Blake Walsh

21 Best Things to Do in San Bernardino, CA

  • Published 2023/03/09

San Bernardino is a city in California located in the county seat of the same name.

It is part of the Inland Empire region in Southern California.

The city is named after an Italian priest Bernardino of Siena.

The city lies on the famous Route 66, which is one of the iconic roads in the country.

It is a beach city and has many attractions for visitors to the city.

San Bernardino is a happening place with plenty of things to do here.

To help you make your visit fruitful, here are the 21 best things to do in San Bernardino, California:

Drop by the McDonald’s Original Site

Exterior of McDonalds Original Site

Michael Gordon /

Everyone knows about McDonald’s, the biggest fast food group in the world.

You will probably find it challenging to find someone who has never tasted a McDonald’s burger.

Did you know that it was in San Bernardino that this famous company started?

McDonalds started as a barbecue restaurant in San Bernardino.

The iconic golden arches at McDonald's Original Site

Michael Gordon /

The building is still maintained as a museum on Route 66.

The museum is full of memorabilia featuring pictures of McDonalds cafes from across the world.

There are Ronald statues next to which you can pose and take pics.

There is also a ‘Hamburglar jail’ for a good photo opportunity.

Watch a Competition at SB Raceway

SB Raceway in San Bernardino is a premier destination for all things motorsport.

Whether you’re an experienced racer or just starting in the racing world, SB Raceway has something for everyone.

It hosts regular events throughout the year, such as open practice nights and special races like drift battles and head-to-head competitions.

The track features an impressive 1/4 mile drag strip with an all-concrete surface and state-of-the-art timing equipment to ensure accurate results.

In addition, infield road courses feature challenging turns and plenty of room for passing and maneuvering.

On top of all this, the facility also includes a cafe, snack stands, and a full-service maintenance shop to keep your car running smoothly.

Engage in Recreational Activities at San Bernardino National Forest

Lush greenery at San Bernardino National Forest

Gestalt Imagery /

One of the popular destinations in the city is the San Bernardino National Forest.

The forest spreads across 680,000 acres. It is spread across San Bernardino, San Gabriel, Santa Rosa, and San Jacinto mountains.

The national forest is a popular tourist attraction open throughout the year.

Visitors come from across the country for recreational activities.

Bonita falls at San Bernardino National Forest

Jamie S Richards /

Visitors can choose from any hiking trails to explore the natural beauty of the forest.

Visitors can picnic in the forest or stay overnight at the camping grounds.

Fishing, target shooting, and OHV riding are other activities in the forest.

A stream at San Bernardino National Forest

Mada_Cris /

Uncover History at Inland Empire Military Museum

Inland Empire Military Museum is a unique attraction for locals and tourists interested in learning about the rich history of military service.

The museum features artifacts from various wars and conflicts stretching back to the Revolutionary War.

It provides an excellent opportunity for visitors to get an up-close look at American military history.

Visitors can explore various exhibits, from weapons and uniforms to photographs and memorabilia from active-duty servicemen and women who have served the country for years.

Additionally, there is a library full of books on military history and interactive stations where visitors can learn more about different branches of the armed forces.

Inland Empire Military Museum also features educational programs for veterans or their families.

Visit the Rim of the World Scenic Byway

Daytime view of Rim of the World Scenic Byway

Andy Konieczny /

Rim of the World Scenic Byway is the gateway to the mountains from the city.

The Rim of the world route spans 110 miles and covers the rim of the San Bernardino Mountains.

It traverses from Cajon Pass to San Gorgonio Pass.

The popularity of the byway lies in the fact that it takes you through some of the most scenic routes.

View of a lake from Rim of the World Scenic Byway

Steve Lagreca /

It offers amazing panoramic views of the mountains, forests, and lakes.

The byway covers highways 18, 38, and 138 of California. It is open throughout the year.

During winter, the route receives snow, and you will need chains on your vehicle to go through this route.

It is a great route to escape the plains’ summer heat.

Savor Juicy Steaks at Claim Jumper Steakhouse & Bar

Claim Jumper Steakhouse & Bar in San Bernardino is a top-notch dining experience.

Its cozy atmosphere, delectable menu items, and friendly staff provide an unparalleled experience for casual diners and special occasion guests.

The restaurant’s extensive menu features steaks cooked to perfection, savory salads and sandwiches, pasta, fresh seafood options, and much more.

The meals are prepared using the freshest local farmers’ markets ingredients whenever possible.

Guests can also enjoy a full bar with signature cocktails, craft beers, and wines from around the world.

Attend theNational Orange Show Fair

Fun slide during the National Orange Show Fair

Gabe Martinez /

Every year in May, San Bernardino hosts the National Orange Show Fair.

The National Orange Show fairgrounds in the city is the venue of the festival.

As you would have guessed, the festival is a tribute to oranges and features a variety of citrus fruits grown in the area.

You can sample the tasty oranges and buy the ones you like at the festival.

The festival is a carnival that features a lot many attractions.

There are amusement park rides for both kids and adults.

There is a petting zoo with many kinds of animals. Games, classic cars, and even stunt performers are at this annual festival.

Discover Various Railway Facts atSan Bernardino History and Railroad Museum

Exterior of San Bernardino History and Railroad Museum

Ron Reiring, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The San Bernardino History and Railroad Museum is at San Bernardino Amtrak Station.

It is located in an old depot. The museum reveals many insights about the railroad industry and features memorabilia.

There are also old San Bernardino trains displayed in the museum.

A visit to this museum is a treat for railway fans.

A centralized traffic control unit used a century ago is also displayed and is one of the famous artifacts on display.

There is a buggy from 1910 and a fully restored handcar on display at the museum.

Antique clocks and horse-drawn buggies are also displayed at the museum.

There are photographs and historical documents also on display.

Admire the Surroundings at Shandin Hills Golf Club

Shandin Hills Golf Club is a great place to practice your golf game.

It boasts spectacular views of the surrounding hills and is worth a visit.

The exceptional Cary Bickler-designed world-class golf course at Shandin Hills Golf Club is the focal point of a first-rate daily-fee golf facility.

The championship course provides a challenging layout for experienced golfers and an enjoyable experience for beginners.

The fairways are lined by mature trees on each side, providing a beautiful setting, and the greens and tee boxes are well-maintained.

Shandin Hills Golf Club is open seven days a week for play, tournaments, anniversaries, banquets, and special events.

View the Exhibits at theRobert and Francis Fullerton Museum of Art

Robert and Francis Fullerton Museum of Art, which started in 1996, is located on the campus of California State University.

Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, the museum is one of the leading cultural centers in the region.

There are more than 1,200 objects of interest featured in the museum.

The biggest and most popular exhibits come from Egypt.

There are 500 artifacts on display that take visitors through 4,000 years of Egyptian history.

The museum opens its doors to school and college students and welcomes school trips. Corporate events, meetings, and social gatherings can be conducted at the museum’s campus.

There is an extensive permanent collection and visiting exhibitions in the 7,500 square feet museum.

Watch a Play at the California Theater of the Performing Arts

Exterior of California Theater of the Performing Arts

Photos BrianScantlebury /

The California Theater of the Performing Arts is a historic theater and one of the most well-known in the region.

It commenced operations in 1928, initially as a movie palace.

Subsequently, it was converted into a theater.

Thousands of plays, concerts, musicals, and theater shows have been conducted at this theater.

Marquee of California Theater of the Performing Arts

Photos BrianScantlebury /

Located on 4th Street in San Bernardino, the theater is the home of the San Bernardino Symphony.

The symphony performs regularly at the theater.

One of the attractions here is the Wurlitzer Organ, a unique musical instrument used on special occasions.

There are various national shows that are staged at the theater regularly.

Posters at California Theater of the Performing Arts

Photos BrianScantlebury /

Shop at Cardenas Markets

Cardenas Markets is a shopping experience with several convenient locations across the city.

It allows customers to explore a wide array of international flavors and ingredients.

From Latin American-inspired dishes to traditional Mexican staples, this market offers an incredible variety of food options.

The atmosphere inside Cardenas Markets is second to none, from brightly colored decorations lining the walls.

Aisles are filled with vibrant products all over Mexico and Latin America.

Customers will have no trouble finding all their favorite items, such as spices, produce, canned goods, and more!

Watch Baseball at San Manuel Stadium

Exterior of San Manuel Stadium

Spatms, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The premier stadium in the city, San Manuel Stadium is located in downtown San Bernardino.

The stadium is the home of the Minor League Baseball team of the city.

The stadium was inaugurated in 1996. Earlier the team used to operate from the Fiscalini field before they shifted here.

The stadium can seat up to 8,000 people allowing fans from across the region to enjoy the game.

The field of San Manuel Stadium

Scottthezombie, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The stadium has a huge scoreboard, one of the biggest in the California League.

Whether or not you are a baseball fan, you must stop by here to watch a game and soak in the atmosphere.

During particular games, the fireworks displays are the largest in the entire region.

ExploreGlen Helen Regional Park’s Amenities

The grounds of Glen Helen Regional Park

Johnwayne Stroud, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Glen Helen Regional Park is located northwest of the city’s central area.

It is just a 20-minute drive away from the downtown area.

The park has many amenities on offer for tourists.

It has the Glen Helen Amphitheater, one of the largest in the area, with a seating capacity of 65,000.

Motor races are also held at the amphitheater. Thousands of spectators fill the amphitheater to watch the pro and amateur races.

In the park is an aquatic center with a swimming pool and waterslides.

There is also a lake in the park where you can enjoy a swim. Disc golf is another activity at the park.

Experience Paragliding

Paragliding in San Bernardino

Jana Pivkova /

One of the attractions of San Bernardino is the paragliding activity.

If you are in the mood for adventure, you can try out the exciting paragliding activity.

The paragliding is done over the mountains of San Bernardino, and you can look forward to an exhilarating experience.

Enjoy the view of the mountains, forest, and city as you glide over the outskirts of the city.

Paragliding over San Bernardino

Jana Pivkova /

There are several service providers who offer paragliding.

You will find different agencies here offering their services.

They have trained instructors on hand to guide you through the session.

You can even get lessons from them. Paragliding is not an adrenaline-boosting activity but a pleasurable and adventurous one that is quite relaxing.

Grab a Pizza atBJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse

San Bernardino offers several dining options for visitors.

One of the top-rated eateries in the city is BJ’s Restaurant and brewhouse.

Located on East Harriman Place, the restaurant has tables outdoors under tents.

It is open from 11:00 am to 11:00 pm every day and serves snacks, meals, and craft beer.

The Deep dish pizza is the signature dish of the restaurant and must be tried.

The restaurant is also famous for its beer dinner that includes seasonal ales.

There are vegetarian and gluten-free meals also on offer for customers.

Some popular dishes to try out here are sweet potato fries, Margarita flatbread, Grilled chicken Alfredo, Hot ham and cheese, Jumbo spaghetti with meatballs, and Chocolate chunk pizookie.

Walk through theSanta Ana River Trail

Sunset at Santa Ana River Trail

sean ehrke /

The Santa Ana River has a trail that stretches for a long distance.

It is over thirty miles long and runs from the Pacific Ocean to Riverside County.

It is a designated national recreational trail.

The trail is meant for multi-use, and you will see bikers and joggers both using the trail to get a good workout.

It is planned to extend the trail until Big Bear Lake.

There are parking places available throughout the trail.

This is helpful for tourists who can join the trail at any point of their choice.

They can park their vehicles and explore the beautiful trail.

Dine at Alfredo’s Pizza and Pasta

After a day of hectic sightseeing, if you are in the mood for Italian, you can drop into Alfredo’s for some genuine Italian food.

The restaurant has been serving the people of San Bernardino since 1979 and is a local favorite.

The family-owned restaurant is known for its authentic recipes made using locally sourced ingredients.

Located on West Baseline in the city, Alfredo’s is open on all days of the week from 11:30 am to 8:00 pm.

The homemade garlic butter that they serve is a hot favorite.

Some popular items on their menu are the Baked ziti, Alfredo’s 3-way combo, Fettuccini Alfredo, Chicken Parmiagna, and Baked Tortellini.

Tour the Norton Air Force Base Museum

The Norton Air Force Base Museum is a tribute to the air force base operational in the city from 1942 to 1994.

It is named after Leland Norton, a World War II captain who preferred to perish in his place so his crew members could bail out successfully.

In 2013, the air force base that was closed down was converted into a museum.

It is located on 3rd Street in San Bernardino and is open from 10 am to 2 pm on Thursdays and Saturdays.

The museum has memorabilia and photographs of aircraft and military personnel who worked at the base.

It is possible to get a guided tour to understand the history of the air force base.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Take a Dip at Deep Creek Hot Springs

Waters of Deep Creek Hot Springs

Tom Ha /

The Deep Creek Hot Springs is located in the San Bernardino National Forest.

It is in the Deep Creek drainage. Access is through private property, and an entry fee is charged.

Another route involves a 6-mile hike from Arrowhead Lake road.

The natural hot springs are an attraction and allow visitors to bathe in refreshing, hot water.

A person swimming on Deep Creek Hot Springs

Tom Ha /

It is a great way to spend a relaxing time with your family or friends.

It must be noted that it is strongly advised not to drink the water in the hot springs due to the presence of bacteria that can cause disease.

Visitors should not submerge their heads in the water.

Apart from the thermal springs, there is a vast diversity of plant life to be found here.

Aerial view of Deep Creek Hot Springs

Tom Ha /

Go Skiing atBig Bear Lake

Scenic view of Big Bear Lake

johnny promprai /

Big Bear Lake is located within the San Bernardino national forest.

It is a mountain retreat that is open throughout the year.

Being a popular tourist destination, the area has many hotels and cabins for visitors to stay.

Skiing and snowboarding are popular activities during the winter when it snows here.

During summers, you can enjoy hiking, mountain biking, fishing, and other activities.

The Big Bear Lake has a number of activities for tourists to enjoy.

There is wakeboarding, paddle boarding, water skiing, jet skiing, and pontoon boating available on the lake.

You can even take up kayaking. You can rent boats here and even take up water sports lessons from trained instructors.

Final Thoughts

Take some time to explore this wonderful city and experience all the best San Bernardino offers.

Whether you are looking to explore the local history or spend time in nature, there are plenty of activities.

From hiking to visiting museums and taking a tour of historical attractions, this city has no shortage of remarkable experiences.

Try out the list of the best things to do in San Bernardino for an unforgettable journey.

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