One of the most unique parts of Knott’s Berry Farm is Ghost Town. This section of the park is actually a huge part of the origins of this western-themed theme park. When people lined up for hours to get in Cordelia Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant in the 1930s, Walter Knott went in search of ways to entertain the waiting crowds. In the 1940s to early 1950s, he started buying up old buildings, stagecoaches and even the Rio Grande Railroad train from real abandoned ghost towns and moved them to his property. As the son of pioneers, he wanted people to remember the pioneering spirit of the people who built the West. And good thing he did because Knott's Berry Farm Ghost Town preserves a piece of history amid the modern theme park and city that developed around it.
Ghost Town is a magical place for the entire family. It has old buildings with working tradespeople, good food, learning opportunities, animals, a variety of rides, a saloon and, well, actual ghosts! You can even visit a prisoner who may guess your name! Let’s hop to it, and explore Knott’s Berry Farm Ghost Town.
Family Favorite Activities in Knott's Berry Farm Ghost Town
Here are a few family-friendly activities that every member of your crew can enjoy. My wife Flora and I always find something new to frogcite us and take us back to our own childhoods every time we travel through Ghost Town. Our tadpoles have so much fun exploring the details that they don't even realize they are learning about life over 100 years ago.
Visit Sad Eye Joe
Sad Eye Joe “borrowed” a horse that wasn’t his and has been incarcerated in the Ghost Town Jail since 1941. You can talk to him and ask questions. He sure would love the company. Psst … parents, as your tadpoles approach the jail in the alley, send a parent to make a quick stop at the Sheriff's Office in front of the jail and write your kids' names on a piece of paper and slide it under the window. Joe might call them out by name to give them a real surprise, and that is a piece of the unfrogettable magic of Ghost Town!
Look for Ghosts
Don’t rush, and take some time to look in the windows of Ghost Town, particularly the windows across from Fireman’s BBQ's grill (where ghosts move things around) and the Boot Hill Undertaker (to the left of the Bird Cage Theatre) where things change before your eyes. You might see some otherworldly surprises and more Ghost Town magic at work.
Get an Old-time Portrait in Knott’s “Pitchur Gallery”
When I was a young froglet of the 1980s, my family visited Knott’s Berry Farm, dressed up in old clothes and took an old-fashioned black-and-white portrait as if we were pioneers ourselves, complete with the serious expressions that were common among people photographed a long time ago. That picture became a big part of our own family history. You can still create fun family memories and an unfrogettable souvenir at the Pitchur Gallery today!
Visit the Ghost Town School
Do any of you remember the one-room schoolhouse from Little House on the Prairie? Now's your chance to go inside a real one just like it! It's filled with interesting pieces of history including rules for teachers (ladies, be glad you were not a teacher in the 1800s), a dunce cap, old desks, a stove and even a real live teacher who can answer your questions and educate you on what life in the classroom was like a long time ago.
Pan for Gold
California is the Golden State for good reason. Your tadpoles will love panning for gold like the forty-niners did in the middle 1800s. This is an additional $10 fee.
Catch Some of the Action
Be sure to check the Shows & Events in the Knott's app to meet characters, shows and Knott's residents in action. There are several stages and theaters to catch a variety of entertainment. Sometimes the Ghost Town residents spring to action right in the street or on the rooftops and balconies!
Go to the Boothill Cemetery
Read the graves and other signs in the area. Some are funny! Stand on the grave of Hiram McTavish. Can you feel the heartbeat? Legend has it that you'll be saddled with good luck if you do! Can you locate the baby rattlers? During Knott's Merry Farm, look for the grave of Ebenezer Scrooge.
Visit the Old West Saloon
Parents and tadpoles alike will enjoy pushing through the saloon doors to whet their whistle at the Calico Saloon. The barkeep can fix you a drink: Beer, wine and signature drinks for mom and dad, or sarsaparilla and Calico Soda for the tadpoles. Calico Soda is a hand-crafted boysenberry creme soda! Yum! It's fun to watch the barkeep make it up for you. You may be able to catch some entertainment on stage behind the bar.
Visit the Blacksmith
There's an actual working blacksmith on property. You can watch him make horseshoes (buy a personalized horseshoe!) or other items and ask questions.
The Rides in Knott's Berry Farm Ghost Town
There are several iconic Knott’s Berry Farm rides in Ghost Town. Ranging from the first rides on property that bring history to life to some of the most popular modern Knott’s thrill rides, there is so much to experience in Ghost Town.
- Calico Mine Train — This is the first major immersive ride from 1960.
- The Timber Mountain Log Ride — This elaborate log flume opened in 1969.
- The Calico Railroad — This is an authentic working Denver and Rio Grande Narrow Gauge train from the early 1900s. It's been at Knott's since 1952 — watch out for train robbers!
- Butterfield Stagecoach — You can ride in or on an original Butterfield stagecoach used in the 1800s.
- Calico River Rapids — Take a wild, whitewater raft ride.
- Pony Express — Named after the famous Pony Express mail service, this horse-themed roller coaster goes from 1 to 38 m.p.h in three seconds.
- Silver Bullet — Your feet dangle as you loop and corkscrew through the park on this thrilling roller coaster.
- GhostRider — This popular (and fast) wooden roller coaster is the largest attraction at Knott's Berry Farm.
Knott's Berry Farm Ghost Town Restaurants
From quick-service to table-service restaurants, there are plenty of yummy eats in the Ghost Town streets. Grab a picnic table and chow down.
Our posts on Knott's Berry Farm restaurants and the must-try eats at Knott's offer more delicious details. Here are a few of our favorite Ghost Town spots.
- Ghost Town Grill — Hop into this table-service restaurant for good burgers, delicious signature dishes, sarsaparilla floats and warm boysenberry pie.
- Fireman's BBQ — You can watch them cook up your ribs, chicken, hot dogs, flank steak and more on an outdoor grill.
- Calico Tater Bites — Load up the tots at this quick-service location, just inside of the park entrance. We like the barbecued-pulled pork tots, but you can choose from Calico chili cheese tots, Buffalo chicken tender tots, mac and cheese tots, pastrami tots and other seasonal favorites.
- Strictly-On-A-Stick — Boysenberry corn dog? Yes, please!
- Wilderness Broiler — The limited-time offerings keep us hopping back again and again.
- Funnel Cakes — You have not one, not two, but THREE places to acquire the iconic Knott's funnel cakes in Ghost Town: Sutter’s Funnel Cake, Log Ride Funnel Cake and Ghost Town Grub. Fully loaded with boysenberry and ice cream, please!
- Ghost Town Bakery — This little spot near Guest Relations offers breakfast burritos in the morning, sandwiches and soup during the day, and all the yummy Knott's sweet treats you can eat such as boysenberry pie, tarts, Snoopy cookies, cakes and more. Take some pie home with you. You won't regret this decision.
- Mix-It-Up Ice Cream Shop — Get vanilla or boysenberry ice cream sandwiched between two chocolate chip cookies. You'll probably want to share this giant dessert!
- Gourmet Churro Factory — Stuffed churros are made fresh here.
- Dippin' Dots — Dippin' Dots may not be unique to Knott's; however, Boysenberry Dippin' Dots can only be found here (near Silver Bullet).
Shopping in Knott's Berry Farm Ghost Town
The tadpoles love to shop for souvenirs at Knott's Berry Farm. Ghost Town has everything you can imagine and more, including popguns, bows and arrows, barrels of candy, geodes, plush souvenirs and dinosaur poop (yes, you read that correctly). It's so hard to decide what to get! Take some time to browse through the stores. You just might find some favorite toys from your own childhood. You can even paint pottery at the Bottle House. Building materials were hard to come by in the Old West, but liquor bottles were plentiful. The Knott's Berry Farm Ghost Town Bottle House was constructed with 3,082 wine and whiskey bottles. Personally, I always make a beeline to the candy shop for some fudge. There are some unique items to be found such as personalized leather bracelets too.
During certain times of the year, such as Knott's Merry Farm, local craft people set up shop to sell their creations. Watch woodcarvers and glassblowers at work!
Celebrate Seasons of Fun in Knott's Berry Farm Ghost Town
As much as things stay the same, there are always new seasonal changes to Ghost Town with holiday decor and special entertainment. Our Knott’s Berry Farm events post will fill you in on all of the fun to be had. Here are a few favorites:
- Visit Pigpen and PEANUTS pals in the Livery Stable during the PEANUTS Celebration. (The animals are there year-round for visiting.) You can also enjoy a PEANUTS exhibit in the Calico Town Hall.
- Try boysenberry-inspired dishes and desserts during the Boysenberry Festival.
- During Summer at Knott's, Ghost Town comes alive with its citizens with Ghost Town Alive!
- Trick-or-Treat at Knott’s Spooky Farm on select fall weekends (don't froget to wear a costume!)!
- Get absolutely terrified (this is one is for adult and teen visitors) at Knott’s Scary Farm. The monsters emerge from dark and fog to terrify you in the streets and in mazes. There is no scare zone like a Ghost Town scare zone!
- During Knott’s Merry Farm, catch hourly snowfall, see the giant Christmas tree and catch carolers or other musical acts. You can also meet Santa or Santa Snoopy in Santa’s Christmas Cabin and try yummy holiday foods and drinks.
Knott's Berry Farm Ghost Town has so many details. Take your time exploring, especially for elementary and middle school kids, who love to get caught up in the Wild West.
If you're planning a visit to Knott's Berry Farm Ghost Town, save some money for souvenirs and snacks with discount Knott's Berry Farm tickets. There are no taxes or fees on our tickets, and you can save up to $37 compared to the front gate price. That's a lot of funnel cake money!
Related: 10 Not to Miss Knott's Berry Farm Rides & Attractions