Southern California has a lot to offer and while some things like the beaches, Hollywood and the like seem to get a lot of attention, there are a ton of attractions that deserve their day in the sun as well. Enter: Buena Park — a town located just 24 miles southeast of DTLA (cough, cough, closer than Anaheim) that is chock full of entertaining twists and turns to keep a family happy all weekend long. From pirates to pizza, check out our top picks below.

photo: Andie Huber

California Welcome Center

First things first, make your first stop the California Welcome Center located in what was once a Stage Stop Hotel and located conveniently on Beach Blvd. With only 16 welcome centers in all of the state of California, this hub is a treasure trove of information, recommendations and can even help secure tickets thanks to the help of Southern California Ticket & Tours, assist in lodging and make restaurant reservations.

Don't forget to pick up the free maps (the kids loved navigating us around the old-fashioned way) and grab a photo op with Walter and Cordelia Knotts (who made the area famous by selling their berries, preserves, and pies).

Hours: Mon. - Sat. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sun. 9 a.m. to noon. Closed for all major holidays.

California Welcome Center
6601 Beach Blvd.
Buena Park
Online: visitbuenapark.com

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photo: Andie Huber

John's Incredible Pizza Co.

Now that you're filled up with information, fill up those bellies with John's Incredible Pizza that is, not ironically, pretty incredible. Here's how this symposium of fun works, because it's not just pizza after all.

First, hit the all-you-can-eat buffet of pizza, salads, sides, and desserts and then pick one of the themed rooms to eat to your heart's content. We choose the Toon Time room where various televisions and screens played all the kid's favorites while we ate but next time we'll check out Cabin Fever (a lodge experience) and the Hall of Fame (for the sports fanatics).

Next? Get ready to play! This indoor play space has it all. From arcade games to laser maze, bumper cars to a special Kiddie Land reserved just for the little ones, be prepared to spend hours here riding and playing your way around. And of course, hit up the prize counter before you leave to cash in all those tickets.

Pro Tip: If you are there on a weekend or a holiday, get there as early as possible to avoid long lines. And while it's not obvious at first, John's Incredible Pizza Co. is located in the mall on the lower level.

John's Incredible Pizza Co.
8601 On the Mall
Buena Park
Online: johnsincrediblepizza.com

photo: Andie Huber

Holiday Inn

The convenience of the Holiday Inn can't be beaten — located on the same street as many of the local attractions, the recently renovated hotel also boasts a heated outdoor pool, free Wi-Fi, and restaurant where kids get to eat for free.

The rooms are spacious enough for a family of four to cozy up but they also have adjoining rooms if you want a little more space between you and the kids at night. 

Holiday Inn Buena Park
7000 Beach Blvd.
Beuna Park, CA 
Online: visitbuenapark.com

photo: Andie Huber

Medieval Times

Medieval Times transports everyone to a Spanish kingdom where Knights battle it out for honor and prestige in front of the Queen, horses dance and troupe their way across the arena, a falcon swoops high above your head in a fearless flight of showmanship all while you get to eat a four-course meal with your hands.

The pomp and circumstance is seriously impressive and for anyone who appreciates the skill and mastery that comes with Classical Dressage, you'll be awed by the talent of the horses and their masters.

When the jousting action gets underway, the crowd, broken up into teams, goes wild routing for their color Knight. While I eschew violence of any kind (even the play-kind and was a bit dismayed when the crowd called for one of the knight's deaths when they had a choice to let him live or die), my kids really enjoyed it (see photo above). 

Oh and you can pretty much eat as much garlic bread as you want. #score

Medieval Time Dinner & Tournament
7662 Beach Blvd.
Buena Park
Online: medievaltimes.com

photo: Andie Huber

Queen For a Day

You know it's a good sign of a good time when the kids insist on wearing their Medieval Times' crowns the next day at breakfast.

The hotel offers generous choices for the kid's meal (remember they're free as well), so don't forget to stop in at least for some pancakes or french toast before you start your day.

 

photo: Andie Huber

Knott's Berry Farm

Both local attraction and world-class thrill provider, Knott's Berry Farm is literally, fun for all ages. If you have a little one under the age of five, head to Camp Snoopy where rides on trains, airplanes, and hot air balloons are all the rage. Snoopy and friends hang out here too so getting photos with the cuddly pals is super easy.

Pop into Grizzly Creek Lodge for lunch and then after, make sure to find the bouncy bridge under the waterfalls that the preschool set (and let's be honest, big kids too) love to walk across. 

Make your way over to the Calico Railroad (stop at the carousel in Fiesta Village on the way) for a ride around the park that may involve an in-progress robbery and then saddle up for a ride on the Butterfield Stagecoach where a team of horses take you on a ride you won't forget (did people really use to travel this way?). 

In need of a break? Grab a seat at Calico Mine Stage, where performances are held daily.

Pro Tip: Don't forget to pack the sunscreen!

Knott's Berry Farm
8039 Beach Blvd.
Buena Park
Online: knotts.com

photo: Andie Huber

Boysenberry & Thrills

What makes Knott's extra special is they have seasonal festivals that are totally worth planning your trip for — from the Boysenberry festival (a celebration of the berry that made the area famous and now gets incorporated into various foods like quesadillas, street corn and of course, ice cream), to Knott's Spooky Farm where the whole place gets in the mood for Halloween. 

And thrill-seekers rejoice! HangTime, the first and only dive coaster in California, will have its grand opening on May 18 at Knott's Berry Farm! Just make sure to hit all the eats and treats afterward. 

photo: Andie Huber

Pirate's Dinner Adventure

Ahoy Matey! ARG'nt you glad you came to the pirate adventure? We sure were! With an actual boat that sits in a pool of water, get ready for splashtastic shenanigans and good, fun for all.

We loved the show from start to finish, there was so much action to keep us all engaged the entire time. So much so, my youngest never took her eyes off the action and forgot to eat her meal. Of course she remembered to eat when the cake came out.

A more intimate experience than Medieval Times, this performance kept up the jolly good spirits with an impressive aerial show to boot. If you have antsy kids, skip the preshow and also prepare the little ones for some loud cannon blasts that come with a generous warning from the cast.

Pirate's Dinner Adventure
7600 Beach Blvd.
Buena Park
Online: piratesdinneradventure.com

Porto's Bakery & Cafe

Get breakfast to-go at the hotel (save it for lunch later) and make your way over to Porto's Bakery (yes, that Porto's) and get ready to dive into the freshest baked goods by just driving down the street from the hotel. Get there early (you're up anyway right?) and enjoy the richest coffee, yummiest donuts, stuffed potato balls, cheese rolls, and famous guava pastries all without having to drive to Burbank, Glendale or Downey.

Did I mention get there early? By 11 a.m., lines form out the door. 

Porto's Bakery & Cafe
7640 Beach Blvd.
Buena Park, CA 90620
(714) 367-2030
Online: portosbakery.com

Big Air Trampoline Park

Turns out, not all trampoline parks are made the same and while this one has the pre-requisite jumping squares, what we loved about Big Air are things we hadn't seen in other places.

Get in a bull ride, take a stab at their climbing wall and best of all, now that you're kids have been inspired by Medieval Times and all that jousting, they can try their hand at Big Air's very own jousting competition called the Battlebeam.

Walk along the balance beam, over a ball of foam cubes, with a very large, foam jousting stick and battle your competition until they fall. Don't worry about it getting too out of hand — there's a staff person watching all the action to make sure it stays fun for everyone.

Big Air Trampoline Park
8320 Beach Blvd.
Buena Park
Online: bigairusa.com/buenapark

Have you been to Buena Park? Have any sights that we may have missed? Let us know in the comments below!

—Andie Huber

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