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15 Best Things to Do in Lancaster, California

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Lancaster City is a beautiful destination on the edge of the Mojave Desert. It’s a quick hour north of downtown Los Angeles, but it feels worlds apart. Located in north Los Angeles County, this destination feels like you’ve found an oasis in the Mojave Desert.

Every spring, during the wildflower bloom season, tourists from around the world flock here to see the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve. It’s a magical time in the desert, and Lancaster is well-suited for the event.

Take a trip and find all the fun things to do in Lancaster, California. We’ve created a list of the 15 best things to do in Lancaster, from taking in the magnificent poppy flowers and visiting the Western Hotel Museum to spending an evening at the Lancaster Performing Arts Center.

Maybe you’d rather explore famous filming locations like the Kill Bill Church. There’s always something happening in Antelope Valley, and Lancaster sits right in the middle of it.

Before making your reservations, check out our list. Lancaster is known for many activities, so narrowing down the list can be time-consuming. Let’s see what makes the list for fun and entertainment in Lancaster.

TL;DR

  • Most significant landmark – Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve
  • Best local park – Sgt. Steve Owen Memorial Park
  • Best free things activity – BLVD Farmers Market
  • Activity for kids – Prime Desert Woodland Preserve
  • Activity for adults – Antelope Valley Winery
  • Place to eat – Crazy Otto’s
  • Nightlife – Lancaster Performing Arts Center (LPAC)
  • Best all-around-Accommodation: Residence Inn by Marriott Lancaster

Things to Do in Lancaster, California

1. Visit the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve

Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve Scenery

Address: 15101 Lancaster Rd, Lancaster, CA 93536

Wondering what the Lancaster gen is? What puts Lancaster on the map? Well, this is what Lancaster is known for. The Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve is among the top Lancaster tourist attractions and has been a major tourist attraction in Lancaster for years.

Visitors flock to Lancaster each spring to see the desert come to life. The poppies spring up and cover the 1,700-acre park hill in blooms from March through May.

Just a 15-minute drive from Lancaster proper, the park is a must-see for flower lovers and nature enthusiasts. Plan to spend two or three hours at the park while you hike through the hills. California Poppies are the California State Flower, and the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve delivers this beautiful bloom like nowhere else.

No matter how tempted you might be, don’t pick the flowers! Local Antelope Valley residents can tell you it’s just not proper. If you can’t leave them be, the annual California poppy festival will give you all the opportunities to gather them.

If you’re not here just for the poppies, there are hiking trails that dot the area. Wheelchair-accessible visitor trails provide access for everyone to enjoy the park. You can have lunch at one of the picnic areas and enjoy the views of the valley and the San Gabriel Mountains beyond.

Looking for a place to stay nearby? The Fairfield Inn and Suites is centrally located and just a short drive from the reserve.

See Related: Northern California vs Southern California

2. Lancaster Museums

Western Hotel Museum
image by mini/TripAdvisor

Address: MOAH665 W. Lancaster Blvd, Lancaster, CA 93534 or MOAH: CEDAR, 44857 Cedar Ave, Lancaster, CA 93534

Lancaster houses several museums as part of the Lancaster Museum of Art and History. There are several smaller buildings housing everything from modern art to early settler artifacts. Be sure to stop in at the Western Hotel Museum, curated by the Western Hotel Historical Society, to get an authentic feel for what the area was like in the 1800s.

The style and décor are period-accurate and will undoubtedly entertain the family. The Western Hotel Museum is a can’t-miss piece of the Lancaster Museum of Art and History.

The Museum of Art and History Cedar Center has active exhibits featuring the Andrew Frieder Creative Space. The creative space allows artists and creative types to use materials at the museum to design unique creations. Plan to stay at each venue for approximately one to two hours.

Check out the Residence Inn by Marriott in the central district to have easy access to the different museums in the area.

See Related: Things to Do in Ridgecrest, California

3. Visit The Antelope Valley Indian Museum

Antelope Valley Indian Museum Exhibit
Junkyardsparkle, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Address: 15701 E Ave M, Lancaster, CA 93535

The Antelope Valley Indian Museum is the perfect place to spend a few hours on a Saturday or Sunday. Kids under 12 get in for free, though the rest of us only have to pay a paltry $3.00 for entry.

The History Museum celebrates the folk arts and culture of Native American cultures from the western portion of the Great Basin, California, and the southwest region. The Antelope Valley Indian Museum provides a unique look into each culture.

The Antelope Valley Indian Museum came under the California State Parks’ ownership in the 1970s and was designated a regional Native American Museum in the 1980s. Since then, the catalog of artifacts has steadily grown as local archaeologists have continued to unearth and donate artifacts to The Antelope Valley Indian Museum.

The collection has been undergoing serious research to identify each object correctly and further electronic cataloging since the early 1990s. This research is still ongoing, so be sure to check back if you’re planning on coming back to Lancaster.

See Related: Things to Do in Los Angeles

4. Take a Musical Ride on the Civic Musical Road

Civic Musical Road
image by mini/TripAdvisor

Address: West Avenue G, Lancaster, CA 93536

What started as a musical road spot for a television commercial has turned into a much larger tourist attraction in Lancaster. The roadway has “musical notes” in the ridges built into it.

Driving through the area at 55mph produces one of the most unique versions of William Tell Overture, and it has gained worldwide attention. It was even on Top Gear!

Of course, having a road play music whenever it’s driven on can lead to complaints from the locals. The local community claimed the song was interrupting sleep and causing excessive traffic, so the city took action and removed the ridges.

Lancaster City Council then took the lead and built a new musical highway away from the town’s neighborhoods. It’s pretty remote, but that makes the community happy. The Civic Musical Road is a must-drive destination and will put a smile on even the most skeptical among the family.

Kids love the music it plays, and repeated trips at different speeds will have everyone laughing along with the music. The road is one of only a handful of musical roads worldwide. Japan, Holland, and South Korea are home to the others.

5. Check out the Junipers at Arthur B. Ripley Desert Woodland State Park

Arthur B. Ripley Desert Woodland State Park

Address: Lancaster Road at 205th St W, Lancaster, CA 93536

As you hike through the Arthur B. Ripley Desert Woodland State Park, spend time in the woods. The park contains black-tailed jackrabbits, cottontails, squirrels, ravens, and coyotes. You’ll want to leave your furry friends at home for this adventure.

A juniper forest greets visitors at the entrance, while thick groves of Joshua Trees are scattered throughout the park. Be sure to check out the blue sage and the beavertail cacti. Seasonal wildflowers spring up from late February through May. You’ll love the Joshua Tree blooms as bright white flowers grow from the tops of the trees.

The park is only accessible via trails, so don’t plan on seeing much traffic ruining your outdoor experience. Hike, bike, ride a horse, or sit back and watch the wildlife at one of the picnic areas.

Of all the things to do in Lancaster, this park will truly let you experience the clean Los Angeles County air like no other. Clean air is at a premium these days!

See Related: National Parks to Visit in November

6. Hike the Butte at Saddleback Butte State Park

Saddleback Butte State Park

Address: 17102 E Ave. J, Lancaster, CA 93535

Saddleback Butte State Park is a granite mountaintop that reaches into the sky over the Antelope Valley. Located 15 minutes east of downtown Lancaster, this unique park offers miles of hiking trails and sweeping views. If you like to hike, Saddleback Butte State Park is a must.

This popular tourist attraction in Lancaster will introduce you to the native Joshua Trees woodlands along with a variety of animals and plants that were once found throughout the region. The scenic beauty of this high desert mountain is sure to entertain and invigorate you as you hike the 2.5-mile trail to the peak.

Visiting in the spring or fall would be best, as summer temperatures reach upwards of 115°. Springtime is the most beautiful season here, with wildflowers all around. Target this hike between February and May for the best flowers.

The fall offers cooler temperatures, making the hike pleasant. It’s possible to hike here in the winter, though it can be cold. Occasional snowfall and freezing temperatures can cause the hike treacherous. Late spring and summer hikers should know their surroundings as rattlesnakes are in the area. Take lots of water and have fun!

7. See a show at the Lancaster Performing Arts Center (LPAC)

Lancaster Performing Arts Center
image by mini/TripAdvisor

Address: 750 W Lancaster Boulevard, Lancaster, CA 93534

The Lancaster Performing Arts Center is in the heart of the BLVD cultural district in the center of Lancaster. Performances range from kid-friendly to international superstars, so be prepared to buy tickets when the kid’s favorite band comes to town! So if you’re looking for date night entertainment, you’ve found the place.

Local and regional acts play regularly, and national tours stop here often. It’s possible to see a jazz ensemble one night, then a ballet or comedy special the following day. The ambiance here is unique to Lancaster, and all are welcome.

Catch a show at the LPAC as part of your night on the town. Spend some time in the neighborhood and dine at one of the fabulous local eateries in the area. There are several hot spots to meet up with friends before catching a concert.

Local bands and stand-up comedians frequent the Performing Arts Center, so catching a local act is always an option. Book a stay at Holiday Inn Express Lancaster and make a weekend of the outing. There’s plenty to do in the BLVD cultural district, so enjoy!

See Related: Things to Do in Carlsbad, California

8. Lancaster National Soccer Center

Lancaster National Soccer Center Sign
Management / TripAdvisor

Address: 43000 30th Street East, Lancaster, CA 93535

The Lancaster National Soccer Center is a monument to soccer. The facilities offer 35 fields that can be used for soccer, lacrosse, and other open-area sports. The center is the largest soccer complex in the western states.

The main attraction here is the five FIFA fields. They meet the International FIFA specifications for the quality of turf and design. Bring your kids and tour the grounds or catch a match at one of the fields.

Seven permanent bathrooms are on site, meaning no porta-potties at the game! Plus, there’s an overnight fully serviced RV park area, so bring the RV and stay while watching some spectacular Cal South Youth Soccer.

The Lancaster National Soccer Center is a fun-filled place with state-of-the-art facilities. If soccer is your game, add this to your list of things to do in Lancaster.

9. Prime Desert Woodland Preserve

Prime Desert Woodland Preserve
Rennett Stowe from USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Address: 43201 35th St W, Lancaster, CA 93536

The Prime Desert Woodland Preserve is a scenic woodland preserve nestled in the city. It gives visitors the chance to see and learn about native plants and animals in the area.

The Prime Desert Woodland Reserve area features exhibitions from the Lancaster Museum of Art and History and other regional works. There’s also a pictograph wall where visitors can leave drawings in chalk. The area also houses a touch table with real antlers, horns, and animal hides. The Prime Desert Woodland Preserve focuses on the creatures of the Antelope Valley.

Please stop in and join one of the many workshops inspired by native peoples and the artifacts they left behind. The Prime Desert Woodland Preserve offers a little refuge from the hustle and bustle of the everyday. Be sure to visit! For a place to stay nearby, check out the Residence Inn by Marriott Lancaster. It is conveniently located near many Lancaster attractions, making it a popular hotel.

See Related: Day Trips from San Francisco, California

10. Sgt. Steve Owen Memorial Park

Sgt. Steve Owen Memorial Park
Management / TripAdvisor

Address: 43063 10th St. West, Lancaster, CA 93534

The Sgt. Steve Owen Memorial Park is also known as Lancaster City Park. It was renamed to honor Steve Owen, who was killed in the line of duty while responding to a burglary call in 2016.

Sergeant Owen was an incredible officer who touched many lives in the community. He was the acting Lancaster Community Appreciation Project Sergeant and was a prominent figure in the community, where he mentored young people and was awarded the Medal of Valor. 

In keeping with the memory of this pillar of the community, Sgt. Steve Owen Memorial Park is perfect for a birthday party, a family reunion, or a place to catch up with friends. The former Lancaster City Park has all the amenities you can request, from large pavilions to rentable events centers featuring full kitchens and a game room.

Catch the weekly food truck meetup and enjoy some gourmet food. There are also several events held at the park throughout the year, with bike repair workshops taking place throughout the spring and summer. 

11. Local fare at the BLVD Farmers Market

BLVD Farmers Market in  Lancaster, California
BLVD Farmers Market / Facebook

Address: 733-739 W Lancaster Blvd, Lancaster, CA 93534

The BLVD Farmers Market is open every Thursday year-round. Lancaster Boulevard hosts this. The local shops have organic produce, salsa, freshly baked bread, and pastries for sale. Talk with the local farmers for tips on growing and cooking organic foods.

Stop here in the summer for the BLVD Farmers Market Summer Concert Series and watch as local and national acts perform. There are also installations from the art gallery on display. There’s always something happening at the BLVD Weekly Farmers Market, so don’t miss this top Lancaster tourist attraction.

12. See a piece of Hollywood at the “Kill Bill Church.”

Kill Bill Church

Address: 19809 E Avenue G, Lancaster, CA 93535

Just outside Lancaster, there lies a piece of big-screen history. The Sanctuary Adventist Church is the official home to the wedding massacre in the film “Kill Bill.” It’s a small Spanish chapel on a forgotten road in the desert, but it has become known as the Kill Bill Church. 

The Kill Bill church is an active Sanctuary Adventist Church, so be prepared. It’s possible to arrive during times of worship. After seeing the Kill Bill church, head to the Eye of the Storm movie set.

Known as Club Ed, it’s the perfect spot to check out a movie set. Originally from the 1990 Dennis Hopper film Eye of the Storm, several films have used this lot since. It’s located at 150th Street East and Ave K. 

See Related: Best Places to Travel in Your 20s in the US

13. Get caffeinated at the Liquid Bean Coffee House

Liquid Bean Coffee House exterior
Liquid Bean Coffee House / BLVD Farmers Market

Address: 1711 W Ave K, Lancaster, CA 93534

Since you’re on Ave K, Liquid Bean Coffee House is renowned as the best coffee house in Lancaster – so stop by and refuel! This coffee cafe offers fast service through its double drive-through lanes. Does a speedy drive-thru entice you? Of course you are! All true coffee hounds are!

Their menu of delightful coffee creations and other beverages here is only outdone by the taste. The Liquid Bean Coffee House makes authentic foods to gnaw upon in addition to their choice coffees, including frappes and legendary espresso drinks.

It even satisfies the sweet tooth with coffee-infused ice cream cups – the perfect way to introduce your wee ones to the wonderful world of caffeine!

You can’t go wrong if you start your day with their gourmet espresso drinks before heading to the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve or Lancaster City Park for a morning constitutional.

14. Antelope Valley Winery

Antelope Valley Winery Entrance
Management / TripAdvisor

Address: 42041 20th St. West, Lancaster, CA 93534

The Antelope Valley Winery is perfect for adults looking to relax and take in some wine tasting. Food, wine, and an exquisite ambiance await those who reserve their tastings ahead of time.

Antelope Valley Winery offers indoor and outdoor wine tastings, gift baskets, and personalized wine bottle labels! Plus, there’s the option to reserve space for your very own private party.

After sightseeing and experiencing the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve, treat yourself to a wine pairing with gourmet charcuterie. There’s plenty of wine, and the cost is very reasonable for such quaffable vintages!

See Related: Things to Do in Napa Valley, California

15. Eat at an American Original; Crazy Otto’s Diner

Crazy Otto's Diner
image by maxrinaudo/TripAdvisor

Address: 1228 West Avenue, Lancaster, CA 93534

Fantastic feasts and fun for the entire family are waiting for you at Crazy Otto’s Diner. How about delicious pancakes big enough for a lumberjack served to you as you sit in a booth that looks like a classic car? If that sounds appealing, head to Crazy Otto’s Diner on West Ave. It’s on the must-visit list of fun things to do in Lancaster.  

There’s more to the restaurant than just big pancakes and cleverly concealed booths. They’ve been awarded the best breakfast in Lancaster for over 20 years. Check out the wheel when you get your seat. The team spins the wheel whenever a train passes, and the table it lands on gets free food!

The Grilled Halibut will have you wanting to come back time and again. Your kids will love the entire experience in this one-of-a-kind diner. The ambiance is fun and friendly, so be ready for excellent food and a great time! 

Beer and wine are available, and the breakfast menu is full of fantastic American eats. They’re famous for their breakfasts – Crazy Otto’s even set a world record by creating the largest omelet ever made!

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