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Buena Park, California; Center of the Southland

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Buena Park, California is an exciting city in Orange County. Buena Park is home to Knott's Berry Farm and the always tasty, Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant. Buena Park is a great destination for families that want to spend their vacation riding high speed roller coasters, while soaking up the California sun.
Brandon Speakman on April 21, 2020 - 6:02 am in Featured Cities, Historical

Things to do in Buena Park, California

Buena Park, California is a quirky and interesting Orange County city. The city of Buena Park is filled with many family-friendly attractions and is a great area in Southern California, perfect for your next family vacation.

Early on, Buena Park consisted of large ranchos by land grants that The King of Spain had created. The King of Spain gave one of the land grants away to a Spanish explorer; Manuel Nieto of the Portolà expeditions. Manuel Nieto received his land grant in 1783. In 1834, Manuel Nieto split the land into five separate ranchos, so he could leave it as inheritance to his heirs. One of the land grants included Rancho Los Coyotes, which included the area California knows today as Buena Park. In 1822, the land was “transferred from Spanish authority to Mexican rule and then ceded to the United States in 1848,” after the Mexican-American War ended. Shortly after, California was granted statehood in 1850.

Once the transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869, more Americans started to move to Buena Park. In 1885, a wholesale grocer from Chicago, named James A. Whitaker, purchased 690 acres of the land. In 1887, Whitaker “founded the city of Buena Park in conjunction with the railway development of Orange County.” While it is unknown how exactly the city settled on the name Buena Park, there is a theory that James A. Whitaker got the name from the Chicago suburb; Buena Park, Chicago, Illinois. There is another theory that the name Buena Park came from the park like grounds that were once located at today’s intersection of Artesia and Beach Boulevard. The local settlers would refer to this area as “Plaza Buena,” which translates to English as “Good Park.”

The city of Buena Park was incorporated on January 27, 1953. Today, Buena Park has a local history park located on Beach Boulevard. Some of the “preserved historic buildings” in the history park include The Whitaker-Jaynes House (Buena Parks’ local history museum and possibly one of the oldest structure in the city,) The Stage Shop Hotel (home to the California Welcome Center-Orange County) and The Tice House. Buena Park, California is a fun city to explore, with plenty of family activities to take part in.

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Photo Courtesy Wikipedia

Knott’s Berry Farm

Knott’s Berry Farm started out as a roadside berry stand located alongside State Route 39 in California during the mid-1920s, which Walter Knott and his family operated. The Knott Family would sell berries, berry preserves and pies from the stand. After Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant opened in 1934, the area saw a increase in tourists and local visitors. This led to the Knott family building more shops and attractions, to entertain their guests while they waited to be seated inside Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant.

1940 Knott Ghost Town

Ghost Town at Knott’s Berry Farm in the 1940s Photo Courtesy Wikipedia


Walter and Cordelia Knott in front of their “original” berry stand, which was on display at Knott’s Berry Farm. Photo Courtesy Wikipedia

In 1940, Walter Knott started to build a “replica Ghost Town on the property.” Knott’s Berry Farm started to take shape of an amusement park in the 1950s, after Walter opened a “summer-long county fair” on the property. The popularity of Knott’s Berry Farm continued to grow, as Walter Knott continued to build rides. Walter Knott died on December 3, 1981, 7 years after his wife Cordelia Knott passed away. Mr. Knott’s children who survived him, continued to operate Knott’s Berry Farm for the next fourteen years. Cedar Fair Entertainment Company purchased Knott’s Berry Farm in 1997. Cedar Fair also purchased the Buena Park Hotel and turned it into a Radisson Resort Hotel. In 2004, the hotel was renamed The Knott’s Berry Farm Resort Hotel.


Knott’s Berry Farm Photo Courtesy Wikipedia

Knott’s Berry Farm is an exciting amusement part to visit year-round. Knott’s Berry Farm turns into Knott’s Scary Farm and “re-themes itself into a ‘haunted house’ style attraction” during Halloween. Knott’s Berry Farm also sees a seasonal change as Knott’s Merry Farm during the winter holidays. Knott’s Berry Farm also offers free admission to veterans and their families during the month of November. Today, the park consists of 4 separate themed areas; Ghost Town, Fiesta Village, The Boardwalk and Camp Snoopy. Knott’s Berry Farm also includes live entertainment throughout the day, including the Wild West Stunt Show. Knott’s Berry Farm also owns Knott’s Soak City, a seasonal water park next to the Knott’s Berry Farm Parking lot off of Stanton Avenue. Today, Knott’s Berry Farm proudly holds the title of “America’s 1st Theme Park.” Knott’s Berry Farm is the #1 attraction to visit in Buena Park on TripAdvisor, (Knott’s Berry Farm’s roller coaster, HangTime, is the #2 attraction to visit.)

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HangTime Rollercoaster at Knott’s Berry Farm. TripAdvisor’s #2 recommended attraction to visit in Buena Park. Photo Courtesy Wikipedia

Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant

Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant opened in 1934. The first customers to dine at Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant were served by Mrs. Knott and her children in the restaurant’s Tea Room. Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant is one of the largest restaurants in California and is proud to still be using Mrs. Knott’s original recipes for the fried chicken, side dishes and desserts. The Tea Room’s seating arrangement was “inspired by the original seating arrangements and views of the hustle and bustle of the California Marketplace just outside the windows that line the dining room.” Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant also includes a full service bar that serves “signature boysenberry-infused cocktails.”

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Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant-1955 Photo Courtesy Wikipedia

The interior design is a tribute to the restaurant that was established in the same location prior to the Chicken Dinner Restaurant, the Garden Dining Room. The restaurant also features another dining room, which resembles a barn. The barn dining area was “inspired by a western farmhouse.” Recently, Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant added an outdoor dining area that features stunning views of the California Marketplace fountain and the GhostRider roller coaster.

Today, Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant is still as popular as ever. Guests can even order “Chicken-To-Go,” whether you are inside or outside the park. Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant serves some of the hottest, juiciest, tastiest fried chicken you’ll ever have. You can also add different sides to your order including mashed potatoes, corn and green beans. Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant also comes with a piping hot biscuit and the famous; Knott’s Boysenberry Jam. Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant is a great place to get a home cooked meal when visiting Buena Park.

Knott’s Boysenberry Festival

Knott’s Boysenberry Festival is an annual event that takes place each spring. Knott’s Berry Farm hosts the Boysenberry Festival, due to their credit of being “the birthplace of THE Boysenberry.” Knott’s Berry Farm holds a celebration of the “flavorful berry” and the history behind it, with special “boysenberry-inspired” food and live entertainment. The 2020 Knott’s Boysenberry Festival will present more than “75 unique boysenberry-inspired creations” all created by the Knott’s Culinary Team. The dishes offered at the Boysenberry Festival will be an assortment of both “savory foods with a Boysenberry-twist, to one-of-a-kind specialty desserts and drinks.” The specialty desserts and drinks are rare enough to be only found at Knott’s Berry Farm during the Boysenberry Festival. The Knott’s Boysenberry Festival features “Boysenberry Festival Craft Beer and Tasting,” “Boysenberry Food and Drinks” and “Boysenberry Merchandise.” The Knott’s Boysenberry Festival is an exciting event to take part in and is great to visit with friends and family.

Stay at the Knott’s Berry Farm Hotel

Located just steps away from Knott’s Berry Farm is the Knott’s Berry Farm Hotel, which offers reasonable and comfortable accommodations for families who are in Buena Park to visit Knott’s Berry Farm. The Knott’s Berry Farm Hotel is ranked as the best selling hotel in Buena Park on TripAdvisor and is also ranked as one of the best family-friendly hotels in the area. The convenience of the Knott’s Berry Farm Hotel is perfect when visiting Buena Park. The Knott’s Berry Farm Hotel features a “Snoopy-themed wing, fitness center, pool with a children’s activity area and sports courts, among other fun amenities.”

Amber Waves Restaurant and Bar

Connected to the Knott’s Berry Farm Hotel is the Amber Waves Restaurant and Bar, which “specializes in All-American Family Fare.” Amber Waves is proud to offer a buffet breakfast every morning, as well as a full service meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner throughout the day. Amber Waves is proud to offer “made to order burgers, handmade fresh pizza, pasta, New York steak and a selection of homemade desserts such as Boysenberry Pie a la mode and Warm Apple Bomb.” 2 customer favorites at Amber Waves include the Berry Farm Burger and the new Boysenberry Chicken Pizza, which features the Knott’s Berry Farm Boysenberry Chipotle BBQ Sauce. Amber Waves also has a full bar and full wine list. If you are lucky, you might catch Snoopy during your visit to Amber Waves, who makes appearances to the restaurant every day.

Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament

Medieval Times is a “family dinner theater” that features “staged medieval-style games, sword fighting, and jousting.” Medieval Times in Buena Park (the second location that was created) officially opened in 1986. Guests at Medieval Times are served a four-course meal that is timed with the on-going tournament. The meal includes garlic bread and tomato bisque soup, a half rotisserie chicken, sides of herb-roasted potato and buttered sweet corn, and a “castle dessert.” Medieval Times also offers vegan and allergy-friendly dining options. The tournament at Medieval Times includes 6 knights competing at different games that include; “catching rings on a lance, flag passing and javelin tossing.”

Medieval Times admission at the Buena Park Castle costs $64 dollars for adults and $37 dollars for children 12 and younger. Guests even have the option to upgrade their admission to a Medieval Times package; like the Queen’s Royalty Package, Celebration Package or the Royalty Package, all of which include priority access to the castle, VIP seating, priority seating access, a cheering banner, group photo and a VIP lanyard. Medieval Times is a unique and exciting experience to be had with your entire family. Medieval Times is located under a mile and a half from Knott’s Berry Farm.

Ralph B. Clark Regional Park

Ralph B. Clark Regional Park is shared by both the city of Buena Park and the city of Fullerton, California. Ralph B. Clark Regional Park includes many different amenities for guests who choose to spend the day at the park including an amphitheater, barbecues, baseball fields, fishing, hiking trails, horseshoe pits, playground equipment, tennis courts and volleyball courts. The park also has an interpretive center, which is a small museum that displays ice age fossils and showcases local geology exhibits. The museum is open Tuesday and Saturday from 10am-2pm. More than 130 species of birds have been seen around the park, as well as squirrels, rabbits, fish, lizards and turtles. Park goers have even spotted bats after sundown, feeding on insects. The pond at Ralph B. Clark is filled with catfish and trout; Largemouth bass and bluegill are also found in the pond.


The pond at Ralph B. Clark Regional Park Photo Courtesy Wikipedia

Buena Park, California is a unique city that is filled with endless activities to take part in as a family (especially in the spring). Between spending time riding some of the best rollercoasters in the west, taking part in western stunt shows, eating some of the best fried chicken in California, trying tasty boysenberry treats and spending the evening watching medieval jousting, what more could you ask for in a family vacation? For more information on Buena Park, check out the official tourism website.


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