Blake Walsh

15 Free Things to Do in Pomona, CA

  • Published 2022/12/14

Pomona is a beautiful city tucked at the eastern edge of Los Angeles County, California.

It sits in the Pomona Valley, between the San Gabriel Valley and the Inland Empire.

Pomona was known as an “urban garden” in the early 1800s, and the city was later named after the Roman goddess of fruit, “Pomona.”

It was incorporated as a city in 1888.

Now, it’s the county’s seventh largest city, with over 151,000 population based on the 2020 census.

The city is home to the renowned California State Polytechnic University Pomona or Cal Poly Pomona and many attractions for visitors and residents alike.

If you want to enjoy Pomona’s historical, natural, and recreational treasures but are on a tight budget, fret not because the great city has everything you need.

Read on to discover the free things to do in Pomona, California.

Explore Motorsports at Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum

Exterior of the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum

Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum is the perfect place for automobile lovers and motorheads like you and the kids who’re into cars.

In 1998, Wally Parks founded the museum committed to celebrating the influence of motorsports on American culture.

It has a stunning array of historical racing vehicles, artifacts, paintings, photographs, helmets, driving uniforms, and other memorabilia related to hot rodding.

Interior of the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum

Omar Bárcena, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Exhibits include the Bob McClung helmet and photo collection, the first dragster to reach over 300 miles per hour, and one of A.J. Foyt’s Coyote Indy Cars.

You can find the displays in a 28,500-square-foot building on the grounds of the Fairplex.

The Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum is a National Hot Rod Association museum and hosts various exciting events you should catch up on.

Marvel at the Historic Trains at the RailGiants Train Museum

Located on the grounds of the Fairplex, the RailGiants Train Museum is your ultimate resort for traveling back in time to the heydays of the American Railroad.

Thanks to the Railway and Locomotive Historical Society’s Southern California Chapter, which manages this railroad museum of historic trains.

The museum features a marvelous collection of railroad-related exhibits, some of which are the country’s most well-preserved locomotives.

These include two three-cylinder steam locomotives and a Union Pacific “Centennial,” the largest diesel locomotive.

You can also see the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway, built in 1887 in a gingerbread-type architecture.

RailGiants Train Museum is free and open to the public on the weekend of each month except in May.

Moreover, you can enjoy browsing the archives of its library and unique items at its gift shop.

Check Out the Impressive Artworks at the Latino Art Museum

For a taste of art, why not head over to the Latino Art Museum?

This art gallery showcases the unique talents of contemporary Latin American artists in the Pomona area.

Take a tour of this museum and see its growing monthly themed exhibitions and permanent collections.

There’s always something fresh to expect and appreciate since its galleries often rotate with an array of awe-inspiring exhibits.

You can also take an art class and workshop if you are interested in making your masterpiece.

The Latino Art Museum is on South Thomas Street in the heart of Downtown Pomona.

Join the 2nd Saturday Art Walk

Feast your eyes on notable works of art during the free 2nd Saturday Art Walk in Downtown Pomona.

This event happens every second Saturday of the month, gathering many people on the streets.

Some attractions during the 2nd Saturday Art Walk include galleries featuring local artists with their exhibits, a farmers’ market, live music, food vendors, artisan crafts, and more.

Marvel at the diverse array of top-notch quality artwork, jewelry, fiber, ceramics, mixed media, painting, photography, and more.

Many restaurants, shops, and studios are also open late.

Bring your family and friends to feel the lively community and enjoy what the event brings.

Browse Antiques at the Downtown Collectors Street Faire

The popular Downtown Collectors Street Faire melds a flea market and festival.

The famous Antique Row on Second Street hosts this free event on the last Saturday of January, March, May, September, and November.

Stroll through the streets and have fun browsing a plethora of vintage and historical things, including lamps, furniture, art pieces, rare treasures, toys, and more.

Aside from these, these particular Saturdays also offer live music and food concession stands, bringing you a unique vibe.

If you’re up for treasure hunting, mark your calendar and find something valuable with your friends when the Downtown Collectors Street Faire takes place.

View the Exhibits at the African American Museum of Beginnings

The African American Museum of Beginnings is the best in Pomona to learn about the history, culture, and arts of Africans and African Americans.

Thanks to the exhibits, programs, and community events of the museum founded in 2011 by Khalif and Victoria Rasshan, former educators in the district.

Nestled on the east side of Pomona, the self-funded community museum houses phenomenal exhibits focusing on four major topics.

These are Ancient and Classical Africa, Maafa and Resistance, The Contemporary African American, and Local History.

When you visit the African American Museum of Beginnings, you’ll always find something gripping, from authentic African artifacts to fine arts.

Besides an admissions-free museum, plenty of free parking is available here.

Browse the Exhibits at the Kellogg University Art Gallery

The W. Keith & Janet Kellogg University Art Gallery, or the Kellogg University Art Gallery, deserves a visit.

It boasts an exhibition space of around 4,000 square feet.

Italian architect and designer Ettore Sottsass’ The Gates and Black Marble Columns with Lintel are featured in the entry courtyard.

Check out Ink & Clay, a widely acknowledged, national, annual juried exhibition or competition established in 1971.

See the works of talented faculty and students from the Department of Art exhibited at the gallery.

Likewise, you can see more captivating contemporary art exhibits in various times and contexts that will wow you.

Since it is free and open to the public, visit the Kellogg University Art Gallery on the Cal Poly Pomona campus anytime.

Appreciate the Historic Beauty of Lincoln Park Historic District

A building at Lincoln Park Historic District

JERRYE & ROY KLOTZ, M.D., CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You’ll quickly notice Lincoln Park Historic District’s small circular shape featuring grassy fields, shaded areas from trees, and a rose garden at the center.

It has picnic tables, paved walkways, and a children’s playground.

The park is in Lincoln Park Historic District, a neighborhood with 821 historic structures, mostly single-family homes from the 1880s to 1945.

The homes in the historic district also include Craftsman, Victorian, Spanish or Mediterranean, Tudor, and various transitional styles.

Signage of Lincoln Park Historic District

Cemachinla, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The district also derived its name from Lincoln Park, the neighborhood park situated within the area.

Enjoy your time at Lincoln Park, admire its beautiful landscapes, and meet the humble community in the historic district.

Lincoln Park Historic District is on the National Register of Historic Places.

A church at Lincoln Park Historic District

JERRYE & ROY KLOTZ, M.D., CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Catch a Concert at Ganesha Park

Ganesha Park, situated on North White Avenue, features plenty of facilities and amenities for recreation, arts, sports, and health and fitness.

These include tennis courts, basketball courts, softball fields, swimming pools, picnic areas, a skatepark, walking trails, and lots of trees and shade.

Besides these, there’s also a community center, a children’s playground, an amphitheater, and a hiking trail up the nearby mountain.

In addition, the G. Stanton Selby Bandshell at Ganesha Park is the venue of the summer concert series presented by the Pomona Concert Band.

It occurs in July each year, and all performances are free to the public, so watch with your family and friends.

Unwind at Country Crossing Park

Country Crossing Park is one of the great places to find if you want to take a short break from the busyness of daily life.

Situated near the slopes of Ranch Hill along Village Loop Road, the park has some features you need for relaxation.

You can watch the children frolicking on the playground, playing soccer on the field, or taking a stroll on the walking trail.

Otherwise, relax on the green grass in the shaded area provided by trees, breathe fresh air, and admire the scenic landscape of the park.

Country Crossing Park’s relaxing and serene atmosphere helps you achieve peace of mind and spend a quiet afternoon alone with nature.

Enjoy an Evening Out at Movies in the Park

Do you enjoy a movie under the night sky and stars?

Check out the summer dates of the Movies in the Park presented by the City of Pomona and Day One.

Movies in the Park is a family-friendly event where you can enjoy watching movies with your family, friends, and the community in one place.

You might want to come earlier to catch the spectacular colors of the sky at sunset, which is when the movies usually start.

This event occurs in many Pomona parks, including Garfield Park, Ralph Welch Park, Jaycee Park, Westmont Park, and Ganesha Park.

Don’t forget to bring your kids, your blankets, lawn chairs, and some snacks to enjoy the unique movie experience.

Let the Kellogg House’s Beauty Enchant You

You can’t go wrong with the charm and elegance of the Kellogg House on the Cal Poly Pomona campus.

Built in 1926, this historical ranch-style estate had been used as a West Coast retreat of the prominent American industrialist and philanthropist W.K. Kellogg.

It was initially designed for his eldest son Karl and his family.

This iconic mansion lies atop a tree-shrouded hill on the northern part of the campus to make the most of the beautiful Pomona Valley scenery.

Many celebrities used to visit Kellogg House, including Loretta Young, Gary Cooper, and former American president Ronald Regan.

To fully immerse in the mansion’s glamour, take a free self-guided tour of Kellogg House.

Its Historical Open House is free to the public on the first Sunday of every month, from October to April, from noon to 2:00 p.m.

Go Window Shopping at the Valley Indoor Swap Meet

The Valley Indoor Swap Meet is one of your go-to shopping destinations in Pomona.

It features hundreds of retail stores offering various products and services, including apparel, shoes, accessories, fresh flowers, furniture, housewares, and many more.

Feel free to walk around, making most of your time window shopping with your family or friends.

There’s so much to entertain yourself here in any season.

If you get hungry, there are eateries at this shopping mall.

Also, keep yourself informed on its upcoming free fun events like live entertainment, giveaways, and activities for the kids.

If you’re in the mood for window shopping at the Valley Indoor Swap Meet, you can locate it on East Holt Boulevard.

Check Out Art Exhibits at the dA Center for the Arts

Stop by the dA Center for the Arts when you happen to be in the Downtown Pomona Arts Colony.

Founded as the dA Studio in 1979, it became the dA Center for the Arts, a nonprofit organization, in 1984.

Since then, it has become an art haven for artists with community-based programs.

The dA Center for the Arts is one of the best places in the city to experience, admire, and support the arts.

Since it offers free admission to all visitors, visit this spot to see its current art exhibitions.

Some of its past exhibitions include the Youth Voices of Our Future Exhibition, Sanctuary Art Exhibit, and TA dA Exhibit.

If you’re an art enthusiast, you’d love one of its successful exhibitions, the annual Aztlán Exhibition, which began in 2003.

If you thirst more for art, you may join the center’s exciting activities, classes, and programs.

Explore Downtown Pomona Arts Colony

Entryway of Downtown Pomona Arts Colony

The Image Party /

Take your time strolling around the Downtown Pomona Arts Colony and discover what it offers.

This historic neighborhood is the place to visit for vintage items, excellent food, great music, local art, and more.

Creative arts, commerce, education, and urban living come together at Pomona Arts Colony.

Apart from its name, you can tell that this place in Pomona is rich in arts through its beautiful buildings, galleries, music venues, festivals, events, and community.

In 1994, Pomona officially declared that more than a dozen downtown blocks were portioned to be the Pomona Arts Colony.

Don’t forget to bring your family and friends and take snapshots of your moments while exploring and treasuring the Downtown Pomona Arts Colony.

Final Thoughts

The vibrant city of Pomona offers plenty of things to do that come with low admission prices or no charge at all.

From laid-back parks and fascinating museums to local arts and family-friendly events, you’ll enjoy the city’s gems with family or friends.

When you’re on a budget but crave a fun trip, you might want to add these free things to do in Pomona, California, to your itinerary.

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