Pampanga Road Trip: Exploring Foodie and Insta-worthy Destinations
Pampanga is undoubtedly one of the quickest and easiest places to explore in the North. There’s always something new and fun to see in this province, whether it be a foodie place, natural attraction, historical spot, or vacation destination. Thankfully, as the community quarantine eased, we got the opportunity to rediscover Pampanga’s gems through North Luzon Expressway’s (NLEX) Lakbay Norte in partnership with Geely.
For two days, we got the chance to explore must-see destinations in Pampanga via the speedy seven-seater Geely Okavango, a ride that definitely made the trip relaxing and smooth. Thanks to its 1.5-liter three-cylinder turbocharged gas engine, this stylish crossover is impressive in all its glory.
Along with other media friends, I got the chance to explore new and exciting destinations via NLEX and Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX). Starting from the Geely HQ in Quezon City, the first stop was at Lola Ima’s Pampanga Cuisine located at Petron Lakeshore. This restaurant is best known for its authentic Kapampangan cuisines, such as the savory sisig and chivo caldereta.
A first-timer, I got to try their version of Binalot, which consisted of salted egg, tomato, and your choice of meat–longanisa, tocino, tapang kalabaw, and the famous pindang damulag, wrapped in banana leaf. It was the perfect breakfast food to eat, best paired with steamed rice.
The next stop was at Clark Safari & Adventure Park–the ideal destination for families with kids! It’s actually opening soon, so better watch out for their opening date as it’s one of the adventure parks to look forward to! They house wild animals such as tigers, lions, and other creatures from the animal kingdom such as birds, pony, and an albino python here! The park will also have safari tours and go-karts which makes it yet another must-visit attraction in the province.
Address: 67 Jose Abad Santos Ave, Clark Freeport, Mabalacat, Pampanga, Philippines
Hours: Monday to Friday 09:00 am – 05:00 pm
Then it was time for lunch–this time, I tried Jun Jun’s Bibingka and Barbeque Restaurant in Angeles City. This family restaurant has been around for five decades now, which makes it an “institution” in the culinary map of Pampanga. Of course, as the restaurant name suggests, their bestsellers are bibingka and barbecue which is actually the tastiest and meatiest I’ve ever tried before.
Address: Jun Jun’s Restaurant, 2009 Fil-Am Friendship Hwy, Brgy, Angeles, Pampanga
Phone: (045) 625 6556
After that very satisfying meal we had, it was time to burn calories at the Mountain Clark Firing Range. I got to experience shooting for the first time, but we were all guided by in-house experts who have also discussed the importance of gun safety prior to the activity.
Address: Don Jose st. Don Bonifacio Subd., Pulung Maragul, Angeles City
Open Daily 9:00AM-5:00PM
Those who like water adventure will surely love Decawake Clark Cable Park, which is also the official wakeboarding venue of the recent SEA Games! Wakeboarding rates range from P500-P600 which already includes safety gear. Both beginners to pros will enjoy this cable park that offers challenging obstacles.
Address: Jose P Laurel Ave, Angeles, Pampanga
Phone: 0918 459 8488
For our afternoon coffee fix, Cafe Serendipitale was our destination. I personally liked their Broadway Nachos, which was generous in toppings perfect for afternoon snacking. The restaurant is actually New York-inspired, thus the name of their dishes such as Empire State Fish and Fries and Brooklyn 99 Bechamel. Their alfresco rooftop deck offers an overlooking scenic view of the Angeles skyline.
Address: Brgy. Pulung Maragul, Cluster J Unit 1B, The Shoppes at Infinity, Purok 4, Francisco G, Don Juan Nepomuceno Ave, Angeles, 2009 Pampanga
Phone: 0915 537 3458
Mexican-American was the theme of our dinner as we had a sumptuous meal at Spanglish Restaurant. Everything served to us was delicious, such as burritos, quesadillas, fajitas, and chimichanga. Our tummies were full and filled with Mexican favorites that I’ll surely come back for!
Address: Pavilion Mall Building, Manuel A. Roxas Hwy, Clark Freeport, Angeles, 2023 Pampanga
Phone: 0917 582 3514
To cap off day 1, we went to Quest Plus Conference Center, which was our Lakbay Norte home. This resort and meeting venue in one offers amenities such as a Grand Ballroom, meeting rooms, outdoor pool, villas, and even private pools. The stay here was truly satisfying, thanks to its world-class accommodation.
Address: Mimosa Leisure Estate, Mimosa Drive, Pampanga, Clark, 2009
Phone: (02) 8236 5040
Day 2 started at Charley’s Bar which is a beautiful breakfast nook at day and a chill bar at night. Tip: they offer unli margaritas by the poolside and they have live entertainment at night too–a perfect way to cap off the night!
After the sumptuous meal we had, we headed to the 175-hectare Mimosa Plus Golf Course decorated by 5,000 lush trees landscaped by world-renowned Nelson and Haworth. It has two championship courses for beginner and seasoned players making it a golfing destination to visit in Pampanga.
For our next stops, we explored Pampanga’s IG-worthy spots. The first stop was El Kabayo, a horseback riding destination that gives a Wild West vibe. Picture-worthy spots include a trading post, saloon, and telegraph office. There are also fun trail rides and a coffee shop here that makes it a one-stop destination for a unique attraction!
Address: Bldg. 4350 & 4351, Gil Puyat Avenue, corner Panday Pira Ave, Clark Freeport, Zone
Phone: 0916 519 9149
The second stop was The Lake Farm. It’s a popular Airbnb for its beautiful nature views. Perfect for staycations with friends and family, they have casita and casa priced at P6,500 to P12,000 for overnight stays where you can also unwind as you chill in their outdoor pools and try fishing!
Address: Tanguile, San Fernando, 2000 Pampanga
Lunch was at Holidayland Buffet Resto which is definitely the most sulit buffet experience you can get for only P228! They have Kapampangan favorites here that’ll satisfy your cravings. They offer all-day breakfast and ala carte items too. It’s been a local favorite standing strong for 25 years now, so it should be on your bucket list the next time you visit the province.
Address: (formerly O.G. road), Jose Abad Santos Avenue, San Fernando, 2000 Pampanga
Phone: (045) 961 0100
The next destination we went to will surely entice all traveling plantitas– it’s the Wilson Instant Tree Bank (FB Page). Opened in 1987, this plant nursery is home to different trees such as pomelo and mulberry. Here, you can harvest different fruits and probably do apple-picking soon when the trees bear fruits in December!
Address: Km 77 Mc Arthur Hiway, Brgy Saguin, San Fernando, 2000 Pampanga
Phone: 0927 626 1099
Finally, to end our Pampanga escapade, we visited a lantern-making district that creates the colorful parols for Ligligan Parul, a yearly Giant Lantern Festival that showcases artistic parols in San Fernando. It was such a great way to learn the beautiful Christmas culture of San Fernando as we got to see local craftsmanship through these parols of all shapes and sizes.
On the way home, we had a stopover at the Mega Caltex in Kilometer 62 in NLEX. It’s the perfect pitstop for quick bites as they have fast-food restaurants and restaurants including Empanada Station and Chachago where you can satisfy your savory cravings as they offer bagnet, longanisa, and empanada.
Apart from restaurants, NLEX Drive & Dine is known for having the largest Nike Factory Outlet in the country. It’s situated along NLEX Valenzuela so southbound travelers may drop by for a quick shop while driving along the expressway.
Looking to explore more of what the North offers? Get updates on the next NLEX Lakbay Norte route by following NLEX’s Facebook page!