15 Best Things to Do in Downey, CA

Downey, CA
Matt Gush / shutterstock.com

Downey may be what you're looking for if you like the quiet, but you still wish to have fun in the city.

Downey is a city in southeast California, part of the Gateway Cities of Los Angeles County.

It’s much quieter and more peaceful than other large cities in the nearby Los Angeles metro area, but it is still a vibrant city with many fun features.

Many things make this city great, from its exciting history to its culture and diversity.

There are many things to do to pass the time, including visiting historical sites.

When visitors come to Downey, CA, they are often surprised that Downey is the Apollo space program's birthplace and the home of the oldest operating McDonald's restaurant.

Are you visiting soon?

Here are the 15 best things to do in Downey, CA:

Visit the World’s Oldest Operating McDonald’s

Exterior of World’s Oldest Operating McDonald’s
Logan Bush / Shutterstock.com

Located in Downey, California, the oldest McDonald’s restaurant stands the test of time.

Deemed eligible for a spot in the National Register of Historic Places, it is a timeless work of art, engineering, and American culture.

The branch opened in 1953.

The golden arch of World’s Oldest Operating McDonald’s
Logan Bush / Shutterstock.com

It stuck to its roots and maintained its vintage aesthetic, including the original signage.

The restaurant also features an indoor museum, where customers may enjoy their McDonald’s meal while looking at the rich history of the branch.

Paying homage to the classic 60s and the American staple in McDonald’s, the restaurant will show you a “blast from the past”!

Pickup window of World’s Oldest Operating McDonald’s
Logan Bush / Shutterstock.com

Look beyond the Skyline at Columbia Memorial Space Center

The Columbia Memorial Space Center is where children of all ages can enjoy various exhibits and programs dedicated to space science.

With an area of 20,000 square feet, visitors can enjoy cutting-edge technologies and visual exhibits.

The center also serves as the national memorial for the seven crew members of Space Shuttle Columbia who died in the tragic accident in 2003.

With showcases such as “Return to the Moon,” “Rendezvous with a Comet,” and “Voyage to Mars,” kids can learn more about the wonders of outer space.

The showcases are interactive, so visitors can have fun-filled activities.

This Columbia Memorial Space Center is also available for parties, team-building activities, and field trips.

Enjoy the Tranquility of Wilderness Park

Take a break from the bustling streets of Downey City and spend your day with friends or family at the Wilderness Park.

Located along Little Lake Road, the Wilderness Park serves as the perfect place to host birthday parties, family picnics, and social gatherings.

You can take the time to try and catch fish or appreciate the serene views of the two lakes inside the park.

You can also take your pets out on a stroll in the park while the kids enjoy the playground designed especially for them.

Take advantage of the park's serenity by having a picnic by the lake or under the shade of the lush green trees.

Barbecues and tables are also available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Play a Unique Game of Bowling at the Del Rio Lanes

Whether you bowl for fun or to compete, Del Rio Lanes is the place to be.

Located along Florence Ave, Del Rio Lanes is your family-friendly bowling alley caters to various leagues and recreational activities.

It has 32 bowling lanes, karaoke, a full bar, great food, and even televisions where you can watch your favorite basketball or baseball team playing live.

This bowling alley stands out because it features Cosmic Bowling, a bowling game played in the dark with black lights.

If you find yourself hungry in between games, the alley’s famous hot wings and Squeezy’s Pizzas will fill you up and leave you wanting more.

You can also rent the place for events like birthday parties, company outings, group functions, and the like.

Practice Your Swing at the Los Amigos Golf Course

Not far from downtown Los Angeles and Orange County, the Los Amigos Golf Course is one of the go-to recreational places in the area.

It offers a wide variety of beautiful amenities and outstanding services in a lawn-like environment.

People from different places have witnessed and experienced the prestigious golf course, the wide night-illuminated driving range, and the numerous unique function halls.

The function halls host weddings, conferences, and other special events.

The Los Amigos Golf Course invites golfers of all skills and all ages to enjoy their beautifully designed 6,212-yard, Par 71 championship golf course.

While you play, feast your eyes on picturesque lakes and leafy green trees surrounding you.

Moreover, guests are also welcome to the cozy lounge and diner that the place offers.

Uncover the Deep History of Downey through the Downey Historical Society

Every place has a story, and Downey is no exception.

With volunteers contributing to its vast collection, the Downey Historical Society has successfully preserved the past and left an impression on visitors.

Located in the Downey History Center, which you can find in Apollo Park, the Downey Historical Society has spent more than 50 years doing a tremendous job at keeping records intact and stories unbroken.

With paraphernalia dating from as early as 1850, including photographs, postcards, old books, censuses, and other artifacts, the Downey Historical Society has everything you need to discover the history of Downey.

If knowing a city on a deeper level is your kind of thing, then visit the Downey Historical Society and its massive collection.

You will find something that will pique your interest.

See the Latest Blockbuster at Cinemark Downey and XD

There is no doubt that movies stir emotions and move people, so why not enjoy a deluxe movie-going experience in Downey?

Visit Cinemark Downey and XD located in the Promenade at Downey.

With massive floor-to-ceiling and wall-to-wall screens matched with an 11.1 multi-channel surround system, you can tell your friends that you didn't see the movie but experienced it.

Comfort is a priority for their customers, as seen in the premium plush reclining seats they use.

You would almost not want to stand up.

These movie theaters have THX Certifications, which follow standards indicative of only high-fidelity audio.

An immersive and exceptional movie experience awaits you at Cinemark Downey and XD.

Catch a Show at the Downey Theatre

Numerous artistic, cultural, and musical performances await you at the Downey Theatre located along the Firestone Boulevard.

With shows that feature acts such as huge orchestras, talented musicians, skilled dancers, and fine singers, it should be an easy decision to go and see what Downey Theatre has to offer.

A one-day performance most likely takes months to practice yet years to perfect, so you are in for a treat.

Purchase a ticket for a show at the Downey Theatre and immerse yourself in the craft.

You will leave the theater with much more than you came in with.

Spend Your Day Shopping at the Stonewood Center

If you are in the Downey, CA area and looking for a little retail therapy, check out the famous Stonewood Center.

The shopping center is at the intersection of Firestone and Lakewood Boulevards, where the mall gets its name.

Dedicated to bringing its guests the best shopping experience, Stonewood Center boasts specialty stores such as Macy's, Macy's Home, Kohl's, JCPenney, H&M, Cotton On, Hollister, and Candeeland Kids Café.

No shopping trip is complete without grabbing lunch or dinner from the good restaurants around the mall.

Grab a meal at BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse, Acapulco's, Raising Cane's, and Olive Garden.

Stonewood Center prioritizes your well-being.

The mall offers courtesy wheelchairs and security assistance to those who may need it.

The shopping mall also hosts exciting events occasionally, so keep an eye out.

Ride a Bike along the Rio Hondo River Trail

The Rio Hondo River Trail is a famous multi-use trail parallel to the Rio Hondo River through the San Gabriel Valley.

This trail is open to all walkers, runners, and bicyclists.

You’ll also find a few people riding horses or walking their pets, so say hello to a few animals.

The trail is gently graded, paved, and well-maintained, an excellent option for beginners or families with young children.

Compared to other bike paths in the city, the Rio Hondo River Trail is surrounded by more mature trees, making the path feel cooler, more pleasing to the eyes, and more enjoyable to bike through.

Relive the 20s and 30s at the Casa de Parley Johnson

If you've ever wondered what living in the 1920s and 1930s was like, visit the breathtaking Case De Parley Johnson.

The Casa De Parley Johnson perfectly represents the Southern California lifestyle during the 1920s and 1930s.

Legendary architect Roland E. Coate took inspiration from the Spanish Colonial Revival style when designing the historic house, built in 1927.

It was built for Parley Johnson, a local citrus farmer, and his wife, Geline "Gypsy" Johnson.

The house had several patios and balconies to bring the outdoor greenery into the home.

Outside, the walled garden area is beautifully maintained with good landscaping and equipped with fountains.

Learn to Play Baseball or Tennis at Furman Park

Furman Park is the place to be if you're looking for some fun in the sun.

Located on Rives Avenue, Furman Park is an excellent place for kids and adults to play sports.

It has lots of fields, courts, and playgrounds for people of all ages.

With tennis courts, baseball fields, and athletic rooms available for reservation, and a vast open space for football, soccer, frisbee, and other activities, it's no wonder why this park is so popular with the locals.

The park also has picnic shelters perfect for family gatherings or just hanging out with friends.

Besides the playgrounds, there are also grassy areas for children to run around and play.

Party at the Lock & Key Social Drinkery + Kitchen

Like most cities in California, Downey has an active nightlife and dining scene.

The Lock & Key Social Drinkery is the ultimate place for fun, food, and drink in the city.

Their friendly staff and bartenders will take care of you and your guests so that you can relax and enjoy the company of friends.

The restaurant offers a diverse menu to satisfy even the pickiest eater.

The highlights of their menu are their steaks and burgers.

You can also choose from their selection of craft beers and a large selection of wines and other alcoholic beverages by the glass or by the bottle.

A fun and friendly place for adults to relax and enjoy their time, The Lock & Key Social Drinkery is the perfect spot for your next party!

Join the Downey International Food & Music Festival

If you happen to be in town during Downey’s International Food & Music Festival, check it out.

The Downey International Food & Music Festival is a fun-filled community event that celebrates the diverse cultures of the City of Downey and its residents.

The festival will feature diverse food options from around the world.

Guests can purchase food from various vendors, local restaurants, and food trucks.

Besides vendors and merchants selling food, merchandise, services, and more, you can enjoy live entertainment throughout the festival.

There will also be carnival games, balloon artists, caricature artists, photo booths, henna artists, face painters, etc.

Admission to the festival is usually accessible for all ages and open to the public.

Feast Your Eyes at the Dia de Los Muertos Art Festival

You may want to schedule your Downey trip during the city’s Dia de Los Muertos Art Festival.

Mexico celebrates Dia de Los Muertos annually on November 1st and 2nd to honor those who have already passed away.

The festival celebrates the lives and memories of those who have passed away by remembering their life stories.

It is also a time for families to share in this time of remembrance.

The Dia de Los Muertos Art Festival has become an annual tradition in Downey, California, kicking off with a parade featuring visually stunning floats and dancers from various local schools and organizations.

The event will feature live music, traditional folkloric dance performances, art installations, crafts for sale, and fun-filled activities.

There will also be plenty of food vendors serving up authentic Mexican dishes if you want to get your fill before taking in all the sights and sounds at the festival.

The festival is free, so there's no reason to skip it on your Downey trip.

Final Thoughts

Downey has a lot to offer.

It's got everything from relaxing parks to excellent sports facilities and a thriving downtown area with a concert hall, restaurants, and plenty of outdoor seating.

The city takes great pride in its past and its traditions.

Whether or not you live nearby, take time to explore the best things the city offers.

So, get out there and take in all that Downey has to offer—you'll be glad that you did!

Spotted a mistake, have some feedback, or just want to chat with our editorial team? Click here to get in touch.
Find out more about Travel Lens and read our editorial guidelines here.