Lancaster Travel Highlights In The LA High Desert
By Kevin Wilkerson, PubClub.com Travel Blogger
The next time you’re seeking a weekend road trip from Los Angeles – a place close enough to get away where you can be back by Sunday sunset but someplace different for you – do as the spy, test and experimental planes (as well as the Space Shuttle) did: land at Lancaster.
Yes, Lancaster, that city to the northeast off the 14 freeway that you pass on your way to go skiing or boarding at Mammoth Mountain.
That place you’ve seen on the news when the Space Shuttle landed in the high desert and where Richard Branson is developing a passenger plane to the distant planets.
Lancaster is also one of the shortest weekend destination drives from L.A. It’s only about 70 miles, meaning if you go up on a Friday you can be back at your place Saturday afternoon and still have a weekend at home. Name another place in the area where you can do that; usually it’s a two-night commitment.
Of course, you can definitely spend two nights, too, and you may want to for all there is to do in and around Lancaster.
Top 10 Things To Do In Lancaster, CA
The BLVD is a tree-lined stretch along Lancaster Blvd., that has about a dozen restaurants, the Museum of Art & History (MOAH), several local businesses and is the centerpiece of Lancaster nightlife. There’s a brewery, a lively wine bar/restaurant, a live music venue and even a plush bowling alley (BeX).
There are free concerts by local bands each Thursday from April thru October, which means The BLVD is lively three days a week. And folks, it is indeed lively those nights.
Link: The BLVD nightlife
2.) Go Wine (Or Beer) Tasting
Lancaster has Kinetic Brewing Company and VPour D’ Vino on The BLVD for craft beer and wine tasting (and drinking), but that’s just the tip of the cork, especially for wines. There are nearly a dozen wineries around Lancaster and while there are no wine tasting tours, there are wineries with tasting rooms.
And there two are other breweries as well, Bravery Brewing on 8th Street West and Honey Wagon Brewing Company in nearby Tehachapi. Neighboring Palmdale also has two breweries, Lucky Lake and Transplants Brewing Co.
3.) Aviation History & Tours
Lancaster has a rich aviation history. It’s where Chuck Yaeger flew all those experimental planes and broke the sound barrier as America’s heroic test pilot, Amelia Earhart flew and where the Space Shuttle landed. You can take a tour of Edwards Air Force base. Or just look up in the sky; who knows what you may see flying up there in the air.
4.) Drive On The Musical Road
In Lancaster, your car can play a tune without tuning into the radio or your iTunes selections. There’s a section of a street that when you drive over at 55 mph, it actually plays the finale to the “William Tell Overture.”
It’s called the Musical Road and it’s on Ave. G, between 30th and 40th streets.
Link: Driving The Musical Road
As this only takes about a minute, you’ll need to combine it with other activities. And since you’re in your car, check out the Charlie Brown Farms roadside farm stand (8317 Pearlblossom Highway in Littlerock), displays of historic airplanes at Edwards Air Force Base (at the west gate off the 14 at the Rosemond exit and the north gate which is further away on Highway 58, 14 miles east of Mojave), the Four Aces movie set (14499 E Ave Q in neighboring Palmdale) and the Club Ed movie location (150th St E).
If you’re still not done, the Joe Davies Historical Airpark features retired military planes that were either designed, tested or produced here. And it’s free!
5.) Desert Recreation
There are several national parks and other areas where you can go hiking and bicycling, even rent ATVs. In other words, there’s lots of activities and places to get nice and dusty in the desert.
Link: Outdoor Recreation Guide
6.) Go For A “Moon Walk” In The Desert
The Prime Desert Woodland Preserve holds evening guided 1-mile walks through this preserved area of the desert just outside of town. They occur once a month on Saturdays and are free; the remaining 2016 schedule is: July 23 (8:30 p.m.), Aug. 27 (8 p.m.), Sept. 17 (7:30 p.m.), Oct. 22 (6:30 p.m.), Nov. 19 (6 p.m.) and Dec. 3 (5:30 p.m.).
The 3-mile trail is also open during the daylight hours for walks and even going for runs in the desert.
Address: 43201 35th St W.
7.) Attend One Of The City’s Many Events
Lancaster has an air show that attracts more than 100,000 people, a go-kart race thru The BLVD, one of the largest classic car shows in Southern California that includes cars cruising The BLVD on Friday night and bands on a big stage on the weekend called the Thunder On The Lot, as well as wine and beer festivals.
8.) Eat & Repeat. Eat & Repeat
Lancaster has some very good fill-the-belly restaurants.
For starters, Katz N’ Jammers is a must. It’s a breakfast and lunch place with food that fills the plates and signs, plaques and photos that fill the walls. This is a 50s diner where 45s play on a jukebox and Elvis makes occasional appearances. The food is very good, too.
Another top stomach-stuffing recommendation is Rio Brazilian Grill on The BLVD. This is a true Brazilian restaurant, the kind where they bring out the meat until you tell them to stop. The meats here are sensational – bursting with both juices and flavor.
9.) Visit The Poppy Fields
Granted, this is seasonal (mid-March thru mid-May) but it’s quite the scene, fields and fields of endless colorful poppy flowers. This is best seen from the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve. There is also a Poppy Festival in the spring in Lancaster.
Link: Poppy Reserve website
10.) Watch Minor League Baseball
The Jethawks are the Class A farm team of the Houston Astros and have won the California League Championship as recently as 2014. They play in the sparkling Municipal Stadium near The BLVD; it’s nickname is “The Hanger.” Tickets are $14.
Link: Jethawks Schedule
Hotels: Where To Stay In Lancaster
There are dozens of clean, fairly modest hotels in and around Lancaster: Marriott, Oxfort Suites, Homewood Suites, even a very nice Best Western, those sort of places. Many of these are right off the 14 freeway; there is, however, no hotel walking distance to The BLVD.
No to worry, tho, for Lancaster does have Uber if you’ve done your fill at The BLVD bar-hop to Kinetic, Vino and BeX.