Bucket List: 15 Best Places to Visit in San Bernardino, California
San Bernardino has relatively comfortable weather year-round. This allows residents and visitors to explore the outdoors, like the San Bernardino National Forest, Glen Helen Regional Park, and Silverwood Lake Recreation Area. San Bernardino is most crowded in the summer when outdoor enthusiasts conquer the national forest, go fishing and hike the mountains.
First Original McDonald’s Museum
The First Original McDonald’s Museum is the site of the first-ever McDonald’s, which opened in 1940. It is now owned by a local chicken restaurant owner and has converted the site into a museum. The museum has the largest collection of vintage memorabilia like old advertisements and old Happy Meal toys, as well as pictures of McDonald’s around the world and. Visitors can visit the museum for free and bring their own Happy Meal toy to be added to the collection.
Location: 1398 N E Street, San Bernardino, CA 92405
San Bernardino National Forest
The San Bernardino National Forest is bordered by the rugged landscape and mountain peaks, populated by wildflowers, and has an endless list of outdoor activities to do. The landscape has been declared a national forest since 1907.
Hiking is popular, especially in the fall when the leaves change colors. The mountains can be covered in snow at higher elevations in winter. Visitors can also snowshoe, cross-country ski, and ride a snowmobile in designated areas through the snowy wilderness of the forest. Summer and springtime are also popular seasons to hike. Other activities in the same seasons are fishing and horseback riding.
Deep Creek Hot Springs
Located within the San Bernardino National Forest, the springs is a rejuvenating activity after the thrilling adventures that the forest offers and the 2-mile hike to reach the springs. Visitors and guests to the springs are advised to wear sturdy hiking gear as the hike can drop over 900 feet in altitude. Deep Creek Hot Springs is a natural spring, so it is not advised to put your head under the surface.
Lake Gregory Regional Park is centered around Lake Gregory, a reservoir in the San Bernardino National Forest of the San Bernardino Mountains in San Bernardino, California. Lake Gregory has several lake activities to choose from. These activities include fishing, boat launching, water slides, a water park, and beach and splash pads. Visitors can take the 2.3-mile nature trail loop or bring their dogs to a dog park. Most of these activities can be accessed with an All-Access Day Pass. There are also lake rentals like Duffy boats, pedal boats, row boats, kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, canoes, and aqua-cycles. Cabanas can be booked by group visitors.
Rim of the World Scenic Byway
The Rim of the World Scenic Byway is the entrance to the San Bernardino Mountains and the San Bernardino National Forest. The byway presents several attractions like Silverwood Lake and Lake Arrowhead. Following the Rim brings any outdoor enthusiast to roadside stops and picnic grounds.
Glen Helen Regional Park
With over 1,340 acres of lush green space, Glen Helen Regional Park is popular for outdoor activities. It is located at the base of the San Bernardino Mountains. Locals and visitors enjoy picnicking in one of the many designated picnic areas while marveling at the stunning views of the San Bernardino Mountains and San Gabriel Mountains. The park has an outdoor swimming pool, a water play park, and a children’s playground. Other regional park amenities include the Glen Helen Amphitheater, where live concerts take place, the off-highway competitive racing facility of Glen Helen Raceway, and two lakes where fishing is allowed.
Location: 2555 Glen Helen Parkway, San Bernardino, CA 92407
Silverwood Lake State Recreation Area
Silverwood Lake Recreation Area is located north of San Bernardino National Forest, with a wide array of activities like swimming, camping, and hiking.
The Cleghorn Swim Beach on the south side of the recreation area has shallow waters and is off-limits to powerboats, making it a safe spot for children to swim in. Reservations are needed to access the campground within the recreation area. Mesa Campground and the Silverwood Lake Group Campgrounds have hundreds of campsites that can accommodate up to 100 campers. The recreation area has 13 miles of trail networks, most notably the Pacific Crest Trail. Other hiking trails lead to the Deep Creek Hot Springs, Upper Deep Creek Canyon, and the Aztec Falls, all of which are hotspots for hot springs, swimming holes, and cliff diving.
Silverwood Lake has 136 sites for tent camping and recreational vehicles. Each campground has a picnic table, fire ring, and barbeque grill. Large groups comprising 50 people can make a reservation. Boats can be rented, which includes fuel, personal flotation devices, paddles, and an anchor. These boats include aluminum boats, pontoon boats, kayaks, and paddle boards. The lake is surrounded by a vast space of ancient Douglas Firs and Black Oak trees. The lake covers 976 acres and has 13 miles of shoreline.
Kelso Dunes, located within the Mojave National Preserve, has some of the most impressive sand in the US. It is a popular hiking destination that, despite its reputation, hikers can expect to take the trail in solitude. Once on the summit, a surreal backdrop extends as far as the eyes can see. Hiking safety is repeatedly emphasized, especially on Kelso Dunes. Visitors should avoid hiking in the summer when temperatures can reach 120° F/49° C. There are no shades on the trail, so hikers should slather on sunscreen and bring water. Although the trail is only 3 miles roundtrip and elevates 600 feet, some hikers can take 3 hours. Hikers should be careful when facing the dunes.
Santa Ana River Trail
The Santa Ana River Trail runs along the Santa Ana River and stretches for 30 miles from the Pacific Ocean to the Riverside/Orange County line. The trail is popular among hikers, joggers, and cyclists looking for an outdoor activity that offers them natural scenic views. The trail is also used for special events, like the “Riverside to Surfside” bicycling event. The city government has plans to extend the trail that will stretch it for over 100 miles, making it the longest multi-use trail in Southern California.
Location: South Waterman Avenue, San Bernardino, CA 92408
San Bernardino County Museum
The San Bernardino County Museum is a regional museum focusing on natural and cultural history. It is the largest museum in inland southern California, with three floors of exhibits on archaeology, anthropology, and an understanding of North American mammals, birds, and eggs. The museum also has extensive cactus gardens and heritage orange groves. The museum sees thousands of visitors each year, most of which are visiting students for special programs.
Location: 2024 Orange Tree Ln, Redlands, CA 92374
San Bernardino History & Railroad Museum
The San Bernardino History & Railroad Museum has a large collection of artifacts and models of Old San Bernardino’s trains and the firefighting industry, including a centralized traffic control unit that was used in an old rail system. The museum is located at the San Bernardino Amtrak Station, a testament to San Bernadino’s transportation history. Inside the museum is a recreated 1910 railroad station, 19th-century horse-drawn buggies, and large antique clocks, including one that hung in the Santa Fe Roundhouse Office in 1916.
Location: 1170 W 3rd St, San Bernardino, CA 92410
Robert and Frances Fullerton Museum of Art
The Robert and Frances Fullerton Museum of Art opened to the public in 1996 and has since grown to be the largest major cultural center in the region. The museum was granted accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums in 2008, the highest national recognition an American museum can achieve. The museum is particularly known for its permanent collection of Egyptian antiquities, the largest in the western United States. With every change of season, the museum rotates the collections displayed.
Location: 5500 University Parkway, San Bernardino, CA 92407
Perris Hill Park
Perris Hill Park is named after Fredrick Thomas Perris, a member of the city’s first Board of Water Commissioners and a member of the Board of Trustees – the predecessor of the City Council. The park occupies 64 acres of land and has a baseball diamond, tennis courts, horseshoe pits, a water park, a children’s playground, and picnic tables. Most importantly, the park has a hiking trail that leads to the top of Perris Hill and has a pleasant view of the rest of the park. Hiking trails also lead to San Bernardino Mountains.
Location: 1135 E Highland Avenue, San Bernardino, CA 92408
SB Raceway Indoor Karting
The SB Raceway Indoor Karting has an indoor karting track for visitors of all ages. Children and adults can enjoy an exciting race on their gas-powered Sodi karts. Junior racers, at least the age of 10 years, are given instructions on how to safely operate their go-kart.
The SB Raceway Lobby is filled with different entertainment equipment like pool tables, arcade games, and an array of snacks and refreshments. SB Raceway also offers a race school that provides lessons on track racing lines, braking points and passing spots.
Location: 217 E Club Center Drive, San Bernardino, CA 92408
How to get there
Los Angeles can be accessed by plane, train, and bus. The San Bernardino International Airport (SBD) and the Palm Springs International Airport (PSP) are the nearest airports to San Bernardino. Amtrak and Metrolink have train stops in the city. Intercity bus services are provided by Omnitrans, Flixbus, and Greyhound Lines. The County Transportation Authority provides public transit and rail to get around San Bernadino.
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