Barstow is a small desert town of a few hundred people in the middle of the California desert. It’s known for its Joshua Tree National Park, which is one of the most popular national parks. The park has giant formations of trees that are sharp and pointy, so it looks like they’re coming out of the ground.
If you’re looking for things to do in Barstow, then you’ve come to the right place. Why not stop by the Old West Museum and learn about the history of this area? You might also want to visit Big Bear Lake, which is home to many outdoor activities like skiing, camping, and hiking.
The town has a lot to offer, including some great places to eat, shop, and explore. Some of the best things to do in Barstow are taking a drive along Route 66, going on the 25-mile Dixie Mine Tramway ride, and visiting the Aron Warner Hall of History for free.
Let’s take a look at some of the best spots to visit.
Rainbow Basin Natural Area
Barstow sits near the southwestern edge of the Mojave Desert, close to where the dry desert basin rises sharply into the nearly 12,000-foot peaks of the San Bernadino Mountains. The city itself owes much of its historical prosperity to the wealth of mineral resources that have been extracted from the Mojave. Gold, silver, and later borax were found in large quantities in the region.
Today, the federal government owns much of the land under the care of either the National Parks Service or the Bureau of Land Management. While the desert can seem like a harsh landscape, bereft of life, it abounds with things to do. The Rainbow Basin area offers splendid opportunities for scenic hikes and off-roading. The name derives from the stratified rock layers in multicolored bands stretched across the Calico Range of mountains.
Rainbow Basin Natural Area is a place where you can find views of a high desert landscape with ancient juniper trees and Joshua Trees. It’s also home to the tallest waterfall in Mojave National Preserve and offers lots of hiking trails to explore.
Western America Railroad Museum
The other economic driver that put Barstow on the map was its location as a nexus of transportation in the American West. First as a transit point for herds en route to Los Angeles from Utah (via the Salt Lake Road) and from New Mexico (via the Old Spanish Trail from Santa Fe).
Later, owing partially to the mineral extraction and partly to the geographic location, the town became a major depot for the Southern Pacific, and later the Santa Fe Railroad. In fact, the city is named after William Barstow Strong, former president of the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway. Fans of the golden era of rail will delight at the wonderfully preserved locomotives and other relics of the bygone Wild West.
The Western America Railroad Museum is a great place for kids to learn about railroads and how they work. There are accurate scale models of railroads like the Baltimore & Ohio and many other impressive displays of trains and locomotives. They also have a narrow-gauge railway that takes visitors for a ride through the museum.
The museum displays model railroad systems, old locomotives, train cars, and photographs from over 150 years of railroading in California. Many visitors are fascinated by the train rides that can be taken through the “train” – a track through part of the museum. It’s an interesting way to learn about trains and railroad history in Barstow.
You will be able to see a lot of trains and learn about their history. There are also many things to do that all the family can enjoy such as climbing a moving train car, watching train cars go through the Sierras, riding an old-time locomotive, and firing up some steam engines.
Skyline Drive-In is a family-owned and operated drive-in movie theater located on Highway 127 in Barstow, California. The drive-in has been open since 1958 and you can watch a film from the comfort of your car. It’s also one of the only drive-ins that allow you to watch films for free. They have an outdoor speaker system that allows you to hear the film even if it’s raining too hard for you to see anything through your windshield.
This Barstow staple is the perfect spot for burger lovers, families, and people that are just looking for a fun night out. The Skyline Drive-In has been around since 1967 and is the best place in town to enjoy a classic entertainment experience.
If you’re looking for things to do and feeling a little nostalgic, look no further than the Skyline Drive-In movie theater. The Skyline is one of a bare handful left in Southern California, and well worth a visit. The two screens alternate showings of the latest feature films with an occasional throwback film thrown in.
Visit the concession stands for a tub of buttery popcorn, then drop your seat back and enjoy the audio piped in over an FM frequency on your car stereo.
Mojave River Valley Museum
If you’re looking for something fun to do in Barstow, which is a city in the Mojave Desert, check out the Mojave River Valley Museum. It’s a great place to learn about this desert’s history and people. If you plan to visit around the holidays, come during December when there are often special events going on at the museum.
It is dedicated to the natural history of the Mojave Desert and surrounding areas. The museum is spread out over 15 acres and includes many interactive exhibits such as an indoor rain forest, bird aviary, reptile house and touch tank.
It has a collection of artifacts that includes specimens collected by naturalists Edward and William Harriman during expeditions to the area in the early 1900s. The museum is also home to restored buildings from downtown Barstow and is run by the City of Barstow’s Parks and Recreation Department.
Desert Discovery Center
The Desert Discovery Center is a great place to be when you have some time to kill in Barstow. It’s a small, local museum that has many fascinating desert exhibits that explain how the area evolved and contains much interesting information about the local ecology. One of the best parts of this fun place is the hands-on experience, with archeological artifacts on display and many animal specimens available for you to explore in person.
There are many things to do. For example, you can go on a tour of the desert and see the plants that grow there. You can also see the desert bighorn sheep and take pictures of them, or you might be able to find an interesting rock with any number of shapes and colors on it.
The Desert Discovery Center offers visitors a chance to get up close and personal with desert creatures, including reptiles, mammals, and birds. There are also plenty of interactive exhibits at this museum that will intrigue any child or adult looking for something new to do while they’re on vacation in the area.
Outlets At Barstow
You wouldn’t expect to discover an outlet mall in the midst of the desert, but that’s precisely what you’ll find driving between Los Angeles and Las Vegas on Interstate 15. Outlets At Barstow is a fantastic site to take a rest on your travel since it has clean facilities, a food court, and the opportunity to indulge in some unexpected retail therapy.
Around 38 stores are expected to provide some nice savings; stop by their Customer Service Office to ensure you don’t miss out on daily specials. The California Welcome Center on-site also has pamphlets and other information to help you plan your trip.
Castle Mountains National Monument
The Castle Mountains National Monument is a beautiful lookout spot for those looking for adventure. The hike will take you through a desolate desert, up the mountains, and into a canyon. There are many beautiful sights to see during your journey.
The Castle Mountains National Monument, which spans over 21 acres of pristine wilderness between the Mojave National Preserve and the Nevada state line, is nestled away between the Mojave National Preserve and the Nevada state border. You can actually escape the city in this secluded location, where you can relax and enjoy Joshua tree forests, desert grasslands, and gorgeous seasonal wildflowers.
Popular activities include hiking, backpacking, and mountain biking, and there are three basic rustic campgrounds where you may pitch your tent and spend a night or two in the desert. Traveling through the region needs a high-clearance 4X4 vehicle because there are only dirt roads, and visitors should bring lots of water and route maps because GPS can be inaccurate in this isolated part of California.
Di Napoli’s Firehouse Italian Eatery
Di Napoli’s Firehouse Italian Eatery has been satisfying Barstow palates with a wide array of delectable real Italian pizzas, pasta, entrees, and more for almost two decades. The restaurant is recognized for its fantastic atmosphere and fascinating firehouse décor.
On the main menu, you’ll find a fair range of classic favorites as well as some distinctive pizzas — pick one of the popular favorites or make your own from a lengthy list of extra ingredients. There are various vegetarian alternatives on the menu, as well as a nice assortment of pasta, salads, and entrees. If you’re a sucker for sweets, spare room for gelato, cannoli, or tiramisu.
Los Domingo’s Mexican Restaurant
One of the most popular restaurants in Barstow is Los Domingo’s Mexican Restaurant. With a unique and popular menu for both lunch and dinner, it is always packed with locals and travelers alike. With delicious tacos, burritos, nachos, enchiladas, and more, this hole-in-the-wall restaurant is worthwhile to visit at least once if you’re on your way through town.
Since 1981, Los Domingo’s Mexican Restaurant has served outstanding, genuine Mexican and American cuisine. Chipotle Rib Eye Steak or Steak Picados are two distinctive recipes that are both tasty and spicy. If you’re in the mood for an all-American burger or a juicy New York Strip, there’s a nice selection on the menu. The restaurant is a great spot to catch up with friends for a drink and a game, but it’s also open for breakfast and lunch and has a kids’ menu.
Mother Road Museum
The Mother Road Museum, housed in the historic Casa del Desierto from 1911, tells the narrative of Route 66, the Mojave Desert, and early railroads. The historic edifice operated as a railway terminal, hotel, and restaurant complex for all long-distance rail visitors during the height of trans-American railway travel.
Today, docents and displays provide a wealth of information on the famed 2,248-mile Route 66, as well as current information about driving Route 66 and crossing the Mojave Desert. Before you go, stop by the gift store to pick up some maps and souvenirs to remember your stay.
Barstow Harvey House
The Barstow Harvey House and Rail Depot is also the headquarters of the Barstow Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau, as well as the Western America Railroad Museum and the Route 66 Mother Road Museum! They are an integral part of America’s railroad history.
Here you can discover information about upcoming events at the Harvey House, as well as opportunities to reserve one of the ballrooms, participate in one of their private ghost tours, and learn more about this spectacular edifice that attracts tourists from all over the world.
It is a historic structure in the town of Barstow, California. It was built in 1911 as Casa del Desierto, a Harvey House hotel and Santa Fe Railroad terminal, it is now an Amtrak station and administrative structure that houses municipal offices, the Barstow Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center, and two museums.
Barstow is a city worth exploring. This is especially true if you’re traveling through it on the way to somewhere else. It is an excellent place to relax and take in some sights. The best part about Barstow is that the more you explore, the more you realize the little surprises this city has tucked away. So go with an open mind and explore!