttime bonfire cookout. What else could you ask for?!

We were  in Anaehim for Gay Days Anaheim 4 years ago. (What a fantastic party weekend that was!) So we went back just a few weeks ago, and I wondered what could really changed in 4 years, with the recession most parts of the US have dealt with. In Anaheim, they ask, WHAT RECESSION? Nothing paused here for a moment and building bigger and better moved full speed ahead!

$1 billion+  in renovations have been added to the California Adventures Park with the new addition of CARS LAND and 10 rides are being closed and refurbished, as we speak in the 2 parks.

But what  is most exciting, is the new developments happening all around Anaheim. There is so much to see and do off Disney property now as well.  Anaheim is turning back the hands of time, getting into deep values, enriching the community through the arts, providing a space for the production for local culinary artisans, embracing farm-to-table foods, the slow-food movement, vintage Americana, a focus on native food and health and allowing the public to watch firsthand the processes of baking, beer brewing cooking and more. Small business ownerships and no big box stores allowed here!  Embracing the history and heritage of Anaheim.

The Downtown Center Street Anaheim  is located at the heart of Downtown Anaheim and is surrounded by City Hall, newly built lofts, and the historic Carnegie Library and
Muzeo Museum, the Gehry-designed Anaheim ice rink, and the historic neighborhoods of the Colony District. You will find an awesome  collection of like-minded individuals and businesses focused on a common goal. Old values, personal service, shop local with handmade goods or have a haircut, shave (Imperial Barber Products) and a beer (Barbeer) . Homemade culinary treats with a distinctive cultural legacy. (Healthy Junk and Gypsy Den ).  Everything old, is new again!

With new and ongoing development projects (including the restoration of of the Packing House &
Packard Showroom by Lab Holding LLC*), Downtown Anaheim is enjoying a revitalization that will reestablish it as the center of Historic Anaheim and an important Orange County destination.

Coming soon (completion of project projected for March 2013) Anaheim residents and visitors alike will be treated to an amazing, new communal gathering place in the heart of downtown Anaheim, complete with refurbished historic structures and new exciting uses.

The Packing District, located at the intersection of Anaheim Blvd and Santa Ana Street, includes the restored Packard Car Showroom, an outdoor marketplace and the restored citrus Packing House. The Packing District designs and architecture will pay homage to the master illustrators and printers of early Californian fruit crates and union organizations.

One of the few remaining packing houses from the agricultural era for which Orange County is named, the Anaheim Citrus Packing House is a landmark in both County and City history. Built in 1919 at the edge of downtown Anaheim and along the Southern Pacific rail line, the Packing House was a hub of commerce for the area. Local farmers arrived to unload trucks of freshly picked citrus to begin the process of washing, grading and eventual packing into wooden crates. Once completed, the crated and labeled citrus would be loaded onto rail cars parked on the side of the building to be shipped nationwide.

The restored Packing House will serve as a culinary center, planned as a food hall reminiscent of the great public markets of South America and Europe, that brings together artisan food producers and purveyors in a public market type setting serving as a resource for the neighborhood (daily food production) and a community gathering space (restaurants and entertainment).


The bright 42,000-square-foot historic warehouse will feature communal dining, railroad car patios, an indoor music venue and unique culinary offerings.  The two level Packing House will have a large central atrium with communal dining surrounded by cafes and kiosks of varying sizes as well as outdoor picnic gardens and a building-length dining porch looking out to the outdoor marketplace, Farmers’ Park.

Farmer’s Park is an outdoor marketplace slated to host weekend farmer’s markets, outdoor concerts and movies, and festivals. Farmers Park will serve as picnic grounds for the entire project. Two small cafes sit in the park for quick takeout to enjoy in the gardens.

Farmers Park is a front porch for the community; a space that the existing neighbors will utilize as an amenity, and a welcome to those who will be visiting the adjacent Packing House and Packard Showroom.

The Packard Building is one of a handful of historic commercial buildings remaining in a district that has seen tremendous new urban development in the past decade. Contrasted with this new higher density development, buildings such as the Packard Building, the newly restored Carnegie Library and the citrus Packing House are quickly becoming the jewels of downtown Anaheim.

This mission revival building was built in 1925 and was designed with an open and light filled interior typical of car showrooms. After decades of various automobile uses and miscellaneous modifications, the Packard Building is now being restored to its original 1920’s glory. The Packard Showroom is home to the Anaheim Brewery (where past has a presence)  and Umami Burger  (named Burger of the Year!) and the two merchants share a large landscaped beer garden.  All of this is OPEN NOW and packing people in. The final phase should be unveiled in March 2013!

In the coming months we will take you to more of Anaheim and the OC including the breath taking Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, Crystal Cove State Park and more!

Useful Links You need to know…Gay Days Anaheim (held in October)
Anaheim and Orange County info
Anabella Hotel Just steps from Disneyland!
Great property and pricing!
Segestrom Center for the Arts
South Coast Plaza
The most AMAZING luxury shopping complex in the US
Laguna Beach Visitors info

*LAB Holding – In 1993, LAB holding invented the “anti-mall”, to meet the demands of  urban shoppers dissatisfied with the homogenization of conventional malls. In his his quest to hipsterize OC retail, Shaheen Sadeghi has built
quirkily beautiful properties and gained more than a few critics.

His latest extreme building makeover: the overhaul of Center Street in downtown Anaheim.
In the coming months, the palm-tree-lined, marble-and-teal shopping
plaza recently vacated by a jewelry-repair shop, discount-clothing
boutique and travel agency promoting cruise vacations will be
transformed into a 1940s-themed destination hub, packed with
meticulously conceptualized shops that nod to the city’s past.