Barstow has a prime seat in San Bernardino County, within easy reach of some of the world's premier natural wonders, like Joshua Tree National Park, Mojave National Preserve and the big beasts of Sequoia National Forest.
If dunes and rock walls, hiking and jaw-dropping, envy-inducing photographs aren't in your veins, Barstow is the kind of place where you also can just roll down the windows and cruise through it all to feel first-hand the vibes that inspired the Route 66 Mother Road Museum, located in Barstow. When the sun sets, that's your cue to head to an icon of Americana, the Skyline Drive-In Movie Theater.
From San Francisco to Barstow is a comfortable day's worth behind the wheel, at 425 miles. So, tune in and drive on, starting with crossing the Bay on I-80/580 until it turns into the 5 once you're inland and pointing south. When the road signs start calling out Bakersfield, heads-up for a turn east on 7th Standard Rd.
In Saco, turn south on CA-99 and take it through Bakersfield to CA-58. That's your line east all the way to Barstow. Let the good times roll.
Ayres Hotel Barstow is an affordable boutique hotel that features personalized service and comfortable accommodations near some of the area's top attractions. The hotel is centrally located in Barstow. The WiFi is free and the overall hospitality gets top-notch reviews, packing in big bang for your buck.
The Comfort Suites in Barstow is an all-suite hotel that features an outdoor pool with hot tub. Each suite includes free Wi-Fi, a microwave and refrigerator. The hotel is only five miles from the Desert Discover Center, is adjacent to the shopping outlets and is just off Barstow Freeway, for excellent on-the-go access to where ever your adventures lead.
From the neon signs dotting the exterior to the 24-hour reception area that’s chock-full of Route 66 memorabilia and signage, you’ll love the retro feel from the moment you see it. Located on historic Route 66 and just a short 20-minute drive from Calico Ghost Town, this value property has colorful, air-conditioned rooms with free Wi-Fi, comfy beds, and sparkling clean private bathrooms.
Los Domingos is easy to miss. It’s actually located inside the Quality Inn Hotel. Ignore your preconceptions about a little Mexican spot in a chain hotel. They’re wrong. Every single item on the menu is a hit, from the green chile tacos to the shrimp in spicy jalapeno sauce to the salsa that will knock your socks off. The restaurant is clean and reasonably priced, and your waiter will serve up huge portions with a friendly smile. Great spot for kids and groups.
Black Bear Diner is a favorite all-American spot for locals and truck drivers passing through. As casual an atmosphere as you'd expect you'd expect a classic joint like this to be. The portions are huge if you're looking to fill 'er up before a day on the trails or to stretch the budget. But there are "lite" versions of the plates and vegetarian options, too. Friendly staff rounds out the reasons to love the Black Bear.
Located just off the 15 in Barstow, Frosty’s makes for a quick stop for a delicious breakfast to fuel up before heading out for the day. The buttermilk bar is a delight, the apple fritters are huge, and the maple old-fashioned is simply perfection. This joint serves up fresh, delicious donuts Tuesday through Sunday and opens as early as 4:30 am during the week. Don’t worry – the coffee’s good, too (you’ll need it at that hour). It’s easy to see why this family-owned business has been open for over 50 years. The sugar rush is addictive!
Calico Ghost Town is part of the San Bernardino County Regional Parks system. Located in the old silver mining town, it features multiple attractions, shops, and restaurants. Visit the Lucy Lane Museum to check out artifacts from the early days and then head to the heart of Maggie Mine for a lesson on the silver-mining industry of the late 1800s. You can pan for gold just like the miners did, take a historical tour on the Calico Odessa Railroad, and even take a ghost tour after dark on Saturday nights (if you dare). Extended tours of Level #6 of the Calico Silver King Mine and a 20 Mule Team Off-Road Adventure Tour are available upon request. Open daily. Each attraction in the town has a separate entrance fee.
The Western America Railroad Museum is small but worth a visit, especially since it sits in the same complex as Harvey House and the Route 66 Mother Road Museum. Its mission is to preserve the history of the railroading industry in the Pacific Southwest. It’s a great complement to the Calico Odessa Railroad tour at nearby Calico Ghost Town. This museum is free, though donations are appreciated, and it’s open Friday through Sunday from 11 am – 4 pm. Railroad enthusiasts will appreciate the collection of memorabilia and the entire family will love checking out the engines, cars, and equipment from an era long gone.
Tourists have called Rainbow Basin one of the most mysterious and beautiful locations in the Mojave because of the unusual rock formations that have been sculpted by the elements. The terrain is other-wordly and surreal; it’s been described as visually similar to the surface of the Moon. The entire Rainbow Basin Trail loop only takes about 2-3 hours to hike, so it’s a great place to take in a bit of the desert without dedicating an entire day to a strenuous expedition.
The Tanger Outlet Center at Barstow is worth a stop for bargain shoppers. Featuring shops by national name brands like Ralph Lauren, Nike, Calvin Klein, Rockport, Loft, Tumi, and Ugg, bargains abound at this shopping destination. You may have to fight the crowds from tour buses early on, so an evening visit may be best if you’re already in town for an entire weekend. It’s a smaller center and easy to navigate, with prices marked well below retail. Open 9-8 daily.
There’s no shortage of museums paying tribute to the iconic Route 66, but the one in Barstow is a gem. It’s packed full of artifacts and memorabilia related to Route 66, car culture, and Mojave Desert communities in the region. You’ll learn about the development of the cross-country thoroughfare from its early days as a pioneer trail through its reputation as one of the most popular road trips in America. Kitschy Americana at its best. Open Friday through Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm.