Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Fontana, CA

  • Published 2023/02/03

You can find the city of Fontana in San Bernardino County, California, and you might be familiar with it as the region’s trucking center.

Before industry developed, the place was a rural strip until Henry J. Kaiser built a steel mill there during World War II.

The rancher and developer Azariel Blanchard Miller founded the city in 1919.

Its name derives from the Italian word for fountain, thanks to its closeness to the Santa Ana River.

Since its founding, Fontana became a hub for citrus orchards, chicken ranches, and vineyards until the Kaiser Steel mill appeared.

At the time, this mill was just one of two steel mills operating west of the Mississippi River.

Kaiser had also built the Fontana Kaiser Permanente medical facility to take care of the steelworkers.

Today, this hospital is the United States’ largest managed care organization.

Today, Fontana is home to several attractions, such as the Auto Club Speedway.

Likewise, the city hosts the world’s fastest half-marathon race, the Fontana Days Half Marathon and 5K Run.

Do you want to know more about Fontana, CA?

Here’s a list of the best things to do in the city:

Enjoy the Company of Nature at the Mary Vagle Nature Center

Exterior of Mary Vagle Nature Center from across the pond

Ftr745, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You can find this natural refuge at the foot of Jurupa Hills, an oasis of nature amid a heavily urban landscape.

Do you find yourself missing dense foliage or the calls of the animals?

Visit the park to enjoy the various plants and animal life thriving there.

The pond of Mary Vagle Nature Center

Ftr745, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You can walk the nature trail that crosses the pond or check out the garden for native plants in bloom.

Likewise, you can observe the displays, both moving and static, of the native fauna or local geology.

Otherwise, simply absorb the beauty of unspoiled nature, the other side of the concrete jungle.

Go Hiking along the Jurupa Hills North Trail

Another outdoor attraction you can visit in Fontana is the Martin Tudor-Jurupa Hills Regional Park, which contains the Jurupa Hills North Trail.

This trail should satisfy your urge to explore nature and challenge yourself at the same time.

Bring plenty of water and supplies because the trail is long, spanning 4 kilometers, with an average completion time of 1 hour and 35 minutes.

Don’t worry, though, for you won’t be alone.

You’ll meet other hikers on the trail, plus you’ll find excellent inland views.

Likewise, you can bring your dog, though you’ll need to leash them.

This trail is also open all year, and its views remain terrific no matter when you visit.

Feel the Thrill of the Race at the Auto Club Speedway

Aerial view of Auto Club Speedway

Photo Works /

Gearheads will surely love a visit to the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana.

Bring your best buds to this track and catch all manner of races, from NASCAR to drag racing.

Only the most powerful souped-up cars can go on this high-speed track, so don’t miss out on this auto extravaganza.

The Auto Club Speedway stands on the site of an old steel mill, and it has stood there since 1995.

Race cars along Auto Club Speedway

Photo Works /

Its original name was Penske Speedways, with a two-mile oval-shaped like a D, with 17 miles of fencing and buildings taking up 739,000 square feet.

The whole thing can also seat 122,000 people in all.

Its size is just one of the many reasons the Auto Club Speedway draws major auto events like the NASCAR Cup Series 400 during the spring.

Don’t miss out on visiting this track if you want a memorable Fontana trip.

Tire change of a race car during a tournament at Auto Club Speedway

Grindstone Media Group /

See a Mastermind’s Hideout at the Al Capone House

The United States entered the Prohibition era at the dawn of 1920 when the federal government banned liquor across the country.

Little did they know that this ban would result in the rise of organized crime, with gangsters selling illicit beer and wine.

This business would last until the 1930s.

One of the most notorious gangsters in the era was Al Capone, an Italian-American gangster, and businessman.

Also known as “Scarface,” his infamy entered Capone into American pop culture.

When you visit Fontana, you can even find one of his supposed hideouts downtown.

This building is a 2,936-square-foot 1925 estate, though it’s now private property and closed to the public.

You can still check out the house from the road to reveal its elegant style and majestic structure compared to the smaller 20th-century homes.

Likewise, you can even find a big “C” etched on the main chimney—supposedly Capone’s initial.

Celebrate Milestones at the Sierra Lakes Golf Club

The Sierra Lakes Golf Club is not just an excellent place for golf, but it’s also terrific for celebrating major milestones.

Are you planning to tie the knot?

Book the venue for a gorgeous outdoor wedding, with expert staff taking care of all your needs and requirements.

Is your daughter going to celebrate her quinceañera?

Sierra Lakes will make sure your young lady will enjoy her special day and once-in-a-lifetime event.

Of course, you can join the golf tournaments held at the 18-hole course.

It offers diverse terrain, several water hazards, and changing layouts that would test the mettle of even experienced golfers.

Enjoy Showmanship with the Tibbies Dinner Theater

Exterior of Center Stage Theater

Jordan W., CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

For over 40 years, the Center Stage Theater in Fontana has provided maximum entertainment with the popular TIBBIES Great American Cabaret.

This cabaret show has also become a live performance institution in Southern California, attracting more than 250,000 guests from across the world through the years.

Moreover, the quality of performers at TIBBIES is consistently high-quality, with many of them moving on to successful Broadway careers.

They’ve also starred in popular TV shows and movies.

Enjoy dinner and a show at Center Stage with the TIBBIES Dinner Theater.

Watch the waiters and waitresses exchange aprons for brilliant costumes and put on a mesmerizing musical performance you’ll never forget.

Spend the Day at Fiesta Park

California enjoys the blessing of forever good weather, and you should take advantage of it when you’re in town.

If you find yourself in Fontana, pay a visit to Fiesta Park to get a taste of the outdoors.

This park is terrific for outdoor activities, and it also takes strides toward nature preservation.

Likewise, Fiesta Park is open to the public, offering various open spaces for guests who want to walk around or relax under the trees.

Bring your kids to the playground while you take in the pleasant surroundings.

Check Out the Exhibits at the Art Depot Gallery

Fontana’s Art Depot Gallery stands on the original site of a 1915 freight train depot that served the surrounding region.

The city has since relocated the building to the Helen Putnam Historical Plaza, next to the Pacific Electric Trail.

Today, the gallery hosts artists’ exhibitions and showcases, along with meetings, receptions, and other events.

Likewise, the gallery offers art classes for interested learners of all ages.

Even your toddlers can participate in these classes; register them for the Little Tykes Paint Night and let them doodle in their PJs.

Adults can also join Paint Night to learn how to create a painting from a special guest instructor.

Take a Stroll along the Pacific Electric Inland Empire Trail

Sunny day at Pacific Electric Inland Empire Trail

Amerique, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you plan to go hiking but don’t want to overexert yourself, then head to the Pacific Electric Inland Empire Trail.

This Fontana path is perfect for commuters and recreational hikers who want to explore the western San Bernardino valley.

As you follow the path, you’ll find many connections to other community centers, with sweeping views of the nearby parks and surroundings.

This trail was once the Pacific Electric Railway, noted for its red cars.

You can find one of the last railway depots of the San Bernardino line on Etiwanda Avenue’s Rancho Cucamonga.

One segment in the Rancho Cucamonga section has a 10-foot-wide concrete trail for bikers, with another similarly wide path for runners or joggers.

You can also ride your horse along this path.

Overall, this trail stretches for 21 miles from east to west, between Rialto and Claremont.

Meet the Community at the Jessie Turner Health and Fitness Community Center

Many cities across the world get their charm and character from their residents. Fontana, California, is no different.

There’s no better way to meet the locals here than dropping by the Jessie Turner Health and Fitness Community Center.

It’s a 43,000-square-foot building and community hub serving the needs of Fontana residents and guests who might pop in.

The center offers several amenities and classes designed to spur an active lifestyle for its guests.

For example, the center has a dance and aerobics room, a multi-purpose room, and a fitness room.

It also has a large banquet room measuring 4,689 square feet.

Your kids will also enjoy the Tiny Tots Rooms.

Immerse yourself in the vibrant community of Fontana by sharing fun activities with the locals.

Splash around at the Fontana Park Aquatic Center

Beat the California heat by taking a swim at the Fontana Park Aquatic Center, which offers several useful lessons such as Jr. Lifeguard and Swim Lessons.

You can also try out other programs like Lap Swim, Water Walking, and even Aqua Aerobics.

After all, swimming might be one of the most effective fitness activities out there.

If you still don’t know how to swim, why not learn how together with your kids?

The center’s swim lessons cover everyone from kids as young as six months to full-fledged adults.

Your toddlers will learn swimming along with multiple levels, from the swimming basics of Crabs & Crabling.

Aqua Aerobics also helps you get fit without adding more impact on your muscles and joints.

Enjoy the Desert Area while Traversing the Smoke Stack Trail

If you’re up for an adventurous hike while in Fontana, then the Smoke Stack Trail may offer you an immersive adventure unlike any other.

Pleasant and tranquil, this trail dwindles around the bottom of Mount Jurupa.

It also showcases the wonders and beauty of the desert area of Fontana.

It’s generally flat, so it’s a good hiking and biking spot for beginners and intermediate-level learners.

This dirt road may just be what you’re looking for for a private tour of the hidden gems of the city.

You can find the trailhead of Smoke Stack Trail on Citrus Avenue.

See a World-Class Show at the Steelworkers’ Auditorium

Exterior of the Steelworkers’ Auditorium

JWut89LA at English Wikipedia, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located along Sierra Avenue, the Steelworkers’ Auditorium is the go-to spot for many organizations and companies hosting major arts and performance events.

But it’s mostly open for community events, including Performance Tuesdays and theater camps.

Some of its staple celebrated festivals include Black History Month and Fontana JazzFest.

So, keep your eyes peeled for any planned performances you can attend with your family.

With its 330-seating capacity and free parking, no wonder many prefer this auditorium for hosting their private and public events.

And you can, too!

The place and its facilities are available for rent for conferences, award and recognition programs, and film screenings.

The Steelworkers’ Auditorium is adjacent to the Lewis Library and Technology Center.

Chill by the Waterfalls at Fontana Lewis Library & Technology

Need to get some research done while you’re on vacation in Fontana?

Keep your eyes out for Fontana Lewis Library & Technology.

This public library, located on Sierra Avenue, is a productivity-conducive environment for your knowledge acquisition.

Its huge selection of books of all genres has everything you might need.

But what makes this library a step up from the others within the community is its architecture.

With slanted high ceilings and glass windows, the modern layout of this place unrivals any other city library within the state.

And to offer more fun, its exterior has waterfall structures!

So, you’re not just learning; you’re learning within a comfortable and refreshing atmosphere!

Fontana Lewis Library & Technology also has a coffee bar and a children’s section.

Play Bowling and Other Arcade Games at Bowlero Fontana

For your family’s ultimate bonding experience, head over to Bowlero Fontana.

This bowling alley and entertainment center chain on Foothill Boulevard gets you that indoor fun and retro style in one.

At its bowling lanes, there are huge HD video walls and lounge seats for your improved gaming experience.

Or, if you’re not the bowling type, check out the center’s arcade.

Take a trip back in time as you play old classic consoles and modern video games.

With that said, will you be visiting Bowlero Fontana anytime soon?

Practice Your Swinging and Aim at Coyote Canyon Park

Coyote Canyon Park is an all-in-one sports park destination.

Spanning over 12 acres, this park has softball and baseball fields.

Its trails also offer a bit of everything that nature has to offer to your usual hiking and walking preferences.

There are also picnic areas and a playground.

Bring the whole family to this wholesome park and its facilities!

Drive by Duncan Canyon Road to reach Coyote Canyon Park.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Catch a Concert at the Glen Helen Amphitheater

Slipknot band performing at Glen Helen Amphitheater

Mehtalkitty, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Drive 17 minutes from Fontana to reach the city of San Bernardino, California, where you can find the Glen Helen Amphitheater.

Your favorite musicians might be playing at the spacious venue, which can hold up to 65,000 guests.

Once known as the San Manuel Amphitheater, the Glen Helen Amphitheater is the United States’ largest outdoor concert venue.

Several world-famous acts have played full shows at the venue, such as Tina Turner and Garth Brooks.

Catch your fave bands play from April through to November. The amphitheater is closed in winter.

Check Out Masterpieces at the Robert and Frances Fullerton Museum of Art

Since 1996, the Robert and Frances Fullerton Museum of Art has showcased various masterpieces from the world’s greatest artists.

It has earned a reputation as one of the California region’s most important cultural hubs.

The museum began displaying pieces from global artists in 2008.

However, the museum is most known for holding the largest collection of ancient Egyptian antiquities in the western United States.

You can trace years of Egyptian history in these exhibits.

Do you want to see what a real mummy looks like?

Visit the museum to find out.

You need to enter the California State University in San Bernardino to access the museum.

Sip Fine Wine at the Rancho Philo Winery

This time, drive 17 minutes from Fontana to reach the community of Alta Loma, California, where you can find the Rancho de Philo Winery.

In 1974, Philo Biane retired as President and CEO of Brookside Vineyard, which was one of the oldest wineries in California at the time.

Upon his retirement, Philo established Rancho de Philo together with his daughter, Janine Biane Tibbetts.

Today, Janine and her husband, Alan, continue the rich, award-winning winemaking tradition that started many years ago.

Rancho de Philo offers only one wine, but it’s simply exceptional.

This wine is the Triple Cream Sherry, a wine made in the traditional Spanish style.

Fifteen soleras of 15 barrels go into the final blending of the wines, which range from 12 to 58 years old.

This wine also uses the Mission grape, aged in 50-gallon oak barrels until it gains a deep amber hue.

From one sip, you can taste hints of butterscotch, nuts, and golden raisins, adding to the complexity and sweetness of the prize-winning wine.

Visit the winery in November to catch their annual bottling.

You can buy wine at the winery on the second Saturday of November, which usually lasts for nine days.

Learn Railroad History at the San Bernardino History and Railroad Museum

Know all about trains by dropping by the San Bernardino History and Railroad Museum in the city of the same name.

The museum’s exhibits feature several railroad artifacts and historic photographs.

Today, the museum operates from a restored 1918 Santa Fe Depot, which used to serve passengers on the Amtrak and Metrolink trains.

Every day, more than 100 freight trains pass the depot.

Besides railroad memorabilia, the museum also holds unique artifacts like antique hand-drawn vehicles and 19th-century horse-pulled buggies.

The first automobile ever driven in San Bernardino is also inside the museum.

Likewise, you can find a 19th-century Velocipede, a three-wheeled vehicle used to inspect the railroads.

The museum also carries many antique clocks; in 1916, one of these clocks used to hang inside the Santa Fe roundhouse office.

Final Thoughts

Fontana might be small, but it’s got plenty of attractions and amenities to fill the itinerary of any curious traveler.

Likewise, the city also opens to other communities and cities with their interesting destinations.

Set aside a weekend and book your trip to Fontana today!

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