15 Best Things to Do in Garden Grove, CA

Garden Grove, CA
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Garden Grove is a stone's throw away from the magical world of Anaheim Disneyland.

People pass by Garden Grove and its neighboring cities heading to Disneyland most of the time without checking what these small communities offer.

So, if you're curious about what Garden Grove offers for people who wish to explore its streets, many exciting things await you there.

Garden Grove is part of Orange County in California, an hour's drive from Hollywood and Los Angeles.

This small city, founded in 1874, was a key agricultural area in the United States for its abundance of oranges and walnuts.

Although the city's image has changed over the years, its rich agricultural roots are still recognized today through its annual Strawberry Festival.

Today, Garden Grove is a thriving city with a diverse culture and heritage, considering many Vietnamese take refuge there after the fall of Saigon in the 1970s and now call the city their home.

With that in mind, Garden Grove is an exciting destination for food, culture, outdoor activities, entertainment, and a bit of history.

So, read on and find out the 15 best things to do in Garden Grove, CA.

Have a Grand Vacation at the Great Wolf Lodge Water Park

Front exterior of Great Wolf Lodge Water Park
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If you feel that Anaheim Disneyland is too crowded, you can head to the Great Wolf Lodge Water Park in Garden Grove.

Although it's not as vast as Anaheim Disneyland, this resort and water theme park have all the top-notch facilities, features, and grandeur that offers the same excitement as the former.

People swimming at Great Wolf Lodge Water Park
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In addition, the Great Wolf Lodge Water Park is the most extensive indoor water park resort in California.

This resort/water theme park boasts dozens of exciting features and attractions that will surely give your family a memorable experience there.

While you're there, don't miss trying the surfing pool, river canyon run, lazy river, waterslides, themed coves, and other exciting features.

Waterslide in Great Wolf Lodge Water Park
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Treat Yourself at the Van Bakery

The Van Bakery along Harbor Boulevard in Garden Grove is one of the most popular bakeshops in the city because of its classic Belgian boulangerie.

This small bakeshop offers everyone a unique but delectable line of bread and pastries baked in Belgian traditions.

For a unique souvenir from your Garden Grove trip, this bakeshop is known for its "Boucher," a basket filled with loaves of bread, champagne, wine, chocolates, and other delectable items.

So, you now have the best souvenir idea that you can take home from your Garden Grove trip.

Wander through the Charming and Historic Garden Grove Main Street

Welcome arch of Garden Grove Main Street
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If you want to learn about Garden Grove's rich history, you can proceed to its historic Main Street, where you'll find many period buildings and some of the city's historical icons.

The city's main street is tucked in between the Acacia parkway and the Garden Grove Boulevard.

Aside from history, it's also where most of the local shops, eateries, cafes, and other attractions are concentrated.

Night scene at Garden Grove Main Street
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So, it also means that this is the place in the city to shop and have quality leisure time.

Strolling through Garden Grove's Main Street offers you old town vibes while you enjoy shopping and dining at one of its businesses.

Checking this area in Graden Grove is an experience you shouldn't miss, especially if you want to immerse yourself in the city's local vibes.

Colorful sunset over Garden Grove Main Street
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Explore the Beauty of the Haster Basin Recreational Park

The Haster Basin Recreational Park, accessed through Lampson Avenue, offers outdoor enthusiasts a vast green space that spans 21.5 acres.

If you're up for more outdoor activities, this park is one of the best places in Garden Grove for outdoor recreation.

It features numerous picnic areas, a playground, and other essential amenities that make an excellent community park.

Before heading home, spend some time with your family and enjoy the outdoors at Haster Basin Recreational Park.

Take Excellent Photos with the Crystal Cathedral

Exterior of Crystal Cathedral
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The Crystal Cathedral, now known as the Christ Cathedral in Garden Grove, is a man-made marvel you should check out.

This extensive structure constructed in 1981 is a working cathedral and an essential place for worship in Garden Grove.

It's named Crystal Cathedral because of its unique and jaw-dropping design that resembles a giant crystal structure towering above Garden Grove's skyline.

Interior of Crystal Cathedral
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In addition, the entire cathedral shimmers from the sunlight's reflection, making it look more impressive.

With that in mind, seize the moment and take photos of this incredible structure for your social media.

If you're planning to enter the cathedral, you'll also be amazed by its vast interior that fits more than 3,000 people, and don't forget to check out the beautiful Hazel Wright Memorial Organ.

Sunny day exterior of Crystal Cathedral
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Have a Great Time at the Atlantis Park

If you're looking for a place to bond with your family, head to Atlantis Way in Garden Grove.

This wholesome attraction in Garden Grove offers the entire family an unforgettable experience through its massive swimming pool, vast playground, and gigantic concrete animals where kids can have fun.

The park has more than enough picnic areas for adults while watching the kids play.

Overall, the Atlantis Park offers families the chance to have a quality get-together.

Join the Revelry of the Annual Strawberry Festival

Name sign of the annual Strawberry Festival
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Since 1958, Garden Grove, through its Chamber of Commerce organizes the fun-filled Strawberry Festival during the Memorial Day Weekend.

Garden Grove's streets are filled with people from around Orange County and other parts of California to celebrate this festival, honoring the region's rich agricultural history.

Strawberries and other berries on a table during Strawberry Festival
Irvinetustin, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Although the strawberry fields in Garden Grove have long been gone, locals continue this tradition every year, featuring top-notch strawberry treats, sweets, and pastries.

In addition, dozens of bands, musicians, and performers add excitement to the festival while food vendors feed thousands of people during the celebration.

If you're visiting Garden Grove during the Memorial Weekend, don't forget to celebrate with the locals the Strawberry Festival.

Experience Excellent Vietnamese Cuisine at Little Saigon

Welcome sign of Little Saigon
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Little Saigon in Garden Grove is a neighborhood of Vietnamese-Americans who thrive in the city by sharing their culture and heritage through food.

This area in Garden Grove features restaurants, shops, and businesses run by Vietnamese-Americans who arrived in the city back in the 1970s as refugees from the Vietnam War.

When you're in Garden Grove, it's pretty hard to miss visiting Little Saigon because it's one of the top-notch places to eat delicious food.

Businesses at Little Saigon
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When you're there, never forget to order its famous Pho, which has different variations.

In addition, the restaurants you'll find in Little Saigon offer a diverse set of Vietnamese and fusion cuisines that will surely satisfy your tastebuds.

Furthermore, you'll find boutiques and shops where you can buy unique souvenir items.

Overall, Little Saigon in Garden Grove is a destination, offering you a unique Asian experience.

Watch a Live Concert at the Garden Amphitheater

Also known as "Garden Amp," the Garden Amphitheater is an outdoor venue for live events in Garden Grove.

It is home to the bard festival in Anaheim, the Shakespeare Orange County, and various groups and bands that regularly perform at this venue.

The Garden Amphitheater is usually packed with people who want to witness local musicians, bands, and stage play performances at an affordable price.

So, if you're looking for entertainment in Garden Grove, the Garden Amphitheater won't disappoint you with its series of shows that you can choose from.

Treat Your Tastebuds at the SteelCraft Graden Grove

Exterior of SteelCraft Graden Grove
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The SteelCraft Garden Grove is a local food hall that features the city's best local food businesses offering diverse cuisines to satisfy your craving.

It is situated along Euclid St. between Acacia Parkway and Garden Grove Boulevard.

The congregation of eight food businesses became one of the most visited places in Garden Grove for hungry diners who crave a mouthwatering meal.

Taco shop at SteelCraft Graden Grove
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From American classics to Mexican comfort food, there is something for everyone in SteelCraft.

When you're there, choose from its featured vendors; Barrio, Beachwood Brewing, Bird Talk, Dark Horse Coffee Roasters, Duck Donuts, La Taqueria Brand, Tea Otter, and The Penalty Box.

So, you know where to stop by if you're hungry while exploring Garden Grove.

Coffee shop at SteelCraft Graden Grove
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Step Inside the GEM Theatre

Situated along Main Street, the GEM Theatre in Garden Grove serves as one of the top-notch venues for classic and modern stage plays.

More reason to visit this venue is the roster of talent, mainly stage actors from Hollywood.

The GEM Theatre initially opened as a vaudeville theatre in the 1920s.

In the 1930s, it got turned into a movie theater.

Fast forward to 1979, the GEM Theatre was reintroduced as a venue for live theatrical performances.

From then on, it maintained its reputation as one of the best places in Garden Grove for live performances.

Pose at the United Methodist Church

Exterior of United Methodist Church
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The United Methodist Church along Main Street is distinguished by its unique architecture, making it a perfect backdrop for a gorgeous photo.

According to records, Garden Groves has the most number of chapels and churches per capita in California.

One of the most established churches in Garden Grove is the United Methodist Church which boasts beautiful architecture, aside from the fact that it's the oldest church in this city.

Side exterior of United Methodist Church
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The United Methodist Church has been operating for more than 140 years already.

In addition, its congregation offers guided tours inside the church, making your visit there more exciting.

So, take a trip to this church and see its impressive architecture from the outside to its interiors.

Shop for Asian Food at A.R Super Market

The A.R Super Market is a popular place to buy imported Asian food items and ingredients.

Since there's a relatively large Asian population in Garden Grove, it's no surprise that numerous shops offer Asian products, but the best ones to buy these are at the A.R Super Market.

This grocery offers an eclectic selection of Asian food items from produce, canned goods, noodles, and spices.

So, if you're craving Asian dishes such as Korean food, this is your go-to place to buy its ingredients.

Spend Your Day at Village Green Park

Clock tower in the middle of Village Green Park
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Village Green Park is one of Garden Grove's oldest parks, which remains one of the preferred hangout places for the locals.

If you want to spend your day lying on green grass, the Village Green Park is the best place you need to go.

It offers a peaceful atmosphere that instantly sets your mood to relax while you can bring food and drinks to have a fabulous picnic.

Closeup of Village Green Park's clock tower
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In addition, Village Green Park also hosts various events, including sports, concerts, and community-related events.

So, when you're in Garden Grove, make sure to drop by at the Village Green Park.

You might catch an exciting event while strolling there.

Learn History at the Stanley Ranch Museum & Historical Village

The Stanley Ranch Museum & Historical Village nestled along Euclid Street is an excellent place for history buffs to learn about Garden Grove's backstory.

The museum is a historical icon in this city, but there's more to that.

You can browse through and explore an excellent collection of century-old buildings and historic homes previously owned by the first settlers in Garden Grove.

Garden Grove's locals and historians worked together to preserve these buildings' historical value.

Astonishingly, most of the intricate details of the buildings you'll find in the Historical Village still has their original furnishings, even the lamp posts installed along Main Boulevard.

To add more, you can also browse through the old house and garage of Walt Disney's uncle, where Walt used to live and established his first studio.

However, you need to book your visit there every first and third Sunday of each month, since that is the only time officials allow tourists to visit there.

When you're already there, make the most out of your visit to these historic buildings.

Final Thoughts

Garden Grove may not entirely match the fun and excitement the Anaheim Disneyland offers, but it's a unique destination that is worthy of your time and energy.

It's a great alternative, especially when people start to crowd Anaheim Disneyland during peak season.

Garden Grove's theme parks, beautiful community parks, and many attractions make your stay there worthwhile.

So, are you ready to discover Garden Grove's hidden gems?

Bookmark this post as your reference to your Garden Grove travel adventure.