Route 66 Attractions from San Bernardino to Rancho Cucamonga

Having lived most of my life in the Inland Empire, I was still oblivious to the fact that Route 66 pretty much runs right through my backyard. One lazy Saturday morning I decided to set out and see what I could find on a short stint down the historic road from San Bernardino to Rancho Cucamonga. The people I met and the stories I heard in these short four hours of my morning make me want to set out on the entire route and learn more about the people and families that have built their lives on this road. While so much of the history has died in the commercialization of the area ( I can’t help but think of the movie Cars) here are the spotlights that I saw from the stretch of Route 66 that starts in San Bernardino and ends in Rancho Cucamonga.

Route 66

Details

  • Can be hard to find places without GPS
  • Time needed: 3 hours
  • Be sure to check open hours

First McDonald’s Museum

Original McDonalds Museum

The drive starts at this small, unassuming building in North San Bernardino that housed the first McDonald’s in the 40’s. The historic site was torn down over 30 years ago, but the building that was erected in its place houses a museum dedicated to the history of this famous franchise. It is free to enter and has a wide assortment of memorabilia. I especially liked the old sign outside and the statues of the different characters. You can read all about the first McDonald’s in my post here.

California Theater

California Theater

This 1,718 seat auditorium was built in 1928 and is a perfect example of the architecture and style of the time. It is a beautiful building, even better when it’s lit up at night, that has been renovated on the inside to become a modern theater that is still in use today. I didn’t go inside, but I loved seeing the exterior of the theater and plan to catch a show here at a later time. It’s a great little stop, but do be careful as it is not in the best part of town.

Wigwam Motel

Wigwam Motel

The drive continues to the Wigwam Motel, which is one of the most well know landmarks on this part of Route 66. The motel itself is a collection of over 15 tepees’s that you can stay in for a unique sleeping experience. While there is not a ton to do in the area and the rooms themselves are just like an average hotel, being able to stay in something as unique is this is a fun little adventure. The prices are pretty good for a one night stay as well, or if you are just a photographer, then you can come for the pictures.

Bono Restaurant and the Big Orange

Giant Orange

The last stop on this stretch of Route 66 is Bono’s Restaurant and the Big Orange in Fontana. This big orange was brought here from a location down the road, and I am told tons of these used to line this area of Route 66 as orange stands to sell local crops. It was good to see at least one remaining.

Bonos Restaurant

After that, I walked around Bono’s on the outside till the door opened and I was greeted by Joe Bono himself who came out to talk to me about the history and showed me the inside. He informed me that he is in a fight with the city trying to reopen this historic restaurant and as I toured the beautiful and historical inside I couldn’t help but hope it opens again as well. I would love to have a meal in this 70-year-old restaurant.

One of the things I learned from my time on Route 66 is that the locations are a lot more than what they look like on the outside. At all of the above places, other than the theater, I was greeted by the owner or an individual close to the owner that was genuinely excited someone was coming to visit their historical business. I loved hearing their stories and seeing the history that was quickly fading in a lot of these areas and I cannot wait to continue my trek (and hope others do as well) to see what other gems Route 66 has in store for me. If you have driven this route and have recommendations of where to go, I would love to hear them. Also, check out the map below to see the places I stopped.

Get Directions

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Thanks for checking out the blog, I am happy to be sharing my adventures with you! You can get to know me by reading my about me, which includes a video and additional information on the site, myself and my full disclosure. Also, follow along on Twitter here or read all of my posts on this blog here.

  • A McDonald’s museum?! So fun!

  • I love this! I drove on Route 66 for the first time a few days ago. Such a wacky road. I really wish it was still in its prime. I’m hoping to do the full thing one day and will see these places for myself. Great post.

  • daddysmija

    When i was little my mom use to take me to a lake called LOST LAKE. it was off the 15fwy ,All i know is that it was one of the exits before exiting Glen Helen exit. Cant find its location i know it was out in nowhere and it was lik a tiny lake we would have to go over a sand hill to get to it. Any ways i need your help to find this childhood memory if u do please email me amychavez079@yahoo..com Thanks so much

    • Thanks for the comment, I am not sure where that would be as it doesn’t sound like anything I have ran across on any of my travels! Sorry I couldn’t be more help

  • umbralillium

    Thanks for the list of attractions! Just wanted to make a slight correction. Bono’s is in Fontana, not Rancho. I grew up in Fontana and I’ve been past it dozens of times.

    • Thanks for the comment and fix, I appreciate it!