Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Highland, CA

  • Published 2022/09/01

Highland is a small city in California’s San Bernardino County, with 55,000 inhabitants.

This city became known back in the day for its lumber industry and citrus plantations.

Today, Highland is a suburb east of San Bernardino City.

This small city is situated 67 miles east of Los Angeles, roughly a one-and-a-half-hour drive through CA-210.

Like San Bernardino City, Highland offers spectacular California weather and many outdoor recreational opportunities.

It’s home to various community parks, trails, and historical attractions worth visiting.

So, read below to discover the best things to do in Highland, California:

Drive through the Scenic Rim of the World Highway

Scenic view of Rim of the World Highway

Steve Heap /

To experience a scenic drive through California’s vast landscape, head to the Rim of the World Highway.

It’s a famous thoroughfare that traverses the upper area of the San Bernardino Valley.

This scenic byway takes you to picturesque views of the valleys, cliffs, towns, and rolling countryside.

The road of Rim of the World Highway

Rosamar /

You’ll also pass through landmarks such as Big Bear Lake, San Gorgonio Mountain, and the Lucerne Valley.

The Rim of the World Highway stretches about 110 miles and circles back to Highland.

It’s an epic road trip you shouldn’t miss considering the entire highway passes through the heart of Highland, making it highly accessible.

Aerial view of Rim of the World Highway

Doc Searls, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Explore the Patton State Historical Museum

Located on East Highland Avenue, the Patton State Hospital Museum is a one-of-a-kind museum chronicling the history of psychiatry and mental illness treatments in California.

Before becoming a museum, the state-run hospital attended to mentally ill patients.

Visiting the museum shows a glimpse of the evolution of mental illness treatments for 125 years.

For instance, you’ll find hundreds of historical medical artifacts inside the 2,000-square-foot facility.

Join volunteer-led guided tours if you want to explore the museum further.

Check out various medical equipment, uniforms, facilities, and other related artifacts at the Patton State Hospital Museum.

Enjoy the Outdoors at Highland Community Park

Highland Community Park is one of the numerous parks in the city with green open fields and amenities.

You can find this park along Highland’s Central Avenue, making it an accessible outdoor attraction to visit.

Hanging out with your family or travel buddies at this park is an excellent way to pass the time or have fun.

This park has many locals who do various outdoor activities through its vast green open field.

It has picnic areas, tables, playgrounds, and a basketball court.

Try visiting Highland Community Park and enjoy its featured amenities and facilities for a wholesome activity.

Roll Some Dice at Yaamava’ Resort & Casino

Yaamava’ Resort & Casino is formerly known as the San Manuel Casino.

This casino and entertainment center is situated along San Manuel Boulevard.

It’s famous for its luxurious accommodations, resort, world-class events venue, and premier casino gaming.

Yaamava’ Resort & Casino has been operating since 2005, with over 6,700 slot machines, hundreds of table games, and other amenities.

At the same time, it has a world-class events venue and an upscale restaurant and bar.

If you’re up for some fun-filled gaming experience, this casino in Highland is an excellent place to visit.

Soak up the Sun at Aurantia Park

Aurantia Park is a 12-acre site donated to Highland by a local citrus grower in 1988.

It’s a community park and a historic site that provides park-goers a glimpse of the city’s history as a citrus-growing community.

Highland was once a vital part of San Bernardino Valley’s “Citrus Belt” in the 1800s.

However, its development began 50 years later, paving the way for industrialization.

The park today is a charming outdoor attraction in Highland.

It features numerous hiking trails, picnic shelters, a playground area, and other park amenities.

Aurantia Park has ample green open space to soak up the sun if you want to get some Vitamin D.

At the same time, you and your loved ones can have fun doing outdoor activities.

Catch a Beautiful Sunset at the Greenspot Road Bridge

Daytime view of Greenspot Bridge

inkknife_2000 (7.5 million views +), CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Greenspot Road Bridge is a steel truss bridge spanning the Santa Ana River.

Its steel frames and beams were made at the Joliet Iron and Steel Works in Illinois in the early 1900s.

The bridge was then completed in 1912 to cross the Mojave River in Victorville.

It was relocated to Highland in 1933 and renamed the Santa Ana River Bridge, serving over 80 years.

Today, the bridge is close to vehicular traffic, but it’s open to hikers, bikers, and equestrians.

Aside from being a historical structure in Highland, this 256-foot bridge is most famous for its beautiful sunset.

It becomes a picturesque backdrop at a particular time of the year where the sun positions itself perfectly to silhouette the bridge.

The Greenspot Road Bridge is a beautiful place to see the sunset and take lovely photos as a souvenir before returning home from Highland.

Cast Your Line at East Highland Reservoir

Pack your fishing gear before your Highland trip because you’ll haul a big catch at East Highland Reservoir!

Highland residents flock to this small water reservoir along Clover Hill Drive for fishing.

It supports an abundance of bluegill, crappie, bream, largemouth bass, and rainbow trout.

Likewise, the place has already tallied 466 catches to date.

You can also use fancy fishing techniques like baitcasting, fly fishing, and trolling to land a bite at East Highland Reservoir.

Spend the Day at Canyon Oaks Park

You don’t need to spend a penny to enjoy yourself at Canyon Oaks Park, along Summertrail Place.

Like most community parks, Canyon Oaks offers you an excellent place to relax.

Bring your kids to the park and let them run around the playground.

Meanwhile, set up a picnic at one of the picnic tables and enjoy your food amid a peaceful ambiance and lush greenery.

Canyon Oaks Park is ideal for enjoying the outdoors and spending time with friends or family.

Stroll through the Highland Historical District

Highland might be a small city, but it has many fascinating stories.

Listen to these thrilling stories at the Highland Historical District, spanning Nona Avenue, Main Street, Orange Street, and Church Avenue.

The district includes some of the oldest buildings in Highland, including the original town site.

Many of the buildings follow architectural styles popular in the early 1900s.

Explore the Highland Historical District to understand the city’s history deeper.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Venture outside Highland to reach the neighboring towns of San Bernardino and Redlands.

These places are a stone’s throw away from Highland, filled with outdoor activities and tourist attractions.

Explore the San Gorgonio Wilderness Association

The San Gorgonio Wilderness Association is a natural attraction that features a fascinating sub-alpine terrain.

It’s situated 12.2 miles east of Highland or roughly just outside the city’s boundary in Mentone.

The area encompasses over 96,595 acres within the Sand to Snow National Monument.

Its unique landscape has mountainous areas ranging from 4,400 to 11,502 feet called the San Gorgonio Peak.

Moreover, its isolated location is home to many endangered and rare species of animals and plants.

Aside from its natural beauty, it’s also a famous outdoor recreational destination.

Hiking is one of the San Gorgonio Wilderness Association’s favorite outdoor activities.

It takes you through the Pacific Crest Trail, which spans over 81 miles through the wilderness.

At the same time, camping is also a famous activity here, as you can choose from over 24 backcountry campsites.

Wander inside the Norton Air Force Base Museum

The Norton Air Force Base Museum is a vast historical attraction in San Bernardino City, about four miles west of Highland.

It mainly features photos, artifacts, and memorabilia from a former United State Air Force base.

The famous historical attraction has given the fascinating public insights into the city’s military history since 2013.

Before it became a museum, it was an operational logistics, heavy-lift transport facility, and depot that operated from 1946 to 1966.

Today, most military aircraft, supplies, uniforms, and equipment used back in the day are displayed inside the museum.

Touring the Norton Air Force Base Museum offers a beautiful historical side trip.

You’ll see vintage and modern aircraft, equipment, and other memorabilia.

Uncover Fascinating Backstories at the San Bernardino History and Railroad Museum

Exterior of San Bernardino History and Railroad Museum

Prayitno / Thank you for (12 millions +) view from Los Angeles, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The San Bernardino History and Railroad Museum is an excellent place to uncover fascinating backstories about San Bernardino County.

You can find it along West 3rd Street in San Bernardino, roughly a 12-minute drive west of Highland.

This museum specializes in collecting and preserving all of the relevant items about San Bernardino’s history.

In addition, it also features relevant artifacts about the railroad industry in the county.

Inside, you’ll see various artifacts, such as the 19th-century horse-drawn buggies.

It includes the 1910 railroad station made from period office equipment and telegraph and the first automobile that ran through San Bernardino’s streets.

Moreover, you’ll find the 1890 Fire Department Hose wagon, the 19th-century three-wheeled railroad vehicle Velocipede, and other machinery of the yesteryears.

An hour or two spent at San Bernardino History and Railroad Museum will be a worthwhile historical and educational experience.

Vibe with Musicians at Glen Helen Amphitheater

Glen Helen Amphitheater is a colossal 65,000-capacity outdoor venue in San Bernardino’s Glen Helen Regional Park, about 17 miles northwest of Highland.

This massive amphitheater is the nation’s most extensive outdoor music venue, making it a special place to visit.

It has an orchestra, loge, and box seating sections that accommodate as many as 11,000 people.

Meanwhile, its lawn section can fill up to 54,000.

This attraction has been a popular venue for renowned musicians and festival concerts.

Don’t forget to list Glen Helen Amphitheater on your itinerary to witness its epic-scale entertainment experience.

Feel the Rush at Glen Helen Raceway

Motorcycle race at Glen Helen Raceway

Mdk572, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Glen Helen Raceway is a few minutes from Glen Helen Amphitheater.

If you’re coming from Highland, this attraction is 14 miles west of the city.

Throughout the year, the 250-acre raceway hosts numerous motocross racing competitions from locals to the national level.

It’s been the epicenter of adrenaline-pumping racing competition since the mid-1980s.

Dirt road of Glen Helen Raceway

Mdk572, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Events such as the Off-Road Winter Series and the United States World Championship Motocross happen here.

Suppose you’re in for an action-packed experience while visiting Highland; Glen Helen Raceway is your go-to place.

Watch and cheer alongside locals while motocross daredevils do epic stunts and thrilling races at this famous raceway.

Have a Relaxing Time at North Cork Vineyard & Winery

North Cork Vineyard & Winery is a boutique vineyard and winery in Yucaipa, about 14 miles east of Highland.

It features a winery and tasting room with an outdoor setting amidst its scenic view of the Yucaipa Ridge.

At the same time, you’ll also appreciate the vineyards spanning through rolling hills.

This locally-owned vineyard and winery in Yucaipa is an excellent place to take a break from exploring San Bernardino County.

North Cork Vineyard & Winery’s setting is perfect for opening up a bottle of its finest wines and sharing it with your loved ones or travel buddies.

Test Your Skills at the San Bernardino Soccer Complex

The San Bernardino Soccer Complex is a massive, 47-acre facility dedicated to the sport.

You can find it along Pacific Street in San Bernardino, just outside Highland.

It regularly hosts various sports for adults and youth in professional and amateur soccer tournaments.

At the same time, it has a youth soccer camp and regular training sessions.

If you’re looking for a place near Highland to enjoy a soccer game, head to this soccer complex and play with locals or your companions.

The San Bernardino Soccer Complex has 17 full-sized FIFA-standard soccer pitches, making it a fantastic place to play this sport or watch tournaments.

So, don’t forget to pack your soccer gear because you’ll find yourself running through one of its pitches.

Walk Down Memory Lane at the Original McDonald’s Site and Museum

Exterior of the Original McDonald's Site & Museum

Michael Gordon /

The first McDonald’s Site and Museum are found in San Bernardino City, adjacent to Highland.

It’s a fun place for the novelty and history of this iconic fast-food chain that opened in the 1940s.

The property was purchased by Juan Pollo, who preserved and converted the site into a museum.

The iconic golden arches of McDonald's at Original McDonald's Site & Museum

Michael Gordon /

Thousands of visitors regularly flock to see McDonald’s original furnishing and novelty items.

This unique museum contains the fast-food chain’s history and memorabilia.

It chronicles all of the brand’s original setting, layout, designs, and products back in the day.

The Original McDonald’s Site and Museum should be on your itinerary to give you a fascinating backstory of how this famous fast-food chain started.

Reminisce the Legacy of Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial Shrine

Exterior of Lincoln Memorial Shrine

BZK Photos /

The Lincoln Memorial Shrine is a historical attraction in the neighboring city of Redlands, five miles south of Highland.

This memorial shrine also serves as a museum that features Abraham Lincoln’s fascinating life and legacy.

Water fountain at Lincoln Memorial Shrine

BZK Photos /

It has numerous exhibits containing all information, artifacts, and memorabilia about Lincoln’s legacy.

It’s a fascinating place to explore to better understand Lincoln’s life as the nation’s president.

Explore the galleries and exhibits with your loved ones or travel buddies.

Unfold letters, objects, and other fascinating items inside the Lincoln Memorial Shrine.

Final Thoughts

Highland is an ideal location for a day trip with your family or friends to see rarely seen historical sites, natural areas, and parks.

Its proximity to Los Angeles and San Bernardino City makes this small California city convenient.

Beyond Highland’s borders is a vast natural area comprised of scenic mountainous areas, nature preserves, and parks to explore.

This small city has more activities and attractions to discover than you expect.

So, take note of everything you want to visit from this list of the best things to do in Highland, California, for an epic travel experience.

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