Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Los Banos, CA

  • Published 2022/10/16

The city of Los Banos or Los Baños, found in the central crossroads of California, is part of Merced County, on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley.

In Spanish, the term means “the baths,” inspired by the spring that created the wetlands on the west side of San Joaquin Valley.

The city currently has a population of 46,639 and is Merced County’s second-largest city.

It is famous for its comfy, quiet atmosphere, friendly locals, and various outdoor recreational activities with its multitudes of parks, reservoirs, and trails.

It’s also a popular place to move from the Bay Area because of the relatively cheap housing.

To make filling out your itinerary easier, follow this list of the best things to do in Los Banos, California!

See the Animals at the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge

Waterfowl at San Luis National Wildlife Refuge

Danita Delimont /

The San Luis National Wildlife Refuge is a 26,800-acre wildlife refuge in the Joaquin Mountains.

It was established in 1966-1967 under the Migratory Bird Conservation Act.

With thousands of acres of wetlands fed by intricate canals, the refuge received funds to develop into a valuable and safe place for migratory birds and waterfowl.

Since then, the refuge has grown through the years and has become a significant winter migratory ground and stopover point for waterfowl, waterbirds, and other shorebirds.

Elk at San Luis National Wildlife Refuge

MollieGPhoto /

You can avail of their multiple services and appreciate the beautiful stretches of wetlands with their nature walks, tours, and other special events depending on the time of year.

Hunting is even prohibited during the winter; outside winter, it is only allowed in specific areas.

Start your first official experience with nature and wildlife at the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge at 7376 Wolfsen Road.

Coyote at San Luis National Wildlife Refuge

Wendy Sisson /

Learn about the History of Los Banos at the Milliken Museum

Start your trip to Los Banos by gathering information and learning more about the deep-rooted history of the place, and there’s no better place to start than at the Milliken Museum.

The museum is at 905 E Pacheco Boulevard, whose outward appearance looks like an old elementary school, but inside lie the rich history and stories of the old Los Banos.

Ralph Leroy Milliken was a farmer, postman, and historian who founded the museum in 1954 and started consolidating and collecting artifacts, documents, and oral accounts.

He was the museum’s curator for decades, and thus, the museum was renamed for him when he eventually passed.

Today, his passion and love for the museum and history still lives on.

There are now several volunteers continuing what Mr. Milliken has started.

Here you can see lots of historical artifacts and documents.

Most notably, you can find photos and accounts of old buildings that did not make it through the years due to earthquakes and other natural disasters.

The Miliken Museum is the only place where you’ll uncover and learn more about Los Banos, so be sure to stop by!

Take a Walk Downtown at the Beautiful Henry Miller Plaza

After your trip to the historical museum, your next historical stop is just a few blocks away, the Henry Miller Plaza.

Founded in 2006, the Henry Miller Plaza is a 2.3-acre plaza located in the heart of downtown Los Banos.

It features a vast and beautiful fountain with the statue of a mounted person, Los Banos’ founder, Henry Miller.

You can even read more about the founder and the city’s history at the plaque located near the fountain.

The place is famous for its clean and serene flat environment, perfect for a picnic or outdoor activities to do with your family.

The Henry Miller Plaza is in downtown Los Banos at 600 H Street.

Taste Delicious French Basque Cuisine at the Wool Growers Restaurant

No better place guarantees delicious traditional French cuisine in Los Banos than the Wool Growers Restaurant.

Don’t let their name fool you.

They have served the Los Banos community since the 1890s and have kept their cuisine traditions for over 100 years!

Step through their saloon doors and order one of their famous Picon Punch cocktails.

Step through another set of saloon doors and find yourself in a comfortable and warm basque country interior.

Order delicious traditional french basque cuisine in the warmth of the place.

Try out their popular meal, the lamb stew, and save up some room for the ice cream for dessert.

Come to the Wool Growers Restaurant at 609 H Street and experience the best traditional basque cooking in Los Banos.

Take the Kids Outdoors at Cresthills Park

There’s no better relaxing and safe environment outdoors with family than at parks.

At Cresthills Park, you can have that environment with its picturesque line of trees, nice and flat lands, and relatively free and vast spaces.

It’s a perfect quiet place for a day at the park.

The 3.57-acre park has spaces and facilities for baseball, basketball, picnics, grilling, volleyball, and a playground.

However, the place doesn’t have a bathroom.

The Cresthill Park is at 700 Pioneer Road.

Like all parks in Los Banos, they open on a first-come, first-served basis.

Be kind and polite to other park-goers to ensure you and your families have fun in the park.

Bowl and More at Jungle Jim’s Adventure Lanes

Jungle Jim’s Adventure Lanes is a one-of-a-kind bowling alley experience you, your friends, and your family will surely enjoy here in Los Banos.

They’re not just a bowling alley.

They offer many other activities guaranteed to use up your entire day’s worth of energy: ten lanes for bowling use, an arcade with varying games and machines, play areas for the kids, pool tables, and more!

The place can also be a venue for birthday parties, team building, and family get-togethers!

Jungle Jim’s Adventure Lanes is at 923 W Pacheco Boulevard and is one of Los Banos’s famous fun indoor entertainment centers.

Stop by for safe and interactive family fun!

Take Your Beloved Pets to the AG Sports Complex

What better place to have fun with pets than a site designed for them?

The AG Sports Complex has the Los Banos Dog Park, an 8.6-acre park with pet-safe facilities perfect for a day outdoors with friends, family, and pets!

Bring your dogs for a walk or run in their diverse areas, or if you’re worried about your small dog, you can take them to the small dog area.

Besides the dog park facilities, you can also find facilities you can usually find at parks, such as facilities for baseball, picnics, grilling, and others.

There’s even a playground for kids to enjoy.

Come to the AG Sports Complex at 700 N Mercy Springs Road and let your pets have fun with you and your family!

See the Latest Movies at Premiere Cinemas

Nothing enhances the movie-watching experience more than a comfortable seat, a large screen, and fantastic audio that genuinely immerses you in the action.

The Premiere Cinemas is the place in Los Banos to get that experience.

They have state-of-the-art architecture and technology for the best audio and video capabilities, standard stadium seating, curved wide screens, and your typical cinema food, popcorn, and beverages!

You can also take reservations in advance to play your favorite Xbox games on one of their big screens for two to four hours, perfect for a novel experience with friends!

Come over to 245 Mercey Springs Road, and watch your favorite movies here at Premier Cinemas.

Eat Famous Italian Meals at the M & M Italian Restaurant

The M & M Italian Restaurant is a family-owned and operated restaurant in Los Banos, serving high-quality and affordable Italian cuisine.

They’re found at 400 Pacheco Boulevard.

Likewise, the building looks like sets for mafia movies, with its very old-school Italian look, weathered bricks, and wood-paneled walls.

Expect a quiet and romantic evening with their specialty menus ranging from chicken, kinds of pasta, and beef, to seafood.

They even serve burgers, steaks, and their renowned prime rib every Friday.

If you’re looking for a romantic evening with affordable, delicious food, come to the M & M Italian Restaurant!

Work up a Sweat at the Los Banos Fitness & Racquet Club

The Los Banos Fitness & Racquet Club is a gym and physical fitness center with a wide area for other activities and sports, such as tennis and pickleball.

They offer classes for each activity with their professional instructors, so you can have fun without injuring yourself.

Besides the gym and other activities, you can also take a dip at their pool, warmed in all seasons, and do water aerobics with the others.

It’s located at 1520 Racquet Club Drive, just a quick drive from downtown Los Banos.

Come by the Los Banos Fitness & Racquet Club for a full day of activities and classes!

Enjoy Juicy Grilled Barbeques at the Hot City Barbeque & Bistro

The Hot City Barbeque & Bistro is just downtown Los Banos, at 1313 S 6th Street, one of the hidden gems of Los Banos.

You’re sure to leave with a smile with their delicious grilled full menus, large portions, and flavorful meat.

They also serve family packs, perfect portions for your whole family.

There’s outdoor seating and wine to complement your flavorful meat.

Bring friends or family to the Hot City Barbeque & Bistro!

Take a Sip of Delicious Beers at Tony’s Rendezvous

Tony’s Rendezvous is one of the most popular nightlife places in Los Banos.

Complete with craft beer and many other alcoholic beverages, wine is available for wine drinkers.

If you wish to change the mood, there’s a jukebox and a pool table if you’re up for a friendly game.

Every Saturday night, there’s live music, so plan accordingly for a total experience!

Tony’s Rendezvous is at 536 I Street.

Visit and experience the fun nightlife of Los Banos.

Savor Flavorful Mexican Food at Espana’s Southwest Bar & Grill

Espana’s Southwest Bar & Grill is one of Los Banos’s popular restaurants for its delicious Mexican food derived from its rich history.

In 1929, Espana’s started as an inn and became a restaurant.

Decades later, in 1981, the restaurant took its current name.

In all those years, one family has owned and operated the place, passing it down through the generations.

Today, Espana’s Southwest Bar & Grill is Los Banos’ favorite restaurant for excellent appetizers, award-winning margaritas, and fire-roasted fajitas.

See their menu for yourself!

It’s enormous, and there’s sure to be a meal for anyone.

You can find Espana’s Southwest Bar & Grill at 1460 E Pacheco Boulevard, with excellent indoor and outdoor dining options.

Visit the Los Banos Fairgrounds County Park

The Los Banos Fairground County Park is a park usually rented for special events ranging from motorcycle trails and courses to flea markets to even professional circus performers!

The locals usually drive by to check and see what’s there for that month.

You can also contact the Los Banos officials if you want to rent the whole park for your significant event.

The Los Banos Fairground County Park is at 403 F Street.

Keep an open mind, and don’t miss any of the festivities!

Finish Your Trip with American Favorites at the Black Bear Diner

The Black Bear Diner is one of the top restaurants in Los Banos that serves American Cuisine.

The Black Bear Diner is found at 955 W Pacheco Boulevard.

They’re famous for their breakfast meals, dubbed “for the hungriest bears” for their vast menu and large portions with quality flavors.

The interior and exterior also add to the experience.

Your meals taste even better thanks to a family dining experience and atmosphere.

Come by the Black Bear Diner and taste the best American meals in Los Banos, California!

Final Thoughts

The City of Los Banos has a rich history surrounded by mountains filled with wildlife.

Many people consider the city the perfect stopover on the way to San Francisco, but it’s more than that.

It’s a happy, quiet little city with many exciting activities filled with happy people enjoying delicious meals and peaceful life!

Save this list of the best things to do in Los Banos, California, to ensure you get the most out of this charming city.

© All rights reserved.