Often described as the city in the country, Poway offers visitors the best of both worlds with its big-city amenities and wide open green spaces.
The city, situated in San Diego County, has an estimated population of 50,000 and is only a half-hour drive from downtown San Diego.
In Poway, fishing and hiking are popular activities and there are many parks, restaurants and shopping areas, such as Poway Plaza Shopping Center, Poway Promenade, and Creekside Plaza.
Many events and festivals take place in Poway throughout the year, including the Poway Americana Festival and the Poway Winter Festival.
Below are 15 of the best things to do in and around Poway, California.
1. Hang Out at Old Poway Park
Old Poway Park is one of the most popular community parks in the city and offers many things to see and do. If you’re looking for a place to have a picnic or just relax on a warm, sunny day, there’s plenty of wide-open green space in this park to do just that.
If you have a more active day in mind, a series of hiking trails pass through the park and a farmers’ market takes place once a week.
The Poway Midland Railroad is a full-size, narrow-gauge railroad and antique cable car that takes park visitors on a fun ride around the park.
2. Take in a Live Show at the PowPAC Community Theater
PowPAC Community Theatre is a prize-winning venue dedicated to providing quality entertainment for Poway residents and visitors.
Since the early 80s, this intimate 71-seat theater has been hosting a wide variety of theatrical performances, including dramas, musicals, comedies, and children’s favorites.
3. Get the Ultimate Wine Experience at Mission Cellars
Since 2018, Mission Cellars has been producing handcrafted wines. During a visit, you’ll be able to take a comprehensive tour of the property and see how the wines are made, from the very first step to when it reaches your glass.
After your tour, you can participate in a wine-tasting where you’ll have the opportunity to taste some of the wines that are made on-site.
Throughout the year, a variety of events take place at Mission Cellars, including classes and special wine tastings.
4. Grab A Selfie at Potato Chip Rock
You’ve likely seen pictures of potato chip rock before. The iconic rock is all over the internet and travellers’ social media accounts because it’s a very popular location for unique photos.
The rock is situated at the top of Mount Woodson and to reach it, you’ll first need to hike eight miles along a hard but well-maintained trail.
You’ll see potato chip rock before you get to it. It’s a thin slice of rock sticking out over a cliff.
5. Enjoy a Meal at Mainstream Bar & Grill
Mainstream Bar & Grill is the place to be if you’re seeking a delicious meal plus a lively and comfortable atmosphere.
This eatery serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. On the menu, you’ll find a wide variety of items, such as appetizers, burgers, sandwiches, soups, salads, pasta dishes, seafood dishes, and grilled items, Entrees, such as jambalaya, blackened mahi-mahi and meatloaf, are just some of the items available.
The full bar has a wide selection of craft beers on tap and also serves cocktails. A patio is on-site and various events, such as live music and trivia nights, are held throughout the week.
6. Explore the Blue Sky Ecological Reserve
You only have to travel a short distance into the hills above the city to find a pristine wilderness area to escape for a day.
Blue Sky Ecological Reserve is a large canyon with many natural features. A series of hiking trails pass through the area and, as you explore it, you’ll see various habitats and a wide variety of plant and animal life.
Oak trees, eucalyptus groves, chaparral, coastal sage scrub, and wildflowers are some of the natural features you’ll see along the way.
One of these beautiful trails runs alongside the creek that passes through the canyon. Guided hikes are offered from time-to-time and knowledgeable guides provide information on the plants and animals that are native to the area.
7. Tee Off at Maderas Golf Club
Maderas Golf Club is said to be one of the region’s best golf courses for many reasons. For one, this 18-hole, par-72 course is expertly designed to include a range of hazards and challenges, while maintaining a layout suitable for all levels.
Secondly, the location of this course in the hills outside of Poway features spectacular scenery. This includes cliffs, creeks, forest areas, waterfalls, lakes, and wide-open spaces with an abundance of plant life.
Golf club rentals and lessons are available and a driving range and putting green are on-site. The Grille is the golf club’s chic restaurant serving a variety of food and beverages.
8. Check Out the Poway Farmers’ Market
At the Poway Farmers’ Market, you’ll enjoy a pedestrian-friendly shopping experience where you can buy a variety of quality, local items.
The most popular are the fresh, local fruits and vegetables taken straight from farms in the region. Some of this produce is organic.
Among the more than 60 vendors, you’ll also find a wide assortment of other items, including flowers, tea, coffee, homemade pasta, dips, sweet treats, and homemade baked goods.
You’ll also find an assortment of hot, freshly-prepared meals, such as ethnic dishes, crepes, fish tacos, and other local favorites. As you browse the market, the sound of music from a live band adds a festive ambiance to your outing.
9. Sample Local Craft Beer at Lightning Brewery
Poway’s first craft brewery, Lightning Brewery, has been producing and serving quality brews since 2016.
The brewery is mostly known for German-type lagers and ales but offers a wide range of artisanal options, such as their Elemental Pilsner, Electrostatic Ale, Black Lightning Porter and Old Tempestuous Ale.
Tours of the facility are available and a rotating selection of the facility’s beers can be sampled in the adjacent tasting room.
10. Go Hiking at Iron Mountain
Iron Mountain is situated just outside of Poway and features a popular hiking trail that’s perfect for when the weather is cool.
This trail is just over five miles and can be steep and challenging in some places. As you make your way towards the top of the mountain, you’ll pass oak trees and wildflower fields and see many natural features.
At the top, there’s a bench where you can rest and admire the stunning views of the greater San Diego area before heading back down.
11. Visit the Museum of Creation and Earth History
The Museum of Creation and Earth History in nearby Santee is unique in that it provides visitors with a fascinating timeline of the earth’s creation combining both scientific and biblical evidence.
As you explore the exhibits, you’ll be able to explore all the evidence showcased in chronological order. A full-size tabernacle, a display about human anatomy and a dinosaur garden, are some of the exhibits you’ll see.
12. Learn About Local History at the Poway Historical Society
The Poway Heritage Society oversees two properties that showcase much of the city’s history; the Heritage Museum and the Nelson House, both situated in Old Poway Park.
Inside the Heritage Museum are many exhibits displaying various aspects of the city’s past, including agriculture, growth and development, and people and places.
The Nelson House is a recreation of a former pioneer home. The structure that stands today was built in the early 1900s. Also on-site are an Independent Order of Good Templars Hall and a Blacksmith shop.
13. Spend a Rainy Day at Uptown Jungle Fun Park
A popular place to go in the Poway area is the Uptown Jungle Fun Park. This indoor amusement centre in nearby Santee features many fun attractions for children of all ages.
An obstacle course and a variety of trampolines, climbing walls, slides, and play structures are some of the amusements on-site.
Kids have a blast while they make new friends and get some exercise, while parents can kick back in the Adult Lounge where there’s access to free internet.
14. Visit the Oasis Camel Dairy
The Oasis Camel Dairy is an unexpected site along the side of a highway near Ramona, about a half-hour from Poway.
The dairy is open to the public but it’s best to book a tour in advance so you can get the most out of your visit. During one of these tours, you learn about how the dairy operates, how the products are made and even meet the camels who make it all possible.
After your tour, you can purchase some of the products that are made on-site, including soaps, lotions, and chocolate.
15. Learn about Local Conservation Efforts at the Wildlife Research Institute
Situated in nearby Ramona, The Wildlife Research Institute educates the public about local wildlife and habitats, and the efforts being made to preserve them.
As you explore the center, you’ll hear about what is being done to protect various species, including snow geese and burrowing owls. You’ll also hear about how the centre managed to save the area’s grasslands.