I Explore San Bernardino California – Top Sights & Tips

san bernardino california

Hey there! If you’re looking for an exciting destination to explore in Southern California, look no further than San Bernardino. Located just east of Los Angeles, San Bernardino is a vibrant city with a wealth of attractions and activities to offer. Whether you’re a nature lover, history buff, or foodie, this hidden gem has something for everyone.

So, where exactly is San Bernardino located? Well, it’s nestled in San Bernardino County, surrounded by stunning natural landscapes and picturesque mountains. With its convenient location, it’s the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and immerse yourself in the beauty of Southern California.

Wondering what to do in San Bernardino? You won’t be disappointed. From exploring the breathtaking San Bernardino National Forest to discovering the history of the original McDonald’s, there are plenty of attractions to keep you entertained.

I’ll be your guide as we dive into the top sights and share valuable tips to make the most of your visit to San Bernardino, California. So let’s get started!

Key Takeaways:

  • San Bernardino is a vibrant city in Southern California, located just east of Los Angeles.
  • It offers a wide range of attractions and activities for visitors to explore.
  • San Bernardino is surrounded by stunning natural landscapes and is known for its rich history and cultural experiences.
  • Top sights include the San Bernardino National Forest, Big Bear Lake, the original McDonald’s site, and San Bernardino Peak.
  • Plan your visit and make unforgettable memories in this hidden gem of Southern California.

San Bernardino National Forest

When it comes to natural beauty and outdoor adventure, San Bernardino National Forest is a hidden gem waiting to be explored. Located in San Bernardino County, this vast forest offers a diverse environment that combines arid deserts with alpine mountain landscapes, providing visitors with a unique and captivating experience.

One of the main attractions of San Bernardino National Forest is the extensive network of hiking trails that wind through its breathtaking scenery. Whether you’re an avid hiker or just looking for a leisurely stroll, the forest has trails suitable for all levels of expertise. From easy nature walks to challenging summit hikes, you’ll have plenty of options to explore the wonders of this pristine wilderness.

Popular Hiking Destinations

  • San Bernardino Peak
  • Anderson Peak
  • Jepson Peak
  • San Gorgonio

These peaks offer awe-inspiring panoramic views and are a favorite among outdoor enthusiasts. Trekking through the forest, you’ll be immersed in stunning vistas, towering trees, and tranquil streams, providing a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

For those who prefer to spend more time immersed in nature, San Bernardino National Forest also offers camping opportunities. Whether you’re interested in pitching a tent at a developed campground or embarking on a backcountry camping adventure, there are options available for every type of camper. Fall asleep under a blanket of stars and wake up surrounded by the peaceful sounds of nature.

Before heading out on your hiking or camping adventure, it’s essential to obtain any necessary permits, especially for overnight hikes and camping in specific areas of the forest. This ensures the preservation of the environment and helps maintain the ecological balance of the forest.

Immerse yourself in the beauty of San Bernardino National Forest and discover the wonders it has to offer. With its diverse landscapes, captivating trails, and camping opportunities, this natural paradise is a must-visit destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

Big Bear Lake

Located near San Bernardino, Big Bear Lake is a picturesque destination that offers breathtaking scenery and a wide range of outdoor activities. Whether you’re looking to relax by the lake or explore the surrounding mountains, Big Bear Lake has something for everyone.

During the summer months, visitors can enjoy a variety of water activities, such as kayaking, fishing, and swimming in the crystal-clear waters of the lake. Spend a peaceful day on the water, soaking up the sun and taking in the stunning views of the surrounding forested hills.

When winter arrives, Big Bear Lake transforms into a winter wonderland, attracting skiers and snowboarders from near and far. The nearby ski resorts offer excellent slopes for all skill levels, making it a popular destination for winter sports enthusiasts. Hit the slopes during the day and cozy up by the fire in the evening for a truly magical winter experience.

In addition to its natural beauty, Big Bear Lake is also a part of the famous Pacific Crest Trail, one of the most renowned hiking trails in the United States. Lace up your hiking boots and embark on a scenic trek through the mountains, immersing yourself in the serenity of nature and taking in panoramic views along the way.

Whether you’re seeking outdoor adventures, relaxation, or simply a serene escape from the city, Big Bear Lake should be at the top of your list of things to do in San Bernardino. Immerse yourself in the beauty of this tranquil destination and create unforgettable memories amidst its stunning landscapes.

big bear lake

Original McDonald’s Site

San Bernardino is home to the original site of McDonald’s, the fast-food chain that has become a global phenomenon. The original McDonald’s restaurant, now a museum, showcases the history and memorabilia of the iconic fast-food brand. Visitors can explore the museum and learn about the early days of McDonald’s and its impact on the fast-food industry. Admission to the museum is free, making it a budget-friendly attraction in San Bernardino.

The museum offers a fascinating journey through the history of McDonald’s, starting from its humble beginnings as a small barbecue restaurant opened by Richard and Maurice McDonald in 1940. Through interactive exhibits and displays, visitors can learn about the restaurant’s evolution, including the introduction of the Speedee Service System and the expansion of the menu to include the famous Big Mac and Chicken McNuggets.

The museum also highlights the cultural impact of McDonald’s, showcasing iconic advertising campaigns, Happy Meal toys, and the evolution of the company’s branding. It’s a nostalgic trip down memory lane for McDonald’s enthusiasts and a chance to see how this fast-food giant has shaped the industry.

In addition to the museum, visitors can also explore the original McDonald’s site where it all began. Although the restaurant is no longer in operation, standing at the site gives you a sense of the history and significance of this iconic brand. It’s a great opportunity to snap a photo and share the experience with friends and family.

San Bernardino Peak

I recently had the incredible opportunity to hike to San Bernardino Peak, one of the highest peaks in the San Bernardino mountains. Let me tell you, it was an unforgettable experience!

This challenging hike is a favorite among outdoor enthusiasts in the area, and it’s not hard to see why. As I ascended the trail, I was treated to breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes. The rugged beauty of the mountains and the vastness of the wilderness truly left me in awe.

However, it’s important to note that San Bernardino Peak was impacted by a devastating wildfire in 2020. As a result, the peak may still be in the process of recovery. Despite the wildfire’s impact, I was amazed to see the resilience of nature as I made my way to the top.

For those who love hiking and want to experience the beauty of the San Bernardino mountains, I highly recommend this trail. Just be prepared for a challenging adventure, as the ascent can be steep and demanding. Wear appropriate hiking gear, bring plenty of water, and always practice Leave No Trace principles to help preserve the natural environment.

If you’re a nature lover like me, hiking San Bernardino Peak is an absolute must-do when visiting San Bernardino. Capture the beauty of the mountains, immerse yourself in the serenity of the surroundings, and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Deep Creek Hot Springs

Deep Creek Hot Springs is a hidden gem nestled between the San Bernardino mountains, offering visitors a unique and relaxing experience. The hike to the hot springs is a 2.5-mile journey from the Bonita Ranch parking area.

The natural hot springs are a popular attraction for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. Surrounded by beautiful scenery, the hot springs provide a tranquil setting to unwind and soak in the therapeutic waters. The soothing warmth of the springs, combined with the picturesque surroundings, creates a perfect blend of relaxation and rejuvenation.

Hiking to Deep Creek Hot Springs is a popular activity, attracting visitors from all over who are eager to experience this hidden oasis. The trail offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes, and along the way, hikers may encounter wildlife and diverse plant life.

Tips for Hiking to Deep Creek Hot Springs

  • Start your hike early in the morning to avoid crowds and enjoy a more peaceful experience.
  • Wear comfortable hiking shoes and pack plenty of water to stay hydrated on the trail.
  • Bring a towel and swimwear to fully enjoy the hot springs.
  • Take only pictures and leave no trace to preserve the natural beauty of the area.
  • Be mindful of the rules and regulations in place to protect the hot springs and the surrounding ecosystem.

Whether you’re looking for a relaxing soak or an adventurous hike, Deep Creek Hot Springs is a must-visit destination in San Bernardino. Immerse yourself in nature’s tranquility and discover the rejuvenating powers of these natural hot springs.

Joshua Tree National Park

Located in San Bernardino County, Joshua Tree National Park is a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts and outdoor adventurers. This iconic national park is renowned for its unique desert landscapes, characterized by vast stretches of rugged terrain and the iconic Joshua trees that dot the landscape.

Rock climbing enthusiasts will find Joshua Tree National Park to be a paradise, with its diverse range of rock formations offering endless opportunities for exploration and adventure. From bouldering to traditional climbing routes, there is something for climbers of all skill levels.

The park also boasts a network of hiking trails that traverse the desert landscapes, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the stunning beauty of the Joshua trees and discover hidden gems along the way. From leisurely nature walks to more challenging treks, there is a trail for every hiker’s preference.

rock climbing in Joshua Tree National Park

Exploring Joshua Tree National Park provides a unique opportunity to observe the diverse desert ecosystem and encounter a variety of wildlife, including birds, reptiles, and small mammals. The stunning sunsets in the park’s vast expanse are a sight to behold and are sure to leave visitors in awe.

With its unparalleled natural beauty and abundance of outdoor activities, Joshua Tree National Park is a destination that should not be missed. Whether you’re a rock climber seeking thrilling ascents, a hiker yearning for breathtaking vistas, or simply a nature lover looking to immerse yourself in the tranquility of the desert, Joshua Tree National Park offers an unforgettable experience.


San Bernardino, California, is a hidden gem in Southern California that offers an array of exciting attractions and activities for visitors to enjoy. Whether you’re a nature lover, history enthusiast, or simply seeking a relaxing getaway, this vibrant city has something for everyone.

One of the must-visit attractions in San Bernardino is the stunning San Bernardino National Forest, where you can immerse yourself in the breathtaking natural beauty of arid deserts and alpine mountains. Explore the numerous hiking trails, go camping, or simply indulge in the serene beauty of the forest.

For a fun and nostalgic experience, don’t miss the original McDonald’s site. Step back in time and learn about the fascinating history of this global fast-food chain. Admission to the McDonald’s museum is free, making it an affordable and enjoyable stop during your visit.

If outdoor adventures are your passion, head to Big Bear Lake for a range of exciting activities. From kayaking and fishing in the summer to skiing and snowboarding in the winter, this picturesque lake offers year-round outdoor fun. Additionally, don’t forget to explore Joshua Tree National Park, known for its unique desert landscapes and famous Joshua trees. Hiking and rock climbing are popular activities in this stunning national park.

Plan your visit to San Bernardino, California, and experience the diverse attractions and activities that this vibrant city has to offer. Whether you’re exploring the natural wonders of the San Bernardino National Forest, immersing yourself in history at the original McDonald’s site, or embarking on outdoor adventures at Big Bear Lake and Joshua Tree National Park, San Bernardino promises an unforgettable travel experience.


Where is San Bernardino located?

San Bernardino is located just east of Los Angeles in Southern California.

What are some popular attractions in San Bernardino?

Some popular attractions in San Bernardino include the San Bernardino National Forest, Big Bear Lake, and the original site of McDonald’s.

What can I do in the San Bernardino National Forest?

In the San Bernardino National Forest, you can enjoy hiking, camping, and backcountry camping. There are also hundreds of hiking trails to explore.

What activities are available at Big Bear Lake?

At Big Bear Lake, you can enjoy kayaking, fishing, swimming, skiing, and snowboarding, depending on the season.

What can I see at the original McDonald’s site?

The original McDonald’s site is now a museum showcasing the history and memorabilia of the fast-food brand.

Is hiking to San Bernardino Peak recommended?

Hiking to San Bernardino Peak offers breathtaking views, but it is important to note that the peak has been affected by a recent wildfire.

How do I get to Deep Creek Hot Springs?

To get to Deep Creek Hot Springs, you can take a 2.5-mile hike from the Bonita Ranch parking area.

What can I do in Joshua Tree National Park?

In Joshua Tree National Park, you can go rock climbing, hiking, and enjoy the unique desert landscapes.

What are some things to do in San Bernardino, California?

Some things to do in San Bernardino include exploring the national forest, visiting Big Bear Lake, and learning about the history of McDonald’s.