Baseball, Road Trips, and Pie are the quintessential elements of summer in America and I decided to sample a little of them this past month with a road trip out to San Bernardino! Heading out of town with a friend, we quickly turned off the highway and onto the side roads to better explore the towns along the old Route 66. Although no longer a formal highway, we were still able to find many classic signs, restaurants, and tourist stops that existed in its heyday. We meandered thru the towns along the way, getting lunch at the fantastic Country Chicken & Ribs BBQ in Azusa and exploring the old-west styled downtown San Dimas.
Our home for the night was the classic Wigwam Motel. Built in 1949, it was one of seven Wigwam Motels built across the nation and is only one of three that remains. The motel consists of individual teepee cabins, each with a bedroom and bathroom. I had mixed feelings about my stay and if you’re interested in hearing more, you can see my review of the hotel here.
Our big event for the weekend was attending the Inland Empire 66ers Minor League Baseball Game against the Modesto Nuts! I’ve always had a soft spot for baseball and enjoy seeing the games at any & every level. (Just don’t ask me to play – that whole concept of catching balls thrown at me just isn’t my forte, unfortunately!) We had amazing seats – the third row, directly behind home plate – for only $16.50 a ticket!! It was a fun evening at the San Manuel Stadium that included the requisite 7th Inning Stretch, a Pretzel & Beer, and a Home Team win.
Sunday morning we started out with breakfast at Red Hill Coffee Shop, a family owned cafe down the road from us in Fontana that was fantastic. It was busy, but they kept everything moving briskly and had great food, so it was well worth the visit!
Downtown San Bernardino has had some tough times this past decade, including being one of the largest cities in the US to file bankruptcy (in 2012), but there is still some great beauty to be found in the city. On the grounds of City Hall stand various statues and murals.
Across the street is the Carousel Mall. Although nearly empty, it houses a perfectly pristine carousel.
There are a couple memorials of note in San Bernardino. There is a beautiful War Veteran’s Memorial at the Mt. View Mortuary & Cemetery. At City Hall, the Rotary Club has honored 2 local residents who were killed in the 9/11 attacks. (And, unfortunately, there will be another memorial soon, as plans are already in the works to remember those who died in the terrorist mass shooting in 2015.)
For a little bit of nostalgic fun, we stopped at the (unofficial) McDonald’s Museum. There’s quite a bit of sordid history surrounding the McDonald’s franchise, and the modern McDonald’s as most of us know it is based on the work of Ray Kroc but two brothers, Richard and Maurice McDonald, originally started it in San Bernardino in 1940. This museum focuses on these originators (and, therefore, is not recognized by McDonald’s…) It’s a collection of several bits and pieces of McDonald’s memorabilia donated from many sources. You’ll find everything from Happy Meal toy collections from across the years, to archival photos and paperwork (menus, application forms, etc). There are also a few of their glass collections – our family had some when I was a kid, but I haven’t seen them in ages! Outside are some of the older playground toys (rocking French Fries, a Hamburgler jungle gym, a Grimace Statue, etc). There’s even a Golden Arches, and an older marquee sign from when it used to say “millions” served. Plus, it’s free!
As we started our driver back towards Los Angeles, we found ourselves enjoying the remnants of a bygone era as we traversed through the downtown streets of the towns we passed.
We enjoyed many treats over the weekend, including some of the most amazing sweet potato pie from Mommie Helen’s and homemade ice cream from Michoacana Colton. Our final stop on the road trip was for dinner at Whisper House in Claremont, before getting back into Los Angeles proper. So many good things!!
Although San Bernardino has had its share of tragedy over the years, it also has some fun and beauty too. It’s definitely worth a visit if you’re ever in the area.
Here is my itinerary and budget for this 2 Day Travel along Route 66:
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