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3-HOUR TOUR

Knott's Gots Lots to Do at Its California Marketplace, Too

January 13, 1994|ANNE MICHAUD | Anne Michaud is a staff writer for The Times Orange County Edition.

In these thrifty '90s, it's nice to know that you can check out the birthplace of the boysenberry without paying up to $25.95 a head in admission fees.

Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park, which was the site of a 1930s fruit stand that popularized Rudolph Boysen's berry, maintains a section called California Marketplace that is open to the public--even the parking is free.

The Marketplace is a collection of more than 20 shops and restaurants, lined up along a main street, Grand Avenue, in the style of the Old West. And just across the way, through a tunnel that runs underneath Beach Boulevard, visitors can tour a replica of Philadelphia's Independence Hall.

Noon to 12:30: I headed to the back of the Marketplace area first, just to get a sense of how big it is. If you do this too, you can pick up a map along the way at the information center.

The back section holds a water fountain surrounded in flowers and circled by several quaint shops. If you have small children with you, chances are you'll be drawn first in the direction of the Candy Parlour.

This is the kind of place kids dream about. There are barrels filled with hard candy and taffy. Tall cylinders of jellybeans hold exotic flavors such as chocolate pudding and ice blue mint and tangerine. For older kids, there are boxes of chocolates and candy gifts: a champagne bottle filled with jellybeans and a bouquet of lollipops in place of flowers.

12:30 to 1: Next door is the Garden Terrace Cafe & Bakery. Along with the baked goods, this cafe serves sandwiches, coffee and soft drinks. There are some umbrella-topped tables in front.

The Garden Terrace serves usual bakery items (doughnuts, muffins and oversized cookies) and some unusual items. The blueberry cheesecake, almond raspberry tart and lemon mousse squares looked tempting.

1 to 1:30: Across from the Garden Terrace is a store labeled simply Souvenir Shop. Here, you can get all sorts of Knott's memorabilia, from coffee mugs to kitchen aprons to T-shirts stuffed into jelly jars.

This shop also holds Knott's famed jellies and preserves. Lesser-known products bearing the Knott's label are salad dressings, pickled things such as a cucumber and onion mix, and flavored honey (orange blossom, clover and buckwheat).

1:30 to 2: Heading around the building, toward Grand Avenue, you'll spot another shop marked "Souvenirs." This is actually the lower-brow half of Virginia's Gift Shop, and it's the more fun half.

I can never get enough of shops like this, and just a few steps inside the entry way reminds me why. Ceramic chickens, with "Knott's" painted on their sides, hold a set of measuring spoons that stick out from a hole where their tail feathers would be.

Another reason to shop here is the Walter and Cordelia Knott memorial plate, with a photo of that famous founding couple. Finally, I spotted a refrigerator magnet in the shape of California with a valley quail superimposed over it. Very satisfying.

The serious half of Virginia's Gift Shop opens onto Grand Avenue. It contains portraits of John Wayne, collectible dolls, tiny ceramic animals and dinner plate sets in tasteful country patterns.

2 to 2:30: As you head up Grand Avenue, you'll pass Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant, and, probably, a line of people waiting to get in. If you want to taste the food without the wait, continue on and turn in at Chicken to Go.

Chicken to Go serves dinner combinations, much like Colonel Sanders. The Snack Box A, for example, holds two pieces of white meat chicken, mashed potatoes with gravy, cole slaw, biscuits and boysenberry jam. Delicious. The price is $4.75.

There's a kids meal, with Jello and a dinosaur cup, for $3.95; the 24-piece Bonanza Bucket is $26.95.

There are a few tables on site, or you can walk across the street and sit on a bench in front of the moccasin shop.

2:30 to 3: A final stop, at the International MarketPlace store, takes shoppers from the American Southwest to Asia to Africa. The store is arranged by geographic area and contains mostly souvenir-type merchandise. The Pacific Isles section, for example, holds seashells, shell jewelry and shell wind chimes. Bon voyage.

California Marketplace at Knott's Berry Farm

8039 Beach Blvd. Open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., unless otherwise noted. (714) 827-1776.

Candy Parlour (714) 220-5294 Closes at 8 p.m.

Garden Terrace Cafe & Bakery (714) 220-5094 Closes at 7 p.m.

Souvenir Shop (714) 220-5291

Virginia's Gift Shop (714) 220-5323 Opens at 9 a.m.

Chicken to Go (714) 827-1776 International MarketPlace (714) 827-1776

PARKING / BUSES

Parking: Three hours free in California Marketplace lot; two free hours along Grand Avenue

Buses: OCTA buses 29 and 29A Brea to Huntington Beach via Beach Boulevard between Crescent and La Palma avenues.

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