Say 'yes' to SoCal's fun city this spring

Feb 1, 2023

If your resolutions for the new year include letting loose more often, playing more or simply experiencing more with friends and family, Buena Park, a lively town in Orange County, California is fully dedicated to helping you follow through on your goals.

Buena Park embraces its image as a place where fun comes first — a reputation earned in no small part because of its famous Knott’s Berry Farm theme park. And over the next few months, the place that bills itself SoCal’s Fun City will only be ramping up the good times with the arrival of its “juicy” berry-themed spring festival, not to mention gorgeous spring weather that makes days spent outdoors seem mighty appealing.

Knott's Berry Farm

Throw in a tantalizing array of restaurants offering everything from all-you-can-eat Korean barbecue, to homestyle fried chicken to Michelin-recognized ramen; novel nightlife spots serving up cotton candy-infused martinis among other mixology greats; indoor and outdoor attractions plus a wide range of affordable places to stay, and you have every reason to say “yes” to a long weekend in Buena Park this spring. Here’s a quick guide to maximizing your fun.

A boysenberry bonanza

Did you know that the boysenberry didn't exist until 1920, when it was developed by a Californian horticulturalist (a Mr. Rudolph Boysen, of course)? The deliciously mild berry was then commercially produced by none other than Walter Knott at his namesake berry farm — and the boysenberry's rise in turn put Knott's Berry Farm on the map. The berry farm went on to become one of the largest theme parks in the United States. And thus, the roots of what is now the world's biggest boysenberry festival began. 

Knott's Berry Farm Boysenberry Festival

Knott's Berry Farm's fascinating origin story is one big reason you'll want to spend your first day in town at the festival, soaking in all things boysenberry. The other reason? It's a nonstop fun fest. 

Running from March 10 to April 16, this year's festival will include a daily lineup of entertainment, including local bands, 80s dance parties and musical stage shows featuring Snoopy, Charlie Brown and the rest of the PEANUTS gang. 

PEANUTS stage show

There are audience-participation games throughout the day, including a highly anticipated boysenberry pie-eating contest. And of course there's the food: a barrage of toothsome savory and sweet dishes using boysenberries in every conceivable way. 

Boysenberry Festival wagon ride

Record-setting thrill rides and kiddie-favorite fun 

Once you've played, danced, wined and dined your way across the berry merry event — allowing ample time for digestion, of course — there's plenty more to explore at the 160-acre theme park. Daredevils can target the high-octane rollercoasters and thrill rides, like HangTime, a dive coaster that plummets 150 feet to make the steepest drop in the state;  the Coast Rider, which covers 1,339 feet of twisting, turning and spinning track; and Ghost Rider, one of the world's longest and tallest wooden rollercoasters at 118 feet. (Tip: For an extra scary ride, hop on after sundown.)

Knott's Berry Farms' Big Rig Trucks ride

If your traveling party is more into finger painting than thrill seeking, Knott's has oodles of rides for wee ones, too. The gently bobbing baskets of the Balloon Race, the not-so-high-flying Camp Bus and the swinging seats of Charlie Brown's Kite Flyer are just a few examples. The interactive sports and arcade games of the Boardwalk will excite spring breakers of all ages as well.

Buena Park

When it's time to settle down for the night, there are more than a dozen comfortable and affordable hotels in Buena Park — most of them within walking distance to major attractions. 

Baked bliss, award-winning ramen and sweet treats

Waking up on your second day in Buena Park, there's a good chance your breakfast cravings won't involve boysenberries (and if they do, you know where to go!). This is an opportune time to dive into Buena Park's hot and steamy dining scene — and we don't just mean coffee, though that is certainly the first order of business.

You'll have a tough choice to make: the much-talked about Spanish lattes and milk teas at Basilur Tea & Coffee; the creamy coconut coffee or Mexican mocha at Cafe Nieve; or the house brew at Coffee Code, marked by hints of orange zest, cinnamon and chocolate. Sorry, we know it's impossible — so if decisiveness fails you, just plan a caffeine-fueled tour. 

Porto's Bakery & Cafe

Once sufficiently awoken, you'll be ready for a trip to Porto's Bakery & Cafe, a Cuban spot that was just recognized by the LA Times as the best bakery in the Southlands. (Tip: the Cuban potato balls are an absolute must-try.) Also to consider is the bacon, egg and cheese sandwich topped with chili jam in a warm brioche bun courtesy of local breakfast staple EggSlice. Before lunchtime rolls around, you'll already have a good sense of why Buena Park is a foodie-favorite getaway

Solidify that knowledge with a trip to Ramen & Tsukemen TAO for lunch or dinner, where dishes like the creamy, spicy red miso ramen and savory chicken ramen have just earned the venue Michelin Bib Gourmand recognition. And for dessert, head to Honeymee, whose raw honey-infused soft-serve won't disappoint.

Historic sites and golf gaming

Whitaker Jaynes Estate 

History buffs can travel back in time with the free Buena Park Historic District tour, which includes stops at several buildings dating as far back as 1884. One of these also serves as the local history museum. Inside, the museum is furnished in authentic turn-of-the-century style, and guests of the tour are invited to step in and immerse themselves in a bygone era. 

Olympic Golf Zone

If golf is more your speed, Buena Park has another unique experience in store: Olympic Golf Zone. This digital golf experience lets you play 18 holes on some of the world's most famous golf courses — virtually, of course — while enjoying a round of cold drinks from the onsite bar. (Baseball fans can opt for batting cages, too.)

Dinner shows and Cauldron cocktails

Continue the fun into dinner time, when you can choose between two highly entertaining dinner shows: Medieval Times, an immersive experience that includes swordplay, falconry and horse riding, alongside a four-course meal; and the Pirates Dinner Adventure, a swashbuckling saga complete with aerial stunts and special effects, all set aboard a replica of an 18th century Spanish ship surrounded by a massive indoor lagoon. 

Medieval Times

After hours spent chanting for your favorite pirate, mermaid or armor-clad warrior amid waves of dry ice "smoke," it's understandable if you're ready to call it a "knight."

But if your thirst for adventure is still not sated, more themed fun is in store at Cauldron Spirits & Brews. The bewitching bar is outfitted with antique French decor and has a distinctly spooky ambiance. Toast to all things wicked with the signature house drink: The Knotty Kid. This theatrical cocktail entails pouring vodka and lemon juice over a chunk of boysenberry cotton candy.  

The Knotty Kid at Cauldron Spirits & Brews

Another stellar nightlife choice: The Beach Boulevard Club. The classy cocktail lounge is styled with a Prohibition-era theme, and guests are treated to the sounds of dueling pianos from 8 p.m. to midnight, Thursday through Saturday.

Nature walks, "incredible" pizza and tough good byes

Beyond its celebrated Knott's Berry Farm, Buena Park has another kind of park well worth a visit. Ralph B. Clark Regional Park spans more than 100 acres and features hiking trails in a variety of difficulty levels, horseshoe pits, volleyball courts, a playground and a pond where anglers can fish for rainbow trout, largemouth bass and bluegill. 

Ralph B. Clark Regional Park

After a day spent in the great outdoors, dive into Buena Park's food scene once more to refuel. The choices are numerous, but Gaucho Grill, an Argentinean steakhouse that makes a mean wagyu ribeye; Mochinut Hawaiian-style donuts; Paris Baguette's tiramisu cream puffs; and the famous fried chicken at Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant are just a few suggestions.   

John's Incredible Pizza

Or stop in at John's Incredible Pizza Company, which melds an all-you-can-eat menu with the kind of fun and games that put Buena Park on the map — we're talking carnival-style rides, arcade games and more. If time allows, take the kids to Big Air Trampoline Park — a perfect spot for getting the wiggles out before a ride in the car. 

Whether you're headed home, to Disney or to the beaches mere minutes away, Buena Park is at the ready when you need another super-size infusion of fun.

Ready to go? Order a free travel guide and check out Buena Park hotels for your fun-filled getaway. 

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