Things to do in Southern California With Kids
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Things to do in Southern California With Kids

There are so many things to see, do, and eat in Southern California and I have a list of some of the best that you can do with kids below!

There’s no doubt that Southern California is one of my family’s favorite vacation destinations. One of the reasons that I love it so much is that there is so much to do. Even if you visit frequently, you can have a different experience each time. I am going to share all of the fun things we did and yummy things we ate on our recent visit to Buena Park, California!

Boy holding stuffed animal at John's Incredible Pizza in Buena Park, CA

Things to do in Southern California

John’s Incredible Pizza

John’s Incredible Pizza is located at Buena Park Downtown which is a large shopping mall, a few blocks from Knott’s Berry Farm. They offer an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet, arcade games, and rides that your family will love. My boys had so much fun at John’s Incredible Pizza, it was hard to get them to come back to the hotel to go to bed! If you have the chance to play there, make sure to try the churro donuts!
Two boys on ride at Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park, CA

Knott’s Berry Farm

I love Knott’s Berry Farm! My all-time favorite roller coaster, Ghost Rider, can be found in this fun theme park. It is the longest and fastest wooden roller coaster on the West Coast. All I can do is laugh the whole time I’m riding it! I grew up coming to this park with my family and am happy that my kids love it as much as I do.


Thrill Rides: My husband and older boys LOVE thrill rides like Xcelerator The Ride®, La Revolucion, and Montezooma’s Revenge.

Kids Rides: My little guy had a blast exploring Camp Snoopy. His favorite adventures were Linus Launcher, Camp Bus, and Rocky Mountain Trucking Company.

Family Rides: I also love that Knott’s Berry Farm has attractions and shows that our family could experience all together. We loved riding Calico Railroad, which is an authentic Denver and Rio Grande Narrow Gauge train used in the early 1900s. It’s fun to ride around the theme park, and you might even meet a couple of cowboys on your journey! Wheeler Dealer Bumper Cars was another favorite. It is a classic bumper cars ride that will have you twisting and turning all over the place. The Timber Mountain Log Ride has been a favorite of mine since I was a child. There is nothing more exhilarating than making the final drop and creating a giant splash!

Knott’s Berry Farm Dining

Knott’s Berry Farm offers a couple of different dining passes for their guests. The All-Day Dining and the Single Meal Deal. Our family had the Single Meal Deal for lunch and we choose to redeem it at Fireman’s BBQ located in the heart of Ghost Town. I definitely recommend the Ribs, Fire Roasted Corn on the Cob, and the Boysenberry Punch!
Two boys with bandannas at Pirates Dinner Adventure in Buena Park, CA

Pirates Dinner Adventure

The Pirates Dinner Adventure in Buena Park, California can be classified as an attraction and a restaurant in one. When entering the adventure, you are immediately immersed in everything pirates. From the pre-show activities, to the entertainment, and dining, there is no way your family won’t have a great time!

What's For Dinner?: Inside the theater, there is a large replica of a pirate ship complete with a lagoon surrounding the stage. When you are assigned your seat for dinner, you are seated in a section and given a color. Each person is given a flag that represents your pirate and color. Dinner consists of a three course meal. A salad or soup to start, a chicken and shrimp entree for the main course, and chocolate cake for dessert. My kids were given a hamburger slider, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, and fruit.

Pirates Dinner Adventure Show: The show we got to see was the Christmas version. Santa is kidnapped by bad pirates and it is up to the other pirates to save him, Mrs. Claus, and Christmas! The pirates do a great job involving the audience as well. I was able to toss little basketballs up to our pirate so he could try to win a challenge. My son was chosen to ride in a boat around the stage while another pirate sat in his seat and began to eat his dinner. It was hilarious!
Little boy on rocks at Ralph B Clark Park in Buena Park, CA

Ralph B Clark Regional Park – Interpretive Center

If you’re looking for a place to relax and be active at the same time, Ralph B Clark Regional Park is a great place to visit! I have three energetic little boys who loved taking a break and getting a little fresh air during our visit to Southern California. There is truly something for everyone at this park from hiking and biking trails, fishing, tennis, baseball, and volleyball courts to play grounds, shaded picnic areas, and lots of open space that my boys used to play soccer.
Boy in foam pit at Big Air in Buena Park, CA

Big Air Buena Park

My family LOVED Big Air Buena Park! I knew my boys were going to love it, but I didn’t know how much fun my husband and I were going to have as well. Big Air is located at Buena Park Downtown mall and is not just an average trampoline park. Here are some of the fun things you can experience: Zero-Gravity Court, Martian Mountain, Space Slam (the favorite of my boys), Haley’s Dodge-It, The Launch Pad, The Big Bull (my husband’s favorite), Galactic Gladiators Battle Beam (my favorite and a great way to get out some aggression, Lil’ Air which includes fun-size versions of the bigger attractions specifically for little ones.
Two boys with paper crowns at Medieval Times in Buena Park, CA

Medieval Times

Medieval Times is also one of those attraction/dinner experiences in one.

Before The Show: Before the dinner show begins, you have the opportunity to dress up and have a medieval-style photo taken of your family. You will then enter the lobby where you may purchase drinks and souvenirs that can be used during the show. You can also take a peek at the horses that are used in the show as they prepare for their performance in the indoor stables. It is so fun to see these majestic animals up close!

The Show: You will be seated in a section that is assigned a color, similar to the Pirates Dinner Adventure. We were in the red section and cheered for the Red Knight. The Knights take turns showing off their skills in jousting competitions and hand-to-hand sword fights and you will see amazing tricks performed by the talented horses.

Medieval Times Dinner: Our three-course meal consisted of tomato bisque soup, roasted chicken, herb-basted potato, garlic bread, sweet buttered corn on the cob, and ice cream for dessert.
Boy with Snoopy at Amber Waves in Buena Park, CA

Where to Eat in Southern California

Amber Waves Restaurant

Amber Waves Restaurant and Bar is located inside of Knott’s Berry Farm Hotel. They are a full service restaurant that offers breakfast, lunch and dinner. We were treated to the breakfast buffet before our day at Knott’s Berry Farm and it was delicious! There were a variety of offerings including yogurt with assorted toppings, pastries, eggs, bacon, sausage, biscuits and gravy. Kids under 11 eat free with a paying adult each day for lunch and dinner which can definitely be a big savings. And Snoopy greets guests at the restaurant nightly from 6:00 – 6:30 and 7:00 – 7:30. He even made an appearance while we ate breakfast!

Porto’s Bakery & Cafe

I don’t know how I have never been to Porto’s Bakery & Cafe before! It is definitely a destination all by itself. The Buena Park location is huge and can be a little overwhelming at first. Luckily, there is a nice employee at the entrance who is ready to direct you where you need to go. We actually ate at Porto’s twice on our trip to Southern California. Once for breakfast and again for dinner. Both experiences were amazing. For breakfast we sampled raspberry cheesecake, carrot cake, apple strudel, and Torrejas (Cuban Style French Toast) and it was all amazing! For dinner, my Italian Sub Sandwhich was delicious, but I definitely had my eye on the Cauliflower and Broccoli Soup in a bread bowl that my husband was eating!
Portillo's gift card in front of building in Buena Park, CA

Portillo’s

Portillo’s is actually one of my favorite dining spots in Southern California! They are a Chicago-style restaurant that is famous for their hot dogs and Italian Beef sandwiches. I have had both and they are delicious! My meat-loving 10-year-old son opted to get a 1/2 rack of ribs and they definitely did not disappoint! The portion is huge and their sauce is amazing. No trip to Portillo’s is complete without a slice of their decadent chocolate cake. But, my favorite way to enjoy the cake is to order a large Chocolate Cake Shake. The Chocolate Cake Shake is exactly what it sounds like. A milkshake with an actual slice of chocolate cake shake mixed in. The best part? Sometimes there are big chunks of cake that you find in the ice cream. It’s like a delicious surprise!

85°C Bakery Cafe

We visited 85°C Bakery Cafe for breakfast on our trip and loved everything about it! The goal of 85°C Bakery Cafe is to provide 5-star quality desserts at affordable prices. I can assure you that they are reaching this goal based on the delicious chocolate strawberry cake I shared with my 5-year-old. We also enjoyed a variety of other pastries as well including the Caramel Danish, and Apple Almond Danish. If you’re looking to pick up something sweet for breakfast, or any time of the day, I definitely recommend you stop by 85°C Bakery Cafe.
Snoopy Headboards at Knott's Berry Farm Hotel in Buena Park, CA

Where to Stay in Southern California

Knott’s Berry Farm Hotel

We loved our stay at Knott’s Berry Farm Hotel. It is just a few steps away from Knott’s Berry Farm theme park and is very large and spacious. It was so nice to wake up in the morning, grab a quick breakfast, and walk for five minutes to our adventures at the park!

Hotel Rooms: Knott’s Berry Farm Hotel has 5 room options to choose from. That makes it easy to find a space that will work for your family.

Hotel Amenities: Pool, Splash Pad, Complimentary Shuttle to Disneyland
Spa, Lighted Basketball Court, Lighted Tennis Courts, Fitness Center

I hope this post gives you plenty of ideas of things to do in Southern California with kids! Have a fun trip!

After a long day of excitement, choose from over a dozen comfortable & affordable Buena Park hotels -- most are located within walking distance to all major attractions. CLICK HERE for hotel deals. To start planning your SoCal vacation, order your FREE Travel Guide HERE.

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Copyright ©2019, Visit Buena Park.
All Rights Reserved
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