Lancaster offers a thrilling adventure full of tradition and natural charm in Los Angeles County, California.
This city is a fresh burst of color within the Antelope Valley of the Mojave Desert.
Before becoming famous for its expansive display of poppies during spring, Lancaster was once a railroad city.
It developed because of the Southern Pacific Railroad, completed in 1876.
In 1890, this city, also known as the Heart of Antelope Valley, thrived because of the wheat and barley industry boom.
Now, if you happen to come by Lancaster, you'll find yourself treated to an enjoyable time with its array of indoor and outdoor recreation.
Its astounding landscapes and sweeping views of the California skyline add to its travel appeal.
Here are the free things to do in Lancaster, California, to help you plan a budget-friendly trip.
Relax amid Nature at Arthur B. Ripley Desert Woodland State Park
Priding itself in its abundance of native Joshuas and junipers, Arthur B. Ripley Desert Woodland State Park makes it to this list because of its magical forest experience.
This state park was donated by a man named Arthur Ripley in 1988.
Most of the valley had succumbed to modernity after serving as farming and housing grounds.
Did you know that the native Joshua trees in the park are also tied to Antelope Valley's history?
This plant was food for the Native Americans who lived there before the Europeans arrived.
You can hike across the trails at this vast park and see the junipers and Joshua trees bloom all over the place.
Admissions are free, so you have all the time to explore nature at its peak beauty.
If you're ready to commune with nature in Arthur B. Ripley Desert Woodland State Park, head to 205th Street West.
Drive along the Musical Road
One of Lancaster's most charming tourist attractions is the Musical Road on Avenue G.
In Lancaster, a musical road plays the William Tell Overture finale when you drive down the lane.
However, you must drive at 55mph directly down the left lane between 30th and 40th Streets West.
This road started as a Honda TV stunt; it's the first musical road in the country.
The company dug intermittent grooves onto the road that replicated rumble strips in highways, highlighting the city's Lone Ranger moment.
The Musical Road in Lancaster proves that this city's best surprises can come even while driving to your next destination.
Go Sightseeing around the BLVD
If you want to explore Lancaster on foot, it's best to start at The BLVD.
This downtown district, the heart of the Antelope Valley, featured a historical yet modern appeal to its architecture.
Designed by the firm Moule & Polyzoides, the BLVD was transformed in 2010, showing tremendous results.
With over 40 new businesses flocking to the area since its renovation, this center radiates a lively and upbeat atmosphere.
Start your food adventure to the BLVD with a visit to some household names, like Katz N' Jammers and Olives Mediterranean Café.
For a bit of shopping, Mom Boss Boutique and Pretty Little Poppy Marketplace are only some of the most famous apparel boutiques.
Other unusual shops lurk around that may pique your interest.
Head over to Lancaster Boulevard between 10th Street West & Sierra Highway to get in on the fun!
Grill Barbecues at Apollo Community Regional Park
Dedicated in 1972, Apollo Community Regional Park spans over 54 acres.
This park, named after the Apollo 11 astronauts, is a relaxing spot for those needing a break from the metropolitan buzz.
It also featured three artificial lakes, the meeting venues for the park's annual fishing derbies.
Walking paths line the lake, offering a leisurely and chilling atmosphere as you take in the warm sea breeze.
If you feel famished after exploring Lancaster, find your spot in the picnic shelters for a quick bite.
Your little ones will also find Apollo Community Regional Park stimulating with its array of playground equipment.
Head over to West Avenue G to find this natural park area.
Bring Your Kids to Sgt. Steve Owen Memorial Park
The tree-lined Sgt. Steve Owen Memorial Park has tons of recreational activities you can do, and admission is free!
This park on 10th Street West is a known venue for many community events in Lancaster.
Beyond events, it's also a laidback open area that extends to over 63 acres.
In 2016, the park officially adopted its current name to honor Sgt. Steve Owen, who sacrificed his life in the line of duty.
His devotion to his family and supporting local community events, including sports programs, earned him enough renown to have a park named after him.
Other amenities in this park include eight tennis courts and a great activity center with an auditorium and a game room.
For your kids' enjoyment, there are playground equipment and boulders they can climb on and enjoy.
Sgt. Steve Owen Memorial Park has your back for an afternoon well spent!
Admire the Flowers at Prime Desert Woodland Preserve
On 35th Street West, Prime Desert Woodland Preserve stands out from the urban community as a refuge for flora and fauna.
In 1985, this nature preserve opened; with enough effort from many residents, it soon became a popular tourist spot.
You will find yourself surrounded by fresh woodland, various trees, and other shrubbery on its trails.
Learn more about animals and their habitats through the informative stands erected in your journey.
The best time to visit Prime Desert Woodland Preserve is winter when the lands are white with snow.
Take Your Dog for a Walk at Forrest E. Hull Park
It's time to explore the neighborhood of West Avenue.
Within this lovely vicinity, you can come across Forrest E. Hull Park.
This local park features a vast expanse of lawns and a separate fenced area for dogs and their entertainment.
This is why this is the go-to spot for travelers who bring their furry loved ones to Lancaster.
Paved trails go around the park, serving as ideal walkways for jogging and running.
Forrest E. Hull Park also has a playground for your children's best interests.
At the grassy fields, lay out a blanket and set up a picnic for you and your loved one's most intimate date.
Check Out Historical Artifacts at the Western Hotel Museum
On West Lancaster Boulevard, The Western Hotel Museum is a testament to Lancaster's old days.
As the oldest standing building in the community, this museum holds a variety of artifacts and relics of the Antelope Valley heritage.
One such important relic is one of Myrtie Webber, who inspired the establishment of the Western Hotel Museum.
You can see a framed portrait and a bust of Myrtie in the hotel museum.
Other memorabilia you can check include kitchenware, living room decor, and an old map of Antelope Valley.
Go Window Shopping at Sol Plaza Boutique Mall
As the only indoor shopping center in Lancaster, Sol Plaza Boutique Mall is one stop you should never miss in your itinerary.
While most of the attractions in this list pertain to history, this one tells of Lancaster's art and entertainment scene.
With various indoor boutiques and shops to explore and get lost in, it's easy to spend many hours in the area.
Bring the whole family and make it a bonding experience with a visit to the karaoke center or a joined hair salon adventure.
Buy a gift for someone or yourself while at Sol Plaza Boutique Mall.
Adventure awaits in every corner of this well-loved city, and this mall is only the beginning.
See the Displays at Antelope Valley Rural Museum
Do you still have room in your itinerary for a historical excursion?
Located on West Avenue H, Antelope Valley Rural Museum highlights the legacy of the place it's named after.
Formed in 2009, this non-profit organization has collected artifacts and documents about that legacy.
Its Rural Olympics Hall of Fame exhibit lists some of the most notable people in the community who have helped with the success of Rural Olympics.
Another outstanding event is the Community Queens.
This is an annual program that selects a woman to be Miss Antelope Valley, who will then lead her members of the community queens.
Walking past the halls of Antelope Valley Rural Museum, you'll find ancient machinery and industrial equipment, too!
It will be a historical trip unlike any other at this museum.
Ride on Your Bike at Sierra Highway Bike Trail
If you're looking for an outdoor adventure that joins physical activity and natural relaxation, go for a ride at Sierra Highway Bike Trail.
This 7.1-mile trail exposes you to desert landscapes and great roadside poppies.
Running between Metrolink rail tracks and the Sierra Highway, it connects Palmdale and Lancaster in one flat concrete ride ahead.
There are benches where you can sit for a break or enjoy the scenery.
Don't forget to bring water to Sierra Highway Bike Trail during summer, as the blistering heat will make you thirsty quickly.
Are you ready with your bike helmet and gear?
Discover Plant and Animal History at the Elyze Clifford Interpretive Center
The Elyze Clifford Interpretive Center blends your recreational break with an educational journey.
Established in 1992, this nature preserve situated in Prime Desert Woodland Preserve offers a more immersive experience to your traditional learning excursion.
While learning about flora, fauna, and historical figures, among many others, you can also sign up for workshops and other hands-on programs.
Onsite, there's a library and reading area for your little ones.
A touch table is also open for those who want to immerse themselves fully in viewing genuine animal hides and antlers.
The Elyze Clifford Interpretive Center on 35th Street West will show you exciting facts about Antelope Valley's colorful landscape and wildlife.
Join the Festivities at the Antelope Valley Walls Festival
Lancaster's community tradition has celebrated local art and murals for over four years.
The Antelope Valley Walls Festival is an art festival that brings artists together to work on city walls to create eye-catching murals.
Previously known as POW!WOW! Antelope Valley, it's an international endeavor that seeks to make art installations a hit within communities and neighborhoods.
Discover the completed art murals and marvel at the artistry.
Antelope Valley Walls Festival happens every two years in September on the streets of Lancaster Boulevard.
Other Things to Do Nearby
If you've already toured Lancaster's best free spots, below are some more places you should visit within a half-hour distance from the city.
Learn about Historical Aircraft at Joe Davies Heritage Airpark
The Joe Davies Heritage Airpark is in Palmdale, California, 13 minutes from Lancaster.
This family-friendly park specializes in showcasing retired military aircraft within one center.
From bombers to jets, the aircraft collection onsite is expansive enough for you to wander and exercise while moving from one displayed model to another.
It's a great place to come by alone, with a partner, with your family, or with a large group of friends.
Joe Davies Heritage Airpark is on East Avenue, approximately 15 minutes from Lancaster's downtown area.
Take a Picture of the Rose Garden at Poncitlán Square
In the neighboring city of Palmdale, only 12 minutes away from Lancaster, Poncitlán Square stands out among many of its tourist spots because of its intimate environment.
This civic center square is between the City Hall and the City Courthouse.
So, it's a convenient location in downtown Palmdale, precisely on 19th Street East.
Moreover, this area is a go-to spot for community events because of its two-acre desert-tolerant landscaping.
Within the square is a war monument with a 100-foot flagpole and a pavilion with a beautiful patio area.
Admire Poncitlán Square's rose garden, and take a few pictures here and there to capture your moment.
Lancaster's growing tourism is a result, in part, of the city's abundance of picturesque locations.
These spots are even more tourist-worthy because they're free and open to the public!
Add this city to your itinerary to enjoy California without burning a hole in your pocket.
Don't forget to save this post on the free things to do in Lancaster, California, to help you explore the city on a budget!