San Bernardino is perhaps most famous for lying along Route 66, probably one of the most iconic roads in the entire world.
The city is so indebted to the road, that there is even an annual festival held in its honor, although is by no means the only thing happening in San Bernardino.
The city is lucky to be blessed by an abundance of natural beauty, and sits at the base of the magnificent Southern California mountain ranges, while also being close to the equally iconic and sometimes fear inducing Mojave Desert.
San Bernardino is also the second largest city in the Inland Empire region, and due to its size, it is full of attractions.
Just some of these include nine regional parks that encompass almost 10,000 acres of land, as well as historical gems and educational facilities like museums.
Lets explore the best things to do in San Bernardino:
1. National Orange Show Festival
If you happen to be in San Bernardino in May, then make sure to check out the National Orange Show Festival which takes place at the National Orange Show Fairgrounds in the city.
The festival is not just an ode to oranges, but rather a carnival of sorts with amusement park rides, games, booths, a petting zoo, and shows that include classic cars and even BMX stunt performers.
In keeping with the name, you will find oranges here, as these citrus fruits played a big part in the farming industry in San Bernardino, and are one of the reasons for the growth of this city.
As such, make sure that you don’t miss the chance to sample some while you enjoy the rest of the festivities.
2. The Robert and Frances Fullerton Museum of Art
Located on the San Bernardino campus of the California State University, the Robert and Frances Fullerton Museum of Art is a museum that showcases some amazing art from Asia, African, and the Middle East.
The museum is most well known for its Egyptian artifacts which include ancient jewelry as well as coffin lids and mummy boards, and there are also statues and ceramic objects like intricate figurines.
You will also find African and Asian arts and ceramic pieces here and the best part of all is that the museum is free to visit.
3. The San Bernardino History and Railroad Museum
The San Bernardino History and Railroad Museum is housed within an old Santa Fe Depot that dates from 1918 and is now used by Amtrak and Metrolink passengers.
The museum is a fascinating look into the railroad industry in San Bernardino and has a huge amount of historical memorabilia including period vehicles.
Some of these include a fire department wagon from 1890 as well as a horse drawn carriage that dates from the 19th century.
There are also other exciting exhibits here such as model trains and a replica of a train station from 1910. You will also find photographs, historical documents, and other antique items on display.
4. San Manuel Stadium
San Manuel Stadium is the home of the Inland Empire 66ers who are a minor league baseball team in San Bernardino.
The stadium regularly schedules games here and there are also events like firework displays and hot dog nights if you want to get a glimpse of some all-American culture.
There is a Fun Zone here where children can play that has a range of attractions such as obstacle courses and bouncy castles, and is perfect for adults who want to focus on watching a game here.
The season last from April until September, so if you are in the area at this time then don’t miss the chance to see the 66ers in action.
5. Glen Helen Regional Park
The Glen Helen Regional Park sprawls across 1,340 acres of land and is primarily best known for its water features.
The park lies in the Cajon Pass between the mighty San Bernardino and the San Gabriel Mountains, and as such you will be surrounded by amazing natural beauty on all sides.
The park itself has a lagoon and waterslides, as well as a zero-depth water playground for everyone to enjoy.
There are also two lakes here where you can fish for an array of local species including bass, trout, and catfish.
If you prefer to stay away from the water, the park also houses the San Manual Amphitheater which has an impressive capacity of 65,000 spectators and hosts a huge range of concerts throughout the year.
6. California Theatre of the Performing Arts
If you want to take in some art and culture while you are in San Bernardino then look no further than the California Theater of the Performing Arts.
The company here stages a huge selection of thrilling shows throughout the year that include musical pieces, Broadway plays, classical concerts, dance recitals, and even children’s theater.
All shows are housed in the theater that dates back to 1928 and is a historical gem in itself own right, and began as a vaudevillian theater in the days of old.
The theater also includes a Mighty Wurlitzer Organ, and it is worth coming here just to see this historical treasure in action.
7. Perris Hill Park
Perris Hill Park is one of the best loved parks in San Bernardino and is known for covering an impressive 64 acres of grasslands and rolling hills.
One of the best activities at the park comes in the form of barbecue, as there are a huge number of barbecue pits, where you can bring a picnic and cook your own food as you take in the local scenery.
In addition to the picnic areas you will also find playgrounds for younger visitors as well as a baseball diamond and tennis courts if you fancy getting some exercise.
There is also a swimming pool and an amphitheater that regularly features live music events.
8. James and Aerianthi Coussoulis Arena
Nestled on the campus of the University of California in San Bernardino is the James and Aerianthi Coussoulis Arena which is the place to come if you want to catch either a basketball or volleyball game, as both the college men’s and women’s teams play here.
The arena has a capacity of 5,000 spectators and as well as sporting events there are often musical concerts, ice skating shows, and a whole host of other events held here.
Just make sure to check what’s on when you are in town.
9. Blair Park
Blair Park encompasses 34 acres in San Bernardino and is a great place to come to take in the natural beauty of the area.
There is a walking track and fitness trail located in the park where you can go for a stroll and also enjoy the great outdoors in this gorgeous part of California.
For something a little mellower you can enjoy picnic areas where you can relax with a bite to eat.
10. Route 66 Rendezvous
San Bernardino is famous for its location along the classic Route 66 and with that in mind you can help to celebrate its illustrious history at the Route 66 Rendezvous Festival.
The Route 66 Rendezvous features live entertainment such as musical performances and dancing, and there are street food vendors aplenty selling delicious bites from all around the region.
Classic cars drive down the streets to celebrate this famous road, and the whole of the city enjoys the party.
11. San Bernardino Raceway
If you are something of an adrenalin junkie then don’t miss the chance to come to the San Bernardino Raceway for a spin around the indoor track.
At the raceway you will get to go out in your own go-kart and race to your heart’s content, and there are both time trials or you can race against other players to see who is the fastest.
The karts used here are gas powered Sodi RT8 karts which are said to be easier to used than classic electric karts, so even if you are a racing novice, you can easily learn the ropes and be speeding in no time.
12. WBC Legends of Boxing Museum
Situated at the American Sports University in San Bernardino is the WBC Legends of Boxing Museum which was established in order to honor some of the greatest figures in boxing.
The motto inscribed here is “Great fighters may retire, but their greatness loves on forever”, and if you are a sporting fan then this is not to be missed.
The museum has a range of attractions that tell the stories of some of the most important boxers of all time and there are photographs and interactive galleries here.
13. McDonald’s Museum
Many visitors to San Bernardino won’t know that in 1940 Dick and Mac McDonald opened a restaurant here that was called McDonald’s Barbecue Restaurant.
Needless to say, this grew into the chain of fast food joints known as McDonald’s that have stretched around the globe, but you can still visit the site of the original restaurant from all those years ago.
Here you will find period memorabilia such as the first forms of McDonald’s packaging and prototypes for their products.
You can also get a tour with a friendly docent who will tell you all about the history of this famous brand.
14. Arrowhead Springs Hotel and Spa
The Arrowhead Springs Hotel and Spa is known for covering almost 2,000 acres of land and is located at a significant spot at the base of the Arrowhead geological monument in San Bernardino Valley.
The resort is known for its hot springs which were considered sacred to the indigenous Native Americans who first lived here and were revered thanks to the mineral properties contained in the waters.
The resort has continued to keep up this tradition of medicinal bathing, and if you come here you can still find mineral baths and steam caves.
15. The San Bernardino Downtown Farmers Market
The Downtown Farmers Market is held once a week in the historic downtown area of San Bernardino and comprises local vendors who come here to sell their wares and to promote the local produce from this part of California.
If you are looking to sample some local bites from the region then this is a great place to come, and you can find famous produce such as San Bernardino oranges and other citrus fruits for which the city is best known.