Orange County is a favorite weekend escape for people throughout California – and the entire country. Buena Park is the go-to spot with its theme parks, entertainment options and incredible dining. What to do in Buena Park when it's hot outside is a common question among visitors from cooler destinations.
We've got you covered! Buena Park recently hosted us on a visit to their top must-see spots. Here's our perspective as a big family with kids of all ages.
What to do in Buena Park Indoors
Southern California is known for its surf and turf, but there are a TON of things to do indoors as well! From play areas to arcades and shows, here are our kids' favorite ways to get their energy out.
Big Air Trampoline Park
We've expressed our love of trampoline parks over and over again on this blog. Bouncing is a blast, and Big Air is top-notch for trampolining! Perfect your dodging skills, climb Martian Mountain and battle with friends among the foam blocks.
John's Incredible Pizza
Come to John's Incredible Pizza for the All You Can Eat Buffet, and stick around all afternoon to play! I was excited to see that they had a ton of varied food options, from pizza (duh) to nachos, chicken, soup, salad, and rice and pasta dishes curated by Food Network CHOPPED champion Joe Youkhan. The entertainment center features cool themed rooms, so you can choose to eat in the wacky “Toon Time” room, sports-themed “Hall of Fame,” cozy “Cabin Fever” or more interesting spaces. Then, experience one of over 100 games, rides and attractions (including ride-ons and dedicated tot areas) in their massive arcade area.
Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament
Medieval Times transports visitors to an age of knights and castles. This two hour tournament encourages guests to cheer for their favorite knight in an authentic jousting tournament as they compete to win the princess' heart. The fun is top-notch, but so is the food! You'll feast on a three-course chicken dinner complete with soup, veggies and dessert.
Pirate's Dinner Adventure
Newer to the dinner-show space is Pirate's Dinner Adventure, which whisks guests into a dazzling, swashbuckling experience with swordplay, mermaids, aerial performances and stunning visual effects. The replica 18th century Spanish ship amidst the indoor lagoon truly transports guests into an otherworldly evening of entertainment – and the food can't be beat. Insider tip: scoot on out quickly after the show ends, and your kids can meet the cast! The wench lady will be nice to your kids, and the pirate dudes will stay in character scowling and acting irritated with them. It's hilarious.
Speaking of the wee ones, this is the perfect place to give them some one-on-one attention. PlayPie has over 12,000 square feet of play space with slides and climb-on spaces for older kids, and lots of toys and manipulatives for younger learners. Located in The Source outdoor mall next to Basilur Tea, this is a great place to take the kids for a low-key afternoon of shopping, dining and having fun!
Make a Splash – Outside!
Californians are well aware that their summers heat up quick, and even their autumn season can go from mild to muggy in an instant. Don't worry, though, we are prepared with ALL the very best outdoor splash zones so you can cool down in style.
Knott's Soak City Waterpark
Brace yourself for 13 acres of fun in the sun! This water park basically boggles the mind with its endless activities, including six slides at Banzai Falls, a 63-foot vertical drop at Old Man Falls and a children's water wonderland at Gremmie Lagoon and the three-story Beach House. Our family's favorite spots are the endless waves at Tidal Wave Bay, the lazy river (which is one of the longest in the entire world!) and the reservable cabanas that are perfect for squeezing in a nap with the toddlers so you can enjoy a full day of play without shuffling back to the hotel.
Knott's Berry Farm Hotel's Splash Space
Knott's Berry Farm Hotel – located adjacent to both Knott's Soak City and Knott's Berry Farm – is the perfect place to stay for quick and easy access to all the action. They even offer a complimentary shuttle to Disneyland! The pool and splash pad space is our favorite area, offering a great option for kids who just can't get enough water play in their life.
Inside the hotel, don't miss Amber Waves, Knott's Hotel's own full-service restaurant serving American favorites like steak, burgers, hand tossed pizza and boysenberry pie. Kids eat free during lunch with the purchase of an adult entree, and Snoopy stops by to say “hi” every night from 6-6:30pm and 7-7:30pm.
Knott's Berry Farm
Knott's Berry Farm has been a family favorite since waaay back when Nate and I were kids! We started bringing Olin to the tot areas shortly after he was born eight years ago, and now our oldest son rocks even the biggest of the rollercoasters. A lot of the waiting areas for rides are shaded, and we love to cool down on windy rides like the Calico Mine Ride, Calico Railroad, High Sierra Ferris Wheel and Surfside Gliders. Ghost Town has lots of air-conditioned spaces that are fun to explore (and they're even educational, transporting the whole family back in time!). Timber Mountain Log Ride and Calico River Rapids are also awesome splashy rides for when it's really hot out.
All the Buena Park Eats
Some of the most raved-about dining in all of California (and even the world, honestly) is right here. If you're looking for what to do in Buena Park, my advice is to plan a big chunk of your itinerary around the food! It's a great chance to cool down in a cool space, too.
Porto's Bakery & Cafe
This world-famous bakery serves up pastries, sandwiches, specialty beverages and delectable potato balls. Many of Porto's recipes served today were brought straight from Cuba in 1963, and in that time they've racked up a reputation that causes guests to line up around the block! Come as early as possible or on weekdays to avoid a lengthy wait – that said, we've stood here for over an hour at least a handful of times, and it's always worth it.
Known around the world for their tea and coffee, MY family loves to come here for their melt-in-your-mouth soufflé pancakes. If you're wondering what to do in Buena Park, this is a must-do spot for breakfast or brunch. The decor is also totally Insta-worthy, with posh, Renaissance-vibe little tables and book-shaped tea containers lining the walls. Order the afternoon tea if (like me) you enjoy trying a bit of everything.
Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner
An Orange County institution, Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner is known for their chicken. Duh. Their homemade biscuits and boysenberry pies are also worth writing home about. The entire Knott's Berry Farm theme park was actually built up around this famous eatery as a way of entertaining guests while they waited for a table. Word to the wise: make reservations online to avoid a long wait.
There you have it: over ten ways to have fun in the sun when you're wondering what to do in Buena Park on a hot, hot day. Heck, most of these things are still fun even on a cold day. Not that those come around too often here in Southern California. What's your favorite way to play in SoCal?