Construction on Buena Park's mega-development "The Source" won't be ready by summer, but an upscale shopping center ain't where it's at for the so-called "Center of the Southland." Planning an all-day adventure in the city isn't impossible, but carrying it out is impossible without the proper jet fuel. Start off with the finest breakfast burritos in all the land. This rag continually praises the big-brick offerings of Athenian Burgers #3 (8511 La Palma Ave., 714-523-9999) and for good reason. Among all, the Suicide Burrito is the one: scrambled eggs, hash browns, shredded cheese, bacon, ham and sausage! Down to the last greasy bit of tortilla, it powers up pleasure seekers who won't feel a grumble in their bellies until the sun comes down.
With the kids out of school, restless and bored, Buena Park offers a number of diversions to keep them from driving parents insane. Of course, there's Disneyland's cheaper, less pretentious stepbrother in Knott's Berry Farm. But for some dang reason, the summer-break legions are beckoned by John's Incredible Pizza Co. (8601 On the Mall, 714-236-0000). Taking the full bottom floor of the Buena Park Mall, the pizza place is a palace of sensory overload only a writer such as Hunter S. Thompson could conjure: Buffets! Peanut butter pizza! Rides! Games! John's Incredible Pizza Co. is Chuck E. Cheese on crack! But, damn it, the kiddos love every maddening jingle of it, putting parents to the test to see if they'll truly do anything for them . . . even if it takes popping a Xanax to make it through.
As the daytime heat rages in a city too far from the coast, there's always Snoopy's slip-'n'-slide, a.k.a. Knott's Soak City (8039 Beach Blvd., 714-220-5200). Unlike its big-brother theme park, the tubular twists and turns are only open from the summer through the early fall. During that time, you can float on an inner tube through the Lazy River, seeing that odd replica of Independence Hall along the way, or take the steep dive down Banzai Falls. Season passes are reasonably priced, making Soak City as cheap a way to find relief from the sun as turning on the backyard hose!
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As evening sets in, Buena Park's best bet is the summer concert series at Boisseranc Park (7520 Dale St., 714-562-3871). Neighbors from all around come for the sounds of cover bands, old-time favorites and mariachis. Running from early June through mid-July, the lineup kicks off with the Beatles and Willie Nelson wannabes, while Mariachi Tesoro de San Fernando closes things down with a big summertime grito. Grab a blanket to lie on the grass and relax with friends while bands perform into the night. And if that doesn't appeal to you? The games at the handball courts are among the fiercest in the Southland.