15 Best Things to Do in Brawley, CA

Brawley, CA skyline
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Thanks to its abundance of natural and artificial attractions, you'll never run out of things to do in Brawley, California.

Brawley, historically known as Braly, is a city in Imperial Valley, part of Imperial County.

The town's economy relies on cattle and feed production.

The city gets its name from J.H. "Bally" Braly, the landowner whose estate comprises modern-day Brawley.

In 1902, the Imperial Land Company planned out the city, naming it "Braly" in his honor.

However, Braly refused to let them use his name. So, they renamed the place to Brawley.

In 1903, Brawley's first post office was established.

Once known as a "tent city" with only 100 residents, Brawley became a railroad hub.

It's also the first place where agriculture was introduced to the state.

To celebrate the thriving cattle industry in the city, thousands of individuals gather every year for the Brawley Cattle Call Rodeo.

An estimated 50,000 visitors to Brawley annually take advantage of the numerous unique events.

Here are the best things to do in Brawley, CA:

Go on an Adventure at the Imperial Sand Dunes

Daytime view of Imperial Sand Dunes
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These dunes are the biggest in California and the state's southeast region.

The dune system, created by wind-blown sands from the old Lake Cahuilla, stretches over 40 miles in a belt about five miles wide.

Some of these dunes rise as high as 300 feet, offering fantastic recreational options.

Off-road vehicle (OHV) fans go to the dunes for the spectacular landscape and the chance to get away from it all.

Desert landscape of Imperial Sand Dunes
Xiu Yu Photography / Shutterstock.com

The dunes also provide a habitat for unique flora and fauna.

Open places have been established along Highway 78 to accommodate various vehicle fun.

You must follow several defined paths around the dunes, surrounded by restricted zones.

It is illegal to use a motorized vehicle in restricted zones.

These locations' ranger stations provide detailed information and maps.

Wear Your Cowboy Hats at the Brawley Cattle Call Rodeo

One of the best Western festivals in the United States happens in Brawley.

Cattle Call has evolved over the years into an annual event that touches the lives of tens of thousands of individuals.

The town of Brawley attracts an estimated 50,000 visitors each year for its various unique events.

Established in 1956, the Brawley Cattle Call celebrates the Imperial Valley's thriving cattle sector.

The Chamber's annual Chili Cookoff kicks off "Cattle Call" on the Saturday before the Rodeo.

Cowboy poetry, Mariachi and Bluegrass music performances, and a Beef Cook-off are some of the week's festivities.

The Cattle Call Western Equestrian Parade sets the tone for the Rodeo weekend, which comprises three PRCA performances.

Admire the Sand Dunes at Hugh T. Osborne Lookout Park

You can see the Imperial Sand Dunes' kilometers of dunes from Hugh T. Osborne Lookout Park, a popular stop for visitors.

Admire the great views of the surrounding scenery and easy access to the dunes.

The park is just a short distance from the highway.

The beautiful dunes from the Hugh T. Osborne viewpoint area attract many campers and sunset watchers on weekends.

The dunes appear as if they were pulled right off the set of Lawrence of Arabia.

It's better to go early in the day if you want the place to yourself and have the most fantastic lighting for photos.

Practice Your Swings at Del Rio Country Club

Established in 1926, the Del Rio Country Club offers a top-notch golf course where you may hone your game.

Since 1929, the club has hosted the Elmer Sears Lettuce Tournament.

Amateur athletes compete in one of the country's oldest traditions.

There are 18 challenging holes of tree-lined golf here.

There are 6,100 yards of challenging golf on this course.

Have you played on an old-fashioned golf course with narrow fairways and tiny Bermuda greens?

This place offers unrestricted use of the country club's 18-hole golf course for country club members and non-members alike.

It also has spacious banquet space available for hire for events.

Get Crafty at DS. Arts

Debi Smerdon has instructed the Imperial Valley's youth and adults in the arts for over two decades.

Debi's primary goal is to share her knowledge of painting and other art techniques.

Its pupils might be as young as four years old or as old as 90.

Participating in creative art projects and activities benefits people of all ages, from toddlers to seniors.

Students master essential techniques and acquire new art abilities as they produce stunning artwork.

From painting to pottery to cupcake baking, Debi teaches art in various mediums.

D.S. Arts also offer seasonal programs such as summer workshops.

Go Fishing at Wiest Lake

Wiest Lake in Brawley is an excellent area to go fishing if you're an avid angler.

The lake in Weist is an excellent area to stay, fish, or unwind.

Its popular species are largemouth, smallmouth bass, and flathead catfish.

Use plastic worms or a metallic blue bait to catch bass near the dock, where these fishes are abundant.

When deciding where to fish, use your judgment and follow local fishing rules.

Make a Splash at Alyce Gereaux Park

When it comes to family fun, Brawley has plenty to offer.

Visit Alyce Gereaux Park after a long day of traveling to relax and cool down.

The new design includes a lighted splash pad and upgraded multipurpose space.

The package includes playground equipment, three basketball courts with lights, a horseshoe court, and a small BBQ and picnic area.

The park's name pays tribute to Brawley's first female elementary school administrator, Alyce Gereaux.

Meanwhile, the Brian Thomas Courts commemorate a promising athlete.

Go Detox at the Wellness Bar

The family-owned Wellness Bar hopes to spread the word about the benefits of leading a better lifestyle.

The owners believe healthy eating doesn't mean eating bland food.

Try a wide variety of healthful alternatives at the Wellness Bar, including smoothies, frosted waffles, iced coffee, teas, doughnuts, and more.

Menu items are made with low-carb and sugar-free ingredients.

It also offers Yoga and Zumba classes to sweat off all those calories.

Dine and Chill at Inferno

Inferno, which Ryan Harsany began in Brawley, immediately became a local favorite throughout the Imperial Valley.

Try the wood-fired pizzas, chicken wings, burgers & fries, tacos, and more at Inferno.

There's also free live music, ice-cold beer, and other beverages.

Despite its name, Inferno does have friendly staff, and it has an inviting terrace.

Do Tricks at Blake Davis Skate Park

Blake Davis Skate Park was established in 2003 with designs from Purkiss Rose, a well-known skateboarding enthusiast.

There is a street portion, bowls, and an old-style pool in this 18,600-square-foot illuminated skate park for locals.

In this park, you'll find some of the best flow and transition in the whole state of California.

You can find runs from four to nine feet deep.

Brawley Youth Park is named in honor of a local skateboarder that skating fans will miss.

Hunt Antiques at Sylvia's Little Treasures

Sylvia's Little Treasures is a quaint antique shop in Brawley, California.

Ffind vintage knickknacks and décor for your man cave or living room.

It has various items from used furniture to vinyl records to farmhouse décor to rustic décor and other collectibles.

It also supports local businesses in the area by displaying their products.

Despite its size, the items are well organized, and the staff is accommodating to customers.

Drink and Play Pool at Naty's Place

In the middle of the desert, Naty's Place is a rare gem.

This bar has been family-owned and operated for more than 70 years.

Ray, the pub's owner, is affable and shares stories and anecdotes about his life and the pub.

There is a lot of art and history in the retro-themed bar.

Here, you may get ice-cold beer and other alcoholic beverages.

You may also play jukebox and pool.

You may also check out Ray's backyard patio, where he maintains a little garden.

When you leave Naty's Place, you'll have a new friend, many great stories, and a pleasant feeling.

Remember to add a decorative dollar to the ceiling collection and listen to some oldies music!

Other Things to Do Nearby

Take Photos at the Salvation Mountain

Welcome sign of Salvation Mountain
Stephen Bures / Shutterstock.com

The "Salvation Mountain" is an exhilarating patchwork quilt of color and inspiration.

Find it in Calipatria, California, 28 minutes from Brawley.

The artist behind this unique attraction, Leonard Knight, attempted to promote love by hot air balloon.

However, it didn't work, so he built a mountain out of trash and concrete.

The first mountain he created fell apart, so he used adobe and clay to construct the current one.

Devotees of Knight's message of peace and harmony carry on his memory even after he died in 2014.

They formed a nonprofit to carry on his work.

The colorful Salvation Mountain
Ovidiu Hrubaru / Shutterstock.com

In 2000, the Folk Art Society of America designated Salvation Mountain as a "folk art site deserving of preservation and conservation."

In 2011, fans created the public charity Salvation Mountain Inc. to safeguard and manage the property.

Colorful mailbox at Salvation Mountain
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See Thousands of Sky Lanterns at the Lights Festival

At the Lights Festival, see the stars come to life while listening to live music.

Lights Fest brings together thousands of people from all walks of life for a night of great music and delicious cuisine.

Share your personal wishes, goals, and aspirations with your family and other guests.

Light your custom-made sky lanterns using tiki torches and matches just before they take flight.

It creates a magical environment where time slows down, and your solitary flame climbs and combines with hundreds of others.

This event fosters individual experiences.

Visit Imperial, California, just a 21-minute drive from Brawley, and leave with a treasured moment that you'll cherish forever.

Explore the Sonny Bono National Wildlife Reserve

The Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge is in California's Imperial Valley, just 23 minutes from Brawley.

The Salton Sea and farmland border the refuge's two administered sections, separated by 18 miles of the refuge's boundary.

Wetland ecosystems, farmland, and tree rows are all included in each unit.

Rock Hill, a small extinct volcano, is the only elevation point in the refuge.

The refuge experiences some of the highest temperatures in the country.

From May through October, the average daily temperature exceeds 100°F, with temperatures ranging from 116° to 120°F observed yearly.

The Salton Sea contains one of the most diversified bird compositions in the United States.

You'll also find several endangered and other animal species there, despite its difficult climatic circumstances.

In 1998, they renamed the Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge in honor of the late congressman.

Congress knew the environmental concerns confronting the Salton Sea.

They worked to secure financing to assist the refuge in adapting to bird disease outbreaks and other habitat challenges.

Final Thoughts

Brawley may not be the first place you would think about in Southern California.

Nonetheless, this secluded vacation spot has many unique things to see and do.

With its small-town charm and friendly people, you might want to return to Brawley one day for a quick break from the daily grind.