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Buena Park: A Hidden Gem in SoCal

buena park california

Located just 5 miles away from Disneyland, a short drive from the beach and home to the most attractions in the area, the lively city of Buena Park is the entertainment capital of Southern California. (It also boasts the distinguished honor of being the birthplace of the boysenberry.) With more than enough options to eat, play and stay, Buena Park is the perfect getaway location.

The Setting

Southern California is known for many things, maybe none more important to citizens residing in colder climes than its year-round beautiful weather. Warm temperatures and sunny skies blanket the city of Buena Park 12 months a year, making every season the perfect time to visit.

And when you get to the West Coast, Buena Park has a host of affordable and comfortable hotels all located right in the center of it all. Most local hotels offer free shuttle service to the area’s different attractions, including Disneyland. Many of these hotels also provide guests discounted tickets to theme parks and other attractions.

Things to Do

Knott’s Berry Farm is one of the premier theme parks in the country. Starting with a simple roadside berry stand, then a restaurant serving mouthwatering chicken dinners, Walter and Cordelia Knott attracted long lines of customers to their Buena Park farm. To keep crowds entertained, the Knott family built an entire Western-themed town that remains at the heart of Knott’s Berry Farm. Knott’s Berry Farm now bursts with attractions and entertainment for all ages, including first-class roller coasters and thrill rides, elaborate stage shows, interactive entertainment and family-friendly fun.

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One of Knott’s newest attractions is the HangTime roller coaster. This towering, 150-foot-tall ride is California’s first and only dive coaster. It propels riders around at a top speed of 57 mph and features a drop of 96 degrees (hence the “dive”). When the sun goes down, HangTime comes alive in a blaze of pulsing lights, often color-coordinated with seasons and holidays.

This summer, guests can enjoy another new addition when the BigFoot Rapids whitewater raft ride undergoes a major renovation. The new ride, Calico River Rapids, will feature animatronics, themed show scenes, a new story overlay and plenty of dynamic water effects.

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Knott’s Soak City Waterpark is a separate park adjacent to Knott’s Berry Farm. It is Orange County’s largest outdoor water park with 22 slides, the 750,000-gallon Tidal Wave Bay wave pool, the Sunset Lazy River, and the three-story Beach House, featuring 200 water guns, nozzles, sprayers and other interactive surprises. Soak City also features Gremmie Lagoon, a hands-on water playground for younger kids and families.

Other entertainment spots include Big Air Trampoline Park, where kids can catch air until their heart’s content, and John’s Incredible Pizza Co., which has enough food, games and activities for people of all ages to last 10 vacations. If you want to work on your swing, head to Olympic Golf Zone. This indoor facility features golf simulators, where you can virtually play on some of the best courses in the country, as well as batting cages and a full menu and bar to fuel your athletic feats. CGV Cinemas shows the latest Hollywood blockbusters in a cutting-edge facility that offers a 4D experience with sound, immersive viewing technology, seats that move with the action, and special effects including rain, scents and smoke. You’ll also find signature flavored popcorn, a dining menu and a premium selection of beer and wine.

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Get in on the action at Pirate’s Dinner Adventure.

Buena Park is also home to numerous themed dining experiences that combine entertaining shows and delectable food. The electrifying Medieval Times features a show of knights displaying astounding athletic feats and thrilling swordplay while guests enjoy a “hands-on” feast. If you prefer your sword fights to take place on an 18th century Spanish galleon, head to the Pirate’s Dinner Adventure. Up to 150 volunteers participate in this epic entertainment experience. Get sworn in as a pirate while wearing your favorite pirate garb, then enjoy the action and adventure while feasting on a four-course meal.

Teatro Martini offers a completely different experience than knights and pirates. The dinner comedy theater’s show is a classic, European style spectacle featuring entertainment from around the world including cirque, comedy, magic and music.

Food and Drink

Enjoying all that Buena Park has to offer will surely make you build up an appetite. Have no fear. The city is filled to the gills with award-winning restaurants. A stop at the world-renowned Porto’s Bakery & Cafe is a must. This Cuban eatery serves up a menu full of lust-worthy offerings, including its top-selling cheese rolls, potato balls and milk n’ berries cake.

While at Knott’s Farm, be sure to grab a meal at Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant. The eatery first opened in 1934 with the Knott family serving customers in their tea room. While the restaurant has grown into one of California’s largest, the food is prepared following the same recipe. Each dinner consists of three pieces of fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, and other sides. Dessert options include boysenberry pie and boysenberry sherbet, and a full-service bar serves up boysenberry-infused cocktails.

Other diverse dining options include Asian-fusion Sup Noodle Bar (voted the best Pho in Orange County by “OC Weekly”) and all-you-can-eat Miss Shabu. Or if you’re in the mood for some south-of-the-border treats, head to Tacos la Calle for tacos, mulitas, tortas or whatever else your heart desires.

Buena Park has a host of nightlife options as well, including Rock & Brews. This rock-inspired bar and restaurant, owned by Kiss band members Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, features concert lighting, videos of history’s great rock moments, and wall-to-wall rock art, not to mention more than 60 beers on tap. Or head over to the witch-themed Cauldron Spirits & Brews for an eerily delicious craft cocktail.

To start planning your Buena Park vacation, order a free travel guide at


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