By Merilee Kern, ‘The Luxe List’ Executive Editor
Nestled in California’s Orange County, the city of Buena Park is a beacon for fun-loving family travelers. Comprised of approximately 11 square miles, this small town packs a huge travel and tourism punch, boasting some of the world’s most well-known theme parks and attractions.
With a history that dates back to 1783, when the entire state was occupied by Spanish explorers and Pedro Fages ruled as governor, Buena Park has an interesting if not inadvertent origin. The King of Spain gave Fages permission to create land grants and the area was divided into five ranchos, one of which was Rancho Los Coyotes with a total of 48,806 acres. Buena Vista sits in the middle of this rancho.
In 1885, James Whitaker bought 690 acres with the intention of creating a cattle farm. However, the railroad convinced him to create a town instead. When he then created the town of Buena Park, Orange County was not yet formed and he likely had no idea that, one day, the town would become a mecca for tourists wanting to experience some of the best family entertainment Southern California area has to offer.
Adjacent to the city of Anaheim, California, Buena Park is a mere twenty miles from Los Angeles, ten miles from the beach, and only five miles from Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure Park. But within its own city limits there is an abundance things to do for families or anyone who seeks fun and frivolity. In fact, Buena Park is sometimes called “the entertainment capital of Southern California” given how much there is to do in the area. Below are four Buena Park itinerary essentials should your own travels take you to this lively locale.
Knott’s Berry Farm
Knott’s Berry Farm isn’t just another amusement park, but offers entertainment that is inspired by the history of the area. Since Buena Park was originally an agricultural area, it isn’t surprising that Knott’s Berry Farm was once a working berry farm. Interestingly, every boysenberry all around the world originates from this single farm.
When Knott’s Berry Farm started to reach out to the public, it was a simple roadside stand. Today, it has grown into one of the top theme parks in the world with rides and entertainment. While known for its Ghost Town and Camp Snoopy, it also boasts classic attractions like the Timber Mountain Log Ride and the Calico Mine Ride. Also the interactive 4-D experience called “Voyage to the Iron Reef” and its world-famous Snoopy ice skating shows are a great time. For real adrenaline junkies, there’s the Silver Bullet—the largest inverted roller coaster in California, and Ghostride, the longest, tallest, and fastest wooden coaster on the west coast.
You may want to invest in all-day dining passes so the whole family stays well-fed throughout their day at the park.
Knott’s Soak City Waterpark
Adjacent to this park is Knott’s Soak City Waterpark open each May through September. This is Orange County’s largest water park, and it recently undertook a 2-acre expansion and thematic renovation, there are new shaded seating areas, spacious cabanas and a newly remodeled Longboard’s Grill.
The semi-private cabana rental is great for those who prefer shade and want an easy place for the family to gather and meet up. Cabanas can easily hold up to 8 people and have tables with umbrellas, inner tube rentals and wait service. There are three types of cabanas available, located in different areas throughout the water park, but the amenities are the same no matter which you choose.
Also as part of the expansion, the park debuted two brand new water slide towers, “Shore Break” and “The Wedge.” There are six thrilling water slides in total, including one that is seven stories high.
After a full day at a theme park or once you return from sightseeing in Hollywood, there’s no more thrilling way to end your evening than at the Medieval Times Tournament and Dinner Show. This unique dining experience takes you back to a time where knights jousted and people dined on foul and fixin’s with their bare hands. The entire experience, from the atmosphere to the food to the show, all makes it feel as though you’ve stepped back into the 1500s. The European-style castle features a soaring tower, elaborately decorated Hall of Arms, gift shop and indoor stable area.
Here chivalry and bravery reign supreme. Cheer on your favorite Knight while dining on a hearty meal—soup with garlic bread; half roaster chicken with baked potato and corn on the cob; and cake. While you dine you’ll marvel at awe-inspiring horsemanship and falconry as a thrilling battle unfolds before you.
Tickets include your meal and the show. An upgraded “King’s Royalty” package affords you priority castle access, VIP first row all section seating or second row in center section, priority seating access, knight’s rally towel, cheering banner, VIP lanyard, and a framed entrance group photo
Rocks & Brews
There is no shortage of unique places to eat in Buena Park, with Rock & Brews among them. The brainchild of Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley of KISS, this eatery offers affordable, high-quality American comfort food in a vibrant and kid-friendly Rock & Roll themed atmosphere. This includes burgers, wings, pizza, sandwiches and even many diet-conscious and gluten-free selections. With delicious food and brews, including over 100 different craft beers and a broad international selection, you’re guaranteed to find something new.
The restaurant is like an entertainment complex in itself, with a sand pit for beach volleyball, kid’s play area and lifeguard tower. You can opt to sit indoors or out.
Of course, these are just a few of the enjoyable things to do in Buena Park. In this action-packed city you’ll find even more themed and award-winning restaurants, stores galore, entertainment venues, and ample ways to help the kids burn off that seemingly endless energy—the area trampoline park is a huge hit in this regard. No matter which outings you choose, a visit to Buena Park is one your family will surely remember for years to come.