20 Things to Do in Buena Park (with Big Kids & Teens)

It can be hard to get teenagers to spend time together as a family so it’s important to plan travels that are interactive, delicious, and FUN. Buena Park, California fits the bill with a historic amusement park, entertaining dinner shows, teen-pleasing shopping ops, thrilling water slides, and more. Read on to discover the 20 best things to do in Buena Park with teens and big kids!

Buena Park's star attraction, Knott's Berry Farm
Buena Park’s star attraction, Knott’s Berry Farm (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

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1. Knott’s Berry Farm Theme Park

Did you know Knott’s Berry Farm Theme Park started as a family berry farm and roadside stand selling fruits and jams? This Southern California attraction is surprising in many ways, with an interesting history dating back to 1920 when Walter and Cordelia Knott purchased farmland in Orange County near the small town of Buena Park.

Knott's Berry Farm Theme Park in Buena Park with teens
Knott’s Berry Farm Theme Park with teens (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

In the 1930s, the couple began selling Mrs. Knott’s homemade biscuits and fried chicken to adoring diners willing to wait hours to get their fill. The Knotts kept adding amusements to entertain the crowds. Today, Knott’s Berry Farm is the main attraction in Buena Park and one of the most visited theme parks in the world!

The amusement park is divided into four themed areas. Below I outline the best attractions for big kids and adults in each quarter.

Knott's Berry Farm Ghost Town in Buena Park, CA
Knott’s Berry Farm Ghost Town (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Ghost Town

The Western-themed Ghost Town gives parkgoers a glimpse into the history of Knott’s Berry Farm. Originally called Ghost Town Village, this is the earliest area of the theme park.

Look for a Silver Dollar Saloon shooting gallery, The Blacksmith Shop (with live demonstrations), panning for gold, and other old tyme fun. The oldest building, the Old School House, was built in 1879 in Kansas and then moved to Knott’s in 1952 along with its original furnishings.

This one-room schoolhouse was built in Kansas in 1879 and brought to Knott's Berry Farm ~ Disneyland vs Knott's Berry Farm
The Old School House (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Most exciting for teens are the Ghost Town rides. At 4,500 feet long, GhostRider is one of the world’s longest and fastest wooden roller coasters. Riders also saddle up onto steel horses to experience the unique Pony Express coaster. Parkgoers cool off on warm days aboard Calico River Rapids and Timber Mountain Log Ride, too. My fearless kids, however, were most stoaked about Silver Bullet, an inverted metal coaster with six loop-the-loops.

Calico River Rapids at Knott's Berry Farm
Calico River Rapids in Ghost Town (Photo credit: Knott’s Berry Farm)

The park’s first major ride can also be found in Ghost Town. Opened in 1960, the Calico Mine Ride was one of the first dark rides in the U.S. This train ride chugs through mine shafts filled with lost treasure and olden, restored animatronic miners.

HangTime roller coaster at night at Knott's Berry Farm
HangTime roller coaster at the Boardwalk (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)


Most appealing to adventurous tweens and teens is the Boardwalk. This area is home to the greatest concentration of roller coasters and thrill rides in the park. For the steepest coaster drop in California, board HangTime for a serious vertical descent. Xcelerator’s drops are nothing to sneeze at either.

True daredevils will want to tackle Supreme Scream. Similar to, but faster than, Disney’s Tower of Terror or Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout, Knott’s tower ride drops parkgoers from fantastic heights of 252 feet up, plunging up to 50 miles per hour. (Even my intrepid teens wouldn’t brave this ride!)

My teen son with his grand candy prize at Boardwalk Arcade at Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park
My teen son with his grand candy prize at Boardwalk Arcade (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

If you’re traveling with less audacious kids, fear not. Coast Rider is a more easygoing coaster that provides some screams without inducing full-on panic. Meanwhile, Wheeler Dealer Bumper Cars are a playful option. Gamers will also love Boardwalk Games and a Boardwalk Arcade with prizes.

For a mellow ride with a side of competition, challenge your brood to Knott’s Bear-y Tales. Use boysenberry jelly blasters to stop Crafty Coyote and his mischievous pups from stealing tasty treats while racking up points in this 4-D ride.

Camp Snoopy at Knott's Berry Farm
Camp Snoopy (Photo credit: Knott’s Berry Farm)

Camp Snoopy

The sweet Peanuts-themed rides and character appearances in Camp Snoopy are geared toward young kids. There are a couple of attractions in this area at Knott’s Berry Farm for older children and teens, though. All ages (36″+) can take in a grand view of the park from the High Sierra Ferris Wheel. Plus, thrill seekers won’t want to miss the spinning Sierra Sidewinder coaster.

An alebrije statue in Fiesta Village
An alebrije statue in Fiesta Village (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Fiesta Village

The newly updated Fiesta Village includes mariachi music, mythical alebrije folk art statues, Mexican eateries and cantinas, and rides for all ages. Jaguar! makes a good choice for those who like their roller coasters on the mellower side, like me. Meanwhile, history buffs will want to take a spin on Carrusel de California, a 1936 classic merry-go-round made by the famous carousel carving family of Gustav A. Dentzel.

Mrs. Knott's Famous Fried Chicken Dinner with corn and mashed potatoes and country gravy
Mrs. Knott’s famous fried chicken dinner with corn and mashed potatoes topped with country gravy (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

2. Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant

Most amusement parks aren’t known for their abundance of delicious foods. The exception to this rule is Knott’s Berry Farm!

Taste the meal that launched the theme park at Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant. It’s located just outside the park’s gates in California Marketplace so you need not have an entrance ticket to dine here.

Mrs. Knott's Buttermilk biscuits and boysenberry jam
Buttermilk biscuits and boysenberry jam (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Make reservations in advance to nab a table for this popular three-course meal. Start with melt-in-your-mouth buttermilk biscuits served with butter and boysenberry jam.

Then dig into Mrs. Knott’s deservedly famous fried chicken accompanied by mashed potatoes and country gravy plus corn or cabbage. You also get a choice of chicken noodle soup, a side salad, or the surprisingly sweet and yummy house rhubarb.

The meal ends with a slice of boysenberry or apple pie for dessert. (Get the boysenberry!)

Boysenberry and apple pie at Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant
Boysenberry and apple pie at Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Other dinner options include a gluten-free and juicy roasted chicken, a vegetarian Tri-Berry Salad or plant-based chicken sandwich, and Mrs. Knott’s Fried Egg Cheeseburger for meat lovers. There are also starters like chicken wings or fried mozzarella, but who could squeeze in any more?!

If you’re unable to book a sit-down meal or you’re in a hurry, then pop over to Mrs. Knott’s Fried Chicken-To-Go next door to purchase fried chicken, tenders, pot pies, sides, and more. There are no seats but you could take your meal to the grassy park across the street or back to your hotel to eat.

Pirates Dinner Adventure in Buena Park
Pirates Dinner Adventure in Buena Park (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

3. Pirates Dinner Adventure

You might think teens are too old for the Pirates Dinner Adventure in Buena Park. But you would be oh so wrong! The entire family will get a charge out of this interactive live dinner show.

I love how cast members get audience members of all ages involved in the competitive plot from little kids up to adults. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised to find my teenagers (even the edgy one!) putting aside any pretense of coolness to join the evening’s uproarious fun.

Teen audience participant at Pirate Dinner Adventure in Buena Park
My teen son was recruited to participate in a scene at Pirate Dinner Adventure (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Expect special effects, exciting stunts, laugh-out-loud (and groan-out-loud) humor, an aerial-performing mermaid, and exciting sword fighting on the high seas. It all takes place on a replica 18th-century Spanish galleon surrounded by a 250,000-gallon indoor lagoon.

While you watch and cheer, you’ll be served a three-course meal of tomato soup or green salad, chicken with vegetables, a brownie with raspberry sauce, and included soft drinks. Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options are available as well as children’s meals for guests aged 11 and younger.

Plan to come an hour before the show starts to get settled in. You can have portraits taken, shop for souvenirs, purchase a themed drink, and interact with pirates. Upgrade your tickets to receive better seating, souvenir pirate accessories, and one included photo.

Knott's Independence Hall in Buena Park
Knott’s Independence Hall in Buena Park (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

4. Independence Hall

You need not travel to Philadelphia to visit Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. That’s because Buena Park houses an exact replica of this historic landmark where the country’s Founding Fathers adopted both the United States Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.

Liberty Bell replica at Knott's Independence Hall in Buena Park
Liberty Bell replica at Knott’s Independence Hall (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Knott’s Berry Farm Founder, Walter Knott, was inspired to have the brick-by-brick replica built after visiting the original site in Pennsylvania. Buena Park’s Independence Hall opened to the public on July 4, 1966. It’s open every day of the year besides Christmas.

Knott’s Independence Hall is located right next door to Knott’s Soak City Water Park and across the street from Knotts Berry Farm Theme Park. This free attraction makes it easy to add some American history to your Buena Park family vacation!

Teenage kids shopping at California Marketplace
My teenage kids shopping at Virginia’s Giftshop in the California Marketplace (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

5. California Marketplace

Just outside Knott’s Berry Farm’s gates, California Marketplace is a shopping and dining area open to anyone with or without a theme park ticket. In addition to Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant and Chicken To Go, you’ll find a handful of eateries like TGI Friday’s and Starbucks.

Knott's Berry Farm timeline in Virginia's Giftshop
Knott’s Berry Farm timeline in Virginia’s Giftshop (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Shop for goodies at a Candy Parlour, the Marketplace Emporium, and other stores. Be sure to stop into Virginia’s Giftshop to view a timeline of Knott’s Berry Farm’s history. Below are a few other spots not to be missed.

California Marketplace's Berry Market
California Marketplace’s Berry Market (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Berry Market

Since Knott’s Berry Farm started as a berry stand and restaurant, families will definitely want to stock up on tasty mementos at Berry Market. You can even get a Knott’s Berry Farm Cookbook to cook like Mrs. Knott at home.

Get your fill of Knott’s jams, baking mixes, spice blends, sauces, and other treats. You can’t buy these in the grocery store and the variety of flavors is amazing. Enjoy fun finds like Blueberry Whiskey Jelly, Boysenberry BBQ Sauce, and TOE Jam (made with tangerine, orange, and elderberry).

I am particularly smitten with our Berry Market Strawberry Syrup souvenir. It’s just as good on ice cream or cheesecake as it is on pancakes.

Plush toys for sale at PEANUTS Headquarters
Plush toys for sale at PEANUTS Headquarters (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

PEANUTS Headquarters

Fans of the loveable cartoon characters created by Charles Schulz will get a kick out of the PEANUTS Headquarters Gift Shop. Of course, you can purchase merchandise headlining stars Snoopy, Charlie Brown, and Woodstock. But you’ll also find stuffed toys and other items featuring more obtuse Peanuts Gang characters like Peppermint Patty, Franklin, and Lucy.

Boysenberry turnovers and other baked goods at Knott's Farm Bakery
Boysenberry turnovers and other baked goods at Knott’s Farm Bakery (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Farm Bakery

Peruse an array of pretty confections at Farm Bakery. There is an impressive assortment of cakes, cookies, and pies for sale. But, according to the Knott’s employee manning the counter, the most popular baked good in the case is the boysenberry turnover. She said people travel from out-of-state to pick up these flakey fruit-filled pastries.

Knott's Soak City Water Park in Buena Park, CA
Knott’s Soak City Water Park (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

6. Soak City Water Park

Open mid-May through mid-October, Knott’s Soak City Waterpark is an especially cool place on a hot Southern California summer day. This water park features nearly two dozen water slides from mellow kiddie slides at Gremmie Lagoon water playground to super scary Aqua Launch drop slides and the fast, steep Old Man Falls slides.

Teens on Aqua Launch water slides at Knott's Soak City in Buena Park
Aqua Launch water slides (Photo credit: Knott’s Soak City Water Park)

The watery fun doesn’t stop with slides, however. Even though Buena Park is 10 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean, kids and teens can still body surf in the 750,000-gallon Tidal Wave Bay at Soak City.

Meanwhile, adults might prefer to float in innertubes on the .33-mile Sunset River. All ages love the three‑story Beach House, with its plethora of water guns, fountains, and especially a giant water bucket that dumps 500 gallons on everyone below every five minutes.

Old Man Falls water slides at Knott's Soak City
Old Man Falls water slides at Knott’s Soak City (Photo credit: Knott’s Soak City Water Park)

Tickets are sold separately from Knott’s Berry Farm Theme Park, located just across the street. Purchasing a Ride and Slide ticket provides a great value if you want to visit both parks in one day but you probably need a couple of days to squeeze it all in.

Tidal Wave Bay wave pool at Knott's Soak City Buena Park
Tidal Wave Bay wave pool (Photo credit: Knott’s Soak City Water Park)

Traveling with a large group or celebrating a special event at Knott’s Soak City Water Park? Treat yo’self to a cabana rental complete with a patio set and chairs, lounge chairs, four innertube rentals, and food and beverage service for up to eight people.

Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament
Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

7. Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament

For a roaring good time, make reservations for the Buena Park Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament. View jousting horses, sword fights, falconry, and a queen overseeing it all.

All ages, including teens and adults, get into this boisterous show. Plan to come an hour or so early to get the best seats, peruse the shops, and maybe purchase a themed drink (with alcohol or without).

Families root for their knight while chowing down on food like chicken, potatoes, and corn on the cob. (No utensils allowed!) Vegetarian options are available as well.

Teen singing at EKO Karaoke in Buena Park, CA
My teen son singing at EKO Karaoke (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

8. EKO Karaoke

You’ll have a great time at EKO Karaoke, no matter your family’s singing ability. In fact, the worse the performances in your karaoke suite, the more laughter!

Sixteen private rooms are available, complete with a karaoke machine, sound system, two wireless microphones (perfect for duets!), and optional lighting effects. You can order food and drinks for delivery at the push of a button, too.

Select from tons of songs in English, Korean, Japanese, Spanish, and other languages. The words are displayed on a screen, making it easy to sing along.

Private karaoke makes a playful and memorable bonding experience for all ages. Kids and teens under age 21 are welcome at EKO Karaoke each day until 9 pm. I suggest booking enough time for the whole family to sing because none of us wanted to leave when our single hour was up!

My daughter shopping at a KPop store at The Source
My daughter shopping at a KPop store at The Source (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

9. The Source OC

With KPop stores and other retailers sure to please fans and shoppers, The Source is more than a shopping mall. There are plenty of things to keep your family entertained from EKO Karaoke and the Olympic Golf Zone to the CGV Movies 4-D Theater.

CGV Movies 4-D Theater
CGV Movies 4-D Theater (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Be sure to snap some selfies with your teens at Life 4 Cuts. This is Korea’s top photo booth outlet’s first U.S. location. Choose from a bunch of props and backgrounds to jazz up your pics. Not only will you get a memento of your time together, but also it’s tons of fun!

Photos with my teen daughter at Life 4 Cuts Photo Booth
Photos with my teen daughter at Life 4 Cuts Photo Booth (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

For an interactive meal, choose DPot. More than just a meal, everyone creates their own Korean hot pot right at the table. It’s a good option for both meat lovers like my son and vegetarians like my daughter.

DPot shabu-shabu at The Source
DPot shabu-shabu at The Source (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

If Mexican cuisine is more your family’s style, then La Huasteca serves up authentic fare. Think mix-and-match tacos and delish tableside guacamole. You can also order less common U.S. finds like chiles en nogada (stuffed chiles topped with walnut sauce and pomegranate seeds).

Tacos at La Huasteca at The Source
Tacos at La Huasteca (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Save room for an adorable, character-shaped (gluten-free!) Sweet Box macaron. Or munch a donut from Old Ferry Donut or Mochinut for dessert.

A bunny-shaped macaron from Sweet Box in Buena Park, CA
A bunny-shaped macaron from Sweet Box (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

10. Beach Day

It would be a shame to come to Southern California and not plan a beach day. The closest stretch of sand to Buena Park is Huntington Beach, about 16 miles away.

Huntington Beach, a.k.a. Surf City USA
Huntington Beach, a.k.a. Surf City USA (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Also known as Surf City USA, Huntington Beach is the perfect place to sign up for family surf lessons. Beach cruisers are available to rent, too. Or, simply spend time swimming and building sand castles along the Pacific Ocean.

Pool area at DoubleTree by Hilton Buena Park
Pool area at DoubleTree by Hilton Buena Park (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

11. Hotel Pool Play

The only thing kids and teens care about more than a strong WiFi signal on vacation is staying at a hotel with a good swimming pool! A dip is the perfect way to kick back after a day of exploring. Thankfully many hotels in Buena Park offer a place to swim, like DoubleTree by Hilton Buena Park and the Knott’s Hotel.

Cookies at DoubleTree Inn by Hilton Buena Park
Cookies at DoubleTree Inn by Hilton Buena Park (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

DoubleTree by Hilton Buena Park

My teens loved Double Tree by Hilton Buena Park‘s expansive pool, bubbling hot tub, and the hotel brand’s signature chocolate chip cookies (with a gluten-free option!). Complimentary shuttles to Knott’s Berry Farm and anywhere else within 3 miles sweetened the deal.

Swimming pool and splash pad at Knott's Hotel
Swimming pool and splash pad at Knott’s Hotel (Photo credit: Knott’s Hotel)

Knott’s Hotel

A large pool, splash pad, and lots of loungers make splash time fun at Knott’s Hotel. If Knott’s Berry Farm is the primary focus of your trip, you can’t pick a more convenient place to stay. It only takes about 5 minutes to walk to the theme park so no shuttle is needed, but you can catch a ride to nearby Disneyland.

Formerly known as Knott’s Berry Farm Hotel, this property has been undergoing a multi-million dollar restoration. The updated hotel features a more refined vibe to honor the park’s founders, Walter and Cordelia Knott. I haven’t stayed at Knott’s Hotel since the changes were made but their website promises, “a stylish, country guest house feel, reflecting the founders’ charm and laid-back warmth.”

Teenager at Olympic Golf Zone in Buena Park
Teeing off at Olympic Golf Zone in Buena Park (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

13. Olympic Golf Zone

Serious and newbie golfers alike tee off at Olympic Golf Zone at The Source Mall in Buena Park. Six people per bay hit balls into an interactive screen that presents graphics of a real course. Use the golf simulator to challenge your family to an 18- or 9-hole course, or just to see who hits the furthest.

This kid-friendly sports bar also features pool tables, pub grub, and grown-up drinks for mom and dad. There are baseball simulators as well but they are not currently operational.

Rock & Brews in Buena Park
Rock & Brews in Buena Park (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

14. Rock and Brews

Enjoy generous servings of comfort food with a kick of rock ‘n’ roll at Rock & Brews. Founded by Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley of KISS, this Buena Park restaurant is packed with music memorabilia from the 1960s to today.

Wings, burgers, and nachos are the way to go. But if you really want to please the teens, then order the ooey-gooey S’Mores Dip for dessert. If traveling with young kids, then come on Monday nights when children under 12 eat free.

A tempting spread of comfort foods at Rock & Brews in Buena Park
A tempting spread of comfort foods at Rock & Brews in Buena Park (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Parents will love the huge selection of craft beers and the nostalgia of searching for concert posters from their past. Also, sports fans of all ages dig the plentiful big-screen TVs showing football, baseball, and beyond. There’s a sand play area out back for cornhole, too.

Pastries at Porto Bakery, Buena Park
A selection of desserts at Porto’s Bakery (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

15. Brunch in Buena Park

Older kids and teens love to sleep in, especially while on family vacation. Don’t fight it! Instead, make an event of your late mornings with a scrumptious brunch in Buena Park.

Porto's Iced Ube Matcha Green Tea Latte
Porto’s Iced Ube Matcha Green Tea Latte (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Porto’s Bakery

Look, I know you’ve been to bakeries before. But you’ve never been to one like this!

Named for its founder, Rosa Porto, the first location opened in 1976 on Sunset Boulevard in Echo Park, CA. Thankfully for us, there are now several Porto’s Bakeries throughout Southern California, including one proud spot on Buena Park’s main strip, Beach Blvd.

Pastries at Porto's Bakery
Pastries at Porto’s Bakery (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Rosa was born in Cuba and her family hails from Galicia, Spain. The flavors of her heritage are reflected in the many pastries and dishes served at Porto’s Bakery. Taste a traditional refugiado (guava and cheese strudel), papa rellena (potato ball filled with spiced ground beef), or croqueta de jamón (ham croquette).

International items like American breakfast sandwiches, Italian tiramisu cups, and French Parisian cake slices are available, too. There are even yummy salads and soups for gluten-sensitive or health-conscious eaters. But, seriously, this is NOT the place to skip dessert!

Gluten-free pancakes with strawberries and whipped cream at Broken Yolk
Gluten-free pancakes with strawberries and whipped cream at Broken Yolk (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Broken Yolk

My husband and I dined at the first Broken Yolk regularly when we lived in Southern California, so we were pleased to see one of our favorite San Diego restaurants has made it to Buena Park. They’ve been serving up a variety of eggs and other morning standards since 1979.

Chilaquiles at Broken Yolk
Chilaquiles at Broken Yolk (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Nowadays, Broken Yolk is known for its selection of Benedicts, fruit-topped pancakes or waffles, and South of the Border options. You can’t go wrong with their chilaquiles topped with shredded chicken or carne asada!

Some things never change, like balloon shapes formed right at the table by a wandering artist at Broken Yolk. Little kids and those who are young-at-heart will appreciate a balloon crown, flower, or animal.

Teenager with Dole Whip at Disneyland
My teen eating a Dole Whip at Disneyland (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

16. Disneyland Resort

Did you know that Buena Park’s Knott’s Berry Farm Theme Park actually inspired many of Disneyland’s early rides? Plus, Knott’s Berry Farm and Disneyland are only 7 miles apart!

Radiator Springs Racers in Disneyland Cars Land
Radiator Springs Racers in Disney California Adventure Park (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Disneyland with Big Kids and Teens

Disneyland Resort is made up of two amusement parks: Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. Take a look at the scariest Disneyland rides between both parks so you know which rides your older children will want to hit (or miss).

Visiting Disneyland with older kids differs from visiting with young children. In many ways, it’s better. There’s no need to squeeze in naps, plus your family can enjoy later nights at the parks and more adventurous ride options. Read my tips for doing Disneyland with teens and tweens before adding this attraction to your Buena Park trip.

Aerial view of Downtown Disney District
Aerial view of Downtown Disney District (Photo credit: Disney)

Downtown Disney

Even if you don’t want to pay entrance fees to the theme parks, you can still get a taste of Mickey Mouse in the Downtown Disney District. Similar to Knott’s California Marketplace and Liberty Hall, this site is open to the public at no charge.

Explore shops like The LEGO Store and dine at restaurants like the Creole Jazz Kitchen Coastal Grill & Patio. Then, watch live bands play on the Downtown Disney LIVE! Stage and play at venues like Splitsville Luxury Lanes.

Orange County Great Balloon in Irvine, CA
Orange County Great Balloon (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

17. Greater Orange County

Buena Park is one of the many cities that make up California’s Orange County. From Irvine and Anaheim to Long Beach and Santa Ana — there is plenty to explore among Buena Park’s neighbors.

One of my favorites is Irvine Regional Park. This peaceful place offers plenty of outdoor activities for teens and kids. Connect with nature while hiking, horseback riding, bicycling, or piloting paddleboats. Also in Irvine, the Orange County Great Park Balloon provides a free opportunity to take to the skies in a giant tangerine-colored helium balloon.

Orange County Discovery Cube
Discovery Cube (Photo credit: Buchanan-Hermit Own work, Wikimedia)

Located just 5 miles from Buena Park, Angel Stadium hosts the Anaheim Angels during baseball season. Meanwhile, Santa Ana is home to the Discovery Cube hands-on science center and the non-profit Santa Ana Zoo. Learn more about these attractions and others in our list of the best things to do in Orange County with kids.

Venice Beach, California
Venice Beach in Los Angeles (Photo credit: oneinchpunch, Depositphotos.com)

18. Los Angeles

The second biggest city in the United States is filled with family-friendly activities. In fact, Los Angeles is home to over 90 museums and nearly 31,000 restaurants. Located about 30 miles from Buena Park, plan to spend a whole day exploring L.A. and be prepared to face highway traffic.

Griffith Park and the Griffith Observatory L.A. skyline view
Griffith Park and the Griffith Observatory L.A. skyline view (Photo credit: sepavone, Depositphotos.com)

The Getty Center is among the most popular attractions, surrounded by lush gardens and filled with precious works of art by such artists as Van Gogh, Monet, and Cezanne. Griffith Observatory wows visitors with its planetarium, high-powered telescopes, and space exhibits. Step way back in time at La Brea Tar Pits where wooly mammoths, massive sloths, and other extinct animals were trapped in pools of gooey asphalt bubbling from the earth. These are just a few highlights of what to do in Los Angeles with teens.

Teen and mom on Friends set on Warner Bros. Tour
Posing on the famous Central Perk set from “Friends” on the Warner Bros Tour in Burbank (Photo credit: Travel Mamas)

19. Burbank and Hollywood

A suburb of Los Angeles, hundreds of major film and television studios are located in Burbank. In fact, Walt Disney Studios, Universal Studios Hollywood, and Warner Bros. Studio all call Burbank home. View the iconic Hollywood Sign and stroll along the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame in neighboring Hollywood, too.

Plan your day trip with this list of things to do in Burbank and Hollywood. Burbank is approximately 10 miles further northwest of Los Angeles, so add more drive time to your schedule if you want to visit the Media Capital of the World during your vacay.

Dia de los Muertos decorations at Knott's Berry Farm in the fall
Dia de los Muertos decorations at Knott’s Berry Farm in the fall (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

20. Special Events at Knott’s Berry Farm

Knott’s Berry Farm is fun on any regular ol’ day but it’s even more exciting during special events held at the theme park throughout the year. Let’s take a look at the best bets for teens and preteens.

A Scare Zone at Knott's Scary Farm
A Scare Zone at Knott’s Scary Farm (Photo credit: Knott’s Berry Farm)

Knott’s Scary Farm

Knott’s Berry Farm has been scaring brave visitors each Halloween for over five decades. Do you dare experience the haunted mazes, Halloween-themed rides, spooky shows, and 1,000+ freaky creatures lurking in Scare Zones? This separately ticketed event takes place on select nights every September and October. Beware: Knott’s Scary Farm is not recommended for those under age 13.

Calico Mine Ride at Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park, CA
Calico Mine Ride transforms into the Calico Candy Mine Ride for Halloween (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Knott’s Spooky Farm

For younger kids as well as teens and adults who don’t appreciate Halloween’s scary side, there is Knott’s Spooky Farm. Expect trick-or-treating in Ghost Town, costumed Peanuts characters, and not-too-spooky live entertainment. This is a daytime event and does not require a special ticket. Everyone, including mom and dad, is welcome to dress up for Knott’s Spooky Farm.

Young child at Knott's Merry Farm
My daughter when she was a little girl at Knott’s Merry Farm (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Knott’s Merry Farm

From mid-November through early January, celebrate the winter holiday season at Knott’s Merry Farm. Festive decorations, a Peanuts-themed ice skating show, and special Christmas snacks will put anyone in a jolly mood (even teenagers!). Also, the Ghost Town becomes a Crafts Village filled with local vendors and craftspeople selling their wares, perfect for picking up a unique gift or two.

Jams, syrups and other goodies for sale at Knott's Berry Farm's California Marketplace
Boysenberry jams, syrups and other goodies for sale at Knott’s Berry Farm’s Berry Market (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Boysenberry Festival

The king berry at Knott’s Berry Farm is the boysenberry. This hybrid of loganberry, red raspberry, and blackberry was made popular by Walter, who liked to experiment with crossbreeding different plant varietals.

Celebrate the berry that started it all at the annual Boysenberry Festival. In spring, this celebration of food and wine features all sorts of delicious offerings highlighting boysenberries. From savory to sweet, there’s something sure to tempt all tastebuds. Look for special musical performances, fun activities, and local crafters, too.

Beautiful scenery at Knott's Berry Farm Theme Park
Beautiful scenery at Knott’s Berry Farm Theme Park (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Save Money on Your Buena Park Vacation

Visit Buena Park offers frugal travelers all sorts of ways to save money. From hotel packages and dinner show discounts to dollars off theme park entrances and beyond, learn how to pay less for your Buena Park vacation.

Additionally, if you plan to go to Knott’s Berry Farm more than two times within a year, then you should purchase a Season Pass. It provides great value and pays for itself with the second visit. Plus, you’ll get discounts on select food, merchandise, and stays at the Knott’s Hotel.

Statues of Betsy Ross and President George Washington at Independence Hall in Buena Park
Statues of Betsy Ross and President George Washington at Independence Hall in Buena Park (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Summary of Things to Do in Buena Park

With so much to eat, see, and do in Buena Park, it’s hard to keep it all straight! So, below I’ve summarized the top attractions, best restaurants, shopping spots, nearby activities, and where to stay in Buena Park. Whichever activities you choose, I hope you have as good a time as my family did while exploring Southern California’s Fun City!

Teens at Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park
Teens goofing around at Knott’s Berry Farm Theme Park (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Top Buena Park Attractions for Teens

  • Knott’s Berry Farm Theme Park
  • Knott’s Independence Hall
  • Knott’s Soak City Water Park
  • Olympic Golf Zone
  • EKO Karaoke
  • CGV Movies 4-D Theater
Universal Studios Hollywood
Universal Studios Hollywood in Burbank (Photo credit: irisphoto11, Depositphotos.com)

Things to Do Nearby (+ Approximate Distances from Buena Park)

  • Burbank and Hollywood: studio tours, Universal Studios Hollywood Theme Park, Hollywood Sign, and the Hollywood Walk of Fame (30 miles)
  • Disneyland, Disney California Adventure, and Downtown Disney (7 miles)
  • Greater Orange County: Irvine Regional Park, Orange County Great Balloon, Angels game at Angel’s Stadium, The Discovery Cube, and the Santa Ana Zoo (5 miles to 20 miles)
  • Huntington Beach, a.k.a. Surf City USA (15 miles)
  • Los Angeles: 90+ museums including Getty Center, Griffith Park, and La Brea Tarpits (21+ miles)
Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant in Buena Park, California
Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Buena Park Restaurants for Families

  • Broken Yolk
  • DPot
  • La Huasteca
  • Medieval Times Dinner
  • Mrs. Knott’s Fried Chicken Dinner Restaurant
  • Pirates Dinner Adventure
  • Porto Bakery
  • Rock & Brews
Teen at California Marketplace's PEANUTS Headquarters
Can you find the teen in this California Marketplace photo? (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Where to Shop in Buena Park

  • California Marketplace
  • The Source
Lobby at Knott's Hotel
Lobby at Knott’s Hotel (Photo credit: Knott’s Hotel)

Where to Stay in Buena Park

The Pacific Coast in California
The Pacific Coast in California (Photo credit: haveseen, Depositphotos.com)

Explore More in California

There’s so much to experience in the Golden State! Discover the best places to visit in California.

Take your family to America’s Finest City. Read about fun things to do in San Diego with kids.

Character dining isn’t just for young children. Find out which Disneyland character meal is best for you.

Drive inland to the desert to explore Palm Springs with kids.

Best Things to Do in Buena Park, California

Save These Things to Do in Buena Park

Want to visit SoCal’s Fun City? Be sure to save this list of the best things to do in Buena Park with kids and teens. Simply pin the image above to Pinterest. Go ahead and follow Travel Mamas on Pinterest while you’re at it!

Which of these Buena Park activities would you like to experience? Share your comments and questions below!

A Note from The Travel Mama: My family was hosted by Visit Buena Park during our recent visit. I will receive compensation related to this blog post. These are my own thoughts and opinions, as always.


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  1. Really enjoyed reading this article – it was both informative and engaging. Great job on covering all the key points succinctly!

  2. Wow, this post is a treasure trove of ideas for an amazing family trip to Buena Park! So many exciting activities to choose from. 😃 Which one would be your family’s top pick?

    1. Thank you, Captain Dunes! Knott’s Berry Farm really is the star of Buena Park and the reason it became a tourist destination, so that’s why it tops my list of things to do in this Southern California city. The Pirates Dinner Adventure is a really fun and memorable option, too. And my family laughed the most at EKO Karaoke! Really, you can’t go wrong with anything on this list!

  3. There are so many fun things to do at this place! Thank you so much for sharing. My son would love this place for sure

  4. Hhhhmmmm….will I be too greedy for saying that I wanna do everything in here, of course, starting with brunch everyday? The sun shines here best!

  5. What an amazing list of things to do, and such wonderful variety for kids of all ages! Your daughter looks absolutely adorable at Knotts Merry Farm, it really does remind me of Candyland! I’m super into coasters so GhostRider would be awesome to ride!

    1. Pedja – You can experience much of Knott’s Berry Farm Theme Park in one day including lots of rides, the chicken dinner, games, and even Independence Hall across the street. I would suggest planning another day to experience Knott’s Soak City Water Park, and another day or two to experience The Source, Pirates Dinner Adventure or Medieval Times, and other nearby attractions like the beach or an Angel’s game. Enjoy!

  6. Oh wow. So many fun activities and places to do with the family. My family and I would to visit Buena Park someday. I know for sure now that we will be in for a treat.

  7. There is so much fun stuff to do here! I’d love to visit and have a go on the mine ride. The one in Disney was always one of my favourites!

    1. Nyxie – The Calico Mine Ride is a must, especially for first-timers to Knott’s Berry Farm. It’s more of slow-moving dark ride than a roller coaster but fascinating to get a glimpse into the history of the theme park. You can see how Disney was inspired by the Knott’s rides!

  8. These are fantastic picks! I’m a big kid, myself, I guess. I’d love to go to all of them with or without the kids. LOL.

  9. What a phenomenal list of things to do in Buena Park. I have been wanting to take my kids for a visit. I went when I was a kid and so much as changed. Thanks for this list.

  10. The phenomenal area with so many busy days that it’s hard to decide where to begin! It is more than just one vacation! Amazing pictures from your visit!

  11. So many great things to do. We grew up at the old school Knott’s. It’s sure changed a lot and I missed the older version of it. That’s one of the things we miss about So Cal is all there is to do.