San Bernardino, California offers something to its visitors that no other place can: an opportunity to ski in the cold peaks of the San Bernardino Mountains and then to bask in the heat of Death Valley all in the same day.
The county is so large that it is even bigger than some states such as Rhode Island and Delaware, meaning that no matter how long you’re there for, you’re never out of things to see and do in San Bernardino.
Unique things that you can only do there are hike the San Bernardino Mountains, visit the very first McDonald’s that ever opened, and dine in the incomparable Castaway Restaurant.
1. San Bernardino National Forest
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Spanning nearly 680,000 acres, the San Bernardino National Forest is one of the most visited outdoor spaces in the area.
It was established in 1907 and encompasses parts of the San Bernardino Mountains, the San Gabriel Mountains, the Santa Rosa Mountains, and the San Jacinto Mountains.
The year-round recreation destination offers several activities for visitors to participate in such as hiking, fishing, camping, picnicking, and horseback riding.
There are several trails to choose from, both paved and unpaved, as well as numerous campgrounds for you to stay in overnight.
As you explore the forest, keep an eye open for one of the many interpretive panels which tell you about the area’s history.
2. Original McDonald's Site and Museum
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There is no doubt that McDonald’s is one of the largest fast-food franchises in the world and is famed for their burgers and fries. What many don’t know is that it started out as a barbecue restaurant with the very first one opening right in the heart of San Bernardino, California. You can visit the establishment, which has now been converted to a museum and is full of historic memorabilia like old Happy Meal toys, pictures of McDonald’s around the world, and old advertisements. The outside of the museum is just as fun and gives you the opportunity to take pictures with Ronald statues, standing in front of the old, massive sign, and in a Hamburglar jail.
1398 N E St, San Bernardino, California 92405, Phone: 909-885-6324
3. San Manuel Stadium, San Bernardino, California
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Situated in the bustling downtown area, the San Manuel Stadium is the home of the city’s Minor League Baseball team - the Inland Empire 66ers of San Bernardino. The stadium opened to the public in 1996 and replaced the team’s former home at Fiscalini Field. Over 8,000 people can be housed in the stunning stadium, which also boasts of one of the largest scoreboards in the California League. If you happen to be there during baseball season, don’t hesitate to stop by for a game. Even if you’re not a baseball fan, the exhilarating atmosphere is enough to really have a good time with friends and family.
280 S E St, San Bernardino, California 92401
4. Rim of the World Highway
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Standing on California’s Highway 18, popularly known as the Rim of the World Highway, you really will feel as if you were riding at the rim of the world. You’ll be looking out at picturesque views of San Bernardino’s gridded towns and rolling hills, all of which create a postcard-like scenery that is incomparable to anything else you’ll see in the area. Be on the lookout for views of the towering San Gorgonio Mountain, Big Bear Dam, Big Bear Lake, Lucerne Valley, and Running Springs. One of the best times to take a drive down this road with amazing views is during sunset, when everything as far as you can see will be enveloped in a lovely golden hue.
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5. Things to Do in San Bernardino: Deep Creek Hot Springs
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Located in the heart of the San Bernardino National Forest, shadowed in the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains, are the rejuvenating, natural Deep Creek Hot Springs. The springs are located right beside Deep Creek and provide visitors with the opportunity to bath in varying temperatures of refreshing water. Getting to and from the springs includes an approximately two-mile-long hike which can drop over 900 feet in altitude so be sure to come prepared with sturdy hiking boots and plenty of drinking water. Once you get to the springs, you can spend hours relaxing and having fun with friends in the revitalizing waters.
Pacific Crest Trail, Apple Valley, California 92308, Phone: 909-382-2600
6. Glen Helen Raceway, San Bernardino, California
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Feel the speed at San Bernardino’s Glen Helen Raceway which hosts some of the most exciting racing events in Southern California. The world-class facility spans over 256 acres and has a friendly, top-notch atmosphere that will ensure you have the most amazing time. The raceway has been around since 1985 and hosted several Sand Drag and Motocross events before it really shot to fame by hosting the United States World Championship Motocross in the early 1990s. It soon became a nationally-known track and started hosting other events such as the Off Road Winter Series and the AMA 125/250 MC Nationals. There are several exciting events throughout the year, but if you happen to miss all of them, gather a few friends and rent out the entire track for yourselves.
18585 Verdemont Ranch Rd, San Bernardino, CA 92407, Phone: 909-880-3090
7. San Bernardino History & Railroad Museum
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Visitors of all ages will love exploring the San Bernardino History & Railroad Museum which can be found at the San Bernardino Amtrak Station. The museum is filled with exciting artifacts and memorabilia which will amuse people of all ages; get up close and personal with models and pictures of Old San Bernardino’s trains and firefighting industry. You’ll learn all about the Santa Fe Railroad and surrounding communities, which were an integral part of the growth of the city. Popular artifacts include a centralized traffic control unit which was used in an old rail system, a 1910 centennial buggy, and a fully restored handcar.
1170 W 3rd St, San Bernardino, CA 92410, Phone: 909-888-3634
8. Santa Ana River Trail
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Running alongside Southern California’s Santa Ana River, the Santa Ana River Trail stretches for over thirty miles all the way from the Pacific Ocean to the Orange/ Riverside county line. The multi-use trail complex is an extremely popular place and you’ll often see people jogging or biking alongside the scenic path. The designated National Recreational Trail is also used for several events throughout the year, including the extremely popular ‘Riverside to Surfside’ bicycling event. There are plans for the trail to be extended all the way to Big Bear Lake, and when this is complete, the trail will span over 100 miles making it the longest multi-use trail in Southern California.
9. Norton Air Force Base Museum
© Norton Air Force Base Museum
The Norton Air Force Base Museum opened in 2013 as a means of preserving, honoring, and promoting the rich history of the Norton Air Force Base. The non-profit museum is filled with photographs and memorabilia from past personnel, military, and civilians. The artifacts all come together to tell the intricate story of Norton AFB and its history. There’s even a chance that you get a guided tour by a former veteran who themselves were stationed at Norton AFB. It’s a wonderful place for visitors of all ages to learn about the historic base, the people who came through there, and much more.
San Bernardino International Airport: 1601 E 3rd St, San Bernardino, CA 92408, Phone: 909-382-7307
10. Things to Do in San Bernardino: Glen Helen Regional Park
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With over 1,340 acres of lush, green space, Glen Helen Regional Park is a popular place to spend the day outdoors with family and friends. No matter if you’re looking to relax or be rugged, you will find an array of things to do at the park. Many enjoy picnicking on the lush grass or in one of the many designated picnic areas and taking in the surrounding views of the San Bernardino and San Gabriel Mountains. Others choose to spend their time at the park hanging out at the swimming pool, playing in the zero-depth water play park, or rushing down the thrilling water slides. Several other amenities and features of the park include fishing on the lake, playing the playground, taking in a concert or play at the Glen Helen Amphitheater, or participating in an event at the Glen Helen Raceway.
2555 Glen Helen Pkwy, San Bernardino, CA 92407, Phone: 909-887-7540
11. SB Raceway Indoor Karting
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The SB Raceway is an indoor karting track that offers a unique and exhilarating go-karting experience for visitors of all ages. You are guaranteed to have an outstanding and authentic race experience as you speed through on their gas-powered sodi karts. Junior racers will be shown how to safely operate their go-kart, learning several brake and lift techniques before heading out to the track. After a couple of races against your friends, head over to the SB Raceway Lobby which is filled with pool tables, air hockey tables, several arcade games, and an array of drinks, snacks, and other refreshments.
217 E Club Center Dr, San Bernardino, CA 92408, Phone: 909-824-7804
12. CSUSB Leadership Challenge Center
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The CBUSB Leadership Challenge Center, a part of California State University in San Bernardino, is a state-of-the-art activity center that opened on the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains in 1965. The recreation and wellness programs that are offered there are designed to help people develop skills, both social and physical. You’ll be provided with a safe environment to take risks and step outside of your comfort zone with yourself and within a team. A professional from the center will work with you and your team to identify which aspects you’d like to focus on and develop a custom program that includes warm-ups, problem solving and communication challenges, team support, and their Dynamic Course which will push your body and mind to the limit.
5500 University Parkway, San Bernardino, CA 92407, Phone: 909-537-2348
13. Robert and Frances Fullerton Museum of Art
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Having opened to the public in 1996, the Robert and Frances Fullerton Museum of Art has since then grown to become one of the largest major cultural centers in the region. Due to their commitment to excellence, they were then granted accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums. Visitors will be able to become engaged and invoke their creativity as they walk through the many art exhibitions. People of all ages enjoy the museum’s many programs, much of which aims to enrich and transform lives through art. Some of the permanent collections you will see focus on World Ceramics, Ancient Art, and Contemporary Art; these include on the largest displays of ancient Egyptian antiquities in the west coast.
5500 University Pkwy, San Bernardino, CA 92407, Phone: 909-537-7373
14. Things to Do in San Bernardino: Black Mountain Fire Lookout
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A part of Plumas National Forest, the Black Mountain Fire Lookout was constructed in 1934 so that visitors may enjoy the stunning views around them. The C-3-type lookout is a prime example of Civilian Conservation Corps architecture and is a single ten-foot tower that has been extremely well preserved since it originated. The tower houses a one-room lookout cabin that can accommodate up to four people and has basic amenities such as kitchen supplies, a small stove, a refrigerator, and much more. While at the lookout, you’ll be able to enjoy several outdoor recreational activities such as hiking, wildlife viewing, stargazing, and much more.
15. Glen Helen Amphitheater
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Popularly known by its former name, the San Manuel Amphitheater, the Glen Helen Amphitheater is a wondrous outdoor space that can be found on the grounds of Glen Helen Regional Park. The amphitheater, which was built in 1982, can hold up to 65,000 people and is the largest outdoor music venue in the entire United States. The stage has held several renowned musicians including Tina Turner, who performed there in 1993 during her What’s Love? tour. The amphitheater is home to many music festivals such as the Battle of San Bernardino, Family Values, Ozzfest, and the Rock the Bells festival.
Glen Helen Regional Park: 2575 Glen Helen Pkwy, San Bernardino, CA 92407
16. Things to Do in San Bernardino, CA: Alfredo's Pizza & Pasta
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If you’re in San Bernardino and craving some authentic Italian food, then there’s no better place to go to than Alfredo’s Pizza & Pasta. The restaurant has been around since 1979, ensuring that locals and visitors can feast on homemade meals which are prepared using family recipes that have been passed down generations. The family-oriented restaurant has gained a reputation for serving delicious food made with fresh, high-quality ingredients and have several patron favorites including their homemade garlic butter and bread. Other items from their menu that shouldn’t be missed include house specialties such as Alfredo’s 3-Way combo, the baked ziti, the manicotti, and linguine with clam sauce.
251 W Baseline, San Bernardino, CA 92410, Phone: 909-885-0218