3 Sensational Days Exploring Buena Park Attractions California

Embarking on a thrilling three-day adventure to discover Buena Park attractions California unveils a world brimming with amusement parks, cultural landmarks and culinary delights, making it an ideal getaway for families and adventure seekers.

My curated itinerary is designed to help you maximize your time exploring the best attractions of Buena Park. From the Boysenberry Festival at Knotts Berry Farm to the immersive experiences at the Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament. Whether you’re a thrill-seeker, a history enthusiast or a foodie, Buena Park attractions California promise an unforgettable journey.

You probably think it’s silly that I’ve never been to Knott’s Berry Farm before last week. The world-renowned attraction in Buena Park, California, is only seven hours from my home. It’s probably even crazier to think that as I grew up in Minnesota, we called it Knox Berry Farm. Even after eating and buying jams and syrups blatantly labeled “Knott’s Berry Farm,” I still pronounce it that way!

I wanted to investigate why Buena Park is called ‘SoCal’s Fun City,’ so I jam-packed my three-day itinerary—excuse the pun—to get it all in. I discovered that Buena Vista is more than I could imagine, with all sorts of fun for all ages.

Summary

In this three-day itinerary for Buena Park, you’ll find the best ways to maximize your time while experiencing all the fabulous attractions.

We’ll tell you where to eat and even a place to enjoy a pre-dinner cocktail. We were there–this is our first-hand account!

With this 3-day itinerary, you’ll experience:

  • The Source OC, an entertainment, shopping and restaurant center
  • Knott’s Berry Farm
  • The Boysenberry Festival at Knotts Berry Farm
  • Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament, and a
  • Fossil Museum

Of course, we give detailed reports of each of these and the unique places to eat in a fun, first-person, story-telling way.

So, let’s get on with it! Here are my recommendations for a fun three days in Buena Park, California…

 

pinterest graphic with pictures of the front entrance of Knotts Berry Farm, Medieval Times castle, white Andalusian horses and food from Boysenberry Festival at Knotts Berry Farm

Day One: Buena Park attractions California recon

Fly into John Wayne Airport (SNA), also known as Santa Ana Airport or Orange County Airport. This midsized, modern airport makes short hops easy and is only 38 minutes from Buena Park, you know, ‘Southern California’s Fun City!’

My flight from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport to SNA is only 56 minutes.

Check flights from your home airport—there’s probably a quick and convenient direct flight from your home airport. Allegiant, American, Frontier, Southwest and more fly into this sunny airport.

You can watch for cheap flights to SNA by signing up for Going (formerly Scott’s Cheap Flights) like I did!

The Uber / Lyft station was just a short walk from the baggage claim, and the wait in the California sunshine is not long enough for my driver, Bassim, to arrive.

We discuss how he loves the melting pot of Southern California and how his neighborhood of Muslims, Christians and others gathered at the home of his Syrian family for Ramadan last night.

“I’m Druze, so I don’t fast, but some of our white neighbors fast with the Muslims as a show of solidarity. We all got together last evening to break the fast.” I soon met a rainbow of other ethnicities during my weekend trip to Buena Park.

“Golden Rose across the street is an excellent Mediterranean restaurant,” Bassim says as he drops me under the porte-cochere of the Doubletree Hilton Buena Park. He knows I love that food since I’d shared with him that I’m invited to a quarterly Middle Eastern dinner in my hometown of Flagstaff.

PRO TIP: Use Uber or Lyft or book ML Black Cars for a luxe ride at similar prices.

The Source OC, the Buena Park entertainment and dining destination

After settling into my room, I put on comfortable walking shoes and stride to The Source OC to recon the entertainment and dining destination. My mission is to choose a Korean restaurant for lunch before my flight out on my final day.

My Visit Buena Park host had suggested that I nose around the dozens of eateries and discover a place that grabs my fancy. I like that: leaving parts of my travel itinerary open for the “unexpected.”

The weather in Buena Park is sunny and perfect for walking at the end of March. Back home in Munds Park, that was not the case, with snow burying everything as I left. So, this Buena Park trip is perfect timing for training for my upcoming 500-mile walk in Spain.

After wandering the three-story open-air Source OC structure, I give myself enough time to walk two miles west to my highly anticipated dinner at Gaucho Grill. The stroll is lovely as I walk into the California sunset, working up an appetite for Argentine steaks.

Evening One: Gaucho Grill, Argentine Steakhouse

interior of restaurant with rock ceiling arching arouns wooden floors and metal see-thru shelves at Gaucho Grill in Buena Park
Gaucho Grill could well be one of the finest Buena Park attractions California

The restaurant’s arched stone ceiling reminded me of the interiors of Spanish bodegas or Greek wineries. Tables of local Hispanic families surrounded me, but I recognized a few tourists like myself. All were smiling and having fun, well cared for by the attractive male servers.

I started with sangria and spinach empanada, a folded snack I’d come to love on the Santiago trail in Spain. The menu said to give 30 minutes for the meat preparation, but my Bife de Chorizo came out right away. So, I didn’t have time to finish my empanada or enjoy my Gauchito salad.

The New York steak was cooked perfectly, and my knife released juices with every cut. I chose the papas ahumadas—smoked potatoes—as my side, and they were equally delicious. The garlic and thyme balanced the fatty flavors of the meat, which I guessed was sourced in the Midwest or another place where the cattle were mostly grass-fed. I could understand why local families came back time and again to enjoy the food prepared on the fire or plancha.

Gaucho Grill, with its exhibition of open-fire cooking, Argentine food shop, and extensive wine showcase, could be on the list of best Buena Park attractions in California in itself!

Day Two: Boysenberry Festival at Knotts Berry Farm, the premiere of Buena Park attractions California

Boysenberry Festival at Knotts Berry Farm | UNSTOPPABLE Stacey photo
eggs benedict made with salmon and sprinkled with green fresh dill, fruit bowl filled with huge chunks of fresh pineapple, orange, melon all across the street from Boysenberry Festival at Knotts Berry Farm
The Broken Yolk eggs benedict across the street from the Boysenberry Festival at Knotts Berry Farm

The following morning, I am on another walk, this time in pursuit of a hearty breakfast at the Broken Yolk, just across the street from Knott’s Berry Farm.

The vibrant freshness of California fruit never ceases to amaze me. The juicy flavors of the orange, pineapple and melon slices hint at the culinary adventure that awaited me at the Boysenberry Festival at Knotts Berry Farm.

I find myself eagerly imagining the boysenberry delights that lay ahead, promising an experience filled with unexpected pleasures.

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Boysenberry Festival at Knotts Berry Farm

entry of the best known Buena Park attractions California with sign above reading: America's First Theme Park"
Knotts Berry Farm gate | By Phydend at English Wikipedia, Public Domain

Entering Knott’s Berry Farm, the line of excited families moves along quite rapidly as most of us had purchased our tickets online or were annual pass holders. Friendly attendants direct me to one of the many places where I could exchange the prepurchased Knott’s Boysenberry Festival Tasting Card QR code for the physical card, complete with a purple lanyard.

The tasting card lists 37 boysenberry-inspired dishes and drinks created especially for the Boysenberry Festival at Knotts Berry Farm. Boysenberry drinks, entrées or desserts are part of the special tasting menu at 15 restaurants around the 27-acre theme park. So, doing foodie festival tastings is kind of like a scavenger hunt, choosing a boysenberry treat and then navigating to the eatery where it’s available.

Boysenberry-inspired dishes and drinks

My mind was spinning, trying to choose from the tantalizing creations. So, to prep for the festival, I’d watched YouTubers sampling various boysenberry treats and picked out a few I wanted to test.

Without the ravings from several foodie influencers, I would not go out on a limb with the Warm Spam Musabi with Boysenberry Soy Sauce. And I must agree the boysenberry soy pairs well with the moist rice and sea weed-wrapped Spam, a wildly popular Hawaiian comfort food.

They also raved about the Boysenberry West Coast IPA, but I choose the Boysenberry Lager since I’m not an IPA fan. I enjoy the crisp lager with its typical underlying sweetness enhanced by the boysenberry, but I wish it had more of the classic carbonation. I pair the medium lager with Boysenberry and Parmesan Polenta with Roasted Veggies and a Balsamic Drizzle.

My other choices during the food festival at this favorite of Buena Park attractions California were Peach and Cheese Burrata Caprese Salad with Boysenberry Dressing, Lemon Bar with Boysenberry Compote, and, of course, Boysenberry Wine.

4 pieces of Musabi lay on clear purple plate on top of purple gingham table cloth at the Boysenberry Festival at Knotts Berry Farm
Warm Spam Musabi with Boysenberry Soy Sauce | UNSTOPPABLE Stacey photo
salad with peaches and burrata cheese sit on purple gingham table cloth
Peach and Cheese Burrata Caprese Salad with Boysenberry Dressing
lemon bar with purple compote on top and candy sign that reads Boysenberry Festival at Knotts Berry Farm
Rich and creamy Lemon Bar with Boysenberry Compote

What’s the Buena Park boysenberry connection?

Boysenberry Festival at Knotts Berry Farm | UNSTOPPABLE Stacey photo

I’m ashamed to admit that until recently, I thought boysenberries were a natural fruit that grew in the wild. But no! The berry never existed until 1935, when rancher Rudolf Boysen developed the hybrid bramble here in Buena Park, California. Its fruit is large, like a blackberry, but with a raspberry flavor.

After Rudy abandoned his hybridization venture, Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park took over the marketing and production of the profitable, large berry.

Today, every boysenberry around the globe originated from Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, California. Amazingly, New Zealand is the world’s largest producer and exporter of large berries. Even the famous UK chocolatier makes an uber-popular Cadbury Boysenberry Ripple.

At the amusement park, you can buy your own garden-ready, potted boysenberry plants to take home. If you’ve never tasted a boysenberry before and wonder why the flavor makes it so popular, order Knott’s Berry Farm pure seedless boysenberry jam on Amazon.

I highly recommend the Boysenberry Festival at Knotts Berry Farm, which runs Friday through Sunday now to April 28, 2024.

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Evening Two: Medieval Times

Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament castle in Buena Park CA | UNSTOPPABLE Stacey photo

The Caldron Spirits & Bar for pre-dinner drinks

That evening, I enjoy a pre-dinner cocktail and appetizers at The Caldron Spirits & Bar, also located across the street from the boysenberry festival at Knotts Berry Farm.

If the flickering chandeliers, black ceiling, and heavy velvet drapes aren’t creepy enough in this French-inspired, witch-themed pub, there’s a gigantic green reptilian eye that appears now and again in the antique mirror above the fireplace.

It seems to watch me drink my Ides of March, the cocktail of the month.

I nibble on Castelvetrano olives and watch a coven of locals enjoying their favorite haunt.

What to see at Medieval Times before the show begins

kids look at horses through glass and into bared stalls with white Andalusian horses in them
Hall of Stallions at Medieval Times in Buena Park California

Strolling through the balmy California evening, I am wrapped in anticipation, imagining the majestic Spanish horses that I’ll experience at the next sensational event on my itinerary.

Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament awaits only four blocks away, and my heart skips a beat at the thought of transitioning from the modern California sidewalk into the historical grip of a Spanish castle. The idea of spending an evening immersed in a bygone era, complete with jousting knights, vibrant pageantry and the graceful dance of long-maned Andalusian horses, filled me with a sense of adventure.

The crowd standing in line was visibly ramped up for this tournament, one of the favorite Buena Park attractions California.

I could tell that some had been here before, and the vibe was that of fans before a sporting event. I guess I hadn’t thought of that before. Medieval tournaments were sporting events of their time, with hand-to-hand combat, jousting from charging horses, and damsels secretly hoping their beaus might win the tournament and their hand in marriage! Me, I was there for the Andalusian horses!

I check in with the maître d’, who gives me a green crown. Later, I learn that the color corresponds with my dinner seating and the knight I would root for. Six knights would vie for accolades during the tournament, where their horsemanship, sword handling and tumbling would shine. Each knight and horse are decked in their own color and regalia of Medieval pomp.

Visit The Hall of Stallions

Cruising through the Hall of Arms, past the suits of armor displayed high on the castle’s stone walls and the booths selling flags and souvenirs, I make a beeline to the Hall of Stallions. I peer into the box stalls of the magnificent Spanish horses as they’re prepped for showtime. The castle opens an hour before the show begins, giving ample time for you to buy a beverage, explore the castle, and take photos of the Spanish horses, which are, for me, the stars of the show.

“You picked an excellent night to come,” whispered my host, Ashley Castle. Yes, that’s really her name. This is the first we’ve been at pre-COVID attendance,” she smiles. The horses missed everybody [during the pandemic shuttering]. They really are performers. They like to have the lights on them and hear the applause.”

Ashley and Kayley Snyder, the Cast Manager, lead me around the stables and introduce me to each horse, explaining its individual characteristics.

The Call to Table

In no time, a long, straight medieval trumpet announces the Call to Table. The Master of Ceremonies calls us by color to the Grand Ceremonial Arena. As I enter, I’m mesmerized by the expansive arena and the theatrical lighting that seems to lead me to the green section. And Ashley is right—it looks like a packed house tonight, with each section flooded in its knight’s colors already chanting, “Green, green, green!” or “Let’s go red!”

I settled into my green section next to a young family. The dancing lights mesmerize the 3-to 4-year-old girl dressed as a princess and the toddler brother, looking like a wee jester. “My parents took me here when I was a child,” Mom, who sat next to me, joyfully reveals. “I want to keep the tradition with my family.”

Scott, our humble server, asks for our drink preferences and then offers a booster seat for the jester without being asked. Scott, who looks the part of a Spanish peasant in his brown tunic and dark complexion, turns out to be a compassionate and attentive server throughout the performance. (Pro tip: Bring cash to tip your server.)

Meal fit for a medieval king or queen

King's meal at Medieval Times | courtesy photo

As the lights dim and the opening movement of the dramatic music quickens, Scott serves our first course in metal-looking bowls. “Dragon blood soup,” he announces. “Would you like garlic bread?”

As the overture rises, special effect fog settles down over the arena, and soon, a galloping white stallion charges through the arena, drawing all eyes to the spectacle. Throughout the performance, Scott serves our three-course meal, which we eat Medieval-style with our fingers.

We get caught up in the mystery plot of chivalry and romance that includes horses running at 30-35 miles per hour and hand-to-hand combat with sparks flying from the metal weapons. In one of the parades of Medieval pageantry, Scott shows up on the arena floor waving a green pennant with the other “peasants.”

After the two-hour show, the happy audience returns to the Hall of Arms to have pictures taken with their favorite knights.

A white horse prances riderless in spotlight during a show at one of the most popular Buena Park attractions California
Andalusian horses in the spotlight at Medieval Times one of the hot Buena Park attractions California
knight dressed in black and red sits atop white steed while holding a long jousting lance
The black and red knight at Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament
Sections of the Grand Ceremonial Arena drenched in the color of their favorite knight

Day Three: Buena Park attractions California

Potato Ball selection at Porto Bakery & Cafe

The following day, I had coffee and a passionfruit smoothie at Porto Bakery, a favorite Buena Park bakery run by the same Cuban family that established it in 1963. I tried the famous cheese and peppers potato ball and a croqueta de pollo.

The place was packed, and I stood in three lines: the first to enter the door, the second to order my food, and the third to pick up my coffee. Check out my friend Amy Piper’s review of Porto Bakery & Café for the complete details.

Buena Park Attractions California: Colossal Fossils

fossil in tan and brown tones of giant prehistoric sloth
Mammal fossils that date back nearly 70,000 years at Ralph B. Clark Interpretive Center in Buena Park

Then I’m off chasing the fossil remains of ancient mammoths, ground sloths and an Ice Age whale. It’s difficult to tell that the lush green Ralph B. Clark Regional Park was once a sand and gravel pit used during the Santa Ana and Riverside Freeways construction.

In the 1950s, quarry workers unearthed extensive fossil beds, revealing the area’s prehistoric past. Today, visitors can observe the colossal fossils of ancient mammals that once roamed this region at the Ralph B. Clark Interpretive Center.

Additionally, on Saturdays, the park offers a glimpse into the meticulous work of scientists and volunteers as they carefully prepare fossils in the freshly updated center.

It is a true hidden gem of Buena Park.

The Source OC: Another Buena Park Attractions California

Bulgogi at Gangnam House in The Source OC | UNSTOPPABLE Stacey photo

For a leisurely lunch, I’m back at The Source OC for exquisite Korean BBQ fare at Gangnam House. I’d seen many locals eating there on my earlier visit, so I chose this spot for the last meal of my Buena Park weekend escape.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Bulgogi, thin strips of marinated beef served with a spread of kimchi, steamed rice, pickled radish, Korean potato salad, soybean sprout salad, and grilled vegetables.

MAP YOUR STAY

Conclusion Buena Park Attractions California

The Boysenberry Festival at Knotts Berry Farm was sensational! But if you’re not a foodie, or there are thrillseekers in your family, be sure to ride the thrilling Ghost Rider, the longest, tallest and fastest wooden roller coaster on the West Coast and HangTime, the first dive coaster in California. I found a great way to save money with this pass. 

Medieval Times was my favorite of the Buena Park attractions California because of the dazzling Andalusian horses.

Every restaurant I experienced offered tasteful and artfully presented food. Medieval Times and The Broken Yolk get my top kudos for service.

Turns out it doesn’t matter how you pronounce Knott’s Berry Farm. Knotts or Knox Berry Farm, you’ll have a thrilling time all the same!

I hope this 3-day itinerary gives you some ideas for planning your own trip to experience Buena Park attractions in California. If it did, please share with the colored social media buttons below.

Table of Contents

pinterest graphic with pictures of the front entrance of Knotts Berry Farm, Medieval Times castle, white Andalusian horses and food from Boysenberry Festival at Knotts Berry Farm
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Hi, I’m Stacey

UNSTOPPABLE Stacey Travel is a travel blog focused on immersive travel that highlights food, wine and the spirituality of place. I also occasionally write about life as a Camino de Santiago pilgrim. I hope you enjoy what I post here. Feel free to leave comments! Read more…

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2 thoughts on “3 Sensational Days Exploring Buena Park Attractions California”

    • MAry, that is soooo cool! You worked at the indoor theatre at Knott’s Berry Farm one of the top Buena Park attractions California – thanks so much for your comment! Always LOVE to hear from you!

      Reply

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