Nestled in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, Ontario, California, and its surrounding areas have been affectionately dubbed the “Inland Empire.” The area is close enough to L.A. to enjoy its attractions, but out of the hustle and bustle of the city. Read on for a list of can’t-miss eats, places to explore, side trips, shopping and family-friendly experiences in the Inland Empire.
The Hat. Since 1951, this casual chain has served piled-high pastrami sandwiches and massive portions of fries. Zendejas. Here you’ll find casual Mexican fare in modern digs with an outdoor patio. Haven City. Opening this fall is this indoor/outdoor collection of artisan boutiques, local craft food and beverage purveyors, and a garden fit for picnics. Big Al’s. This huge sports bar and restaurant has bowling, an arcade and board games. Punch Bowl Social. Handcrafted beverages, karaoke, bowling, an arcade and table games make this a smart choice for groups.
Graber Olive House. Take a tour of the home of the world-famous olives, grown and produced by the Graber family since 1894. Samples included! Cucamonga-Guasti Regional Park. This 150-acre park includes large covered pavilions, a water park, fishing and paddleboats make this the perfect place to soak up the sun with friends and peers. Auto Club Speedway. Have the need for speed? Auto Club Speedway is a 2-mile, low-banked, D-shaped oval speedway that hosts NASCAR racing annually and open-wheel racing events year-round.
Palm Springs. Enjoy the beauty of the desert in a town known for its architecture, golf and sparkling pools. Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear. Visit one of the area’s mountain resorts for boating, hiking, camping, skiing or snowboarding. Temecula. Enjoy wine or olive oil tasting in Old Town Temecula. Don’t miss Doffo Winery and Temecula Olive Oil Company. Orange County. Kick back at Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach or Newport Beach. Los Angeles. If stargazing is on the itinerary, Hollywood, Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills and the Griffith Observatory are all within reach.
Ontario Mills. The largest mall west of the Mississippi draws 28 million visitors annually and hosts more than 200 stores, including some of the biggest names in fashion. Victoria Gardens. Find this open-air shopping mall in Rancho Cucamonga, 2 miles north of Ontario Mills. Claremont Village Square. This quaint, upscale, European-style town square has plenty of options for shopping, dining and entertainment.
Disneyland. Take your princes and princesses to the happiest place on earth! Knott’s Berry Farm. This theme park is bursting with old-town attractions and entertainment, including roller coasters, stage shows and photo ops with the Peanuts Gang. Raging Waters. Kids love this epic water park in San Dimas that features dozens of water slides, an area for tots and a sand beach.