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Buena Park

Buena Park

Feast on boysenberries, ride coasters, and take in some shows

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A few miles from Disneyland and 20 miles from Los AngelesBuena Park first found fame around a small boysenberry farm—and it has grown ever since into a wide-ranging family-friendly destination.

Buena Park and Knott’s Berry Farm History

The Orange County town dates back to the 1850s and a few buildings still remain from those frontier days—including the site of the Stage Stop Hotel. But Buena Park was really put on the map in the 1920s, when a farmer named Walter Knott started having success growing a hybrid berry called a boysenberry (part loganberry, raspberry, and blackberry); his farm stand expanded into a restaurant and later into Knott’s Berry Farm theme park. 

Today, the theme park is still the biggest attraction in town, with its own hotel and a classic selection of rides, live shows, and an updated version of that original tea shop, called Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant. Families will also want to stop at Knott’s Independence Hall, a brick-by-brick replica of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, down to a copy of the Liberty Bell. During the summer, the offerings include the nearby Knott’s Soak City Water Park.

Other Entertainment in Buena Park

The main artery of town runs along Beach Boulevard, which is home to a slew of hotels, restaurants, and two big dining-meets-family-entertainment attractions: Pirates Dinner Adventure, a swashbuckler-packed dinner theater set on a Spanish-style galleon in a huge indoor lagoon; and the popular chain Medieval Times, where you’ll dine while watching jousting, falconry, and acts of chivalry. For adults, there’s also the lively Beach Boulevard Club, a swanky, vintage Hollywood-style lounge. Sip a cocktail and sing along as dueling piano players play crowd requests—be it hip-hop, a jazz standard, or a Taylor Swift hit.

More Places to Eat & Drink in Buena Park

When hunger strikes, find your way—if you’re not already there—to Beach Boulevard, which is lined with dozens of restaurant options ranging from sushi to ramen to Korean barbeque, Mexican, and more. A few of the city’s destination eateries along the boulevard include the must-try Porto’s Bakery & Cafe, the only Orange County outpost of the beloved Cuban bakery from L.A. County. Don’t mind the line that can form outside this institution, tucked between Pirates Dinner Adventure and Medieval Times, at any time of day—it moves briskly. Inside, a dazzling array of pastries, Cuban sandwiches, and the famous potato balls (stuffed with beef, or cheese and peppers) await. Diners with a taste for the dark arts, meanwhile, may want to pull up a stool at the nearby Cauldron Spirits and Brews, a witches-and-wizards-themed pub and eatery with magically themed cocktails (like the Grey Witch cocktail with gin, champagne, and crème de violette) and Provençal-style pub fare, such as Croque Monsieur sliders. For a unique dining experience inspired by Buena Park's history, head to Grange Hall 39, located in Buena Park Mall, which highlights fresh, local ingredients. 

Cultural and Educational Activities in Buena Park

History, both prehistoric and the not so distant, are on display in Buena Park. At the Ralph B. Clark Interpretive Center, visitors can get a glimpse of dinosaur-era Orange County through exhibits, like the nine-million-year-old fossilized baleen whale skeleton on display, or through programs and guided tours (open Tuesdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.). To bring the more recent past into focus, stroll through the Buena Park Historic District. Tour the 1887 Whitaker-Jaynes House, which features exhibits and photos depicting Orange County history, and the circa 1884 Bacon House (one of the oldest buildings in Orange County). Tours of both are free and are available Monday through Thursday (see site for details).

Where to Stay in Buena Park

From romantic accommodations for two to spacious suites for your entire crew, the city has more than a dozen hotels, many of which have large outdoor swimming pools to relax in when you’re not out exploring. Several accommodations also offer free shuttles that will get you to Knott’s Berry Farm, Disneyland, and other nearby destinations. For extra-easy access to the former boysenberry farm, stay at the Knott’s Berry Farm Hotel, located next door to the theme park.

Keep driving west on Beach Boulevard and about 10 miles later, you’ll arrive at the famous surf breaks of Huntington Beach.

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