Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Poway, CA

  • Published 2022/05/13

Poway is a small city a few miles north of San Diego in Southern California.

Despite its size, Poway offers travelers the best of both worlds, from natural attractions, wineries, restaurants, and top-notch entertainment.

In addition, Poway is a few minutes away from San Diego, one of California’s best travel destinations.

For those who want a quick family vacation or a short excursion to escape the city stress, Poway is a recommended travel destination that is conveniently near California’s big cities.

There are plenty of exciting activities awaiting visitors in Poway, including outdoor, leisure, and entertainment.

So, what’s in store for you in Poway?

Here are the 15 best things to do in the city:

Take Stunning Photos at the Famous Potato Chip Rock

Daytime view of the unique Potato Chip Rock

Rob Atherton /

One of the most recommended natural attractions to visit in Southern California is the Potato Chip Rock, situated northeast of Poway in Ramona.

Many visitors hike for eight miles to reach this unique rock formation.

Potato Chip Rock is situated on the summit of Mount Woodson.

Tourists standing on Potato Chip Rock

chrisinphilly5448, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This rock formation is worth visiting since it resembles a potato chip; visitors can climb and walk through its edge and take photos.

More than 400,000 visitors climb Mount Woodson each year, most of them wanting to see Potato Chip Rock.

Suppose you want an adventurous start to your Poway vacation, head to Potato Chip Rock.

Mountain views from the edge of Potato Chip Rock

Explore Por Ai /

Catch a Show at the PowPac Community Theater

PowPac Community Theater along Poway Road in Poway is a fascinating place worth checking out for its top-notch performances.

The theatre features around 70 seats, providing the audience an intimate experience where they’ll witness a variety of shows from comedy, drama, suspense, musical, and children’s novelty.

In addition, the PowPac Community Theater has entertained people since the 1980s, contributing to the vibrant performing arts scene in San Diego County.

Don’t miss the chance to watch highly-entertaining shows at the PowPac Community Theater.

Take a Big Bite at the Hamburger Factory Family Restaurant

Exterior of Hamburger Factory Family Restaurant

Rosamar /

You know this restaurant’s name sounds enticing; if you get hungry roaming Poway, head straight to the Hamburger Factory Family Restaurant.

With a wide selection of burgers, sundaes, and other delicious menu items, you’ll find your perfect meal at this famous restaurant in Poway.

This restaurant is adjacent to Old Poway Park, a famous outdoor destination in the city.

After spending your morning or afternoon having fun at the park, dining at this restaurant is the best way to cap your day off.

Upon entering the restaurant, you’ll instantly feel its coziness and welcoming atmosphere while adoring its Old West-themed interior.

Don’t forget to order its signature hamburgers, which vary from half-pounder to quarter-pounder patties.

The Hamburger Factory Family Restaurant is along Midland Road in Poway.

Pour a Glass of Excellent Wine at Bernardo Winery

Bottles of Bernardo Winery wine

Dawn Damico /

The Bernardo Winery is one of the longest-running wineries in California.

This family-owned winery and vineyard has operated since 1889 and is currently run by the family’s third generation.

Whether you’re a wine connoisseur or an average tourist, visiting Bernardo Winery is an exceptional experience you shouldn’t miss.

You’ll see how one of California’s oldest wineries operates regularly, virtually sending you back in time.

This winery specializes in regional varietals such as Merlot, Syrah, Petite Syrah, Zindafel, and Sangiovese wines.

To complete your experience, head to its tasting room.

You can sample or even buy one of its signature wines while pairing it with the food from its delicious menu.

Bernardo Wines is situated along Paseo Del Verano Norte, San Diego.

Explore the Blue Sky Ecological Reserve

A beautiful lake at Blue Sky Ecological Reserve

Andy Konieczny /

The Blue Sky Ecological Reserve is a vast 700-acre natural area known for its vibrant flora and fauna.

This oak-lined canyon is surrounded by chaparral-covered hills and coastal sage scrubs, teeming with local wildlife and native plants.

Visiting this place is mesmerizing; many wildlife photographers or nature photographers frequent this area along Esploa Road in Poway.

As a nature lover, you shouldn’t miss visiting Blue Sky Ecological Reserve and appreciating its natural beauty.

A vibrant flower at Blue Sky Ecological Reserve

Stickpen, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Listen to songbirds chirping and feel the gentle breeze touch your skin while strolling its hillsides.

One of the most popular activities you can enjoy at the Blue Sky Ecological Reserve is hiking.

Of course, complete your journey with nature viewing and nature photography.

If you’re not comfortable exploring this natural attraction on your own, you can join guided hikes.

The green valley truck trail of Blue Sky Ecological Reserve

Andy Konieczny /

Have Fun at the Dos Picos County Park

Dos Picos Park in Ramona is a charming outdoor attraction popular for its amenities and sports facilities.

Situated along Dos Picos Park Road, this outdoor attraction’s name comes from the Spanish word for “Two Peaks,” after the two famous mountains nearby.

Dos Picos Park is secluded and less crowded than other parks.

The park is situated in an area surrounded by ranches and steep slopes.

It is ideal for a peaceful picnic or having fun with your travel buddies or loved ones.

Moreover, visitors can set up their tent and spend the night because it has numerous campsites, including hook-up sites for recreational vehicles.

In addition, it has numerous sports facilities such as soccer fields, horseshoe pits, and trails.

Besides sports, camping, and picnicking, people can enjoy wildlife viewing at the park, home to numerous animals.

Check Out the Kumeyaay-Ipai Interpretive Center

If you’re fascinated with Native American history, you should visit the Kumeyaay-Ipai Interpretive Center along Ipai Waaypuk Trail in Poway.

This interpretive center features the Native Americans who lived in the area before the Spanish settlers arrived.

The interpretive center features an archeological site.

Its where visitors can witness and even experience how Native Americans ground and milled their harvest back in the day.

The entire interpretive center covers five acres dedicated to preserving the historical value of the area, which was once a significant settlement of the Kumeyaay-Ipai peoples.

Whether you’re a history buff or a simple tourist in Poway, visiting the Kumeyaay-Ipai Interpretive Center is a fascinating experience you shouldn’t miss.

Stroll along the Old Poway Park

The beautiful water fountain of Old Poway Park

Rosamar /

The Old Poway Park is known for its meandering walkways along treelines and peaceful ambiance, making it an excellent place to unwind.

Situated in the heart of Poway, the Old Poway Park is one of the most accessible green open spaces in the city.

In addition, it’s also nearby most of the city’s best attractions.

Daytime view of the Poway Midland Railroad in Old Poway Park

Rosamar /

Poway’s locals love to spend their time at the Old Poway Park during weekends and enjoy riding the vintage steam locomotive of the Poway Midland Railroad.

Moreover, visitors can check out the Heritage Museum adjacent to the park and discover the city and San Diego County’s history.

The Old Poway Park becomes busier during weekends because of the markets and activities, making this place more exciting to visit.

Entrance of the Poway Heritage Museum in Old Poway Park

Rosamar /

Appreciate the Peaceful Atmosphere at Metate Meadows

If you’re looking for the most peaceful place in Poway, head to Metate Meadows along Metate Lane.

Many locals describe this natural area in Poway as the most peaceful place to have a picnic or hike.

Locals love to spend their mornings or afternoons in this natural area, hiking or jogging, while some bring their pet dog on a leash.

According to locals, this place becomes more vibrant during the warm summer months; many go there and enjoy a picnic with their loved ones.

So, don’t forget to include Metate Meadows on your list of Poway attractions that you need to visit.

Hike the Twin Peaks Trail

The Twin Peaks Trail features a 3.1-kilometer loop trail that offers hikers a moderately challenging but worthwhile experience.

Hikers and bikers frequent this famous trail on the foot of the Twin Peaks.

If you’re looking for a challenging outdoor adventure during your visit to Poway, check out the Twin Peaks Trail along Midland Road in Poway.

While hiking, you will experience a single track, steep fire road, and rock scrambling through its trail.

The Twin Peaks Trail offers a unique travel experience for everyone.

Get Active at the Lake Poway Recreation Area

Scenic view of Lake Poway Recreation Area's waters

Autumn Sky Photography /

The Lake Poway Recreation Area, situated on the hills of Poway, is not just the city’s main water supply but also a famous recreation area since the 1970s.

This outdoor attraction is famous for its fishing and boating activities, available all week long.

If you’re looking for water activities during your Poway travel adventure, don’t hesitate to visit the Lake Poway Recreation Area.

It has numerous boat ramps, boat rentals, picnic grounds, trails, and other park amenities.

The lake also teems with various fish species for anglers, making the fishing experience there extra exciting.

You can enjoy many exciting activities at the Lake Poway Recreation Area, so don’t miss this place when you’re in Poway.

Play Sports at the Community Park

Community Park is another outdoor attraction in the city that is fun to visit while you’re in Poway.

This park in Poway is one of the city’s most attractive parks.

It has a skate park, a baseball field, a playground, and a dog park.

In addition, everyone can also enjoy strolling through this half a mile loop trail.

Hiking or strolling through Community Park’s trail is relatively easy, making it an ideal place to bring in toddlers or even seniors.

Visiting this park is a satisfying experience you shouldn’t miss while traveling to Poway.

Rub Elbows with Locals at Poway Farmers’ Market

Vendors at Poway Farmers' Market

bonandbon /

One of the best experiences in Poway is visiting its Farmers’ Market along Midland Road.

At Poway Farmers’ Market, you won’t just enjoy buying the best local products but also get the chance to greet and even meet locals.

More than 60 local vendors display their products at the farmers’ market situated at Old Poway Park.

Tents at Poway Farmers' Market

bonandbon /

These vendors feature not just your typical fruits and vegetables.

They also sell coffee beans, tea, dips, sauces, baked goods, homemade treats, and pasta.

In contrast, some vendors sell freshly-cooked meals from Mexican to classic American comfort food.

It’s a fun-filled place you need to visit before returning from Poway.

People shopping for goods at Poway Farmers' Market

bonandbon /

Taste Excellent Wines at Mission Cellars

Mission Cellars is one of the best wineries in Poway.

Situated along Midland Road, Mission Cellars is an excellent place to taste top-notch wines from an independent urban winery in San Diego County.

Besides tasting different wine varieties, you’ll also experience a worthwhile tour around the entire winery and see how they make every bottle of wine.

If you want to add more winery tours during your Poway travel adventure, check out Mission Cellars and enjoy its unique experience.

Satisfy Your Cravings at the Brigantine Seafood Restaurant

One of the best reasons to visit Poway is its food.

One of the most popular restaurants Poway has is the Brigantine Seafood Restaurant at Creekside Plaza on Poway Road.

This local restaurant is also one of the most famous restaurants in Southern California because of its surf and turf menu and Sunday brunch.

Dining at this restaurant offers a wide selection of freshly harvested oysters, fish tacos, filet mignon, swordfish steak, lobsters, etc.

In addition, Brigantine Seafood Restaurant also serves local craft beers, cocktail drinks, and wine.

Aside from being a famous restaurant, the Brigantine is also one of the longest-operating restaurants in San Diego County, serving locals and tourists since 1969.

The chain then eventually grew to what it is today.

Final Thoughts

Poway offers a unique travel experience and a complete contrast to San Diego’s offerings.

Poway has a calmer environment compared to San Diego’s bustling scene.

However, both cities sit next to each other, making Poway a convenient alternative destination for those seeking a more peaceful travel experience.

Of course, Poway has more hidden gems to discover.

So, bookmark this post if you want an excellent start to your Poway travel adventure.

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