The Downtown Disney District at the Disneyland Resort is a fun area for shopping, dining, and entertainment that doesn’t require a park ticket to enter. The small promenade is filled with Disney-branded shops and unique dining experiences that often bring people out of the parks for a break from the lines and crowds to enjoy a quieter meal and a little shopping before heading back into either Disneyland Park or Disney California Adventure to enjoy the evening.
There’s so much to do at the Downtown Disney District that you would need at least a half day to do it all. We’re breaking down the best things to do at the Downtown Disney District, plus a few tips and tricks to get the most out of your time there.
The Downtown Disney District is home to 21 different dining experiences, with everything from table service restaurants to grab-and-go ice cream shops. For breakfast before hitting the parks consider La Brea Bakery Cafe, where you can enjoy a plated breakfast starting at 8 am. The menu is filled with things like breakfast sandwiches and stuffed French toast.
When you need a break from the parks in the afternoon and are looking for a spot for lunch there are a few great options, including Black Tap Craft Burgers and Shakes which has an extensive menu of over the top burgers and milkshakes. This is a fun spot for families who are looking for a hearty meal that will keep them full and will please every member of the group. If you’re just looking for a milkshake then you can order from the CrazyShake window and get it to go.
Another lunch favorite is Earl of Sandwich. This casual eatery serves up cold and hot sandwiches along with simple sides like soup and macaroni and cheese. This is one of our favorite spots to order to go, then take it back to the hotel to enjoy in the peace and quiet of the room for an afternoon break.
When dinner time comes around one of the most popular spots is Naples Ristorante E Bar. The pizza and Italian restaurant is serving up authentic Italian meals in a beautiful setting. The indoor portion of the restaurant is sleek and modern and the outdoor section has great people watching and views of the Downtown Disney District. Another great spot if pizza isn’t doing it for you is Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen. The New Orleans style restaurant serves Bayou favorites like gumbo and bbq shrimp and grits.
After a long day inside the Disneyland theme parks there’s nothing better than ice cream and Salt and Straw at the Downtown Disney District is scooping creative flavors into cups and cones. Throughout the year the casual creamery has seasonal flavors like goat cheese, marionberry and habanero, and more traditional flavors like sea salt and caramel.
Shopping at the Downtown Disney District is plentiful with stores like World of Disney where you can stock up on souvenirs, Disney Home where you can find cute furnishing and accessories for your house, along with places like Pandora Jewelry, Sephora, and the LEGO Store. Most of the shops at the Downtown Disney District are connected in one long strip so you can pop in and out of stores easily.
One place that you won’t want to miss while shopping is Marceline’s Confectionary, where you can find most of the tasty treats that are inside the parks without actually having to go inside the parks. A few fan favorites are candy apples, marshmallow wands, and churro toffee.
There are two spots for family entertainment at the Downtown Disney District and each has its own flair. The first is live music and entertainment at Splitsville at the Kingpin Stage. Here you’ll see local musicians singing some of their original songs and a few covers of songs you probably know.
The second spot is Flambeaux’s Jazz Club at Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen. Here you’ll see everything from full bands to solo artists relenting to the smooth tones of jazz. One of the best ways to really get into the New Orleans spirit is to order a cocktail and a plate of beignets while watching the acts.
The Downtown Disney District gets very busy on weekends and holidays. If that’s when you plan to go get there early because Disney can close the area if it reaches capacity.
If you’re staying at a Disneyland Resort Hotel consider walking through this area first thing in the morning or late in the evening after the parks close. Many of the stores and restaurants are open late and you won’t have to fight through crowds of people to get ice cream or buy a Mickey Mouse t-shirt.
Always check to see if any of the stores or restaurants take discounts when you check out. It’s likely that they take Disneyland Annual Pass discounts, D23 discounts, or Disney Visa discounts. The list of stores and restaurants that take discounts is always changing so it’s always best to kindly ask.
Megan duBois is a travel and lifestyle journalist who has been venturing to the Disney Parks for over 25 years. Her favorite park is Disney’s Hollywood Studios and her favorite park snack is a Mickey ice cream sandwich.