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July 2024
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2024 Convention Takes You to Southern California

From Disneyland to dazzling beaches, there are plenty of area attractions.

By Paul Sterman

Collage of five circles with images of popular Southern California destinations
All photos courtesy of Visit Anaheim

The 2024 International Convention in Anaheim, California, promises to be a magical experience. Not only are there special activities in celebration of the organization’s centennial, but attractions abound in the host city and surrounding areas of sunny Southern California. Think beaches, baseball, and Disneyland!

Anaheim is imbued with Toastmasters history. After the organization’s first club formed in nearby Santa Ana in 1924, the second club formed in Anaheim. Anaheim Club 2 is still active, as is the Smedley Chapter One Club in Santa Ana. Toastmasters has held several International Conventions in Anaheim, including in 1974, which marked the organization’s 50-year anniversary. (On the cover of its August 1974 issue, The Toastmaster magazine ran a full-color photo of fireworks over Disneyland.)

With plenty of excitement in store this summer, here are some local places to check out during your stay—or even better, if you extend your trip beyond the convention.

Local Offerings

Anaheim, a city of nearly 350,000 people, is in Orange County, bordered by Los Angeles to the north and San Diego to the south. The House of Mouse—as in Mickey, as in the Disneyland Resort—is a mile down the road from the convention venue, the Anaheim Marriott hotel. The Disneyland Resort, home to Disneyland Park and California Adventure Park, attracts millions of visitors a year with its blend of Disney characters, roller coasters, colorful parades, and familiar haunts such as the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, Sleeping Beauty Castle, and Star Wars: The Galaxy’s Edge.

Roller coasters at Knotts Berry Farm theme parkKnott's Berry Farm

Though Disneyland is more well-known, Knott’s Berry Farm is also a popular theme park in the area; it’s located about 15 minutes from Anaheim. Knott’s has its own spate of scary rides, along with treats like Old West Ghost Town, Soak City Waterpark, and Camp Snoopy. Fun bit of theme park trivia: The famous actor and comedian Steve Martin, who grew up in Orange County, did magic shows at Disneyland as a teenager and performed in skits and plays at Knott’s Berry Farm’s Bird Cage Theater.

If you want to watch some professional baseball, the Los Angeles Angels play at Anaheim’s Angel Stadium, the team’s home since 1966 (it’s the fourth-oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball). It’s a great place to watch a ballgame. (The Angels are scheduled to play home games here August 12–14 against the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team, and August 16–18 against the Atlanta Braves. You can find more information on

Anaheim has several notable performance venues, including House of Blues, the City National Grove of Anaheim, and Honda Center, which hosts major artists like Usher, Jennifer Lopez, and Janet Jackson (and is also home to the Anaheim Ducks hockey team).

Eat Up!

There are a host of fun food options nearby, with many eating spots around the hotel. Muna Zain, a longtime Toastmaster in Anaheim, suggests a popular location—one that has more than just food—within walking distance.

“If you’re looking for a great outdoor dining, entertainment, and shopping spot in the heart of the Anaheim Resort District, I highly recommend Anaheim GardenWalk,” she says.

Restaurants there include Casa de Pancho Mexican Grill & Cantina, and McCormick & Schmick’s.

Anaheim Packing House lit up near streetAnaheim Packing House

Another draw is the Anaheim Packing House, a facility once used for processing Sunkist oranges that is now a food hall showcasing the diverse culinary fare of Southern California: everything from Japanese crepes and cheeseburger egg rolls to a bonanza of barbecued smoked meats and craft beers. (Or catch a ballgame at Angel Stadium and relish such ballpark staples as hot dogs, peanuts, nachos, and garlic fries.)

There are also enticing restaurants of myriad cultures—Mexican, Vietnamese, Korean, and Indian, just to name a few—throughout Orange County.

Laguna Beach with palm trees and mountains in backgroundLaguna Beach

Beach Time

Southern California beaches are famed for their scenic beauty and prime surfing spots (memorialized in song by the Beach Boys). The area’s coastal expanse includes Newport Beach, highlighted by dazzling ocean views, glitzy shops and hotels, and the much-frequented Balboa Island; Dana Point, whose picturesque harbor is a hub for boaters, fishermen, and others who enjoy water activities; Huntington Beach, home of the International Surfing Museum; and Laguna Beach, a historic oceanside arts mecca.

“I love strolling around Laguna Beach, appreciating its nature and art,” says Zain, a member of the Humor Masters Toastmasters club in Anaheim. “The city is famous for its abundance of art galleries, coves, and beaches.”

Those staying for extended vacations might enjoy a day trip to Catalina Island, located about 25 miles off the Southern California coast.

There is also an array of mountains to enjoy in the region, including the Santa Ana, San Bernardino, and Santa Monica mountains.

Beyond Orange County

From Anaheim, Los Angeles is about a 45-minute trip by car. (Train rides are also available.) The city has many well-known attractions, such as Universal Studios, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Santa Monica Pier, the Griffith Observatory, and others. Renowned performance venues include the Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Ahmanson Theatre, the Laugh Factory comedy club, and the Hollywood Bowl.

San Diego is about 90 minutes away from Anaheim by car. (Train rides go here, too.) The city’s highlights include: the San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park, Legoland, SeaWorld, and the La Jolla Cove and other scenic ocean spots.

Anaheim Marriott hotel building at nightAnaheim Marriott 

Convention Site

The Anaheim Marriott hotel is located in a vibrant area of restaurants, shops, and hotels. And of course, it’s right near the sprawling Disney playground, which in addition to the two theme parks includes Downtown Disney, a dining-and-shopping district.

All convention events will take place at the Marriott. The hotel has two ballrooms, a restaurant called nFuse, an outdoor swimming pool, a social lounge, and a well-equipped fitness center.

There are plenty of other places to see in Southern California, as well as recreational activities to enjoy. When you gather in Disney-flavored Anaheim to experience the convention with fellow Toastmasters and friends from around the world, you’ll be in the happiest place on Earth.


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